Carrie’s Trashy Corner 2/14/18

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by: Carrie A. Blakley

 

‘Hon, is tonight Trash Night?’

With this ‘zero waste’ idea that’s been going around the Internet lately (read that as ‘something that’s been taking place for the past 5+ years, that people are just now starting to pay closer attention to’), it made me stop and ask myself: “How much do I really recycle”? The answer is: Anything I possibly can. When I go to the local transfer station, people can see me piling through stuff left under the pavilion. Often, it’s stuff that anyone in their right minds would throw out, or leave for someone else. I am that someone else, and yes, I’m not in my right mind (we all know this anyway, let’s not pretend otherwise). We’re all used to recycling out glass bottles, our electronics, our plastics, and our tires. At this point in this county, that’s an almost involuntary action. But, what else do we really recycle? Do we really stop to consider what we can repurpose?

Cardboard boxes can be used for all sorts of things, the least of which is fire fodder. Plant starter pots don’t have to be purchased. Just save up a few egg cartons, yogurt containers, and fruit cartons. Poke some drainage holes in the bottom of the solid plastic items, and you just made yourself a starter container. If the container is made of plastic, you can reuse the containers over and over. Just wash them out, and store them for the next round of seeds. Items like newspaper, and egg cartons, are biodegradable, so they can be planted directly into the ground, and will be broken down by nature. Egg shells can also be used to start growing seeds, but once the new plants are put into the ground (or, larger containers), don’t throw the egg shells away. Grind them up and use them around your plants. Larger shell bits act like razors on the ground that slugs and snails will not cross – because the sharp shell edges cut them.

Got kids (not baby goats)? Start saving those yogurt, and fruit cup, containers. Why? Arts & Crafts. They’re perfect size for holding anything small, or portion out anything in smaller portions (say, crayons, stickers..etc.). They also make for great small portion food scoops for smaller pets. Did you get 1 too many straws with your drink order? Save the unused straw in the glove compartment to use later, use it as a plant marker, use it as a type of splatter paint brush…etc. See? Lots of different uses for common stuff if you just put your imagination cap on and start getting creative. Enjoy the week, even if it is going to be a bit colder than it has been. Stay well, and get creative!

Carrie’s Different Corner 2/7/18

by: Carrie A. Blakley

We all have our little quirks, and habits, and oddities. That’s what makes us unique. What makes us special, and sets us apart from everyone else. That being said, we’re also extremely similar. Probably more than we all would care to admit to. Remember last week, when I was mentioning that random catch-all drawer/chair/closet? That applies to every single person. Humans are quick to judge each other for what they consider to be ‘strange behavior’. We all know there is a fine line between ‘strange behavior’ and ‘straight jacket material’. Take, for example, tastes in music. There is music out there for everyone to enjoy. Some people like country music. Some people enjoy hip hop. Others may enjoy pop, or opera, or earth music. Whatever you enjoy, there is a genre of music somewhere on this planet that will appeal to you. As for myself, my taste in music ranges from Mozart to Metal.

The idea is that you learn to enjoy your own individuality for what it is. It’s perfectly OK to be different. It’s also OK to give credit where it’s due. You may not like a certain person, but certainly not everything about that person is something to dislike. Sure, you may not like their personality, or the fact that they behave in a certain manner. But, guess what? That person probably enjoys the same music you do. That person may really enjoy some of the same hobbies you enjoy. There is always a common ground to be found. Sometimes you may have to dig a bit to find that commonality, but I promise you, it’s there.

Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry someone of your own gender. Don’t like swearing? Don’t swear. Don’t like politics? Don’t engage in the topic. Don’t like rap music? Don’t listen to it. It really is that simple. Do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy. As long as you’re not hurting yourself, or others around you, who cares what makes you happy? It’s no one’s business but your own. So, go out there and be happy. Enjoy your life. Listen to your favorite music. Wear those crazy socks. Enjoy your life. After all, it’s the only one you have, may as well make the best of it, right? Remember, you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

Carrie’s Need Corner 1/31/18

by: Carrie A. Blakley

We all have that 1 ‘catch all’ place in our homes. The cluttered drawer. The chair that serves as a mini-closet. The closet that serves as a mini-storage unit. The basement that is holding everything we don’t want to use at the moment, but may need at some point in our lives. The holidays, perhaps, or for projects we’ll take on at some point. I have that 1 kitchen drawer that holds everything that does not have a specific place in my kitchen. If you open that drawer, you will see knives, cheesecloth, pot holders, random kitchen gadgets, a few skewers and some rubber bands that came off of vegetable bundles. Can I get that drawer organized? Yes, I can, and I often do. The problem is that it never stays organized, and as a result, I have no choice but to get back in to that drawer and re-organize it. This process happens about 3 – 4 times a year, and it’s a royal pain in the ass. So, I start asking myself a few questions.

First, what items in this drawer do I use the most often? Then I ask myself if there were any items in this drawer that I use maybe once, or twice, a year. Finally, I ask myself how stupid did I have to be to keep answering the first two questions, but never actually do anything about organizing this drawer, which always wound up with me asking myself the same questions every single time I open the drawer. Trust me, it takes a special type of mediocrity in order to obtain that level of consistency when organizing a single drawer. This is when I come to the bi-annual conclusion that it is absolutely acceptable to have at least 1 drawer full of nothing but random stuff. Truth is, none of our homes are display cases. We actually live in these homes. We have laundry that has to be washed. We have that drawer full of random stuff. We have boxes of decorations, and keep sakes, that sit around doing nothing more than collecting dust. In fact, I believe that is their sole purpose. To collect dust.

We all have those books we haven’t read for decades, but can’t bring ourselves to get rid of. We have that one shirt/skirt/dress/jacket that we’ve been hanging on to since the beginning of time itself…that we’ll never wear again in our lives, but just can’t seem to bring ourselves to get rid of. Guess what? Unless you’re hoarding enough stuff to supply the local K-Mart for the next decades, that random stuff is perfectly normal. It’s your stuff. Do what you want with it. Want to keep saving it? Fine. Want to organize it? Great! Want to have it collect dust? Wonderful. Want to display it somewhere in your home so that you can enjoy it? Fantastic. Remember, sometimes, it’s perfectly all right to keep a few things here and there that are not organized. After all, we’re only human. So, enjoy all of your random stuff, and have a great week!

Carrie’s Hands Corner 1/24/18

by: Carrie A. Blakley

At this point, just about everyone we know (including ourselves) has had some form of cold, or influenza. Out of curiosity, I took a look at the CDC’s ‘FluView’ map, with the current update ending on the week of 1/6/18. According to that map, Guam, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are the only areas that do NOT have wide spread cases of Influenza. Again, that’s wide spread. All of those areas have either regional, or localized cases. So basically, we’re not alone. Not by a long shot. In fact, we’ve got an entire nation of people who are dealing with the very same illnesses that we are. In fact, there have already been 42 deaths from the influenza virus, just in California alone, and all of those deaths were in people under the age of 65. Head officials from the California Public health department have said that one strain, Influenza A H3N2 is why this year’s influenza ‘season’ is more severe. It’s nickname is the ‘hospitalizer’, and for good reason.

I know that there are some of you out there who say that you never get sick, you’re fine, you don’t feel unwell, that the last time you got really sick was umpteen years ago…blah,blah,blah. Allow me to clarify things for you a bit. There are just under 200 different strands of the cold virus, and the influenza virus does this cool party trick where it likes to mutate every year. This year, it’s taken it up a notch, as if it was in some sort of death metal mosh pit, after having one too many shots of orange juice. It’s that bad. Do not take chances. This is not something you should even so much as think of going out in public with. It is not a joke. It’s looking at you like you’re fresh meat on a platter, just waiting to be devoured for dinner. And, believe me, the influenza virus is very good at this. Also, it is not biased in any way.

So, how to protect yourself? Well, the bad news is, you can’t..at least not 100%. The good news, however, is that if you’ve had your flu shot it will give you a much better fighting chance of not getting the flu. However, if you’re one of many people who can not take a flu shot (like me), then you can still protect yourself from at least getting incredibly ill from this. Stay warm. Plenty of sleep at night (this is when your body does the best job of healing itself up). Drink plenty of fluids, and eat a very well balanced diet, preferably one that does not include non-Rx drugs, or alcohol. Stay clear of people who are sick (unless you work in the medical industry – which makes that advise nearly impossible to follow). Cover your mouth when you sneeze, or cough – with your arm, not your hands! Wash your hands regularly throughout the day (I can’t even believe I have to even say this, but I do). Aside from barricading yourselves into your homes until Spring, just do your best to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Be well, stay safe, use Kleenex and have a great…and healthy…week!

Carrie’s Drunk Corner 1/17/18

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Now available, at a Sheriff’s Department near you….the DUI Nightmare Handbook! Does it sound kind of strange to you? It should. Is this some kind of a real book? Yep, it is. Is it really available for folks at the SO? Yes, it is. What I find sad is the fact that any law enforcement office, on any level, has the need to have these available to the public. Especially in this county. I mean come on people, really?! There’s only about what, 2,800 of us in the entire county. To put this into perspective, we have less people in this entire county, than in 1 city block of Sacramento. Let that sink in a bit, then continue reading. DUI is serious stuff. Thus, my ‘just a bit miffed that I still have to write about this’ attitude. In a county of 2,800 people, and the SO has to have DUI Nightmare Handbooks available for the public. Again, really?!

OK, let’s break it down. We all know that there is a huge difference between being a substance addict/abuser, and having ‘1 too many’ on a rare occasion. Guess what? If you get into a vehicle, no matter if you had 1 too many drinks…or accidentally took 1 too many of your medication pills….it’s a DUI. So, the most simple way of avoiding this is to NOT do it. Call for a ride. Stay at a friend’s house, or with a family member – preferably one that’s within walking distance of where you happen to be. Bring a DD (Designated Driver) with you. Give the keys to your vehicle to someone you trust. Make prior arrangements for someone to pick you up. There are many ways you can avoid a DUI. Trust me, none of our law enforcement officers want to pull you over, slap handcuffs on you and then have you riding in the back of their vehicles….just because you ‘forgot’ to be responsible. Besides, it’s not worth all of that, especially for you.

So, IF you happen to get pulled over, then what? Well, there’s the Roadside Sobriety test. If you happen to fail ANY of those tests, the officer can arrest you for a DUI…which is immediately followed by the handcuffs and joy ride from Hell. The arresting officer will then have your car towed, and impounded (if necessary), which you will be obligated to pay for. Then, there’s the booking process, the jail process, the attorney process, court appearances, the DMV and the car insurance. All of this can start at a cost of about $500.00. So, that 1 $5.00 drink, could end up costing you a heck of a lot more than just that $5. Therefore, it’s best to NEVER get behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of anything, ok? OK. Now then, get out there, have some fun, enjoy life and have a fantastic week! Be safe!

Carrie’s Chore Corner 1/10/18

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Brace yourselves, I’m going to bring up the ‘g’ word. That’s right, gardening. Yes, I’m aware that it’s hardly the type of weather anyone will be out in the garden tilling the soil, planting seeds and tending to the weeds. However, during the Winter months, gardeners have plenty to do, outside of getting themselves knee deep in soil, fertilizer and weed remnants. Many gardeners are already planning this year’s crops. On top of that, they’re tending to their gardening tools, making sure they are clean, and sharpened, for use during the up-coming gardening times. Other than those items, you’d probably think that there wasn’t much else to do, and that this chores can be taken care of relatively quickly. Think again.

Sharpening the tines of a metal hand rake isn’t as easy as running each tine through a knife sharpener a few times. They have to be hand sharpened. The same process applies to sharpening larger tools, such as hoes, shovel tips, spades and various blades gardeners use. Sharpening the tools can be very time consuming, especially if any rust has built up over the last season, as the rust must obviously be removed prior to cleaning and sharpening the bare metal. Then comes the task of preparing any compost materials, natural/organic foods and/or fertilizers, and finally, caring for, and tending to, what might be left in the garden through the Winter months. For example, I swear by all that is holy my chives and parsley could be slammed with an atomic fireball, and they’d still live. So, I still have to tend to them when it’s cold outside, lest they grow into a mass of green knotting.

The good news is that all of these chores that us gardeners tend to during the colder months are taken care of over a span of just that…months. We’re in no major rush to file down a spade, or grind up some egg shells, save coffee grounds, pile wood ash into bins…no hurry at all. We have months to tend to this. So, we relax, and wile away our hours planning our new gardens, our new compost and get new ideas for gardening techniques. So relax. Enjoy the colder months with a nice cup of hot tea, and keep warm by a nice fire. Have a great, and relaxing, week!

Carrie’s Cat Corner 12/27/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

She’s talking about ua again…. keep ignoring her…

Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of…wait, wrong song. Anyway, by this point, most of us are way past the clean up stage, and now we’re just looking for survivors packed deep within the wrapping paper wreckage that’s wreaked havoc all over our homes. Or, in my case, cats….and tissue paper shrapnel. We had a lovely Christmas celebration, filled with family, food, laughter and friends. And…cats. I hope everyone also had a fantastic Christmas – sans my cats. Did I mention cats? I probably did. Anyway, now we move on to the next order of celebratory business. New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Do everyone, and their uncle’s cousin’s sister’s best friend’s dog’s gerbil a favor. Do not, under any circumstances, drink and drive. Just don’t do it. There, that’s your resolution for New Year’s Eve, AND New Year’s Day. Not drinking and driving. I don’t care if you have to borrow your neighbor’s cow in order to get home. Wait, I do care, because the cow probably doesn’t know where you live. Then again, at least you won’t be drinking and driving.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, if you’re taking any medication, Rx, OTC or otherwise (y’all know what I mean), don’t drive under the influence of these substances either. They’re drugs. I don’t care if your drug of choice is named Mary Jane, or not. Driving under the influence is as bad as driving drunk. If you’re under the influence (even if you took too many Tylenol in one sitting), borrow the neighbor’s cow. The cow still won’t know where you live, but there’s a really good chance that the only thing that cow is under the influence of is whatever it happened to be grazing on just before you borrowed it.

Finally, last order of business, (repeat after me): I will have fun, and celebrate the new year with vigor. Even if that means dancing until dawn wearing a Hello Kitty glitter hat…do it with vigor. For that matter, do everything with vigor. Eat, breathe, sleep…but do it like you mean it. Figure out what makes you happy, what brings your spirit joy, and happiness….and do that. Make this new year yours 100%. Enjoy it. A new change, a new time…a new you. Whatever it is, do it with vigor. Except drive under the influence, or borrow your neighbors cow. Don’t do that with vigor. Besides, the cow won’t appreciate that too much. Happy New Year everyone!

Carrie’s Happy Corner 12/20/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

If there’s one single holiday that causes the most stress, it’s the Christmas holiday. That being said, there are many different Winter holidays that are celebrated throughout December – not just Christmas. There’s Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Winter Solstice..and Advent. That list is code for ‘stress central in a hand basket’. The ‘one single holiday’ bit is in reference to whatever holiday you may be celebrating at any given moment during this time of the year. For many families, it’s more than just one holiday. For example, in my family, we celebrate Christmas, Advent, Yule and the Winter Solstice. Given the amount of celebration involved, keeping your stress to a minimum is the key to arriving at the new year with your brains still in your skull, instead of your stomach.

When you start feeling overwhelmed, that’s the time you need to stop…and crawl into your own personal ‘Zen zone’. It can be whatever relaxes you. Reading, taking a walk, exercising, listening to music, taking a hot bath/shower…or just simply sitting in silent solitude until you feel better. Put on a movie and just zone out. Play with your pets, or just take a nap with them. Life will go on, regardless of you being in your de-stress mode, or not. Do not stress about things that you have absolutely no control over. Stuff happens, and that’s life. You can either dwell on it, or just treat it like a dog would, and shove some dirt over it and move on.

Realizing that there are things you can not control tend to make life a lot more enjoyable, and interesting. Raining? Bring an umbrella. Snowing? Break out the shovel, and fire up the wood stove. Windy? Wear a wind breaker, or parka. Muddy? That’s what boots are for. You can’t control things, like the weather, but you can control how you react to said uncontrollable things. So, relax. Enjoy the holidays. Sip some hot chocolate, or mulled cider. Cuddle up next to a warm fire place, or wood stove. Don’t stress over the little things that you can’t control. Heck, don’t stress over the little things that you can control. Just have a wonderful holiday season, and enjoy the time off from the daily grind. Have a beautiful, and very Merry Christmas!

Carrie’s Decorative Corner 12/6/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Did you ever look at someone’s holiday decorations, and wonder how they got all of that glittery perfection finished just a few days after Thanksgiving…and then wonder how much time is actually involved in creating that wonderful festive scene…in every square inch of their home? Yeah, me neither. Quite frankly, I never wondered about it because I was far to amazed to ask. Some people are just really good at getting everything decorated to pieces for the winter holiday season. I am not one of those people. Years ago, I was one of those people. So much so that by the time the Sun set on the say after Thanksgiving, my entire home looked like it just got dipped in holiday frosting, and sent through the sparkle machine. We spend a tremendous amount of everything to try and ensure that everyone we know has the perfect holiday season. However, here are some interesting statistics about Christmas that we’re probably blissfully unaware of.

Approximately 71% of people plan to shop on line this year, with a whopping 45% planning on doing all of their shopping on line. 51% of people still enjoy getting handwritten holiday cards (via US Postal service, or otherwise). 32% of people plan on spending more this year, than they did last year, on holiday gift purchases. Only 13% of people prefer e-cards to real cards in the post. Good news for the environmentalists, is in the fact that 98% of all Christmas trees are grown on farms, and 93% of real Christmas trees are recycled. Also good news, is that over 46 million Christmas tree seedlings were planted last year by US tree farmers/growers, with slightly over 350,000 acres of land being used strictly for the growth of Christmas trees, thereby employing an estimated 100,000 people throughout the year. Back in 2012, 24.5 million real trees were purchased for a total of 1.01b USD. You’ll probably be interested in knowing that Oregon is the leading producer of both Noble and Douglas fir trees, while North Carolina is the leading producer of Frasier fir trees.

So, deck the halls, the stalls, the walls….and spare no expense about it. Wait, actually, do spare some expense. Look, as much fun as this time of year is, people have this odd habit of bringing themselves to the brink of total collapse by the end of the month. Stop. Breathe. Relax. Rest. This time of year is, unfortunately, also one of the most stressful times of the year. Please stop and take time for yourself. Give yourself a time out with a good book, a soft blanket and a nice drink. Take naps. Take hot baths. Do not let yourself get stressed out any more than you can currently handle. Not only is it not healthy for your body, but it is also not healthy for your mind, or your soul. So, this week…enjoy the holiday times, but also remember to enjoy some good rest and relaxation!

Carrie’s Weather Cow Corner 11/29/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Oh the weather outside is getting frightful, and the nights aren’t that delightful, and since we’re going to get snow, let it go, let it go, let it go! Seriously, if I have to listen to one more person on the news try to explain to folks living in snow country, that there’s ‘soooo much snow’ out there, and frost, and ice, and freezing rain, and…well, you get the idea…I’m just going to snap. To the dear, obviously innocent, meteorologists out there in our world, please stop trying to tell us what our weather is going to be like. In this county alone, we’ve got at least 10 different weather patterns going on, and that’s just on one side of the county. In any given town, there could be another 5 patterns, and throughout the entire county, upwards of 20. So please, it’s cold. It’s late November. Obviously, at some point, there’s going to be snow, and frost, and ice, and freezing rain, rain, even some thunder…throw anything else in there, we got this. We’re a hardy people. Let’s face it, when you have a town that loses power, and the only thing they’re upset about is not being able to find the flashlight batteries (again), there’s not much anyone could throw at us that would cause us to go into an all out panic.

We ought to invite some of the meteorologists up to our area to spend a winter season with us. I kid you not, there have been plenty of times when I’ve looked out my back window, and it was snowing, and then walked out my front door, only to find that it was raining. It happens. That’s Sierra County for you. We take bonkers to a whole new level out here. If anyone takes a really close look at our Sheriff’s Blotter, well, that’s about as far as you have to look to understand that we’re probably one of the only counties in the nation where a cow ends up on the Sheriff’s weekly report as being a traffic hazard. I’m fairly certain that more animals end up in the weekly Sheriff’s Blotter, than people. So, when you think about it, cows in the road, random weather patterns all over the place, power outages being a normal occurrence, dogs singing us the songs of their people at 3am in the middle of the highway, and the local social media pages lighting up like Times Square every time it snows…yep, we’re bonkers. But, we’re good at it!

The weather isn’t going to get much better over the next few months, and we all know this. The power is going to go out at some point over the next few months, and we all know this as well. We’re coming in to the season that mother nature likes to just throw everything she’s got at us….and, once again, we’re going to look up at her and say: “Is that all you have?!”. She’ll take that as a challenge, and yet again, we’ll be prepared. We always are. Heck, most of us are prepared for Winter in by the middle of July. So, let’s be safe out there. Be smart. Don’t take chances, and get to, and from, your destinations in one piece. Enjoy the week!

Carrie’s Veggie Corner 11/22/17

  by: Gobbi L. Turkey

Vegetables and Tofu are really good……

So, Carrie’s out this week, as she’s busy with some kind of horrific display of whimsical madness in her kitchen. I’m assuming it’s for this up-coming holiday you humans call ‘Thanksgiving’. Me? I’m typing this from a dark corner in her pantry, trying to save myself from the slaughter. So far, only her dog has picked up my scent, and, much to my relief, the dog (unlike the cats) can’t manage to open this door…yet. If this holiday of giving thanks is to be followed by us turkeys, then I’m going to add my list of things that I am thankful for. It’s a short list. OK, there are only 2 things on that list. Vegetarians, and Vegans. I’m extremely thankful for them. Sadly, those types of humans do not live in this house, and I fear that I will soon be discovered.

Speaking of which, this pantry really isn’t all that bad, as far as pantries go. I mean, there are house plants, and tons of baking supplies. Oh, and a LOT of reading material. Mostly cook books, but there are a few handy mechanic journals, and some random book about a human named ‘Churchill’. I haven’t yet figured out why that would be next to the cook books, but at this point, I’m sure it really doesn’t matter. This solitude, however, has left me with much ado about nothing, so I’ve taken to perusing the cook books. One night, as I was browsing through some soup recipes, I over heard the humans talking about this stuff they call ‘brine’. They said it was good for turkeys. A bath perhaps? A massage? I’m not sure, but I looked it up, and sure enough, I found a recipe for brine. So, I’m going to share it with you.

So, apparently, it’s fairly simple. You have 1 gallon of water, 2 cups of Kosher salt (I’ve never heard of a Kosher ocean, but whatever), 1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar, 12 whole cloves, 3 bay leaves, 1 Tbls. Whole black peppercorns, 1 1/2 tsp. Dried rosemary and 2 1/2 tsp dried thyme. So, it looks like you bring the water to a boil, stir in the salt and sugar (until it’s dissolved), bring to a boil again (good gravy there’s a lot of boiling to this), add the rest of the stuff into the water, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 20 minutes. Then, throw it into the fridge until it’s completely cooled. Oh wait, it says here that the container you place this brine stuff in should be large enough to hold your turkey, and ‘non-reactive’. Good idea there, as I think the turkey will be reacting enough as it is. So, you put a thawed turkey (OMG they deep freeze us first!?) into the brine, and add enough cool water to cover the turkey with liquid. Refrigerate over night. Remove from brine, and let it sit awhile before roasting.

OK, well, um, it looks like I won’t be brining myself any time soon. Not if I have to be defrosted beforehand. I don’t want to be frosted to begin with. That’s the snowman’s job, not mine, and it’s not even December yet! Oh no! I think one of the cats heard me. I need to hide. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Carrie’s Gobble Corner 11/22/17

 by: Gobbi L. Turkey

So, Carrie’s out this week, as she’s busy with some kind of horrific display of whimsical madness in her kitchen. I’m assuming it’s for this up-coming holiday you humans call ‘Thanksgiving’. Me? I’m typing this from a dark corner in her pantry, trying to save myself from the slaughter. So far, only her dog has picked up my scent, and, much to my relief, the dog (unlike the cats) can’t manage to open this door…yet. If this holiday of giving thanks is to be followed by us turkeys, then I’m going to add my list of things that I am thankful for. It’s a short list. OK, there are only 2 things on that list. Vegetarians, and Vegans. I’m extremely thankful for them. Sadly, those types of humans do not live in this house, and I fear that I will soon be discovered.

Speaking of which, this pantry really isn’t all that bad, as far as pantries go. I mean, there are house plants, and tons of baking supplies. Oh, and a LOT of reading material. Mostly cook books, but there are a few handy mechanic journals, and some random book about a human named ‘Churchill’. I haven’t yet figured out why that would be next to the cook books, but at this point, I’m sure it really doesn’t matter. This solitude, however, has left me with much ado about nothing, so I’ve taken to perusing the cook books. One night, as I was browsing through some soup recipes, I over heard the humans talking about this stuff they call ‘brine’. They said it was good for turkeys. A bath perhaps? A massage? I’m not sure, but I looked it up, and sure enough, I found a recipe for brine. So, I’m going to share it with you.

So, apparently, it’s fairly simple. You have 1 gallon of water, 2 cups of Kosher salt (I’ve never heard of a Kosher ocean, but whatever), 1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar, 12 whole cloves, 3 bay leaves, 1 Tbls. Whole black peppercorns, 1 1/2 tsp. Dried rosemary and 2 1/2 tsp dried thyme. So, it looks like you bring the water to a boil, stir in the salt and sugar (until it’s dissolved), bring to a boil again (good gravy there’s a lot of boiling to this), add the rest of the stuff into the water, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 20 minutes. Then, throw it into the fridge until it’s completely cooled. Oh wait, it says here that the container you place this brine stuff in should be large enough to hold your turkey, and ‘non-reactive’. Good idea there, as I think the turkey will be reacting enough as it is. So, you put a thawed turkey (OMG they deep freeze us first!?) into the brine, and add enough cool water to cover the turkey with liquid. Refrigerate over night. Remove from brine, and let it sit awhile before roasting.

OK, well, um, it looks like I won’t be brining myself any time soon. Not if I have to be defrosted beforehand. I don’t want to be frosted to begin with. That’s the snowman’s job, not mine, and it’s not even December yet! Oh no! I think one of the cats heard me. I need to hide. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Carrie’s Wintry Corner 11/15/17

– by: Carrie A. Blakley

With the cold Winter months upon us (yes, I used the W word), we need to really start taking stock of our stocks. Food, wood, emergency and pet stocks. While many folks up here have become used to the power going out every time the wind sneezes the wrong way, or when ever the local squirrels have a tree party that involves power lines (on any level), most folks get the town’s generator power relatively soon (read that as: ‘before Hell freezes over, and we can float Noah’s Ark down Main St’). That being said, even with power, we still have mud slides, land slides, mountains sliding into the river, hills sliding into the ravines and the over all laziness of the boulders, which tend to take naps in the middle of the highway whenever it suits them to do so.

If you haven’t already, prepare for these power outages, and other such problems, now. First, and foremost, play it safe. Make sure you have a good escape route you, and your family members, can take in case it becomes necessary. We have very active bears right now (no kidding, right?) in the area, but be rest assured, they are not the only native members of this local tribe of ours that are active. At this point in the year, every living creature (including humans) is preparing for the long winter months ahead. They too are stocking up, so be aware of this when you think about keeping coolers handy to store your cold items outside. If you have no choice but to take that route, make sure the coolers are locked and anchored to something a large animal can not move, even with a back hoe and a lot of leverage.

Keep a land line phone handy (if you don’t already use one regularly), in cases of emergency, or to contact friends and relatives to let them know your situation. Keep a phone book, and an address book, near the land line phone. No power means that your cell phones, cordless phones and computer systems will not be able to recharge that quickly, even if you’re able to use a car battery for charging purposes. Be safe at all times. Do not risk illness, just for a can of soup. Check the expiration dates on your food items, especially canned meats. If they’re beyond the expiration date, do not take chances…throw the items out, and replace them with new items. You’ll also want to be sure your pets are well taken care of. Add extra blankets to the dog/cat beds. If they have medical conditions that require daily treatment, stock up if possible on these treatments. If it’s a snow storm that knocks out the power, that also means that you might not be able to easily get out of your home. Also make sure that your own medical needs are met (if you have an). Talk to your doctor about the possibility of a power outage, and see if there is an alternative treatment that you can use during those outages. This especially holds true if your medication requires cooling/refrigeration (as is the case with some Diabetics).

Finally, keep a running list of the items you will need to keep on hand. Batteries, lamp oil, candles, working flashlights, matches, fire starters, wood, kindling…whatever it is that you will need, make a list, check it twice and when you buy them, buy them thrice. Remember, during power outages, our emergency services are stretched beyond their capacity. You will need to be able to keep yourselves as healthy, and warm, as possible during the outages. When an outage occurs, unplug anything possible, so that a potential power surge can not damage your electronics. This is also true for a brown out condition. So, be prepared, and don’t wait to start stocking up. You can do it! Have a warm, and safe, week everyone!

Carrie’s Breath Corner 11/8/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley
Rain, sleet, snow, wind, Daylight Savings Time, political unrest, cold, more rain, road construction and work. Those things alone are enough to cause many people to go into a full blown ‘leave me alone’ mode. Top that mess off with the upcoming holidays, and it can be a recipe for disaster. Stop. Breathe. Learn that it’s perfectly alright to crave solitude. Know that you are not going to be loathed if you tell someone ‘no, I’m really not up to doing that (going there, seeing them…w/e) today’. It’s also completely acceptable to tell someone that you’re not up to dealing with people that particular moment, and require some alone time. That’s fine! No one’s feelings are going to get all blown out of whack because you can’t handle people for awhile. Everyone needs time to unwind, chill and totally relax. Furthermore, if someone’s feelings do get blown all out of whack, understand that it’s their problem, not yours, and they can just deal with it for awhile until you recharge, and are ready to face the world again.

Not everyone recharges in the same fashion. For some people, they draw their energy from large crowds, and almost seem to bask in the surroundings of the noises from a city, rock concerts or large gatherings. For some, this can be the ultimate nightmare. Others prefer sitting in a softly lit room, perhaps with a glass of fine wine, a good book, and some soothing music. Others still, turn to their electronic gadgets for awhile, focussing on games, browsing the Internet, ‘window shopping’ on Amazon…or just meandering about on a news web site. Some like to watch television. Some like to just go for a good walk, or just read a good book. Whatever it is that you do to recharge yourself, do it. With the holiday season approaching, stress levels will be higher than usual.

Finding the perfect tree. Having the perfectly wrapped presents. Cooking the perfect meal. Wearing the perfect clothing. Stop. You do not have to have everything perfect for any holiday, much less Thanksgiving and Christmas (or, Yule, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza..or whatever holiday(s) you celebrate during this time of the year). So what if the pie is a bit more brown around the edges? It doesn’t ruin the entire pie. Who cares if that bow is slightly off centered on the gift? It doesn’t take away from the gift inside. So you can’t fashion a pine tree out of a cloth napkin, no matter how hard you try. It’s a napkin. No one is going to care one bit how a piece of cloth that’s used to wipe food remnants off of your face looks on a dinner table. YOU might care, but that itself is something entirely different. It’s called ‘being too hard on yourself’, and ‘not learning to let go of the little things that truly don’t matter’. Learn to relax. Learn to recharge, and please, learn to slow down and enjoy life a bit. Also, learn to take care of yourself above all else. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone else either. So, go out there and relax all over the place, and enjoy life. Oh, and have a great week everyone. 🙂

Carrie’s Time Corner 11/1/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

With All Hallow’s E’en, and All Saints Day having passed, we now head in to the time that’s even far more creepy than any celebrated/recognized day of the Autumn season. The three-worded day, which strikes more fear into the hearts of many, than waking up to a house full of bears. Daylight Savings Time. By now, we’re probably all fairly well aware of the person responsible for incorporating this madness into our lives, George Hudson. To be fair, Benjamin Franklin did propose that the French ration their candle use by turning in to bed earlier, and rising earlier, in order to use the Sunlight more efficiently. Mr. Franklin did not, however, ‘invent’ Daylight Savings Time. Nope. We can thank a New Zealand entomologist for proposing this Daylight Savings Time nonsense to the world. I mean, truly think about the reaction our French neighbors must have had when an American made the suggestion of rationing candle use, even if it was done for purposes of satire.

Oddly enough, yet another holiday from across the pond, also takes place on the same day as Daylight Savings Time. Guy Fawkes Day. Modern society was made aware of this odd day through the movie, V is for Vendetta. Remember! Remember, the fifth of November! The Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I cannot find reason that the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot! This oh so lovely holiday firmly took its place in history back on November 5th, 1605, when Guy Fawkes’ attempt at blowing up the entirety of Parliament, as well as King James himself, was foiled. Mind you, this attempt was religiously charged, whereas the wretched Daylight Savings Time suggestion was based solely on hobby and work related ideas.

Thus, my theory is, that somewhere between Daylight Savings Time, and Guy Fawkes Day, the truth lies. I’m fairly certain that we’ve all found said truth at some point in our lives, but none the less, we continue to endow ourselves with the glorious search for our own personal truths, even though we’ve likely discovered them years ago. We just keep looking anyway. As for me, well….I keep myself firmly planted within the realm of mediocrity, and strive to continue my search for the perfect cup of coffee. After all, what may hold true for one, may not hold true for another. Have a safe week everyone, and may the odds be ever in your favor on Sunday.

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