Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Kip and Rita!

Today is Kip and Rita's 25th Anniversary! Rita is my cousin from Alabama. This weekend she and Kip are going on a cruise - first cruise for them! Have a great time. You deserve it!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mission accomplished!

Whew! No one can accuse me of being a couch potato this weekend. Last weekend I began taking down one of two small trees in my front yard that had become unattractive, in spite of cutting them back each year. I had quite a pile of debris for the Town to pick up last Monday. But I had barely made a dent in the job. Yesterday and today I finished the job. One of my neighbor's yelled across the street to me yesterday, "Hey, Sherry, I didn't know you were a lumberjack!"

I responded, "Neither did I!"

I was using an old hand saw that is long past its prime. But I don't trust myself with a chain saw.

I would take a picture of the big pile I accumulated yesterday and today but now the rain has started. I was working in a drizzly rain this morning.

I want to plant a medium size flowering tree either near where these two trees were or maybe somewhere else in the front yard. One of my sons is going to come over and take out the stumps for me. I'll be glad to help with that job, but for me to do it myself would be suicide!!!

For now, though, I'm going to put a load of laundry in the washer and make another pot of coffee.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My blog friends

It has been an incredibly bad week at work. Sometimes I let the office politics and the corporate mindset really get to me and this is one of those times. When you think of it, office politics is no different than a bunch of three year olds in a play group fighting over who is the leader and who gets the biggest toy. So why do I let it get me down? Please don't e-mail or call and ask what happened. Hopefully, sharing it here will get it out of my system and I can move on to have a good weekend and go back to work on Monday with a genuine smile on my face. I have enough yard work and housework to do this weekend and that should burn up the anger inside me.

But in the middle of all this turmoil, there is one shining light that has kept me going. Through this blog, I have made some really wonderful friends. Two of them in particular - I'm not going to identify them, so don't ask! - have been a bright spot in my life lately. We have enjoyed e-mails back and forth on mutual interests and values. One sent me a sample of her homemade soap from half way around the world. She had a drawing on her blog among her readers and her grandsons drew names out of a hat. I was one of the lucky winners.

You two know who you are. Thanks so very much for being the sunshine in my life this week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"We are pleased to inform you. . . "

I didn't read any further!

Last week I had my annual mammogram. Now folks, there are few things in this world that I dislike more than having a mammogram, as any woman who has ever had one can understand. But the possible alternative is even worse.

So I went. Just sitting here typing this and thinking about it, makes my skin tingle with fear.

Yesterday, I finally got around to opening the letter I received. I thought it was a bill and I would sit down and pay bills later. Instead the envelope contained a letter informing me that my mammogram showed no sign of cancer.

In the past, I would skip a year or conveniently put off having a mammogram. Then a friend I've known since grade school and who is the same age as I am, went for a mammogram and they found a suspicious spot. She told me it was so small that even when the doctor pointed it out to her on the screen, she couldn't see it. She was one of the lucky ones. With early detection, she was treated with minimally invasive procedures and today she is fine. That was quite a few years back and today she is still cancer free.

So ladies, if you are over the age of 40, please don't skip your mammograms. It is worth the pain and indignity of dealing with the procedure for a short period of time each year to be sure you are free of breast cancer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SUCCESS!!! I'm tickled pink!

Here they are! My two loaves of sourdough bread right out of the oven! Haven't cut them yet and tasted them - waiting for them to cool a bit - but aren't they just the most wonderful sourdough loaves you've ever seen?????

The reason one is smaller than the other is because I didn't evenly divide the dough when I cut the big ball of dough to make the loaves.

I am just so thrilled! I was worried when the dough didn't seem to rise as much as I thought it should. Thanks to Lois, at From Lois' Hands, and Granny, at grannysgarden, in Australia for your encouragement on this!

This better be good. . .

LOL! That is what I used to say to my sons when they were growing up and I caught them doing something "Mom don't allow" and they would say, "I can explain."

Anyway. . . I have spent all weekend working on my sourdough bread, so "This better be good!" Right now it is Sunday morning at 9:45 am local time. The dough had been rising in my oven for 20+ hours. I don't think it rose enough for the time it spent in the oven. But one of my blog readers, who has much more experience at this thing than I do, assured me that sometimes it rises a lot and other times it doesn't. I just now mixed the rest of the ingredients together, kneaded the dough like the directions call for, and placed it back in the oven to rise for 2 to 4 hours.

I tasted a small piece of the kneaded dough. It definitely has a sourdough "tang" to it.

And speaking of "kneading". . . I have a bread machine, one of the best on the market, and I do use it. But there is something about kneading dough that is good for the soul. When I am kneading the dough, I can pretend the "beating" I am giving that dough with my hands is directed at someone or something that has caused me frustration or pain in my life!!!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wish me luck! Just began my sourdough bread

I began the first step in making two loaves of sourdough bread just now. My recipe calls for mixing one cup of starter, one and a half cups of warm water and 3 cups of flour. I mixed that up, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in my oven with the oven light on to rise. The recipe says let it rise two to twenty-four hours! Quite a time span. When that was done I "fed" my starter and put it back in the refrigerator.

I was going to start this process Thursday night. However, Lois, over at From Lois' Hands, advised me to be home while I'm doing this. She says rising times can vary and I could come home and find the dough had risen so much it took over the entire oven!!! That was enough warning for me, especially since cleaning an oven is not one of my favorite things to do!!!

As for my new glasses, they are behaving much better this morning. People on TV don't have two pairs of eyes and I don't stagger when I walk!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New glasses, big problems

It's gonna be a long weekend. Today I picked up my new prescription glasses at the Eye Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center where I work. I ordered them last week and was warned that this prescription was a lot stronger than what I was accustomed to and it could take awhile to adjust to them.

'No problem', I thought. 'I'll do just fine.'

This afternoon I was in for a major surprise. . . not a happy kind of surprise either. I sat down in front of the optician and put the new glasses on. All of a sudden her face became distorted. She could tell by the look on my face that all was not well. "Don't stand up!" she warned me.

I quickly took the glasses off. Already I was feeling dizzy.

She explained that my brain was accustomed to the current lens I have had. She advised me to wear them at home for a half hour at a time and then for longer periods to allow my brain to adjust.

Yes, it could be a long weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Flowers

My daffodils and hyacinths are starting to fade, but oh, have they really been brilliant this Spring. I've enjoyed watching people walk by and stop and look at them. I'm thinking of putting in a new garden in the backyard. I can plant anything I want in the backyard without fear of the deer destroying it.

My son has promised to come over some weekend soon to help me cut down two small trees in the front yard that have become less than desireable. I told him I could take care of cutting them down myself, but I would need help getting the roots and stump out. I want to plant a flowering tree in that spot. There are several outside my window at work that I really like. In the Spring, they are covered with white blooms and in the Fall, they turn a bright crimson for several weeks.

Update on the Sourdough project! I've completed the five day process of making the starter. This weekend I'm going to try my luck with making a loaf of Sourdough bread. Can't wait! My friend, Ginger, who is part of our "Annual Canoe/Kayak Trek" in the Adirondacks has informed me that sourdough bread packs well for camping trips! I wonder if that is a hint?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sourdough, Day 2

My excitement is growing! I began my sourdough starter yesterday, following Lois' instruction (From Lois' Hands blog). I even bookmarked the section of her blog where she explains, step by step, how to prepare the culture.

Meanwhile, I searched the internet and thumbed through several of my own cookbooks on bread baking. I quickly gave that up. You can find a dozen sources on sourdough baking and come up with a dozen different ways of doing it. I decided to stick with Lois' way!

Here is a picture of the bowl of starter in my kitchen bay window in between my house plants! I even turned my home thermostat up a few degrees so that the "yeastie beasties" (Lois' term!) will have just the right environment to grow.

And here is a close up of the culture taken right after I stirred it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sourdough bread baking

You just never know what benefits pop up from this blogging thing! Lois, over at From Lois' Hands, (click on her link to the right of this page) did a post on sourhdough bread. Who doesn't love sourdough bread, especially homemade sourdough bread? Well, almost 20 years ago, I tried making the sourdough starter. Tried three times and it was a failure. . . actually the third time I tried, we had an ice storm and our house was without power for days, so the temperature was not adequate for making the starter. But after three attempts, I gave up and although I love making homemade yeast breads, I just never got back to sourdough.

Then Lois came along with her blog post and I got bitten by the bug again! I like her method. She says forget about the extras some recipes call for, just use flour and water. So, wish me luck, folks.

If I am successful, you'll be hearing about it right here!!!

I think there is something inside me that beckons back to "the olden days". I love camp dutch oven cooking, probably because I feel a connection to the early settlers in this country. As they moved westward, they had to leave many things behind them because of space and weight on the covered wagons. But never was the cast iron dutch oven and skillet left behind. Same with sourdough. Hundreds of years ago, people couldn't walk into a big grocery store and buy a package of yeast. So they made do with what they had. It is refreshing to think these cooking and baking methods have survived the test of time right into the modern world.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Terror at lunch time

I came home for lunch today - I live close enough to my job that I do that on occasion. I let Molly out the back to go potty and then called her in. As she was walking in the sliding glass door of my three season room, I happened to be looking down. Something caught my eye in the grass, up close to the house. . . something long, thin, and gray and very still. . . just inches from where Molly had just stepped. . . a SNAKE!

When I gasped, Molly stared at me, like, "What is your problem?"

I slammed the door shut and ran to the garage to find a "weapon"! The only thing I saw that looked suitable was a snow shovel. I grabbed that and went back to where this disgusting thing was. I opened the door and as hard as I could, I stabbed it with the bottom edge of the snow shovel, hoping to break its spine. This ofcourse, agitated the creep, and its front half began wiggling all over. At this point, I'm trying to hold off a heart attack.

I pushed so hard on the shovel, you would think I could have gone through concrete. Then I lifted the shovel and quickly pulled my arm and shovel back in the house and closed the door.

What that snake did next will haunt me till the day I die. Did he run away? NO! He turned around and stuck his head up against the glass door with that slithery tongue going in and out.

A year or so ago, my next door neighbors had a snake in their yard. I gladly helped them kill it. I don't recall ever having one in my yard. But you can bet I am going to do everything I can to make that snake unwelcome on my property!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

March Madness

The 2010 NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament is now history. Last night's championship game was one even Hollywood couldn't have improved on! What a thrilling game. A little known school - Butler - going up against a well-known powerhouse team - Duke.

I think what makes this so special, at least in my mind, both schools have high graduation rates of their athletes. In other words, they aren't factories for the NBA.

Thanks to both teams for the tremendous game. There were no losers in this one.