4/08/2024

I love to plan menus

 

It's been a while since I posted.  I. recently spent a good deal of time dictating a post about gardening with impaired vision.  It was a long, detailed post.  I had included not only specific plants and their growth habits, but also criteria to follow to when looking for plants if you have impaired vision. 

I had the draft to the point that it was ready for my husband to edit, and I somehow managed to lose the entire post.  I spent a good deal of time trying to retrieve it--to no avail.  I just couldn't get up the gumption to try to re-create it,  and have not even looked at my computer for days and days.  But I'm beginning to recover and have decided to go on to something else.

For  Eastern I had the fun of putting together a menu for dinner.  For me, putting together the menu is more fun than the actual cooking and serving if the dinner.  Nowadays by the time I get the meal cooked, Im too tired to enjoy it.

On Easter the main appetizer was  seared tuna with a sauce.  The main course was corned beef braised in beer and a cauliflower-and-parsnip mash served with steamed asparagus and a purple cabbage slaw.  For dessert I had homemade ice cream and huckleberry pie. 

When I was discussing with a friend how much I like to plan menus,.she said she did the same.  Also every year she planned her own birthday party.  Everything from the table settings to the menu.  And she has never had the party--just planned it.

I think that sounds like a great idea.  My birthday is coming up in a couple months.  I'm going to plan a fantastic party.  And not invite anybody.  I'll have all the fun of tweaking a menu and none of the work preparing it.  

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3/21/2024

throwing in the towel


When it comes to plants , I don't often  throw in the towel. But this spring I'm going to do just that with the fox tail lily.   When I left the farm, there were plants that I absolutely wanted to move with me.  And at the top of that list were the fox tail lilies. 

I took some starter plants, I took some seed, and I even ordered extra plants online.  All to make  doubly sure I’d have that plant with me.  But it didn't happen.

I got the original plant from a start I dug up in a vacant lot.  It was growing wild.  I planted it on the north side of the barn.  It not only grew, it thrived and self-seeded untill I had a large patch, and I was able to move it to other other parts of the garden.  It’s tall and stately and the spectacular flowers open slowly like a beautiful sunset.

It's hardy, drought tolerant, disease free and long lived  It’s only shortcoming is it’s fussy about being relocated.  Instead of a root or bulb, it has a tuborous corm that grows close to the surface in a spiral.

I loft oe area of the new garden free--just in case one of the seeds or roots decided to make an appearance.  This is the fourth spring, and  it has not appeared

So if  it isn't here by the end of May, I will plant that area with bully plants and mourn the loss of one of my favorites. 

I seldom give up on a plant.  I even had a pin on my hat that stated.: I don’t consider.anything dead until I kill it myself”

If you get a chance to add it to your garden, please do.  It’s not easy to come by. 

3/16/2024

if old, go bold

 


Yesterday my friend Kathy came over and she put the crimps and clasps on the jewelry pieces I had just finished.  We spent the afternoon discussing our favorite subjects, cooking and gardening.  As usual,   she did not come empty handed and brought a wonderful loaf of her homemade bread, a plate of cookies, and a packet of squash seeds.  Before she left, we walked around the garden and admired the rhubarb poking up, a little  yellow crocus, and the brave chives that were bursting from the ground.

I could not have attempted the jewelry project without having her as a backup for what I can’t do.  No one could describe these pieces as delicate or demure.  My motto is, “If you're old, go bold.”   It's not that I need  new jewelry, but it's fun to have something new to wear at the beginning of spring. 

3/11/2024

worth the extra money after all.

Whenever I meet someone who has been diagnosed with macular my advice is always the same: start now to master dictation and text readers.  We all think we don't need them yet.  But once you do need it, it is so much harder to learn a new technology.

Learning to use dictation it's fairly easy and allows you to reach out to people.  But if you don't master the text reader, no one can respond. You really need to know how to use both.

My new phone has a text reader feature which I am trying to learn now. Unfortunately, all the instructions are in text that I can't read.

The dictation and the text reader on my old Word program were abysmal because it was so old and outdated.  I tried to buy  a new Word program.  Now you can't buy the program outright.  You have to pay  a yearly fee to use the newest  version.

I figured it was a waste of money, but I was really wrong.  Both dictation and the text reader on the new word program worked beautifully and in sync.  I couldn't be happier. I only wish the narrator on Microsoft Windows 10  worked as well.  It’s so frustrating as well as being complicated.  The Word text reader only works on Word and not on the internet.  So I am still struggling for anything on the internet.   

Now for the blog I use Word dictation instead of dictation on my phone. Then I listen to it with Word text reader, and then my  husband does  the final editing.

This is all going more smoothly now.  The only glitch is inserting pictures. Somehow my picture file system is all messed up.  I am now focusing on the picture problem.  So in the end, getting the new Word program was worth the extra money after all.   

3/03/2024

old costume jewelry renewed

 


I did manage to get a two-strand necklace from the beads I recently posted.  I had to work out a few technical issues and restring one of the strands.  I am happy with it and it is ready for my friend to finish the ends.

 I had these plastic beading trays with grooves, and   they are working well for me.

I have the beads settled in the grooves, so I don’t have to worry about them shifting. 

 I want to make a couple of turquoise necklaces while I'm in the mood.  I gathered two necklaces, two bracelets, and one money clip.   I will see what I can do with them.  My criterion was finding beads with a hole  large enough that I can feel it.

 We had rain, snow, and hail this last week.  So this project is just what I needed.  It’s not that I need more jewelry, because I seldom go anywhere anymore.  But just playing with beads will help pass the time until I  can work in the garden.

2/23/2024

comment on old post

 When I reached a point I couldn't see the computer screen, I was completely dependent upon text reader  and dictation features.  I stopped blogging altogether for about a year.  I really missed this outside connection to the world at large. 

When I started again I figured my reader level would be zero.  And maybe   without readers, the blog would be gone altogether.  But to my amazement it was not only there, but the daily visitor levels were in the thousands due to old posts linked to sites throughout the internet.   

It was really encouraging that I was still having readers even when I wasn't putting   new material up.  So at least the old material was still relevant to someone. Yesterday I received a comment on a blog that I did over 15 years ago.  It was like getting a virtual hug.  It made me so happy that I decided to blog again and made me even more resolved to keep tackling  obstacles that stand in my way. 

It is now really a new blog in a way that the old blog was about a strong woman tackling life head on.  The new blog is about a not-so-strong woman struggling to make her way with new and now harder challenges.

PS:  The blog post mentioned was on recycling bedside tables

I have one of these bedside tables I purchased for my husband 10 years ago. The top eventually popped off as the screws were short and into pressboard.
It's been sitting around waiting to be repaired or donated as is, as I replaced it with a better hospital bed side-table for hubby from a thrift store.
I've got the best idea for it's used now. Next to the sewing machine for an extra table for trimming or pressing I can lower or raise for sitting or standing.
Thanks for the idea you shared on craftystorage blogspot after I had watched a Martelli youtube of their Omni Stand height adjustable table as then I searched for recycling a hospital bed side table in sewing room.
Thanks for sharing. Ann

2/20/2024

Remember brooches>


When is the last time you wore a brooch?  Can you even remember women used to wear a brooch on their blouse or on the lapel of their jacket?  Who has a lapel anyway?  Ten years ago I would see all these discarded vintage brooches and had to collect them, of course.  Eventually I had a drawer full of them and started trying ways to use them.  I put them on hair clips; I grouped them in necklaces; and I used them on needlework.  
 


The two black brooches on this necklace were very old. I combined them with two necklaces, and now it is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.  As I found pieces that might be compatible, I slipped them into a Ziplock bag and set them aside. 


Recently I ran across a bag that had three necklaces, none of which I would wear by themselves.  But they seemed to be so compatible, and it was about time that I did something with them.

 

The beads were large enough and had distinct shapes that I thought I would be able to string them using a beading wire.  I couldn't  finish the ends, but I had a friend I know would help me. So I spent a few days trying to figure out how I could do this, and I think I have the plan if it works. I have several other bags with groups of vintage jewelry that I would love to do something with.  Even if it doesn't work, it will be a pleasant few days just trying, and certainly beats vacuuming or cleaning baseboards. 

2/15/2024

I need a change in attitude

When I awoke this morning my first thought was that  the pears I bought last week would be ripe enough to make a sour cream/pear/almond tart. My second thought was that there were enough leftovers from last night to make corn fritters and poached eggs for breakfast this morning. Maybe I would wear  my favorite blue apron  as  it looked like a cookery day.

I would be doing something creative, the house would smell good, and my husband would be happy.

 find most days long and boring   I will probably not die from a heart attack or a stroke; I will die from boredom.  But that would be totally unlikely, because with a slight change in attitude--well, maybe a major change in attitude--I should be happy and busy  all day, every day.

There is no reason why I can't clean house for hours  and like  it just as much as I do cooking or working in the garden.  I know there are women who luve  to clean house.  I have a neighbor who, every time she answers her door, has her rubber gloves on  and is scrubbing away. I have another friend who loves ironing and  irons absolutely everything.  But she hates to work in the garden.

I could vacuum twice a day, first going north/south and then east/west.  I could also  wash the windows every day.  Going vertical and then horizontal.  I know it is hard for you to believe, but I've lived in this house now for almost 4 years and have never scrubbed the base boards.  

 

My cleaning the other day included taking out a kitchen drawer and washing everything in it and putting it back.  And then I cleaned and polished the handle on the refrigerator.  What next? I know it’s hard to believe, but I have been in this house four years and have never cleaned the baseboards. 

Luckily it is mid-February and spring is just around the corner, and I will soon be able to “keep yard,” which makes me happy.  

I did get down on my knees and check the baseboards and, sure enough, when I ran my finger along the top, they were dusty.  One positive thing about losing your sight is you don't see the dirt.

 Until spring does arrive, I will  wear rubber gloves and hold a sponge when I open the door and announce I was just going to scrub the baseboards.

  

2/10/2024

A friend in deed is a friend indeed....

Friends say, “Just call anytime and I will come.”

Calling too often  would be taking advantage of their kindness. So I have given a lot of thought to help from friends.

 

After a friend leaves, I  invariably think of something I should have asked them to do for me.  I need to keep  clipboards handy, with one for each friend.  And also an  ongoing  “quick” list of  things that anyone can help with. So if someone stops by, I can get something off the list quickly.  Things like thread a few needles, help with filing something, or just look for something that I can't see. I always have something lost.

 I want to keep in mind the the strengths my friends have.  One friend is very   computer savvy; another is a gardener and needle worker; and another likes to shop at thrift stores.  So I can pick something that a friend may enjoy. as well as being a help to me.

 One of my friends who has the busiest life has set aside one to two hours two days a  month on Wednesdays  just for me.  I can plan on it and she helps with online tasks such as mail orders,  banking, etc.  We can whiz right through when she comes.

Another friend goes to nurseries, Trader Joe's, and the Asian market. She will call and invite me along. Since she's going anyway, I feel I'm not imposing.  

 When I lunch with my sister, I try to work in a stop at a drugstore or a dollar store   to pick up the little things. I always seem to need.  She is also my go-to person for reading cards.  It's hard to have someone willing to stand there and read a dozen cards aloud until you find the one that is just right.

 My daughter-in-law comes twice a year.  I count on her to help me with things not so easy for other people.  Last spring she helped me shop for a recliner. This fall we shopped for my new mattress.  Already I know when she comes in the spring that we will be shopping for tiles for the back splash in the kitchen,  and also advertise some things I want to sell.  

 The most precious help I get from my friends is lifting my spirits.  There is no antidepressant like love, laughter, and lunch with a friend.    

2/02/2024

About to embrace the mixes


When my older son was a preschooler, his friend Mikey used to come over and bake with us. He went home one day and told his mom that Steve's mother was so cool that she could make a cake without a box.

 I've always loved baking and it's a good way to pass the time.  So using a cake mix to save time really defeated the purpose.  I mostly bake pie and yeast breads for my husband.  I hardly need a recipe for these and they're pretty difficult to mess up.  I like a cookie or a piece of cake when I want something sweet.  These require more finesse in the preparation.  I try to memorize as many recipes as I can or write them out in large letters. Sometimes I keep a  special magnifier at hand in the kitchen and also have my husband measure things.  Even still I have many disasters and need to do something different at this point.

 I know that a large section  of the baking aisle are mixes of all kinds.  I think they're probably just what I need at this time.  Something with   few ingredients.  So the next time I'm at the grocery store, I'm going to have my husband read the labels and find out just what's offered.

 

I did have one cake mix that I used for quite a few years.  When my second son was about six, he went to a birthday party and fell in love with the cake.  I asked the mom for the recipe and she told me it was a Betty Crocker cherry cake mix.   She used a can of cherry pie filling for between the layers.  The can of pie filling had very few cherries and was mostly thickener.  She covered it all with a can of pre-made frosting.  The whole thing was neon pink and bursting with artificial flavoring and coloring.  But every year I bought that cake mix for Scott's birthday.

 When he was in his 30s, they stopped making the mix.  I dreaded telling him that it was unavailable after all those years.  He said, “Don't worry, Mom.  I really didn't like that cake mix  anymore anyway.”  ally didn't like that cake mix  anymore anyway.”  

      

 

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1/28/2024

Help from strangers

  


It used to be embarrassing to ask for help from anyone  as I want to do everything myself.  But in fact I know I not only need help, I need lots of help and I need it often.

At one point I realized that I'd better give it some serious thought, especially on how to ask for and accept help from strangers.  Over and over I had to explain “I have vision problems.”

 


Often when I‘m in a crowded or strange place, I get disoriented.  I just  need to stop and stand until I feel safe. But I know when I do this, people think I am scary or demented.

 

 

One deciding difference that I made is wearing a button which says, “Vision  Impaired.”  It immediately does away with repeatedly having to explain what is wrong with me.  This one small thing has made getting help from strangers so much easier.

 

Now it does not bother me to ask someone where I am or where I need to go. I even ask people to read my list to see if I have everything in my basket at the store.  And I have no embarrassment   asking someone,   “Can you help me?” because they read the button and immediately understand. 

 

I’ve shopped at the same store for decades and  know genearally where most things are.  For instance, I know pumpkin is in the sixth aisle on the bottom shelf on the right hand side. This is fine until they move it. Then I have to ask someone. 

 

I recently had  to cross a street by myself in Seattle.  

I asked  a stranger if I could hang on to their elbow to cross the street.  I also need help from strangers with elevators, as I have had several  problems with elevators since I can't see the panel.  Now I wait at the door for someone to get on.  Or I grab someone who is getting off and have them push the buttons for me.

 

I ask strangers to read price tags for me, write down numbers for me, and tell me how many steps I have left to go when descending stairs.

 

Asking for help from strangers now is just second nature and not so  embarrassing    Wearing the button is instant communication and has made all the difference.   The buttons are available several places on the internet.  I bought a dozen and keep an extra in my purse.  

1/22/2024

A Miracle

 n the late 1960s I had a  collection of tiny gold nuggets added  to a  gold ring. I had worn it over 50 years as a keepsake on the 14 wonderful years I spent teaching in Alaska.  It was not only special because of the Akaska nuggets; it was special because I had my mother's diamond mounted on it after she died.

 Just before the COVID vaccine was released, I contracted COVID and was very ill for almost two weeks.

During that time I lost quite a bit of weight and my ring was loose.  When I recovered, I discovered my ring was missing.  The odds were it was someplace in the house, as the only other place I had been was to urgent care.

That was 2 1/2 years ago, and I have searched the entire house over and over--to no avail.   Every time I vacuumed, I listened for a noise of something sucked up.

 

When I got a new mattress last November and moved the bedroom furniture, I again searched, in case  it was buried in the carpet.

 So 2 1/2 years have gone by and still no ring.

 The other day we bought groceries and I was putting some of the frozen items  into the freezer which is in the garage.  I dropped a package of bacon, and  when I picked it up, I felt something  on the floor  at the base of the freezer.     Lo and behold, it was my ring!     I had gone in and out of the freezer numerous times and had never seen it.

 My Italian friend tells me that there is an old proverb, “The house never loses anything--it just hides it.”  But the house hiding it in the garage just doesn't seem fair.

 I am so tickled to have the ring back on my hand I keep touching it every few minutes to make sure it's still there.

 Now there is just one thing that is lost that would make   my happiness complete if found.   I had the one last   project I was working on. It was combining gold work   with fancy fabrics.  It was a culmination of years of   developing my needlework skills and was going to be my last hurrah.  It was the result of several years’ work. It disappeared about a year   ago and has never surfaced. I have searched and searched and I had a dear friend help me search some more.  I can only assume that I discarded it by mistake Now that I have found the ring, maybe there is hope for finding my precious needlework.

1/17/2024

“Ole Buttermilk Sky.

 

 

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 In the 1940s, Hoagy Carmichael had a hit song entitled “Ole Buttermilk Sky.” Not only is the sky over my house a buttermilk sky, everything in the house has buttermilk in it.  Before  Christmas, I had seen   turkey brined in buttermilk. We were just having turkey thighs, but I decided to try the buttermilk brine.   DH bought 1/2 gallon of buttermilk, so I had plenty of buttermilk left over.  I started to look for ways to use it up. We have had buttermilk waffles, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk yeast rolls,

buttermilk quiche, and   buttermilk ice cream.   But I have pretty much figured out that anything that uses heavy cream can be  substituted with buttermilk.

 

I have really liked everything that I've made with the buttermilk except the brine for the turkey, which didn't   make any difference in the turkey at all.  The buttermilk ice cream was OK, but I wouldn’t make it again.

 

Every once in a while I buy ricotta cheese when I want to make lasagna. Then it's always a chore to think of ways to use the rest of the rest of the carton.  I've been listening to video recipes on the computer.  I had made ricotta crepes, and they were delicious.  But I needed a few more recipes.  Lo and behold, if a recipe calls for cream, you can most likely substitute ricotta.  I found recipes for ricotta cakes, ricotta chocolate mousse, ricotta pasta, ricotta spreads, etc.

 

The recipe that I most want to try is for ricotta gnocchi.     My dear Italian friend makes potato gnocchi, which are like little clouds, whereas my potato gnocchi are like clumps of paste.  She has even given me hands-on lessons--to no avail.  I can hardly wait to try making them with ricotta cheese.  Maybe it will be my gnocchi breakthrough.   

 

 

1/09/2024

wair a minute...I'm the Grand,ma

 

The other day I was checking what was in my  refrig and found I had all the ingredients to make cabbage rolls.  It occurred to me that I had been making  cabbage rolls the same way for the last 60 years and I just needed to do something different. 

 First I looked on Google and there were multiple cabbage-roll recipes "like your grandmother used to make."  I am the grandmother and I don't want cabbage rolls like I used to make--I wanted to reinvent cabbage rolls.  

 When I checked out some online videos, I found a lot of Hungarian, German, Polish, etc. recipes, which is just like I always make.  But I also found Vietnamese cabbage rolls, Greek cabbage rolls with a white sauce, and Italian cabbage rolls.  So I started thinking about it and decided I was going to change almost every  ingredient in my recipe.   I would use a different meat, a different cabbage, a different sauce, etc.

In short, I was going to reinvent my cabbage rolls.  To begin with, I had always used ground beef and will substitute ground pork mixed with some deli corned beef.  In the past, I have always used rice.  Now I’d like to use barley instead.  But I don't have any barley.  I do have  some chickpeas, which I will put in the blender.  I replaced regular cabbage with milder Napa cabbage.  A tomato-cream soup can replace the tomatoes, and, a Swiss cheese instead of the usual sour cream.

 These  new ingredients were reminding me of a Reuben sandwich.  Anyway, I tried the changes and it was different and delicious.  I want to get the ingredients for the Greek version and wlll use a lemon-wine sauce and ground lamb.

 You can tell I'm bored when I start reinventing recipes.  Also, this week I'm going to do an old pastry recipe--a  poppy-seed roll.  I will add    jam to the filling as well...why not?    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When what do you have any garbage noWhen

 

1/05/2024

Read any good books lately?

 

Long ago I exhausted the number of   audio books in our local library. Luckily the Lilac Services for the Blind enrolled me in  the  Washington Talking Books program for the visually impaired.

 This program is affiliated with similar programs nationwide, and the book selection seems endless.  If your future contains declining vision or you know someone with impaired vision, seek out this free resource.  

I can download audio books onto my phone or on a special player I have on loan from Lilac Services for the Blind.   The books  come seven at a time on a special cassette.  I have three cassettes going at a time…one I’m listening to, one in the mail going for refill, and one in the mail coming to me.  I am never without  audio books. 

 I used to be able to order them myself from the website .  Now  I need help from my friends to keep enough books ordered.   

 Finding new books and new authors with their continual challenge.  I discovered that I can ask Google to find a list of authors similar to the ones I like.   I had my daughter-in-law do this for me.  She made a master list  of about 70 such authors.  I can have a friend use this list to help me order books.  I try to keep about 50 books ordered ahead.

  Sometimes I have to listen to a book twice.  This is not bad if I really like the book.  If I didn't, I can just fast forward to it to the end.  But if I really love the book the first time, I find I love it reading again.  It's like visiting an old  friend. 

 I'm going to start looking for new authors by genre.  I'll probably start with books about dogs.  You can never go wrong with a dog story.  If you have a favorite author no--matter what the genre--I would love to hear about it.

1/02/2024

 

Some projects just get buried and never seem to get done. This is one that is a miracle that it is finally going to be framed. Somehow a piece of the very first needlework that I did survived almost eighty years and countless moves.  When I found it years ago I wrapped it in tissue and kept it with my most prescious keepsakes. Meaning always to frame it. 
Whenever it surfaced, I never had a frame.  And when I had a frame, I didn't know where the needlework was.

 

In the 1940s, my mother and her sister each divorced their husband at the same time. They bought an old yellow convertible and took off for California to celebrate their freedom.   They were both still in their 20s, and there were many young servicemen returning from the war and landing in California. The only damper was that my mother and her sister each had young daughter tagging along.   I was almost 8 at the time.     

To keep me bus and quiet, my mother bought an embroidery kit.   It   included  seven stamped kitchen towels, an embroidery hoop, thread, and even needles.  There was a towel stamped for each day of the week.  As I look at the front and back of it now, I’m quite proud of this first effort of a very young child.

As my mother hoped, it did indeed keep me busy and quiet, and it was the first of many such embroidery kits.  I immediately loved it and it was the beginning of a lifelong passion for anything using a needle.   And she did indeed meet a handsome young serviceman, and they were married almost 50 years before he died.   He was the best stepfather a young girl could get.


 

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