Monday, November 29, 2010

Give and you receive.

Cyber Monday. I find myself not wanting to shop, simply because I'm so disgusted by images of shoppers plowing each other down in order to get into the store and be the first to grab a TV or Radio or something. Is it worth it? I don't think so. I am becoming a non-shopper. Our annual christmas show is a tough gig to book. We're a big family, and finding a Saturday where we're all available for a trek into the city to see a show, and dinner, is becoming more and more difficult. But we try. It is worth it to us, because getting us all together for one day is important, and sharing our love of theatre and the arts is important too. So this has become the gift we give each year. A day in the city with family. It eliminates the killer shopping. That I am grateful for. This year's show has not been picked yet, nor have we decided which date. Last year we ended up in the city in the spring, due to scheduling conflicts. It had its benefits. How this year pans out remains to be seen. Our mouse wars continue. So far, the peanut butter is not working. Has it found a new kitchen to terrorize? There's a church next door. Perhaps he has become a church-mouse? I'm a little afraid to look each morning when I get up. I'm just slightly less offended by a dead mouse than I am by a lurking mouse. The snow on the ground is still in patches. It should be warmer this week, and I'm sure it will melt. Today is carpet day. After that the reveal for the guest room (and hopefully bookings) will take place. Ta Da! I'm glad that's done. Another job to check off the list of things to do. We're in the home stretch. I hope. We had a lovely Thanksgiving although missing the family was tough. We delivered a bunch of meals for the needy through a local church program and it was certainly a gratitude producing activity. I was shocked and saddened by so much poverty and need, but also uplifted by the fact that there were more volunteers than necessary. They were rationing the number of meals you took to deliver so that everyone would have an opportunity to help. That was nice to see. Selfishly, giving to others does make you feel better about yourself and your situation. Coming home to dinner, we were particularly conscious of what we had. Our dinner was not in a styrofoam take-out box. All we wanted, for the asking. Count your blessings. They are many.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy thanksgiving!

It's been awhile since I've posted. Happy thanksgiving to you all, and to your families and friends. I'll just share a photo of our latest elf. We've been busy this morning, cooking up the turkey and the sides. After delivering meals for the local church, we came back home to relax and cook. I feel incredibly grateful for that which we have, especially when you are faced with people who have so little. On a holiday like this, it is just wonderful to be so blessed, but more importantly, to realize it. I like to share our blessings when I can, but this week I have been faced with a creature who is not on my guest list. Ever. Our home has been infiltrated by a mouse. This is particularly offensive when we have worked so hard to make the place "tight". Jerry has broken his back to get all the little points of entry sealed up, and has really knocked himself out in this department. I'm sorry to say that somewhere, he has missed a spot. This mouse actually had the audacity to nibble a rather substantial piece off a rutabaga. Now if you know a rutabaga, you know that it is wax sealed and tough to peel. Trust me, I know this because each Thanksgiving when it comes time to peel the damn things I have to call in reinforcements. And the little mouse just ripped his way through the seal and like I said, helped himself. We started out with peanut butter because this is the failsafe way to catch a mouse, we're told. We've done this for two nights in a row, so apparently, we're not catching them, just serving them dinner. I hate to do this on this holiday of all holidays, because I feel I should be a little more giving than to rudely break a poor defenseless mouse's neck while he's trying to get some peanut butter. But really, had he knocked at the door I would have helped. coming into the house and brazenly taking a chunk out of the rutabaga is not allowed. If I wasn't such a faithful user of Tylenol PM I would have been a little afraid to go to sleep last night, lest I hear the telltale "snap!" that indicates a successful trapping endeavor. But I sleep like a baby. Carefully, I checked the trap this morning and alas, was filled with really mixed emotions. No body, no good. I do hope he left of his own accord. It would be much cleaner that way. You'd think with three dogs (small, medium and large) that ONE OF THEM would have noticed a rodent prowling about in the wee hours of the morning? If you didn't know better you'd think that we'd ALL taken Tylenol PM! Not so, but they slept well any way. Watchdogs. Hmmph. That's how we spend our days. Best to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Decorating Trauma

We have finally gotten down to the floor in the living room redo, and I have to say that I love the rug. We shopped around quite a bit, because on rainy cold days, shopping is a great activity. Or should I say WINDOW shopping. We did alot of it, and finally ended up with a beautiful wool oriental rug that complements the living room and truly looks lovely. I only have one question. Why is it that as soon as you install some type of new flooring, someone barfs on it? The culprit this time was Bailey. He is not normally a hurler, but on the evening we brought home the carpet and laid it down, carefully measuring the placement in the living room and making sure that all furniture was carefully arranged for maximum beauty, he had eaten a new electronic blinking light. As I was sitting in the chair in the living room and peacefully looking around and taking in all the ambiance I had so carefully arranged, I heard a chewing sound that wasn't quite right. It was more of a cracking kind of sound, as if someone were opening walnuts with a metal nutcracker. But Jerry was directly in my sight, diligently typing away at the computer. The sound was coming from next to me - that's right, Bailey was lounging on the recliner chomping away at the new clip-on flashing light that Jerry had purchased for both dogs to protect them in the darkness. This way they could be seen in the dark. Except of course if you eat the blinking light. After I took away the small plastic pieces from Bailey's mouth and off the chair, I threw the whole thing out thinking "close call-he could have choked on that". When I returned to my seat, I looked down and saw that Bailey had barfed up the whole clot of plastic that he had eaten,and anything else that happened to be in his stomach. A big pile of barf on the new rug. It was on the floor for approximately 34 minutes. The rug I mean, not the barf. It nearly broke my heart, but Jerry was quick with a barf pick-up strategy that he had clearly used in the past. He was swiping it all into a plastic bag (thank God for Paper or Plastic? We always go for plastic) and removing it. Bailey didn't bat an eye and returned to his seat on the recliner. All in all, it was a lovely evening, but I wonder; how do they KNOW that this is new and should be broken in immediately? I almost feel a little grateful because now I don't have to worry about it. The Damage is already done. I don't think I've ever had a new carpet or rug that someone didn't let 'er rip shortly after the installation was complete. When Jackie was a baby, she hurled onto her bedroom carpet before the installer had left the room. Almost got him on the back with projectile vomiting. That time I was lucky enough to have a professional letting me know the best way to clean a carpet. When I got my van when Allison was a baby, we were driving home from the car dealer and I was hit in the back of the head with projectile vomiting. The scent of apple juice was forever lingering in that car-especially on a hot summer day when you opened the car. It kind of hit you in the face. Well, what can we say? The guest room is next in the flooring department. I think I'll keep the door closed unless we have a guest. And if you're a guest coming to stay? Don't feel bad if something happens. Apparently we're on a roll.

Bug Off

This is a conifer bug, more commonly known here in upstate New York as a "Stink Bug". If you step on this bug, they emit some type of odor that is kind of like decaying garbage. So I'm told. I have the good fortune of possessing a very poor sense of smell, and it has served me well. It was beneficial while changing diapers. But that's a long way back. Sometimes this sense of smell will kick in at inopportune moments, but for the most part, I'm safe. Anyway, the conifer bugs hatch each time the weather changes. The warmth of the sun seens to re-energize these little fellas, and they come back in full force. Before our house was completely insulated they would find their way in. TERROR. The first time I saw one I was totally freaked out, being unfamiliar with the slow and gentle nature of these harmless bugs. Once I realized that they were easy to catch, I did not feel so threatened. Killing them was easy. I have friends (and some people I know intimately) that will take a bug and carry it gingerly to the outdoors. This is very nice, but not my style. If I had an oozie available I would use that to erradicate the stink bug population. Spiders would also be goners. Basically, any bugs. When it comes down to "them" or "Me" I use whatever tools are available to me to kill them dead. I am afraid of bugs. The only bug that has any merit in my world is a lady bug, and they too will hatch in the warm weather in multitudes. The first time Jerry and I went away for a weekend together, our hotel room had a hatch of lady bugs. Since then, I have held them in high favor. But any time we came north for a weekend or vacation, the first time we cranked up the heat the crawlys would hatch in the house causing me a weekend of rummaging and pillaging and mass destruction. If they were in the house I would find them. Lady bugs too. A single lady bug I will carry outside to live and breed in freedom with all my heartfelt best wishes. "Lady Bug Lady Bug Fly away home, your house is on fire and the children alone". What a lovely little ditty for the children. A hatch of lady bugs I will vacuum up without a backward glance. I do not want to live among the bugs. Camping is one thing, but tents have zippers for a purpose. Now that the house is well insulated and all points of egress have been plugged up, we are fairly safe. The conifer bug picture shows him OUTSIDE the window. Where he needs to stay. The worst feeling in the world is finding a spider, taking your eyes off him for a moment while you find the tool of destruction (be it a shoe or a book) and coming back to where he was and seeing. . . nothing. AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH. Now I have to worry about where he is. All Night. And if it is in the bedroom, I will lay there with my eyes open scanning the ceiling and points to the side. Scary stuff these bugs. They say if you find a spider in your home it means your house is clean. This may be true, because we have been renovating and I haven't found any recently. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that though. Because now, really, what's my motivation to clean the house?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Updates From Caroga Lake

Well Gang it's been a while since I posted, Jen's Been keepin ya up to date so I don't feel so bad.
Of course the Biggest news is the Birth of our Grandson, Michael. We did already have a Granddaughter, Payton and we love them both very much. Last weekend Nicole & Mike had little Michael's Christening on Long Island which we attended and had a marvelous time .
It was so good to see all the family and kids, Uncle Tommy and his family, Mom-Mom Rosa even made it up or over from P.A. with the assistance of my Brother ,Tom.....Thanks Guy.
The whole day was a Great One. You have seen the pictures that Jen's posted of Her and Baby Michael.. Is Jen Getting Younger ? Gotta love those two !
Plenty of stuff going on here too in Caroga... Jen & I have been working our fingers to the bones, Living room has new hardwood flooring, Windows and walls & ceiling new a couple of months ago.
Jen has found mostly all the new living room furniture that she likes and if it ain't here now it will be in the next couple of days...New area rug in the living room too to give it that warmer feel.
The house has been sided and made such a change in it's curb appeal.
Jen & I have also been working on the Lake House , it needed some foundation work, that being done it's time to move on and get that inside completed so that family can use it soon.
We have decide to make one of the 3 bedrooms into a Bathroom as all we had was an Outhouse on the backside of the property. Keeping the Outhouse for Emergencies .
Jens excited about the Lake House Project...She has curtains picked out...I on the other hand am only thinking about the gutted walls that that we still need to deal with, all the ripping and tearing...I'm sure we will come together and the "Lake House" will come out Great!
Well that's about it for now..For faster updates......Follow us on FaceBook.
Til next time Gang....Jerry

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recliner Wars

I am the proud owner of a hand-held immersible mixer. After the Butternut squash fiasco, I determined that this is a kitchen gadget that I simply must have. Now I can make all the soup I want, without the threat of blender destruction, which I will make sure is replaced by Pina colada/Mud slide season. Add to list. We are experiencing incredibly beautiful weather, which belies the change of blog background. I removed the leaf background because we had a few gray days that seemed to indicate fall was over. My bad. We are in the throes of crisp and cold nights with sunny and warm(ish) days. I am preparing to head into the room that we have called the Studio, ever since we decided to make it the headquarters for Blue Line Farm and all the knitting accoutrements that go with it. In addition, we have also stored boxes and boxes of family photos that I simply couldn't unpack. In addition to the renovation issues (hanging pictures, removing pictures, etc.) it is boxes of family photos that are hard to see since my folks passed. It is five years, and it is time to unpack the boxes and put them away. And so, the studio will most like have many pictures on the wall, in addition to all the yarn and needles and farm implements that make us Blue Line Farm. I have the contractor garbage bags ready, and the weeding out in the studio will begin today, temperature permitting. My spinning wheel is down there, and I intend to make the space comfortable enough to allow me to go down and spend a good amount of time creating. I realize I am incredibly blessed to have this kind of space, and I hope to make it warm and inviting. Speaking of warm and inviting, we have been putting the finishing touches in our living room, and as of Monday, all the changes will be put in place. We have been chair shopping and I am totally amazed at the number of uncomfortable chairs out there for sale. Am I so totally picky in this, or is it a national dilemma in that people don't know what comfortable is? I KNOW! I am truly a chair/couch connisseur. I spend ALOT of time in the living room, and I want to sit in a truly comfortable chair. Not easy to find, you would be surprised to know. Some of them are so bad it is as if they had stacked cardboard and covered it with fabric. That bad. Now I realize that if you don't want people "loitering" in your waiting room, picking out furniture is strictly a visual activity. But if you intend to loiter in your living room, which I do, then comfort is the issue. First and formost, it must sink in as if you are being enveloped in softness. No hard corners, no stiff back. But enough support to make it a chair that you can sit in, as opposed to reclining, which I am trying to move out. I purchased the chair while Jerry is at work, and after speaking with him on the phone and being told "if you like it, I'll like it", I signed on the dotted line. I loved this chair and the ottoman I had selected with it. It was a great match and would be a perfect and comfortable replacement for our recliner, which is nearing the end of its visually acceptable life. In my eyes that is. Our recliner resembles a 747 parked in the living room. It was originally purchased for Jerry as a Father's Day gift, and its spot was in our office on Long Island, which held our desk and television. A perfect man-cave that demanded a huge recliner with heat and massage settings. The cadillac of recliners. Never did I intend to have to sit and look at this thing that dwarfs all other reasonable furniture and takes up a considerable amount of room when it is open to full extension. A bit like having a twin bed open in the corner for TV viewing. Design wise-no good. Gotta go. It is comfortable, but so is my bed. If you need to be THAT comfortable, you need to go to bed. Moving here in 2008, it was one of the few pieces of furniture that Jerry was concerned about. He wanted no damage. The thing is indestructable. We lay on it, we lay on it with dogs, food has been spilled and coffee dripped. Essentially, it is the pink elephant in the room. It is Jerry's chair, but he is charming and gracious in that he will invite you to sit and enjoy his recliner. I do. I will admit that the thing is fabulous. A blanket and the remote and I am set for the day. This is the problem. Even I can recognize that it is a fabulous sit. But visually? Never has Home and Garden featured a living room that housed a recliner. If you're looking for a certain "look", a recliner only fits in certain design moments - man caves and football games. I guess I would like that home and garden look, without having to look at this eyesore. The day after my solo furniture expedition, Jerry and I went back to the store for a chair/ottoman viewing prior to its delivery. Now I don't know if you can cancel furniture orders, but that was my first thought when Jerry sat down and said "I'm not giving up my recliner for THIS!" And so, the recliner wars have begun. My thoughts of a full living room redesign have gone out the window. I now have to re-think the furniture placement for a chair and ottoman that are probably larger than I would have chosen had I known the recliner was staying. And yet, I want this chair. I am confident that we can work this out. But I will say this, if Bailey is looking for a piece of furniture to jump up on, I'm sending him to the recliner. Maybe with all the extra "usage" it will eventually break down. One can only hope.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


We are recovering from our whirlwind weekend on Long Island, and as I've been saying for two days, "Thank God for that extra hour, or I don't think we could have pulled it off otherwise". I'm exhausted. And Jerry did all the driving. We were traveling to see our Grandson Michael Gerard Collins III be baptised, and it was great to have us all together and celebrating for such a wonderful occasion. Michael and Nicole threw a beautiful luncheon afterwards and we had a great time. Here are some random shots. What we noticed especially was the volume of traffic. I know I keep harping on this fact all the time, but we have become country bumpkins. Very rarely here in upstate New York do we find our selves as anything other than the first or second car at a traffic light. On Long Island, it is a prayer that you make it through the light before the timing changes and you find yourself sitting at the same intersection and waiting, again, hoping you will be making it through. It boggles my mind. I wonder sometimes how I coped, but then I remember I was stressed out when we moved, so there it is. I am living where I was meant to live. Unfortunately, the bulk of our family lives somewhere else, and sometimes that is a harsh reality. So, we are happy to visit and see everyone. We are blessed all over the map. And I can say without hesitation that no where in the world will you get a better manicure/pedicure than on Long Island. Hands down (and feet!) Bagels? No contest. Long Island. And French Vanilla from 7-11? We weren't on the island more than ten minutes that I made Jerry pull into 7-11 so I could get my fix. There is nothing like it. It makes me happy. And so, we spend a good portion of our time comparing notes. Upstate vs. downstate. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don't. I guess if it ever weighs heavily on one side, I'll worry about that then. In the meantime, I will compare.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boo Humbug

I was not feeling the Halloween thing yesterday, at all. I had decorated and made plans, and was in the process of preparing a delicious butternut squash soup, when the whole day fell apart and destroyed my Halloween happiness. It started out as a lovely day. Jerry and I made church, which always makes me happy. We're not always "at em" by 10:00. We're "up", but "at em" is another story. We came home and had a bite to eat (because we had just visited the gluton-free store in Johnstown ( I was having a lovely time. After that, we stepped outside and began to hang our folk art stars on the siding - the last touch we had been waiting for. It began to snow. That's right, the real thing. It actually carried on like this for quite a while - at least an hour. Nothing stuck to the ground, but our deck was holding on to what looked like hail. It was pretty, and the fact that it wasn't sticking was just an added bonus - I'm not quite ready for that. We stood outside and just enjoyed the cold snappy weather. Jerry was working harder than I was (as usual) but I was cheering him on and giving directions with my "eye". I have a perfect eye when it comes to balance and level. Just one of my many talents. If you asked me to look at something and level it, I will be quite dead on without too much of a challenge. But, again I digress. At that point, the thought of nice hot fresh butternut squash soup was exactly what we needed for dinner. With the prep for gluton-free cornbread ready, I went into the house to prepare our delicious dinner. All the chopping and peeling and preparation went on for about 45 minutes (butternut squash rank up there with rutabaga in the pain in the neck chopping department - but totally worth it). I added the other ingredients and simmered for 45 minutes. The house smelled delicious. Now, for years I have looked at the immersible blenders (the kind you hold in your hand and immerse into your soup or mashed potatoes or whatever) and thought "that's ridiculous - we have a blender". And so, to the blender I went for the last step in this fabulous soup. At this poin my mouth is watering, the house smells like heaven and I'm hungry. The triple threat of culinary success. I poured the entire contents of the dutch oven into the blender,(hot-wow was it hot), secured the rubber top carefully, checked all the various buttons for puree and let her rip. Fantastic! After a few seconds, I turned it off, lifted the top and tasted this wonderful soup - it was perfect! didn't need any further seasoning - maybe a few more seconds in the blender and we were ready! I again secured the rubber top, and hit Puree. This time, the top was not as secure as the first time, and turning it on made some soup spit out the side. I pushed down on the little plastic top that is in the center of the cover, (removable so you can add ingredients while blending). Well, as wel all know, heat expands. you didn't know? Well, it does. And the heat of the soup had expanded the rubber opening so the little plastic top went PLOP into the soup. As I turned off the blender I could hear the grinding sound of the little plastic top. And when I poured it back into the dutch oven so I could pull out the plastic top, I could see that it was in shards, and that many pieces were missing, and now were the last ingredient in my perfect soup. I thought of straining it, but shards are kind of a problem. You never eally know how small they are. And so, in one culinary moment my perfect soup, which still smelled pretty darn good, was in the sink and down the drain. Never have I been so disgusted or disappointed in the process of cooking. All that work wasted! I was not a happy camper. Jerry (in his infinite wisdom of leaving when I get this way) went to price chopper and picked up a new dinner. Cooked chicken, broccoli raab (sp?) and barbqued sweet potatoes. It was a feast. When it comes to the kitchen, Jerry is a miracle worker. Clearly, I am not. For now, I am using only convenience foods. When shards happen there you have a lawsuit to consider-a win-win situation. When shards happen when I AM THE COOK, all we have is a bad attitude. Sorry folks, dinner is ruined. Once again, I am thrilled to see that Cheerios give you 100% of your daily requirements. Dinner is served. By the way-these are the only trick-or treaters we had. When you live in the woods, there's not alot of kid traffic Happy Halloween everyone! Anyway!