Friday, October 30, 2015

It Only Takes a Second to be Distracted

Where is my spatula? I just had it in my hand. Where did I put it? I need that spatula now. I know I saw it. I took it from the dishwasher.

As you can see, I did have the spatula. I did put it away. But I put it away in the metal container on the hutch that is for scissors, markers, pens, and pencils. Definitely not for kitchen utensils. It only took one tiny bit of time for my brain to be distracted, and there went the spatula.

One of my favorite 'got distracted' stories happened years ago. (See? It's not all age-related.) I was making something that needed milk and peanut butter. Really, I don't remember what else there was besides milk, but it went in the cupboard where the peanut butter was stored.

Nothing unusual happened. I made my food item and off we went. Several hours later, I wanted to make something else that required milk. Probably macaroni and cheese, as my children were in that stage. But the milk was not in the fridge. I knew we had some, as I had used it earlier the same day. I wracked my brain for several minutes, trying to figure out what had happened to the milk.

And then I noticed the peanut butter in the milk spot in the refrigerator. Uh-huh. Guess where the milk was?

Spoiling in the cupboard in the peanut butter spot, right where I put it.

Only a very short distraction and the milk was a goner.

Today my husband became distracted. I was getting something from across the room. He was standing by the huge vat of coleslaw I had just made for our Oktoberfest party tonight. He glanced over, saw my backside as I was bending down to get a bowl, stared at that instead of what he was doing, and smacked the spoon in the coleslaw so that a huge scoop went flying out on the counter.

Ah-hah! Caught him sneaking a peek AND making a mess. Only a small distraction (ok, this may have been a bit larger of a distraction than small) and we had a mess to clean up.

How about you? What have you done in 'distracted-mode' that a) made a mess, b) got you in trouble, or c) ruined something?

I'd love to hear. Let's commiserate with each other about our little condition of distractability.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wrapped in Love ~ Merry Christmas at My Door!

I came home from walking in the lovely fall rain to find a package tucked neatly behind the pumpkin display.

And what to my wondering eyes (and fingers) should appear at the ripping apart of the paper but a contribution for our Wrapped in Love Christmas project.

Ten beautiful, cozy, colorful scarves burst out, tempting me to try on and touch. These 10 cozies began at our girls' weekend at the beginning of the month. I also have several other gorgeous scarves that were completed during our eating/talking/movie watching marathon. Thanks, girls! You rock!

I am feeling a little bit better about my stash of scarves, shoulder shawls, and lap robes. 94+ is a lot of cozies!

For, you see, Christmas is coming and our Wrapped in Love project for the nursing home will soon take place. You can read more about Wrapped in Love by clicking the link.

On Christmas Day, a group of us will load our packages, boxes, and bags, and go over the river and through the woods (or at least over the roads and through the neighborhoods) to Landmark. While there we hope to dispense Christmas cheer, a good bit of fellowship, a Christmas treat, and a choice of one of the warm Wrapped in Love creations to all of the residents.

Anyone not busy on Christmas Day? You are welcome to join us. If you can't make it, feel free to dig out that knitting, crocheting, or sewing and whip up a few items to add to our pile. Thank you!

And a very, merry, early Christmas!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Perfect Sunday

The view from my front yard. I am so glad my neighbors have gorgeous trees.
Not only is fall my favorite season, fall Sundays rank right up there at the top of the list.

What comprises a perfect fall Sunday?

coffee with my honey
the Sunday paper, waiting for me to read it after lunch
church, complete with plenty of energy and excitement garnered by the children
an afternoon free of responsibility
a lovely walk being pushed along by autumn bursts of wind and swirling leaves
empty roads
other walkers and joggers, accompanied by their dogs
making it almost home before the rains began
cool weather just begging for cozy sweaters and fires
wet kitties making footprints where ever they roam
football, compliments of the Seahawks

What makes your Sundays perfect?

Looking forward to next Sunday.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Bully

Stache, boldly patrolling our yard in search of victims
One of our cats is a bully.

Oh, did I say our cats? I mean we have 3 cats.

NO. We have 2 cats. There is an impostor who makes his rounds and regularly visits our yard. He believes that he lives here.

And he preys on my 2 gray girls. Beats them up, terrorizes them, chases them back through the cat door, lurks, stalks, and generally haunts their every step.

We are guaranteed at least one cat fight a day. Screeching and caterwauling fill the neighbor air with clouds of cat angst. And then one and/or both of my cats come flying through the cat door or back screen door, tails a-puff, terror written on their furry little faces. On occasion, he has even interrupted potty time, with somewhat messy results.

"How are your kitties doing?" asked one of our neighbors.

"Fine," I replied, happy to share about my girls to our dog-person friend, "brought in a mouse yesterday."

"But are they getting in cat fights?" she clarified.

OH. "Why yes they are. Every. Single. Day."

"Is the cat black and white with a mustache?"

"That's him. We call him Stache."

It seems Stache has several other less complimentary names. And he does indeed weave rounds of torment as he runs through yards on our street.

He's bold, that one. He perches on our front porch as if he owned the place. One morning we woke up and he was sleeping on our back patio right against the kitchen window.

Last night, after hubby had wandered off to bed in a post-Seahawks win fog, the girls and I were curled up cozy watching a little tele and reading. Mind you, my 2 cats were locked in for the night to prevent them from bringing treats of the worst kind into our bedroom. We have also found that they couldn't be involved in midnight fights if they were safely secured inside with the cat door locked.

Lo and behold, someone was trying to get in our cat door! Not my 2, who both immediately flew off of the couch and raced to the cat door (they are very brave when I am around).

I followed very quietly. I knew who it was. Our cat number 3, the menace. We should call him Dennis.

It was Stache. Trying to break and enter. I can only imagine what chaos would have ensued had the door not been closed and he had gained entry! Talk about the fur-be-flying...

Let that be a lesson to us. And a quest for answers.

1. Lock the cats up at night. In the house.

2. Close and block the cat door to prevent unwanted guests.

3. Chase the bully away each time you see him (we do this EVERY day, and it does not really work, but what else can we do?).

4. Provide multiple escape routes for kitties.

5. Ask for help.

HELP! Any ideas? Must stop bully.

Stache, making his this-is-my-house approach to our front porch

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tomato Experiment Results

The after picture of heat-dried tomatoes. Yummy, right?

The tomato experiment was a success, though I did dehydrate them a little too long.

Now, instead of sun-dried tomatoes, I have heat-dried tomatoes. Ready for soup, casseroles, meat dishes . . . you name it.

The tomato experiement before drying
Ready to go experiment some more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tomato Experiment

Beautiful tomatoes in the dehydrator
As per many wonderful suggestions on a certain social site, I am embarking on a tomato experiment.

Let me shout out a great big thank you to all who contributed ideas. Thank you!

These ideas are a necessary part of my life right now as I work my way through 50 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of onions, and a huge box of Roma tomatoes.

The very ripe tomatoes need immediate processing. One can eat only so many in a day, juicy though they be. Lacking adequate freezer space for that sort of preservation, and an absence of canning supplies, I decided to take the short cut and fill the dehydrator with sliced tomatoes.

Quart-size storage bags of dehydrated onions

What could go wrong except they take days to 'heat-dry' or get all crispy crunchy, which would be odd for tomatoes?

I suppose experimenting with tomatoes could prove disastrous, but I am willing to take a chance. The other viable option is throwing overripe tomatoes at the big black and white bully cat that is daily harassing my kitties and chasing them through the cat door.

So here we go.
Vines in my backyard, gorgeous colors for me to enjoy

Onion update: approximately 8 large onions fill my tiny dehydrator. One dehydrator of dried onions fills one quart-side storage bag to the brim. I now have two quarts of dried onions.

Potatoes: Still considering my options.

In the line-up: sage and parsley. As long as there is no overnight freeze I can safely plan on popping them into the dehydrator ASAP. Alas, an overnight freeze is looming, perhaps this weekend.

The view on my evening walk
Let the tomato experiment commence.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bounty of Harvest

The bounty of harvest is in full production in October. This makes me very happy.

Usually I spend hours each fall dehydrating apples, parsley, sage, and any other produce I can get my hands on. Many foodstuffs come from the generosity of family and friends. Some are purchased. But the the parsley and sage are clipped straight from the garden, as they have aggressively taken over most of one raised garden bed.

This year, I have yet to fill the little dome of delight with sliced apples. But I have made a huge crock pot of applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon. The fragrance of cooking apples and cinnamon is a signature fall scent. Ahhh.

Yesterday our family was blessed with massive produce in the form of 50 pounds of potatoes (and I mean BIG spuds - I have never seen them this large), 50 pounds of onions, and a box full of Roma tomatoes. The overabundance is amazing. I do not want any of it to go to waste.

As of last night, the dehydrator has been running non-stop. The withered forms of onions rest inside, slowly drying out and waiting for me to scoop them into a container for future meals. The neighborhood is filled with wafts of onions (we got smart and put them on the patio, as our eyes were going crazy with burning).

The potatoes - what to do with the potatoes? Mashed? Baked? Gratined? I fear that one is enough for a small army, they are that huge!

And the tomatoes - soup? Sauce? Stewed? Dehydrated? (No, that does not sound appealing at all.)

I'm off to go another round with the tear-inducing onions. Last night was French onion soup. Tonight?

Ideas would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and if you need a spud or two, a few onions, and a handful of tomatoes, drop on by.

Thank you, dear friends, for sharing the (food) wealth!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Trial of Two Kitties - Jury Needed

How could this innocent face be guilty of such a crime? Or is she craftily scorning us with her kitty schemes?
Trial Notes:

The Accused: Mabel

Accomplice: Monet

Innocent Victim: Mr. Mouse

Witness for the Defense & Prosecution: Me

Bailiff: Kevin

Judge: Kevin

Executioner: Kevin

Coroner: Kevin

Funeral Director: Kevin

Burial Representative: Kevin

Mourners: Mabel, Monet, and Me; the family of Mr. Mouse

The Scene: Living room at Quantrell residence

Mabel lounging in the middle of secured crime scene, toying with Mr. Mouse who is hiding terrified behind the toy cupboard.

The hallway crime scene is secured.

Chronological Trail of Events:

7:56 AM: The Accused brings victim to living room via cat door
7:56 AM: Witness notices game of cat-and-mouse behind library book bag
7:57 AM: Witness texts Bailiff
7:58 AM: Witness secures the scene
8:01 AM: Repeat text between Witness and Bailiff
8:05 AM: Judge arrives on scene and passes judgement
8:08 AM: Executioner corners Mr. Mouse with the assistance of The Accused and her sister, Monet
8:09 AM: Mr. Mouse is sent to the great upstairs mouse house as Witness covers her ears, turns her back, and makes squeals of her own
8:10 AM: Coroner pronounces Mr. Mouse is deceased
8:10 AM: Funeral Director consults with Burial Representative and secures plastic lined casket for Mr. Mouse
8:11 AM: Incident is concluded and scene is returned to normal
8:12 AM: The Accused and sister leave the scene through cat door to attempt locating a second victim

(Due to juvenile age of the victim, no photos are available of Mr. Mouse.)

The Jury: Readers

Who was the guilty party in this tragic event?

Was it Mabel, the cat who could not stray from her natural reflexes to pounce on Mr. Mouse as he moved in front of her? Or did she get off scott-free?

Was Mr. Mouse in the wrong for daring to travel in a NO-MOUSE zone due to inhabitations of viscious mouse-murderers?

Did Kevin err too soon in the trial, sentencing, and execution of Mr. Mouse? Or should the household catch-and-release policy (most often exercised by Mabel and Monet who catch prey and release it inside the house) have been upheld?

Should Angie have avoided texting for help, and so saved the life, at least temporarily, of Mr. Mouse?

You be the jury.

Guilty or Not Guilty?

Mabel has the last laugh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Putting the Beds to Sleep

putting the beds to sleep
by angie quantrell


shorter days
colder nights
water is shut-off
falling leaves
dying stalks
fading blooms
sagging fruit
life cycle ending
though a few gallantly bloom on
time left is not sufficient for success
putting the beds to sleep
leaves, trimmed herbs, branches
no cats may visit here
tucked in securely
decay, compost, turn back to dust
good-night, dear beds, to sleep you go

Friday, October 9, 2015

Rustic Whole Wheat Apple Galette - Fall Treat Recipe

Rustic Whole Wheat Apple Galette
I made this fall treat for my husband before leaving for a girls' weekend. We had plenty of apples and he loves whole wheat. Basically, I am not good at making pie crusts. This is as close as I get. Generally round, doesn't have to fit a pan, uneven edges are 'rustic' instead of messy, and the taste is just fine.
I found the yummy recipe on this blog:
Here is the link for the recipe:
Vicky Cassidy has a beautiful blog. Thanks for the great recipe, Vicky!

Enjoy the flavor of fall! Happy weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fall Mums in the Garden

Gorgeous fall color is the only reason I keep mums in the garden.

Otherwise, they take up quite a bit of valuable food real estate. Basically boring all summer, just green growing leaves, these beauties come into their own in September and October.

Pest free and easy to care for, I suppose they are worth the space.

Hope you are having a colorful autumn!

Monday, October 5, 2015

10 Necessary Things for Getaway Weekends with the Girls

Angie hanging out on the balcony of our hotel room.
By Angie Quantrell

After a recent 2-weekend-in-a-row record for getaways with girls, several necessary requirements for a successful retreat floated to the top of my mind. Add these suggestions to your special weekends for a fantastic time.

1. Take friends and relatives. Yes, I adore having time alone. But for a million laughs and plenty of sharing and rekindling of friendships, take along friends, sisters, moms, or cousins. We laughed until our sides ached, shared until our minds went blank, and relaxed between in the quiet times.

Sister TJ goofing off at a museum stop.
2. Location, location, location. Choose a meeting place that has the necessaries for a bunch of girls - beds, bathrooms, showers, kitchen space (or great restaurants), activities, and lounging-and-chatting-places. My first weekend away was a beach cabin with all the amenities. The second weekend was at a spa resort complete with bells and whistles.

Beach or resort? Both are fantastic for getaways.
3. Plan for good food, coffee, and tea. It doesn't matter if you assign meals to each person, haul along the ice chest to save on costs at a resort, pool snacks for sharing, or dine out and let others wait on you. Some of the best times are had during meal preparation, eating, cleanup, or waiting for restaurant selections to arrive. Those early morning risers will thank you if plenty of am coffee and tea choices are read to go.

We shared meals at the beach (delicious root vegetable soup and rosemary cheese bread). We combined resources for meals and ate at restaurants during our spa weekend.
4. Prepare for fun activities. Beach walks, shopping, sightseeing, crocheting, rubber stamping, watching movies, crafting, soaking in hot springs pools, a 50th birthday party, splurging on spa treatments, getting haircuts, and sneaking to the fancy lobby in pajamas are all things I've enjoyed over the last 2 weekends. Taking it easy is also a wonderful treat.

Polly loved crochet time.
5. Carpool. Get the party started early. Time in the car chatting and stops for museums and attractions along the way add to the festive holiday atmosphere. Plus you will be saving gas and the environment at the same time.

6. Embrace the sillies. At the beach getaway, the hostess brought her  4-month old kitten. Talk about fun times (and one spoiled kitty). During the spa retreat, we surprised each other with little gifts, balloons, chocolate torte, and crazy toys. The birthday girl had a crown of glow-in-the-dark ears. My sister turned the leftovers into a runway lighted strip to lead us to the bathroom in the dark hours of the night.
Playing is good for adults!
 7. Capture the fun with photos and videos. Many of my pictures did not turn out. I really wanted photos of us soaking and being pampered though that was not possible. But looking back and sharing the shots with each other is worth hauling around that clunky camera and having to delete the ugly shots.

8. Be flexible. You will get tired or irritated at times. Let things roll off your back. Go with the group consensus or suggest everyone choose their own thing to do. Not everyone wants to go on a 5-mile hike or spend the entire weekend sitting and stamping. It's ok to do different things at the same time.

9. Enjoy the time. Who knows when the entire group will be able to get together again (if ever). Catch up, reconnect, and refresh. Make the most of the gathering. We all need times like this to take us out of the every day ruts and get our brains recharged.

We splurged on one fancy meal at the hotel.
10. Stay connected. You just spent a marvelous weekend in each others' hip pockets. Keep the love and relationship going by staying in touch through email, phone calls, texts, social media, and in person. Your mental sanity is worth the time and effort!

So pull up a chair. Let's chat.
Did I miss anything? What else would you add to the list for great girl getaways? I'd love to hear. I might just be planning my next trip...