Finally, someone I can actually vote for that speaks the truth.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Finally, someone I can actually vote for that speaks the truth.
Monday, September 29, 2008
We have 11 cats (count 'em .....11) enjoying a rather fine standard of living here in the Garver house. We feed them expensive cat food, take them to the vet when they are sick, occasionally even get them fixed (ok, in that area we have been a bit remiss). They have been allowed to remain here even after we catch them red-handed doing their business somewhere other than the litter box. Almost weekly I threaten several of them with being carted off to the pound but I almost never follow thru....honest.
For the last few weeks a rather pesky and voracious little mouse has taken up residence in one of our pantry cupboards. The kids are often startled while searching for a snack when the little creature darts off in an effort to escape. Last week, after having to tell my husband why he couldn't find the craisens (I'm sure the mouse found them quite tasty) I removed everything I thought was edible except food in jars and cans (mice eat candles...did you know that?).
I find it a bit odd that in a house with so many cats, one small mouse can manage to avoid detection and death. Yesterday, I got an inkling of why that is so. Wilson had opened the door to the pantry and yelled at me that the mouse was up there again....then he quickly grabbed Mr. Woods (our male tiger cat) and set him on the shelf. Being the amiable cat that he is, Tiger settled in to his new surroundings without a blink and looked to be about to take a nap, ala Garfield. I pushed him aside and began rummaging around the back of the shelf (it's a 24" deep cupboard) and after moving a small box in the corner, the mouse jumped out and ran past Mr. Woods, who basically watched as the free meal leapt to the floor and scurried under the desk. At this point Mr. Woods sister kitty, Chicle, ran under the desk after mighty mouse. This desk has a clearance of less than 3inches so just getting under there was no mean feat and Wils and I were giggling as she tried frantically to capture the mouse...her hind legs remaining out from under cover.... spread eagled and violently twitching. Tho she did come away empty handed, she will hereafter be granted immunity for accidents involving missed litter boxes.....and tomorrow, I'm buying a mouse trap.
Friday, September 26, 2008
That sentence, that one sentence (or variations of same) has been uttered in virtually EVERY single conversation I have ever had with Verizon.
I don't know why that wasn't explained correctly to you...
I don't understand why the other gal didn't tell you that......
I don't know why my fellow employees are complete idiots (ok, that one's mine, but it does have a nice ring to it :)
...I'd like to send them all to an island somewhere wrapped in heavy chains.....
Thursday, September 25, 2008
So I come, hat in hand, to make a public apology to my editor, the newspaper, and especially to my dear, sweet, patient, kind, patient, wonderful husband (did I mention patient?) who every day has to listen to my rants about the infinite unfairness of life in general.....poor guy :)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
...and quite possibly my last. I was asked to write and shoot pics again for the local paper here in town...the 'once a week only parents read paper'....and yesterday my very first football story was printed. The editor praised my efforts,
I just read your story and it’s fantastic!
The Exeter readers are going to love this. It’s much better than any football article I have ever written for the Monarchs.
and then promptly changed the opening paragraph.....UGH!!! And when I say changed, she added just one sentence (just one), but it was a crummy sentence and frankly it ruined the opening. I was tempted to curse out loud (instead I just did it subconsciously....but loudly!!!)
So here on my blog, I will post the story I wrote, my story my way. For the record, I don't think of myself as a great writer; I'm not sure I'm even a good writer. But I'm competent and I get the point across. I can occasionally even be entertaining....but whether my stories are good, bad, or ugly....I want them to be mine (ever the egotistical arteest). If I write crap, I will take the heat for said crap. I do not want someone else's crap under my name. No matter how nice a person I think they are (and she is a very nice person). Whew....
Exeter Slays Mighty Taft 31-7
It may have been that the only people in Monarch Stadium Friday night that thought
But then the Monarchs did what only the Monarchs knew they could do. They showed the crowd, the reporters on the sidelines, and most importantly, the boys from Taft what they were made of. They dug in their heels and they held the line, stopping the Wildcats on fourth and three at the
On the next Wildcat procession, the Monarch defense stopped Taft once again and
Questions remained as the team took the field in the third quarter. Would the Wildcats be recharged? Could the Monarchs hold the slim lead? Three points isn't much of a spread with the entire second half looming in front of them and thoughts of taking the field against a team coming off a Division IV Valley Championship season can be daunting.
And so the team of Davids, the team that many thought would be lucky to get out of the game with their health, began the onslaught. The Monarch offensive line took the ball in the opening series and moved up the field 80 yards in a drive that ate close to six minutes of game time and left no doubt in the stadium as to who was in control of this game. Loeffler scored the second of four touchdowns on a carry of six yards, adding to a total that would eventually climb to 270 yards for the night.
Statistics for the night confirmed the unimaginable, the game that most had conceded to Taft before the night began, had been thoroughly controlled by
"We were outsized, but not outplayed," Coach White commented after the game. Loeffler was characteristically humble in his assessment, praising the offensive line and adding, "The defense played great. We didn't give up after the first touchdown. We couldn't let it get into our heads; we still had to play our game."
My Mom was on the front page of the Newspaper !!!
Betty Derr, right, and Joanne Rossetti of the St. Mary's Women's Guild at their booth at the Relay for Life at Mt. Whitney High School track. The event celebrates those who have survived cancer, and remember those lost to cancer with a relay. Teams walk and run around the track for 24 hours and take part in fun activities off the track. Funds raised at Relay For Life help the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also go towards cancer research and community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer. This year's fundraising goal is $500,000.
Betty (aka Mom) has been doing the Relay for Life for over 10 years now, as well as working (volunteering) at the Cancer Society Discovery shop. She is amazing in her efforts and the amount of hard work that goes into the Relay is heroic. My dad died of cancer 17 years ago, Steve's mom died of cancer 7 years ago...... we miss them.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
In a perfect world, everything we put into our mouths would be organically grown, whole grain and produced locally...all meat would be hormone free, free-range and humanely treated. I try my best to shop according to these criteria and over the years our eating habits have changed for the better. Tho it is not always possible to make healthy choices and kids do make the effort a bit more challenging (organic mac and cheese does not significantly lesson my aversion to white noodles and powdered cheese) we do our best. Because of our concerns over fuel use, my jaunts to Whole Foods are now relegated to side trips when we travel to Fresno for some other reason but we are still able to find a lot of organic and locally grown produce here in Central California and we take advantage of that fact.
So, I am tickled that some of my propensity for healthy, nutritious and chemical free foods has rubbed off on our oldest son. Living alone for the first time in his life, Brad is having to do all his own shopping and cooking. He doesn't go the fast food route, not much into sodas, and likes to shop at the college farmers market. When he was here this weekend (a quick overnight visit -can't leave his cat for more than one night) he even asked me where Whole Foods was located, thought he might stop on his way home. Beaming with pride (they actually listen) I gave him directions from his apt. to the store. How pleased we are to relate that he even writes about his experience at Americas premier organic supermarket on his blog. He describes himself as a kid in the candy store....parenting gone right? No, just a 21 year-old standing in front of the organic BEER aisle......we are so proud.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Ok, so it turns out that because peppers are not highly acidic they require a pressure canning process to insure the higher temperature that is needed to kill the botulism bacteria. I have never used a pressure cooker before...in my life. Tho my Mom did, quite often. I remember many an evening coming home to the sizzle and rocking of the weight on top of the cooker letting out steam. But I never quite got it, and frankly these contraptions have always frightened me. I see the bomb potential in misusing them and tho I finally do get it (when you increase pressure while keeping volume constant the temperature goes up) I remain wary....it just seems to be a perfect
I Love Lucy episode...another misadventure in the kitchen.
BUT... I am determined to master this fear and learn to preserve more of our garden bounty. Our little freezer simply can't handle any more stuff but we have plenty of pantry space.
So this post is less a recipe for home canning than a glimpse into what might be a future ptomaine poison outbreak in the Garver house. Time will tell.
I blackened peppers under the broiler for about 5 minutes each side. Then I stuck them in a paper bag for about 15 minutes to make the peeling easier....peeled and de-seeded.
While the peppers were steaming in the bag, I realized that the pint jars I had bought at the grocery store were much too big for the amount of peppers I had and for the recipes I would be preparing in the future. So I walked down to the local hardware store and bought a dozen half pint jars.
I layered the peppers into the 4 jars (after sterilizing) and then filled with boiling water up to 1" from top. I thought the whole head space issue wouldn't leave much room for peppers but they seemed to pack in there pretty well and they are such adorable little jars.
I placed these in the pressure cooker that I borrowed from my Mom. Tho not the same one I grew up with (I think she actually wore that one out :) it was new...and safe.....I'm sure of it (China has the highest safety standards....correct?)
Here's a shot of my gerry-rigged rack system (hey, the rack kit sells for $29....eek!). I made it from a pie crust protector and one of those beer-can-up-a-chicken cooker thingies (don't ask) that I cut in half.
After closing the lid, turning up the heat to high and letting the steam escape for 10 minutes, I closed the valve, turned down the heat, and let it go (and prayed that I wouldn't be scraping pepper pieces off my ceiling). 35 minutes later....kitchen intact, I turned off the heat and waited. No way was I going near that pot until it is completely cooled off...what a whus.
So, here are my 4 cute little jars of roasted peppers. I am strangely proud of myself right about now; 6 months from now when we are all retching in the ER after an enchilada supper, I may feel differently. Today, I am smiling.
Friday, September 19, 2008
With fall coming soon (at least that's what they keep telling us) it was time to pull out the basil and make one more batch of pesto for the winter.
I use a combination of two recipes for my Pesto, one that blanches and one that uses the basil fresh. I divide the leaves into 2 bowls....the lighter, smaller, more tender leaves go into one, and the bigger, tougher leaves (to be blanched) go into the other. Not sure it makes that much of a difference, but I think blanching helps to soften the bigger leaves and the un-blanched (is that a word?) give the Pesto a greener more intense color. For this recipe, I have about 6 cups of each...12 total.
After washing (and dividing) I quickly dip (in and out) the big leaves in boiling water...this cool strainer tool is a huge help scooping the leaves out.
A quick dip in the ice bath, and then onto a white t-shirt to pat dry.
At this point the basil looks identical to cooked spinach, it also serves to shrink the 6 cups of leaves down to about 1/2 cup of green glob (sounds yummy...no?)
In food processor, grind together.....1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan,
1 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, 5 cloves minced garlic. Add Basil and 3/4 cup olive oil and process. You can add salt and pepper to taste but usually the Parmesan is enuf to do the trick.
Ready to go into the freezer....along with the batch I made earlier in the summer, this should get us thru the winter! (I actually made 2 batches this day...5 bags plus a container that went into the fridge)
Can't make fresh pesto and not use it! For lunch we had whole wheat pasta, sauted onion and peppers (still pulling these guys out of the garden:) and tomatoes. Mix hot pasta with several tablespoons of pesto and a touch of olive oil...add veggies....Yum!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Wash thoroughly, if only to get rid of spiders so kids will continue helping (wimps).
We actually do a bit more cleaning than is necessary...the juicer will take the fruit stems and all but then it has to be cleaned out much more often, so we get rid of as much stem as possible.
After washing we pour grapes into Juicer (bought on ebay...love it!)
This is a view of the insides of the machine....
I also strain the juice, you can see how much pulp makes it thru the juicer.
And the final stage of juicing ...dumping the pulp on the compost pile....nothing is wasted in the process....yea!
Seems like a lot of work for just 4 bottles of juice, but it feels better to not let the grapes go unused...and the juice is delicious. My favorite way to drink it is with sparkling water added ...what we call fuzzy water in the Garver house. I think it was Sam who coined the phrase when he was around 5....that's how it tasted to him...and the name stuck.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Kind of strange to be making soup when it's 90 degrees outside but hey, I had leftovers. This is another of those quick lunches for us (I love that DH rides his bike to school and that it's close enuf so that he can come home for lunch). Our oldest son likes this soup so much that whenever we have broccoli with dinner (which is alot) he wants me to make extra so he can have soup the next day.
Ingredient portions are kind of iffy because it depends on how much broccoli I have sitting around. This day it was just a small amount, probably a single crown, cooked. So I sauteed about a half inch slice of onion, diced, in butter and olive oil....added 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux. Just as it was starting to color, I added about a cup of chicken broth and stirred to thicken. Meanwhile, I used another 1/2 cup of broth to mush up (technical term) the broccoli in the food processor. Add to onion broth along with a bit of grated Parmesan and about a half cup of cream....optional, but why?
Even in the heat, this was a good meal. We had it with whole grain bread ...and butter....but no wine. Steve had to get back to torturing the youth of America and needed to be sober :)
Friday, September 12, 2008
I have no idea what the hand signals mean that my wonderful husband is making while standing in the garden (but don't you love the German tourist thing he's got goin'....black socks and all :) I just wanted to show the scale of the pole beans in the background that are threatening to overtake the playhouse (aka storage)....Steve is 6'2"...these are some big-ass plants. Too bad I didn't save the pkg. from the seeds....if only to avoid buying them next year. Oh, I don't mind the size, it's actually a wonderful way of hiding a rather unsightly storage area for junk. It's just that for all their glory these vines put out only a minimal amount of beans, about enuf to provide a side dish for one meal....sigh. The bush beans were so incredibly prolific, and pole beans are usually more so. I figured we'd be freezing enuf green beans to get us thru the winter....bummer. I did save the pkg. from the bush beans....Classic Slenderette...those I will be buying again...in bulk!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
About 5 years ago on a Sunday morning, just an hour or so after attending an uplifting service at the Visalia EV Free church, the Garver family walked out of our local Wal-Mart.... drained. I remarked to Steven that Wal-Mart just sucked the church right out of you; it left you feeling depressed and discouraged. That was it...no more Wal-Mart...and we haven't looked back. Around that same time we also decided to forgo eating at McDonalds....after watching Super-Size Me, the mere thought of McDonalds made us ill.
Even my kids got on the bandwagon (tho Wils still has a penchant for junk food and neither of the young teens in our house can grasp that energy drink is a euphemism for SODA) Tho we do think that both of these commitments is important, neither of them is exactly a hardship as there is always a Target or In-and-Out Burger nearby to satisfy the craving for salt, fat, and cheap blenders. So lately we have been chatting about possible new resolutions beyond not shopping at the local mega-store. We are considering various bans on buying clothes and country of origin...
....we'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
My older sister (she hates when I call her that) came to visit last weekend, from Mt. Shasta. She actually came to check up on Mom but the 3 of us had lunch together while she was here and it was wonderful. We spent hours chatting on all manner of subjects...laughing and eating and berating the errant members of our familial tree. Mom remarked that she couldn't remember the last time just the 3 of us got together. I said I was fairly certain that we hadn't....ever.
Anyway, Stephanie is an amazingly wise and pragmatic woman who is much more vulnerable than I ever thought. She is an ICU nurse with nerves of steel and sometimes she seems to have it so all-together as to be intimidating. Over the past few years she has become so much more real and approachable....I really like her!
We spend our lives comparing our insides with everyone else's outsides
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I need to lose 20lbs. (eek, that sounds so....fat!) And at 50yrs. old I realize that this could be a rather daunting task. But I am tired of snug fitting pants and of looking at clothes I don't even bother trying on anymore because I know I won't be able to close the zipper. So, today I start the first part of my two-fold attack on blubber....walking at least 3x a week. The other is cutting back on eating and as of now I am hoping that the addition of exercise on a regular basis will be sufficient to avoid the dreaded 'diet'. I've never been a big believer in diets. At least not in the sense of withholding certain foods for an indeterminate period of time- just long enuf to lose the weight ...then back to the cheesecake.
We have a pretty decent lifestyle diet here in the Garver house....plenty of fruits and veggies, pastas, chicken, whole grains....not a lot of crap. Though I guess whole grain Tostitos are hardly a health food and I'm sure there's a box of Cap'n Crunch in my cupboard as we speak. We rarely eat red meat and I try to keep things simple and use as few processed foods as possible. I used to shop once a month at Whole Foods in Fresno...but the hour drive got to be a bit too expensive and seemed to defeat the purpose of buying organic. Now we shop at the local Savemart and Winco (she says guiltily....tho better than WalMart, the whole big-box store concept is not something I am entirely comfortable with). We grow a lot of our own vegetables and were it not for feeding the kids, Steve and I would probably be content eating out of the garden almost exclusively.....add a freshly baked loaf of bread and a glass of wine...what more could you want?
So, tho I do think I eat pretty healthily....I guess I just eat too much of it. Darn. I hate the thought of giving up my glass of wine with dinner (or the one I drink while making dinner). I do so love the whole process of cooking and eating. It is one of the simple pleasures in our life and I don't want that to change. Which pretty much means the success of this mission hinges on the commitment to exercise...regularily...beyond gardening and cleaning house and painting and plastering and furniture refinishing.....
....geez, I certainly don't feel like I'm living a sedentary lifestyle.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
This is an easy answer to the dreaded 'what's for dinner?' question at our house. The boys prefer theirs with marinara and cheese, but Steve, Annie and I love the pesto.
Start with pre-made crust...you can make your own but that would defeat the whole 'easy' part.
Spread with olive oil and pesto...I do make the pesto from scratch but store-bought is fine.
Top with diced green peppers, onion (and any other veggies you have hanging around) and half a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.
Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan, Feta and mozzarella cheeses.
Cook at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes. I top mine with sliced tomatoes after cooking.
Serve with wine :)
Friday, September 5, 2008
Me.....Are all Verizon customers set up to be billed on the 26th?
Verizon moron.....No, everyone is set up on a different date.
Me.... Is that date coincidentally 2 days prior to the service beginning so that you can charge for an extra month??????????
Verizon shill.....I don't do billing (seriously, that's what he said)
Me....(after rolling my eyes in complete disgust and a wee bit of disbelief)....Well, isn't that perfect; this is exactly the reason we're leaving Verizon.
After a minute spent waiting to speak to the supervisor (my usual, "let me talk to your supervisor" request) I am asked if I would like to pay my entire bill. No, as a matter of fact, send me a final bill and I'll pay (most of) that. Then I am told by this very nice woman (it's hard to be mad at someone who keeps calling you Ma'am) that since we are behind in our payment, they will be suspending our service and all billing stops so we won't have to pay thru October. I'm writing this down....and I have her name...Betty.
Moral of the story ..... occasionally it pays to be a deadbeat :)
Ok, it's not done yet, but I just needed to see some kind of progress. Did you know that when you paint with red it takes a minimum of 4 coats of paint, and I'm thinking 5 will be the final tally. And that's after a coat of pink (actually that's after a coat of pink....a coat of red that turned out to be too dark....then another coat of pink to cover that goof....then 2 coats of red and counting). Wouldn't be so bad if it was the whole room, but with different colors it's the line between the walls and the one at the ceiling that become problematic (that's high-brow talk for 'pain in the ass'). I just don't have a real steady hand and the thingie I bought to help (something called 'sure-line' with little wheels and a pad that is meant to go along the ceiling and create beautiful straight lines) works intermittingly....which is to say, not too much. I threw it away after the first coat....I will be doing a lot of re-touching.
Today, the 3rd coat goes up, and tomorrow the 4th and possibly final.....yea!
ps. the window actually opens out to the pantry off the kitchen. Steve thought is was cool, kinda like the old classroom windows that opened out onto the hallway in school. And it's handy when the cats want to get in and out of the room :)
Thursday, September 4, 2008
When he wasn't helping me on one of my jobs, Steve spent his 3-day weekend......
....cleaning out the shop and installing a new/used cabinet that we got via Freecycle. He is organizing, consolidating and throwing away (yipee, yahoo) years of accumulated 'we might need this someday' STUFF. It's difficult for him with his natural inclination to save and reuse, but after 10-15 years of moving certain items to new and different storage locations, he decided he probably wasn't going to use these things after all (drawer handles that came out of a kitchen in the 60's- safe bet we won't be putting them in our house).
We love to find new uses for old items and we have done a LOT of painting and refinishing both in our house and Sam's new room but I draw the line at reusing dirty, rusty, old relics...note to Garvers... if it looks like garbage, IT IS :)
The shop looks measurably better, can see the floor and walk all the way to the far wall....YEA!
This is the mess outside the back door (and that's the studio apt. in the background). Someday I will get my patio back, for now it is a workshop/storage area....sigh.
This is Brad's old room, soon to be Annies room. The before shots were taken a couple weeks ago but the big push to finish really got going this past weekend.
Annie picked out a beautiful cream color for three (2-1/2)walls and red (pink is the base coat) for the big wall and the wall along the top bunk (is there a more grown up/feminine word for bunk bed?). I'm going to need to get a wide angle lens to better show this room; it's 8x8 (reason for the bunk) and looks a bit like a college dorm room (or quarters on a air craft carrier). The red is going up today....will post results!
The loft bed....yeah, that's better!
And finally... Sam's room/future rental/Mom's studio....
Alan, our good friend and incredibly generous contractor/handyman extraordinaire, is floating the bathroom and kitchen floors. Since this was a garage conversion and we added to the sq. footage, the two concrete pads didn't quite match in heighth so he is putting in a concrete/glue substance that connects the two and will level out the differences before we tile.
******************************* Happy Helper! ****************************
And on to the Kitchen (ette:) The stripes are to differentiate between the rooms in the studio apt.
The blue tape will come down of course....it's all a process!
And this was just for fun!