Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Busy Tom

Yesterday Tom got started on spreading that big pile of leaves that has been sitting in our driveway.  The pile has been cooking away, and he says it's 120 degrees inside, so he has warmth while he works

The beds that have been mulched so far have  a nice fluffy blanket for the winter.
Today he has been busy preparing for a new member of our household who is to arrive this weekend. Son Jake is moving and can't take his cat so Jozy is coming to live with us.  We haven't had a cat here for a long time, and when we did, we trained them to live here in our style.  But Jozy, who was a five-year-old rescue cat when Jake got her, has been trained to a cat door.

Tom doesn't want a cat door in an outside door that any other cat or squirrel or raccoon can wander into.  Jake will be bringing the cat door that fits into a slider window.

So Tom installed a cat door from the laundry room into the garage.

 He built a platform inside the laundry room window where the cat door will be installed,
 And a walkway outside the window for Jozy to get access.
 It all sounds very complicated, but I just hope it works.  You see Jozy is a hunter and likes to bring her rats and mice and whatever into the house, sometimes not yet dead.  She also apparently barfs a lot.  I want to be able to shut her off from the rest of the house by closing the laundry room door when we are not around.  Nasty surprises are not my cup of tea.

I will let her join us in the family room.  It would be nice if she actually uses this to scratch and not my furniture.  I'll try rubbing some catnip on it to get her interested.
I have friends whose kids have moved back home.  Would that be easier that their pets?  Not sure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action

 With the return of dry weather, Tom was able to get back outside and finish the outdoor lighting.  The house lights are for the neighbors.  The white lights in the front yard are for us to enjoy from inside, since our house sets back off the street.

 On Saturday I got all of my pottery collection packed away and the shelves cleared.  Sunday we went shopping for fabric and gift wrap and wreaths and we even bought a new Christmas tree!

We've had our artificial tree for about 18 years.  It has to be assembled branch by branch, and then lights have to be strung.  It's a lot of work, and the tree was beginning to look it's age.  We found a pretty Frazier Fir pre-lit with colored lights for a decent price at Costco, compared it with one other place, then went back and bought it.  

It's still in the box in the garage.  We'll put it up later, maybe next weekend, when the kids are here to help decorate it.

But I'm working on other decorations.  Yesterday evening Tom helped me unpack the Santa collection and I got it up on the shelves...
 and the mantel...
 and spread through out the house.

Today I organized my sewing projects and began making a dress for Irene.  I also got in my 3.5 mile walk and made turkey soup.

We're entering the busy season.  With decorating and sewing and baking and keeping up with the exercise, we also have kids this year.  Jill and I coordinated our calendars Saturday to take advantage of local events of the holiday season.  

There's plenty of action.  I'll grab my camera now and then to keep you up on it all.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Moving On to the Next Holiday

Yesterday morning we enjoyed catching up with friends at our Friday morning breakfast.  We have our calendars set for our Christmas shop field trip and our Lucia dinner.

On the way home we stopped at the Wild Birds Unlimited store for bird seed, and looked next door and a few doors down at Trader Joe's and Albertsons for mincemeat.  We struck out on the mincemeat.

I use mincemeat in my fruit cake, which I decided to make again this year. I had already looked at Safeway and QFC.  There was one more place to try - Fred Meyer.  Oh, oh.  I forgot about the socks at Fred Meyer.  Lots of people buying their half-off socks for the year.

Anyway, they had mincemeat!  With the brandy I picked up at the liquor store by Trader Joe's I'm set to make fruitcake on Sunday, when we expect the next rain storm.

But yesterday was beautiful!  So in the afternoon I got out to rake up the lawn.

Tom took the leaf blower to the roof to clean it off and then treat the moss.  And then he worked on Christmas lights.
I used the blower to clean up the patio and then finished raking the lawn.

Everything is nice and tidy now, at least until the next wind storm.
And we have lights on the house!

We will be meeting Jill and the kids at the airport later this morning as they make their way home from their Colorado Thanksgiving.  We have plans to discuss about places to go and do and see during the holiday season.  And secret shopping to plan too.  I have kids this year!

We're moving on to Christmas!  Let's have some fun!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

 I'm giving thanks today for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

The turkey was done on schedule and wonderfully smokey and juicy, thanks to Tom, who monitored it faithfully.

There were no lumps in the gravy thanks to the help of  son Jake who whisked vigorously as I added the thickening.  The mashed potatoes were smooth thanks to Cousin Dan.  Those fresh herbs made for a wonderfully aromatic stuffing. Jan and Ann brought lovely hors d' oeuvres.  Aunt Evelyn added cake and fresh berries to the dessert table.

But mostly I'm thankful that we could be together, mixing family and friends of three generations, and share in the good food and good fortune that we enjoy.  As some of us reminisced about the "old days", and realized how far we've come in sixty years, we all felt very fortunate to be where we are today.

Jake added that he was thankful for the Internet.  Me too.  You, my virtual friends and family, are very real and important to me too.

And right now I'm thankful that it's another new day, the sun is shining, and instead of going shopping in the wee hours, I've had a good night's sleep and now I'm off to have Friday morning breakfast with friends.

I'm a little tired today.  But it's a good tired.

Sorry.  I have no new photos for today.  I was too busy yesterday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cooking Up a Storm

The November rain storm continues outside.  Inside the house is full of the great aromas of Thanksgiving food.

This morning I picked up the little arrangement I ordered for the table.  Then we pulled the giblets out of the perfectly defrosted turkey, added celery, onion and fresh herbs, and as the stock simmered, the good smells began.  

Tom went outside to clean up the front walk and driveway and to pick fresh herbs from the garden.

Next I started the base for the brine for the turkey.  More good smells.  Then the cranberry orange sauce.  Yum.  Yams went into the oven to bake.  After lunch and a workout on the stationary bike, I started the stuffing.

I chopped the herbs that Tom had prepped, diced onion and celery and mushrooms.  Sausage, then mushrooms went into one pan, celery and onions and herbs in the other.

The stock had cooled and was strained. When everything was cooled, it all went together with the white and wheat bread cubes and one package of prepared cornbread stuffing.
It's now in the refrigerator, awaiting tomorrow morning.  The turkey is in the brine and in the cool garage.

The table is set.  Here's a peek.
There's still plenty to do tomorrow, but it's all under control.  Guests are expected about 1:00 or before.  Dinner is set for 2:00, but that all depends on the turkey.

And lest I forget, Tom and I have so much to be thankful for.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about how fortunate we are.  

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL.  May your turkey be tasty, and your day filled with friendship and love, and gratitude.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This week is all about Thanksgiving - preparing for the big day.  

I should start off by saying how wonderful it is to have all the time needed to do all we want to do.  Retirement is such a blessing!

Yesterday we cleaned house thoroughly, and I made pie dough. 

The experts all say you should thoroughly chill the dough before rolling it out.  I used to just make it and bake it.  It usually worked just fine. I have also taken to using a food processor to make the pie dough, knowing that you have to be careful not to over do the mixing or the water.  I have played with butter vs shortening amounts.  It seems like the more I know, the harder time I have getting the dough just right so that it rolls out easily.

Well, this morning I did OK with the hazelnut dough for the pumpkin pie, which is something new this year. The pie crust, that is.  The filling recipe is straight off the Libby can.

But when I tried to roll out the dough for the apple pie, it was a crumbly mess.  I was watching Martha Stewart at the time, and she was making pie dough, so I just stopped and watched.  She added more water and pulsed the processor longer.  

So I threw away the crumbly mess, whipped up a new batch, with more water and a few seconds more pulsing, rolled it out right then, plopped in the apple filling that was ready and waiting and put it in the oven.  Wa-lah.  Perfect pie.  

I baked a few scraps and tasted it so I know it's as good as it looks. 

This apple pie is called 'Mother's Comfort Pie', and it's a recipe son Jake linked through Facebook.  It has Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese in the crust and in the filling.  I hope it's tasty, and comforting. ;-)

Tom has the bar-be-que grill and the apple wood chips ready to go for cooking the turkey on Thursday.  The turkey is thawing.   Tom also dug some carrots and beets and parsnips from the garden for the roasted vegetable medley.

That's it for today.  I'll go do my work out in the stationary bike, since it's one of those nasty, cold and rainy, gray days outside.    The house is cozy though, with the smell of baked pie.

Tomorrow there is a long list of prep to do, including fun things like setting and decorating the table.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We woke this morning to frozen fog.  After walking out to the street to get the newspaper, I grabbed my camera to take a few shots.

 The sun was trying to burn through, and eventually it did.
After a slow start, I checked the turkey ads to see where I should shop.  I decided I needed to take advantage of the sales to get my Christmas turkey.  QFC had the best deal today, $.39 per pound if you spend $25.  No problem. 

I went grocery shopping and then Tom and I went to REI to shop their winter sale for Christmas gifts.  Back home, I had a slow lunch, watched the Seahawks game get under way, and then bundled up to go for a 3.7 mile walk while listening to the game on my ipod.  I was back home to watch much of the second half.  We won again! Amazing!  

I'm still working on getting the Sunday paper read.  When I finish this post I'll go check out the editorials.  We're also watching the Major League Soccer Final for the MLS Cup - LA Galaxy vs Huston Dynamo.  Soccer has a very long season!  I'm glad I'm not still standing in the stadium, out in the cold.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Settling Down

After the drama of stove/no stove this last week, I am working on slowing down a bit.  

Last night Jill, Corey and the kids joined us for that pot roast dinner, followed by brownie sundaes.  Everyone left well fed.

This morning Tom and I accepted an invitation to accompany some friends to a holiday bazaar at Pacific Lutheran University.  We found a few items to buy as Christmas gifts and a few more decorations for the house, not that I need any more decorations!  We had lunch together and enjoyed some good visiting.

It was 2:30 before we got back home.  I got the laundry done, did a workout on the stationary bike and fixed leftovers for dinner.  Now we'll settle in for what looks to be a cold night.

In today's mail I got the first of the paper work that will be coming to settle Mom's estate and disperse the inheritance among her five surviving children. It still amazes my siblings and me that she was able to provide for her care and still leave a sizable estate after living so frugally all her life.  We'll have to be good stewards of her legacy.

I'll do the paperwork tomorrow.  For today, I'm done.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home, Home Is My Range

This has been an interesting process, as those of you who follow me on Facebook already know.

My oven controls went out on Monday.  I called for service on Tuesday and got a same day appointment.  The verdict was that my old range was "condemned".  The needed part was no longer available. 

Tuesday afternoon Tom and I went shopping.  Since we were looking for a white, slide-in, element top range that we could get right away, our choices were limited.  We found what we needed at Sears.  Delivery was scheduled for Thursday.  Hurrah!

Wednesday I got a call that the range had been damaged, so another one was being sent and it would be available at Will Call on Thursday.  Will call?  What about delivery?  The Two different people I talked to said delivery was not indicated, and delivery would be late next week at the earliest.  Tom and I made plans to go get the thing ourselves, and hope a neighbor could help us move in the new one and move out the old one.  

Them about 9:30 last night we got a call from the delivery service guy, saying they would install the range the next day, Thursday, between 1:00 and 3:00.  The delivery man just laughed at our confusion, saying Sears was so backed up and mixed up that they didn't know what they were doing.  He was there helping them make the notification phone calls.  Rejoicing, but with reservation.

This morning I got a robo call telling me that the shipment was delayed, and the range would be available Thursday the 17th.  Well, it is the 17th, so what the h**l does that mean?

We were just about at Costco this morning a little before noon when Tom got a call on his cell.  The delivery guy would be there about 12:15.  Amazing!  I hurried him home, dropped him off, and went back to Costco.

Sure enough, installation was in progress when I got home.

There was a lot of laughing and pounding and drilling going on, so I unpacked my Costco purchases and then went up stairs to hide out. This went on for about an hour.  Turns out we had to pay $60 to install an outlet, since the old stove had been hard wired in.

Finally the installer guys were off.  I emerged from the nether recesses and checked things out.
I have a new kitchen stove!  It works!  The oven was set to 500 for 30 minutes to break it in.
 I read the instruction book, played with the controls, and moved in.
That daily planner to the left of the range is my checklist for each day.  I have checked off "Install new range", and "thaw pot roast".  I'll actually be able to cook that pot roast for my family tomorrow!

All's well that ends well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We Need More Leaves - Really?

All of those pretty red leaves don't add up to much when you want to mulch all of the planting beds on our half acre property.  

So Tom gets more.  The man who inspects and flushes out our sprinkler system Spring and Fall has a yard service company.  His crew collects truck loads of leaves from the properties they service. They have to pay to dump them at the compost recycling plant, so they are happy to dump a couple of loads free in our driveway.

The leaves have been semi-shredded by the vacuum system that collects them.  Tom will let them "age" for a couple of weeks, and then haul and spread them around the yard.  

With a fresh layer of leaf mulch, the garden will be bedded down for the  winter. The mulch will keep down weeds, protect the soil from rain compaction, and the worms will go crazy digesting them and working them into the soil.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Free Turkey and a New Range

I was on the phone first thing this morning calling for service on my range.  Using the Internet I found several options and got an appointment for today on the second try.  The repair man would come between 11:00 and 1:00.  I left Tom in charge and went grocery shopping.

The Safeway store is just a few blocks from our house, so I do almost all of my shopping there.  Their deal on turkeys was spent $150 and get the turkey free.  I decided I could probably do that if I just added some of the Christmas baking supplies I would need later to my already long list.  No problem.  The turkey was free.  I spent over $200!  But according to the receipt, I saved $117.00!  It's a good thing I buy things on sale.

Robert the Repair Man arrived about 12:45.  He was great! He spent over an hour tracking down the problem.  He found the parts that needed to be replaced, and called to check on availability.  Problem.

My Whirlpool range is about 12 years old but the part was no longer available.  Robert was surprised at that, since Whirlpool is usually pretty good at having parts, but they are only required to keep them for ten years. The good thing was that the charge was only $60.  Robert said they only charge the basic fee when they have to "condemn" the appliance.  :-(

As soon as we said good-bye to Robert, Tom and I were out the door to go shopping for a new range.  At Lowes we would have to order the range in white - they only had stainless- and it would take two to three weeks.  Sears couldn't get another Whirlpool until Nov.28, but they had a white slide-in Kenmore.  The Sears clerk called Albert Lee for us, but they couldn't do anything for us until next week.  

Next week is Thanksgiving!  I need to bake things!

So we bought the Kenmore.  We hope to have delivery this week.

It's a good thing the turkey was free. :-/

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sewing Season

The rain held off again today, and I got my walk in this morning, plus some errands run.

I have been sorting through some old albums and other memorabilia that I brought home from my mother's assisted living apartment.  I finally finished culling and determined what I wanted to save, so I bought a plastic storage tub to store it in and got that loaded up.

Tom worked outside and got the rest of the raised bed spading done and the cold frames ready to move the Bonsai into.

Now I will be getting to some sewing projects.  Today I made a table cloth for Thanksgiving.

I have enough of the center fabric to make eight napkins, and I'll use the serger to finish the edges tomorrow.  

I'm also planning to go buy my turkey and other non-fresh stuff for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.  The new thing this year seems to be that the price of the turkey per pound depends on how much other stuff you purchase at the same time.  Spend $150, and you get the turkey free.  I'm aiming at the $100 level and the turkey will be $.39 per pound.

There is a complication though.  My range is malfunctioning.  When I was cooking dinner tonight I noticed that there was nothing in the electronic display.  None of the buttons work for the oven or the timer or the clock, and the oven is locked!  Great.

First thing tomorrow I'll be calling for service.   On line I discovered that Sears Service doesn't have any appointments until Nov. 22!  Help!  I won't be calling them.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Blustery Day

It's very breezy today, but the rain has held off.  Over at Century Link Field the fans are very happy to be dry and have their Hawks ahead, currently 22-7 against the Baltimore Ravens in the 3rd quarter.  

This morning I was reading through the Sunday paper ads and saw a fireplace screen on sale at Target. Jill's little rental house has a working fireplace but no screen.  I talked Tom in to going shopping. We got the screen, a fire poker and bundled up some dry wood from our house and took it over to Jill and the kids.

Turns out Jill had been looking at the same ad, thinking about going to buy one. We set it up, laid a fire, and it was crackling nicely when we left.  She was very pleased.

After lunch I got the Seahawks off to a good 10-0 start and then went out into the windy day for my walk, listening to the game on my ipod.  As soon as I finish posting I'm going to my recliner to finish the game.  Right now it's on the little TV next to the computer.  Go Seahawks!

Remember that I said the yard was all nice and tidy .... for now? 

Well, the leaves are going down fast now on this blustery day.

I do love the red carpet into the secret garden.

 Gotta' love those colors while we have them.  They'll soon be gone.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


 I like sports.  

As a youth I never missed a home football or basketball game at my high school.  I was a TV Yankees baseball fan with my dad.  I went to college basketball games.

We used to be big Supersonic basketball fans, but that was a long time ago, and now the team is gone.  I follow the Seahawks football games, and sometimes pay attention to the Mariners baseball team.  And of course, you know I'm crazy about soccer and the Sounders.  

This morning we braved the cold and the rain to attend Isaac's soccer game.  Jill helped coach.

Isaac kept warm running and having fun as only eight-year-old boys can.
 Irene and Grandpa huddled on the sidelines.

I even had the U of Washington Huskies game on, but I fell asleep in my recliner since they are so far behind USC, so I gave up and moved to my computer.

Yes, I like sports.  But I have never had an athlete or coach, or any other public figure, as a personal hero.  

What has been revealed at Penn State this week should be a reminder that we should select our heroes based on the character of persons we really know.  Joe Paterno may have helped a lot of young men through his coaching, but he failed to come to the rescue of young boys who were being irreparably damaged by abuse under his watch.   This "hero" proved to have feet of clay.

Heroism is a relative thing.  Ordinary people have moments of heroic behavior.  We honor the brave acts of soldiers, firemen and police officers.  We call  them heroes.  They say they were just doing their job, performing their duties.  Their jobs sometimes call for heroic action.

But other ordinary people are heroic too.  If I look for examples in my own life, for models to emulate, I see my mother, who overcame so many hardships, and still remained loving and giving to the end of her days.  I see my sister, who strives every day to carry on a productive life, having suffered the loss of two sons and dealing with her husband's failing health.  I don't need to worry about being disillusioned by these 'heroes', because I have not built them up as super heroes.  They are fallible just like we all are.  

I was relieved to see the Joe Pa supporter riots at Penn State turn into vigils for the victims.  I think common sense prevailed.  Life lessons were learned.

Be careful how you choose your heroes.

Friday, November 11, 2011


We knew it was too good to last.

That's why we worked so hard all week. 

Today the rains came.  This is November rain, cold and steady.

It will take the leaves down quickly now.  We'll be cleaning up until after Thanksgiving.

No more patio sitting now for many months.
But there is still plenty to do.  Today we went to breakfast with our Friday morning group.  Back at home we cleaned house and did laundry.  Then I went shopping.

Ooops. While I knew it was Veterans Day, I forgot to remember that lots of folks had the day off.  After all, when you are retired, every day is a holiday, right?  I went to Jo Anns for fabric to make a Thanksgiving table cloth.  I had to wait a half hour to get my fabric cut.   

I got back home about 1:30, had lunch,  and then I was off to the neighborhood Safeway for some groceries.  Ooops.  People everywhere! I finally got back home and then I was late getting my beef stew started. That done and into the oven, I finished putting groceries away.  At 4:00 I was finally done with that, and was left wondering where the day had gone!  

The rain let up enough to let some late sun light up the clouds.  Now at 4:40 darkness is setting in.  

It being Veterans Day and all, it makes me think of "Taps".
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky.
All is well, safely rest.
God is nigh.
I can only hope that our veterans, retired and active duty, are safely resting tonight.  Thank you for your service.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flower Day

One more precious, beautiful day! One more day to tackle yard jobs that need to get done.

I started by washing all of the glass flowers I had picked up earlier and put on the work bench in the garage.  Now they are ready to be stored in the attic.
Then we moved outside to deal with the real flowers. It's time to dig the dahlias.

 This area has tulips in the spring followed by dahlias in summer.
 The tulips are already planted in gallon nursery pots.
 Pop out the dahlias, pop in the tulips.  Princess Irene tulips come first.

 Then the Ad Rem, Negrita and Pink Emperator.
 Hopefully the show will match last years.

 Tom switched back to spading garden boxes and I mowed the lawn.  All is looking tidy... for now.

 All of this before lunch!  After lunch we took the lawn mower over and mowed Jill's lawn.

Then it was time for my walk.  Tom was determined to make hay while the sun shines and got another garden box done while I was walking.  

He adds compost, then spades under the compost and green debris.  Then he lays down landscape cloth and wire fencing.  The landscape cloth keeps the soil from compacting in the winter rain and keeps seeds from sprouting.  The wire keeps it all in place.
These beds are ready for winter.

We expect a weather change tomorrow.  Maybe we'll rest a bit.