Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rummage sale morning

The annual fill-a-bag sale at a local church. Probably the last rummage sale in town until January.

No, I don't have little kids. Yes, I still pick up vintage Scholastic books when I find them.
I have been looking and looking for these. I borrowed The Winds of War from the library, but the sequel never seems to be in when I want it.
Historical fiction.
A small cake pan and a woven throw. The throw might become a Christmas tree skirt, because we need one. Last year we used a blanket.
Two No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books.
A game-in-a-book.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Something slimy for Hallowe'en

How can you not like a post that starts like this? (Link found on the Afterthoughts blog.)
A few days ago I had the slimy experience of listening to a forty-minute discussion on BBC radio purporting to show the history of Britain through the medium of poetry. I describe the experience as slimy because I felt, having listened to it, that I had been slimed, finding myself covered spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally in a decaying, mendacious goo.
Let me explain.

 Full article "The BBC: Writing Christianity Out of History," by Joseph Pearce, at The Imaginative Conservative.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Apple cake from a homemade mix

I have mentioned The Perfect Basket here before. It's just a little book I picked up a long time ago from a pile of books in a liquidation store. It turned out to be worth the $2.99, not so much for the gift basket ideas as for the mixes and recipes that were created to go in them. Pumpkin Bars to go with a fall basket, and so on.
So today I decided to use up some baking supplies and also some of the apples I bought in Point Pelee, and make the Spiced Apple Cake recipe from the book. I baked one cake right then, and put the dry ingredients for two more in plastic bags. When I pulled out the powdered vanilla, I realized that it had been on the shelf for probably a couple of years, so I asked Mr. Fixit if he would kindly pick up some while he was out radio-hunting this morning. (The bulk store is next to the antiques market.) 
The cake recipe sounds like it shouldn't work, or taste good, but it does (both). It has no salt in it; it contains baking soda, but nothing acid like yogurt or sour milk for the soda to act on, so I'm not sure (kitchen-chemistry-wise) why the soda instead of baking powder, but it did rise. I don't have the Bundt pan that the book called for, so I used our 10 x 15 inch glass pan.

Something crafty to look forward to

Handmade Holidays runs through the month of November.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Are you comfortable with silence? If you're home alone, do you like silence or do you need regular background noise? Do you seek out times and places to be silent? What's your favorite place to find silence/be silent?

I don't mind quiet, but I've gotten so used to having people around that it can seem almost too quiet when I'm here alone. Sometimes I like being quiet in busy places, like airports; you know you're not alone, but you don't have to talk to anybody either.

2. October 28th is National Chocolate Day. Can't let that go by without a mention now, can we? Will you celebrate? How? Let's say you can have one of the following right this very minute... a cup of hot chocolate, a strawberry dipped in chocolate, a bowl of plain chocolate ice cream, or a slice of chocolate pie...what's your pleasure?

Any of the above. Mr. Fixit just came in five minutes ago and offered me a piece of a Polish chocolate bar, so I guess that's the answer. I haven't had Tofu Chocolate Pie in quite awhile, or the other kind of chocolate pie we sometimes make at holidays; those are both worth a chocolate celebration.

3. How do you feel about blue jeans? Favorite thing in the world to wear or nope, don't own a single pair? How often do you wear blue jeans in a typical week? Do you own a blue jean jacket?

I wear blue jeans...or black jeans...most of the time at home. But I just bought a pair of pink jeans at the thrift store. Might as well live dangerously.

4. Are you superstitious? If so, in what way?

Does anyone ever admit it if they are? I don't think I am, but someone could probably come up with something on me.

5. If you had to come up with a costume using only things you have on hand right now, what could you come up with? 

I haven't worn a costume for anything in I-can't-remember-how-long. I would probably borrow something of my husband's, like a jacket and a hat, and go as a hoser.

6. What scares you a little? What do you do when you feel scared?

Pray hard. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have been busy most of the day making freezer meals with my husband. We are a pretty good team. I read ingredients, he fills bags. This was our second time around, and it was much easier than the first time, because we were more casual about amounts and we were doing it more to our own tastes. 

When I was first married, I went to a couple of co-op freezer meal sessions at a community centre, and it was a whole lot more work. Basically we were cooking casseroles and then taking them home and freezing them. They should have tried it this way (no pre-cooking except for ground beef).

Linked from Hello Hodgepodge My Old Friend at This Side of the Pond.

Mr. Fixit and Mama Squirrel make freezer meals

Here is our second freezer-meal marathon. (Read this post first if you haven't already.)

10:45 a.m.: One table full of groceries and labelled plastic bags.
11:45 a.m.: Pork meals are done and we had a lunch break. On to ground beef and stew beef:
12:45 p.m. (or a.m., or whatever it is when lunch hour is almost over): Working on chicken meals.
Bags of Chicken Cacciatore
1:30 p.m.: Finishing the last of the chicken meals:
1:45 p.m.: Meals split between the chest freezer and the top of the fridge (so they will freeze faster); one pork chop meal in the slow cooker for tonight; and we are done.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ready for more freezer-slow cooker meals

Cheeseburger Soup

Our stash of homemade freezer meals is down to one, so it's time to make more.

I went through the list of meals we made from $5 Dinners (from this package), and picked out the ones we liked the most: Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Chili, Orange Pork Chops, Cheeseburger Soup (except Mr. Fixit likes it without the rice and cheese, served as pasta sauce), and Chinese-style Beef and Broccoli. Those we'll make again this time. I'm also planning on adding Cranberry Pork Chops, Honey Garlic Chicken, and Crock Beef Sandwiches from Saving Dinner.

This approach seems to have worked well enough for our current meal needs that we're willing to give it another go. It works especially well when we divide the meals-for-four into meals-for-two, because we can always cook two bags at once if we need them, and if I know it's going to be just two of us eating, I use one bag and the smaller slow cooker. Sometimes I remember to thaw meals overnight in the fridge, and other times I dunk the bags in water for twenty minutes--both ways seem to work. Our little slow cooker cooks hotter than the 3 1/2-quart one, so I set it on low and keep an eye on it; if the food finishes earlier than expected, I take it out and reheat it later. (I would just use the big one, but for smaller amounts, the 2-quart pot is handy.)

We are planning on going out sometime this week and picking up groceries for Marathon #2.

Doo doo doo, lookin' out my back door

(We are finally getting the back porch rebuilt.)

Quote for the day: Bill Gates on leadership

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Things I brought home from L'Harmas

A butterfly poster
Milkweed seeds
A Sloyd project with a butterfly attached
A book from a friend
A book ordered from a friend (delivered by another friend)
A Mason Jar of tea

A bag of Point Pelee-area apples (especially welcome because the local apples don't seem as good this fall)

And lots to think about.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Quote for the day: on perspective and place

"...this is the work of an old kind of mind, of long attention and familiarity...The shapes of these old fields were not laid down by an eye sighting above the surface of the land but by many eyes looking up from and out of an ancient usage and familiarity; they were not imposed on the land but grew out of it." ~~ Wendell Berry, "Irish Journal" in Home Economics

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Back to the Hodgepodge

1. October 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day. Did you see the movie? The sequels? In the second film, Doc takes Marty into the future to prevent Marty's future son from making a mistake. They leave 1985 and land on a 'skyway' on October 21st, 2015. So tell us, what were you doing in the fall of 1985?

I've seen the original movie several times, but the sequels only once (and maybe not even all the way through). I like the plot but I'm not as crazy about the profanity.

That's funny, to think about them/us jumping from 1985 to 2015. Scary too. Yes, I remember the fall of 1985 very well.I was in my first year of university, living in a ninth-floor dorm room with one phone for the whole floor (unless you sprang for your own, and most of us didn't); hardly any computers in the rooms. I was actually one of the first on my floor to get a portable computer near the end of the year, and there was no place to plug it in except in the common room. The song I associate most with that time? "Walking on Sunshine."

2.  If time travel were possible, would you want to go to the future? The past?

The past, but no particular time--I'd just take a general tour.

3. We're not flying cars, but some of the technology imagined in the 80's film has indeed come to pass in real life 2015-flat screen TVs on the wall, tablets, fingerprint recognition, video conferencing, online banking, 3-D movies, motion controlled video games, drone cameras, and smart glasses (Google glass).  Do you worry technology is growing at a rate so fast we'll soon be unable to keep up with it's demands? Do you think the Internet does more harm than good? 

It's easy to say that technology is just a tool, so it can be used for good or bad; but at the same time, sometimes it seems like humans weren't built to keep up with it. If I have a worry, it's about what too much technology is doing to children. Also about people trying to text and cross the road at the same time.

4. Your favorite dish prepared in a slow-cooker? Your favorite fast food?

We put some freezer meals together over a month ago and are just coming to the end of them now. But one of my favourite slow cooker dishes isn't a main dish, it's Crockpot Applesauce Cake. From a previous post here: "I saw the recipe first on Grocery Cart Challenge [no longer available], but the original source is Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.  Leave out the walnuts if you don't like them; the egg is also optional. (I was out of eggs and tried it without, and it worked fine.) Not too big, not too sweet, good for breakfast."

Fast food? One of the few fast-food places near our university campus was Taco Bell, and we used to send one of the girls who had a car over there to bring back burritos for everybody. (Like the telephones and computers, this was in the age before campuses typically had food courts; without going off campus, we were limited to the cafeterias and a kosher restaurant.)

So I still have a fondness for Taco Bell, even though I don't get there very often. More often it's a Teen Burger or a Filet-o-Fish.

5. No time like the present, down time, face time, pressed for time, in the nick of time, make time, mark time, or just in time...which timely saying most relates to your life right now? 

Time flies? (Two weeks of Hodgepodge in one.).

8. Random Thought?

Best time travel episode of Dr. Who? "Blink."

This post is linked from Back to the Hodgepodge, at This Side of the Pond.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Christmas presents for those who like books and beauty (Hampstead House)

For those Canadians who occasionally (or frequently) order from Hampstead House Books: their new catalogue is especially nice this month, and might offer some inspiration for holiday shopping.

For crafty and cooking types:

Design Your Own Crocheted Hat (DVD)
Op-Art Socks
Cut Up This Book!: Special Occasions (paper cutting)
Happy Stitch: 30 Felt and Fabric Projects for Everyday
Christmas Origami Paper Pack
Granny Squares 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle
The Gingerbread Book
Apples: From Harvest to Table

For nature nuts:
Reader's Digest Earth Essential Atlas (Canadian Edition)
The Real Rudolph: A Natural History of the Reindeer
Lars Jonsson's Birds: Paintings from a Near Horizon
The Universe Rocks: The Complete Guide to Space (book for kids)
National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky
Make Your own Woodland Creatures: 35 Simple 3-D Cardboard Projects
Dragonfly memo cube

For literary types:
Alice in Wonderland 2016 Calendar
My First Travels in North America, by Isabella L. Bird
A Christmas Carol: deluxe keepsake edition
The Story of the Treasure Seekers (Nesbit)

For music lovers:
Opera The Great Composers and Their Masterworks
Glenn Gould: A Musical Force
The Art of Opera 2016 Calendar

For art fans:
Christopher Pratt: Six Decades
Clarence Gagnon: An Introduction to His Life and Art
The Illuminated Manuscript
20-piece gel pen set
Staedtler Triangular Watercolor Pencils
Alex Colville 2016 Calendar
J.M. Waterhouse Pocket Notepad

For little ones:
Christmas with the Mousekins: A Story with Crafts, Recipes, Poems and More
Making the Forest: book that comes with modelling clay to mould a fox, hedgehog, bear cub, owl, etc.
ABC Floor Puzzle
Pop-Out & paint Farm Animals
Genius Deck for Kids: 75 Super Word Puzzles
Storytime Origami
Tangram Puzzles Kit
Birds of North America card game

Useful stuff:
Positive Difference Folding Green Tote Bag
Japanese (paper) Notepad
Folding magnifier

Generally interesting:
The Secret Language of Sacred Places
Earthly Paradises: Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology
Popular Mechanics 75 Tools Every Man Needs And How to Use Them Like a Pro
Edwardian Farm (book, DVDs)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Fly Me to the Hodgepodge

1. What's something that has recently 'tried your patience'?

Too many road closures because of construction. Too bad we can't fly over them (see, I worked it in).

2. Do you think patience comes to us naturally or is it something you have to learn as you grow? On a scale of 1-10 generally how patient are you? (1=I blow up at the drop of a hat and 10=I've got all the time in the world).

I am not very patient about the middles of things. I like to see ends, so I sometimes hurry the middles. I have had to learn to slow down and do whatever it takes so that the end doesn't fall apart. This is one reason I liked to make doll clothes for Lydia, when she was still enjoying her doll family: they got done a lot faster than people clothes.
People always think homeschooling parents must be extra-patient; I think it varies about as much as with the rest of the population. Sometimes you're patient, sometimes you're not; sometimes you need to be, sometimes you don't. With some kids, it's more about keeping up with them than about being patient.

There are some things I am definitely not patient about. Like baking that has to be rolled out and cut, or decorated one at a time: hardly ever.

3. Share about a time when you felt like you could fly. Or a time you wished you could fly. Or a time you felt like you were flying.

I flew to Chicago this summer. I don't mind being in the air or high up somewhere as long as it's not something I can fall out of! Ferris wheels and ski lifts, no thank you.

4. Your favorite song with the word fly in the title or lyrics, or your favorite song that relates to flying in some way?

Well, there's the gospel hymn "I"ll Fly Away." But how about this one? (The 2 minute mark. Apparently there were some things you weren't supposed to see on TV in 1968!)

5. What's in your fall picnic basket and where are we picnicking in your neck of the woods this time of year?

We didn't take a picnic, but we had a walk through the park grounds in Stratford this past weekend, before this week's chillier weather set in. Lots of oak trees dropping acorns, black walnut trees dropping walnuts, ducks flying into the Avon river. (These are Mr. Fixit's photos.)
6.  Carpentry, electrical, plumbing, landscaping...which skill would you most like to possess and how would you put that skill to use today?

I would fix our back deck, because the wood's rotting away and we've been having trouble getting someone to come out and replace the flooring. Time's getting short, weather's getting colder, and if I had the skills and the muscles I'd go out and hammer some boards on myself.

7. What's something you think is too expensive to justify buying lately?

Magazines. I read them in waiting rooms instead.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Last night we had an "international buffet." We had already eaten Monday's turkey leftovers in sandwiches, so for supper we had (freezer meal) curried chicken, Vietnamese-style frozen spring rolls, a few Ukrainian pork dumplings, turkey dressing, and leftover Caesar salad. I still have leftover cranberry sauce, but I can usually figure out something to do with that. (Apple-cranberry pie might be nice.)

Linked from Fly Me to the Hodgepodge at This Side of the Pond.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Quote for the day: Delightful Leisure

I found this posted in our archives and thought it was worth reposting.
"You are, in short, blind, and should take a week or a month of delightful leisure during which you set aside all these lowly values that have enslaved you, open your eyes to honor and virtue, engage in a pleasant humanizing conversation with some truly wise people, and, well, repent of your miserable miserliness. Because the more actively you inflict your vision on education, the more damage you are doing."

"There is no education without leisure for the simple reason that education is a leisure activity. It requires all of the other values: controls, freedom, money, and honor. But its only true end is virtue for the simple reason that only virtue is big enough to rightly order the other goods. The wise man knows where and how to get honor, money, freedom, and controls, and he knows how to use them. Because he is not driven by them as by an unruly mob. Instead he governs them."

--from "Leisure, Plato’s Republic, and American Education(read the rest!)

Posted on Quiddity, December 9, 2008 by Andrew Kern