Sunday, November 26, 2017

Creating Memories

The holidays are upon us.  Were you aware of that?  
I was actually shocked when I showed up to work this past Monday and realized it was the week of Thanksgiving.  Oh my!
I don't usually stress over having a perfectly set table or the perfect tree or whatever it is people stress over.  Actually, it's a bit of a relief in that I don't have to think about what's for dinner.  That's pretty much standard.  
Maybe some folks stress because they don't usually cook their own dinner.  
I'm not sure.  
There's a part of me that thinks we (as a society) are no longer used to functioning as a family so stress about doing it "right."
Our families are so scattered, it has become abnormal to be together.  
That thought is sad to me.  It came to my realization as I was looking online for a very old Christmas issue of a magazine and came across books sharing how certain folks (nationalities) celebrate, how to entertain your guests for the holidays, how to decorate to impress, and romantic Christmas tales.  It made me question, do we really expect a storybook Christmas?
I'm not sure what your family's like,
but I do know that our family is nothing like those stories.
It actually might be a funny skit if we tried to act one out.
That doesn't mean our time together doesn't hold 
valuable memories and traditions.
Those memories and traditions just look a little different
 than those of other families - as they should.
One of the fondest (silliest) was the year Papa (my dad) and niece 'C' had a little bit of a whipped cream war.
If you look closely, you'll see he has the big bowl of whipped cream.
It stayed in the washable rooms and didn't get too out of hand and actually began with putting "extra" whipped cream on each other's pie.
It continued most of the day.

* A tradition of ours~ desert first!
We eat desert about 11:30-12:00 then dinner close to 2 o:clock.  We were tired of having pies untouched after the big meal.  When we had my dear friends who are now gone share that his mom did that, we immediately latched on and have had desert first ever since.

* For Thanksgiving (see way back here.)
The kids would make treats for the birds.  My daughter especially enjoyed this.  My son preferred to eat the peanut-butter himself.  I still love this picture.
* A Fond Christmas Memory
When I was a youngster (back when dust was new,) and we went to my maternal grandparents' house for Christmas, I would always admire the tinsel.
I believe it was actually my great-grandmother's.
It was that old, real metal kind that was just shy of 1/8" wide.
Nana would hang each strand individually and after Christmas, she would remove each strand and place it back in the box.
I loved that tinsel and couldn't believe she hung it up 1 strand at a time!
Hanging the tinsel was always a test of patience as a kid.
My mom has that tinsel now.
She doesn't use it every year, but I notice when she does.

* A Tradition for the Kids
When my munchkins were little, things were pretty tight financially.
I was a single mom for most of their youth.  One thing we did was at some point in December we would have a slumber party.  After dinner, we would clear the living-room and bring all kinds of blankets and pillows down and make a big bed.  They would pick a Christmas movie to watch and we would have hot chocky and watch a movie.  And here's the really cool part - on a school night.  Whoa!  It wasn't difficult or expensive, but it was special.

The thing is ~ non of these things that are special to me are in books or movies.  They are just the things that work in our family.  We have a very casual family, and we are comfortable being around one another so other than crowded rooms it's just nice to catch up and visit.

Here's wishing each of you a special holiday season.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Quick Tip - Organizing Essential Oils

In the last post, I mentioned that I keep a list of things I am on the lookout for.
One of the things that had been on the list for a long time was a spice rack. 
I wanted one of those old ones like I remember from way back in my youth. 
A while back, my mom and I were in a neighboring town. 
I asked if she would mind stopping in at their thrift store 
to look for pants for Mr LB. 
She does not like thrift shops but if it's for Mr LB, it's okay. 
We found men's jeans but none in his size. 
I asked if she would mind if I walked through the housewares really quickly. 
She said "Why?  What do you need?"
I told her I keep a list and one thing was a wooden spice rack. 
I went down one isle and her another. 
In less than a minute, she came around the end and said "is this the kind?"
I laughed and threatened to take her thrifting with me more often. 
I told her I'd been looking for one for a long time for my essential oils. 
Until then, my EOs were kinda homeless and in no particular order. 
They now have both and are convenient as well. 
I treated Mom to lunch so she said it was worth it for her. 

I hope you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Buy It Once ~ Buy It For Life

Recently, I was propositioned to be a part of a sustainable info graphic as part of a sale promotion.
Though flattered that they would ask little ol' me, 
I decided not to do it for a couple of reasons.
It did however get me to thinking.
They asked what my number one sustainable tip would be.
I wasn't really sure since there are so many aspects to this lifestyle we are trying to live.
And with that, we aren't always successful.
After a couple days of pondering, I came up with the title of this post.
Buy It Once and Buy It For Life
I think this would be it.
From utensils, shoes, tools, housewares, to automobiles and clothes.
Yes, some things do wear out.
But shoes for example- I purchased these shoes over three years.
They were $200ish dollars.
They are the most expensive shoes I've ever purchased.
I wear them nearly every day, 5 out of 7 days each week or more.
(Yea, I know they are due for a polishing.)
Since purchasing them, I have had the heel tip replaced and recently a portion on each restitched.
I've spent about $35 on these repairs.
They are still comfortable and are a basic black shoe that should reasonably last another year or two.
Maybe more, but if at 5 years they begin to fall apart, I will understand.
I keep a list of things I would eventually like to find.
About a month ago, I got to scratch one of those things off the list.
I found a concrete double sink like this one.
I would show you mine, but it's not set up yet, and the light is burnt out in that corner of the shop
so a picture of it would be less than flattering.
We process any game we are fortunate to get as well as large batches of fruits and vegetables.
Our grandmothers knew what they were doing when they used these sinks.
They are deep and sturdy = extremely functional.
This is an item that was on my list for 2-3 years.
The thing is, I wasn't willing to settle.
I ran across many of the plastic "shop sinks."
I had also found several of the sinks like this, but the owners were asking way too much
and advertised them as yard ornaments with pictures of them filled with flowers.
Again, I didn't settle.
Aside from the crazy prices being asked, I was planning to use it as a sink
for food and have it properly plumbed.
If it was outside with flowers planted in it, the quality would be questionable.
The sink we now have may very well out live me.
I should never have to buy another one.
We buy our vehicles new then use them until they totally conk out.
The commuter car Mr.LB is driving has about 327,000 miles on it.
The old wood pick-up has nearly 400,000 miles on it.
There is an old saying~
"If you take care of your things, you'll always have something to take care of."
We live in such a disposable world and have been really well trained
into the "I want what I want, and I want it now," mentality.
If we are only patient and are willing to hold out for delayed gratification,
we might find we are able to save significantly.
If you're at all like me,
the fact that I don't ever have to think about it again is golden.
(Or at least for a very long time.)
And in addition, it results in a much more sustainable way of living.
What's on your list?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mystery Squash Results

A couple posts back I showed you a mystery squash that we purchased for $3.
You can see that post here.
Here's the picture of it.
It's huge!
After some input from you kind folks,
we figured it was a cushaw - or close.
Upon research (because that's just what I do) I learned that the cushaw is referred to as the sweet potato pumpkin.
That concerned me just a little 
as I'm not fond of either sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
This evening, I finally decided to break into that big boy.
The shell / rind is tough as nails.
Just getting the neck portion cut off was a workout.
The meat however is tender.
The fragrance smelled like watermelon to me which actually worried me a little.
I was preparing myself for something ultra sweet.
The first small batch, I had sliced about 3/8" thick and dipped in milk 
then shredded Parmesan.
I fried those in some of our home rendered bear lard.
Man oh man!  It was delicious!
The second batch, I didn't even bother with the milk or cheese.
Just a sprinkling of salt and we gobbled them up.
It does have a slight sweet potato flavor but not the overwhelming flavor 
of regular sweet potatoes.
It is/was almost like a cross between a potato and sweet potato.
We will probably be eating on this cushaw for about two weeks!
The next thing I did was clean out the "belly."
The seeds are even huge - and a ton of them.
I am saving some to try to grow, but I will roast the rest of them.
As much food as we are getting from this one squash,
I can't believe I've never heard of them.
Also, I can't believe they are not more widely promoted as 
a cost effective way to eat or feed a family.
They store easily though from what I've read 
not as long as some other winter squashes.
These store up to 4 months.
So far, the only thing that is a bit of a deterrent 
is how difficult it is to break into.
I am making arrangements to get a couple more.
So all of this from someone who's not a squash fan.
I can't tell you how thrilled I am with the discovery of this mystery squash.
And healthy to boot!