February 28, 2013

Missy, You Were Right

Toshiba computers are junk. My hard drive failed this morning. I took it to Best Buy and they offered to replace the hard drive, but I told them that thing had been a problem since day one, so they agreed to give me a credit for it's purchase price against a new purchase. I think I'm going to get a Sony Vaio. That's what Hubby has and it seems to be a good computer. I'm typing on it now.

It will take about a week to get the new computer, so if I don't post much, you'll know Hubby's computer wasn't available to me.

See you soon.

Update:  We're back from Best Buy where I bought an Asus, not a Sony.  It was in stock and had a 5i instead of a 3i and was cheaper.  I pick it up tomorrow, so I guess I won't be out as long as I thought.

p.s.  If you buy a computer from Best Buy and you have problems with it in the first 30 days, take it back and get a refund.  If you wait longer than that, they will take off $50 per month for usage.  Wish I had known that when I took it back the first time with a problem.  But it had a 90 day warranty, and the Geek guy told me I was covered.  Not.


February 23, 2013

The Days of the Paperboy

A recent conversation with a neighbor prompted me to wonder when I last saw a paperboy on bicycle delivering the news. Nowadays, it's an adult in a car slinging papers out the window, aiming for but not always hitting the driveway.

When I was ten years old and my brother twelve, he wanted a paper route. One evening, a man from the newspaper office came over and talked to my parents and brother about the work of a paper route and Sev eagerly accepted a route in our neighborhood.

Every morning, except Saturday, a bundle of one hundred flat papers were delivered to our porch around 4 a.m. Our daily paper had about ten pages and the Sunday paper had about twice that with special editions and the funnies. For the first few mornings, my mom and I helped Sev roll the papers, snap rubber bands around them, and load them into canvas bags that hung off the handle bars of his bicycle. The bags were emblazoned with the name of the newspaper and had to be evenly loaded in order to steer the bicycle. Also for those first few mornings, my mom followed along in the car until he learned the route and got the hang of riding with such a load. And of course, I rode along too since I was already awake, so I learned the route too.

The papers had to be delivered by 6 a.m. or the phone at the newspaper office started ringing. And then our phone started ringing. In those days, the paper had to be thrown onto the porch. Not the yard, not the driveway. The porch. And if it wasn't, the phones would ring. A few times when Sev was sick, I delivered his route since I already knew it, but I didn't have the arm for throwing papers. I had to ride up to the front porch. If I tried to throw from the street, I spent more time fishing a paper out of the bushes. So I rode to the porch. I probably rode through front yards too, but I don't recall any phone calls from irate customers about that. Come to think of it, I'm don't think I ever got paid for being his substitute.

I think Sev had seven blocks on his route, with about ninety customers. There were always extra newspapers in case something happened to a few, like throwing them onto the roof. There was one lady who called the office nearly every morning reporting that her newspaper hadn't been delivered. When the office called our house, Sev had to deliver another paper to them on his way to school. After a few mornings of this, Sev insisted he had delivered the paper there, so once again mom and I followed along in the car. After Sev delivered that paper, mom and I parked across the street and watched. Turned out that the next door neighbor, who didn't take the paper, let his dog out in the morning and the dog went next door, retrieved the paper, and took it home. So the neighbor was getting a free paper, and the customer really did open her door to an empty porch, well, except for the milk but that's another story. After that, Sev put her paper inside the screen door even though it took longer. And a few days later, the neighbor signed up for newspaper service.

Probably the worst part of the job for any paperboy was doing the collections. The newspaper office didn't bill the customer, that was the job of the paperboy. When someone signed up for service, they were given a small card with a square for each month. Every month, the paperboy had to go door to door to collect for the newspapers he had delivered that month, and when paid, he punched the square for that month. I guess people were pretty honest back then, as no one on Sev's route ever tried to punch their own card and get out of paying. We kept our punch card stuck behind the corner of the light switch cover by the front door, and I think Hubby's parents did the same. That made it easy to find when the paperboy came to collect. Still, there were plenty of people who either couldn't find their card or their money and Sev had to make another trip or two to get paid. There was probably someone at the newspaper office to turn to if a customer never paid, but that never happened to Sev. Like I said, I think people were pretty honest back then. Plus, it was a small town and these were our neighbors.

Sev began his paper route in the summer, and he enjoyed the money it immensely. But we lived in a part of the country where winters were cold, with snow, ice - the works. We had the kind of weather where it snowed several inches one day, melted the next, and then froze into sheets of jagged ice every night for several weeks. We usually had our first frost by the first of October and our first snow by the first of November. Along about Christmas, probably after he had bought everything he had been saving for, and right about the time the uneven weight of the bags of newspapers caused his bike to fall on that jagged ice for the hundreth time, Sev decided that delivering newspapers didn't pay enough and he wanted to quit. But my parents made him stick it out through the end of his year.

Before you feel too sorry for Sev, when the snow was very deep, or the streets very icy, my mom drove him. And I doubt she ever got paid for it either. After helping Sev roll papers and drive him around his route, she still had breakfast on the table by 7 o'clock. Every morning of my life, save two or three, my mom made bacon and eggs for breakfast, usually with toast and orange juice.

When Sev and I were much younger, our paperboy was a boy who lived several blocks away. His name was Mike, and he was saving for a car. He was our paperboy for three or four years, and it was his route that Sev took over, so I guess that was the year Mike turned fifteen or sixteen and had enough saved for his car.  At that time, we had a fat, little dog who turned into greased lightning when she got out the front door. Several times, Mike found her several blocks away and brought her home in the canvas newspaper bags on his bicycle. After that, I think the dog ran away just so Mike would give her a ride.

Maybe the paperboy disappeared because, like Sev, they didn't want to be out in the freezing cold before dawn, or maybe newspaper owners found that adults with cars were more reliable than boys on bicycles, or maybe it just became too dangerous for boys on bicycles to be out alone in the dark. In any case, they're gone, and half the people in the U.S. today have never even heard of them.


February 20, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This morning dawned cold and rainy. Not that I was awake to see it. Still, it seems like a good day for a hearty soup with a little kick and I have just the recipe, Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Have you ever avoided ordering something in a restaurant because you didn't think there was any way it could measure up to your favorite recipe? This is one of those.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil (add more if needed)
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 chicken breast halves, skinned and cubed
4 cups chicken broth
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 can mild diced green chilies
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 celery stalks, chopped

1½ cups colby jack cheese, shredded
Tortilla strip chips

Sauté onion & celery in olive oil and then sauté diced chicken. Add all ingredients except cheese and tortilla chips to stock pot, and bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. Add cheese and tortilla chips at end.  Traditionally, a few tortilla strip chips are placed in the bottom of the bowl, soup poured over them, and then about a tablespoon of cheese on top.  I'm not crazy about chips so I leave them off mine, and my kids tend to put more than a tablespoon of cheese on top.  It's all good.

p.s.  If I don't have fresh spices, I often use dried, minced onion, garlic, and cilantro.  It's not quite as flavorful, but still really good.


Half-Finished Kitchen

I hadn't planned on writing this post today, or ever. But while reading my daily blogs, I saw that Fine Craft Guild is hosting a linky party just for half-finished projects, and since that is all I seem to have these days, my first thought was "Oh my! They have seen right into my home where every room is unfinished." And then, "How sweet, they are having a linky party just for me." So now to decide which incomplete project to show off.

The vent hood, which has been framed and the front piece has been sitting on the floor for about a month?

The kitchen ceiling with only three planks up?

The laundry area that needs to have the drywall finished, the shelves faced and painted, and doors installed?

The quilt laid out on the family room floor, preventing us from getting to the windows or tv?

How about all the other unfinished quilts stored in boxes?

Or a myriad of other projects?

So this post is made for the sole purpose of linking to fine craft guild and seeking the companionship of other people who just can't quite get things finished. Go on over to see how your unfinished projects compare with others. Or join the party; after all, misery loves company!

Fine Craft Guild


February 15, 2013

Would You Bifocal Wearers Do Me a Favor? It's Easy.

Would you hold a book, magazine, or your typical reading material just as you normally do, and measure how far the print is from your glasses?

Why? I just had an eye exam and got my new bifocals yesterday. At the fitting, the girl (who didn't wear bifocals) handed me a reading page and I couldn't read anything on it. She told me to hold it closer and yes, when I moved it farther away, it was worse. Only when it was about ten inches from my glasses was it clear.

The girl acted like that was normal and that I was weird for wanting to hold it sixteen to eighteen inches away. But that is where I hold books to read. Even a little farther I think for labels at stores, writing a check on a counter or signing that credit card thing at stores.

She told the doctor and he checked the glasses to make sure they put the right prescription in and then he re-examined me while I was wearing the new glasses. When he gave me the reading chart, he put it about eight inches from my face. I had to tell him too that I needed to be able to read with it farther away.

So is it just me?


February 14, 2013

Another Fun-Filled Day of Getting the Cat to the Vet

You might remember that Lil brought her new puppy to our house for Christmas, and Buddy was less than thrilled with the puppy. After they left, Buddy was itching for a fight and he found it. I don't know what the other cat looked like, but Buddy limped home, relieved of both his collar and the chip on his shoulder. We wondered if there was an infection deep in his leg and decided I would take him to the vet.

I called first and the vet thought he might need to open the wound area, and I was to have Buddy there at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Apparently normal cats walk willingly into a carrier, or don't mind being placed into one. Not Buddy. When trying to put him in, all four feet become a blur of rotating claws and he usually manages to get both front feet on the outside of the carrier so we can't push him in. Apparently normal cats weren't feral cats that the entire neighborhood tried to catch in a cage for two years before one neighbor, with a female cat, finally broke through his defenses. No wonder he has a fear of enclosed spaces.

My normal procedure is to get a sedative from the vet, dissolve it in milk, rub it on Buddy's paws and wait for him to lick it off and get sloppy drunk. But there wasn't time to get a sedative so they told me to use a Benadryl instead. The vet also said to put Buddy in a pillow case and put the pillow case in the crate. If I couldn't put him in a carrier, I sure wasn't going to be able to put him in a pillowcase.

If you are familiar with Benadryl, you know there is a hot pink outer layer. A hard, hot pink, outer layer. It doesn't dissolve fast, doesn't crush, and the inside must be really bitter. At 8 a.m., I smeared it on both feet, Buddy took one lick and that was it. I even smeared it on his mouth and he wouldn't lick it. Hubby suggested it needed sugar so I added that. No dice. When the vet's office opened at 9 a.m., I called and reported my failure and they told me to come get a sedative.

I wiped the Benadryl off Buddy's paws, and dissolved the sedative (also pink) in the juice from a can of tuna. Buddy wouldn't touch it. In those two years of trying to trap this cat, we baited the trap with tuna and for the first year, Buddy wouldn't touch tuna with a ten foot pole. But in the last few months, he has been eating it. But not this time. So I opened a can of Fancy Feast, a salmon pate' and mixed a little of that with the dissolved sedative. It turned into pink pate' and it smelled. Correction, it stank. It was too early in the morning to think about the repercussions of using salmon pate' on the feet of a cat. Think about it, stinky stuff on the feet of an unhappy cat. What could go wrong? He sniffed, and of course after one lick, the bloomin' cat wouldn't take another. He just glared at me when I put more on.

So there was the cat with pink, stinky salmon pate' walking around the kitchen, climbing into the sink cabinet, pawing at the back door, jumping onto the upholstered bench, and walking across my quilt blocks on the table, leaving little smears of pink salmon everywhere he went. Every time he stopped, I smeared more pink paste on his feet and he continued to ignore it.

Finally, at 11 a.m. he started licking his feet. Hallelujah! It started working by 11:15 and then it was a matter of getting him in the carrier which I had hidden in the hall. I opened the door of the carrier and placed it in front of the door that I opened just enough for the cat to squeeze through. I hoped the cat would be in such a hurry to get out of the kitchen that he wouldn't see the carrier. No such luck. He saw it and tried to jump over it but I blocked him.

Then I remembered his fascination with the tunnels we made out of boxes when the puppy was here, and I found a couple of boxes, unfolded the tops and bottoms and made a short tunnel from the door to the carrier. I thought it was going to work too. He went in the first box and I was waiting for him to get in completely before tilting it and sliding him into the carrier. But he must have smelled the carrier and backed out while his back feet were still a position to defend himself.

So I waited. I didn't live through the most stubborn child on earth to be beaten by a cat. By 11:30 his eyes looked loopy and he had a little sway to his walk, so I picked him up and carried him over the carrier and as I acted like I was going to set him on the floor, I turned and stuck him in the carrier, or at least I got his front paws in the carrier. He was madly trying to back out and I was pushing his rear with the gate of the carrier. Finally I got him pinned with just one hind foot and tail out of the carrier. He was trying to turn around so his lethal weapon front claws were nearest the opening, but he wouldn't pick up that back foot so he couldn't turn. Finally he picked up that foot and made a quick turn but I was faster and got the door shut. Yay! It was 11:35 and I could just get him to the vet's before they closed for lunch.

I grabbed my purse and keys, picked up the carrier, and opened the back door. Just as it was opening, the gate on the carrier popped open and Buddy seized the opportunity to jump out of the carrier and out the door. I yelled NO! to no avail and ran after him. But my toe hung in a tarp that was on the deck by the door, and I sprawled across the deck, skinning my knee and wounding my pride.

I figured the cat was probably under the neighbor's shed, so I just lay there waiting for my head to clear and I spotted Buddy laying on the driveway. So I got up, picked up the contents of my purse, and then picked up the cat. I put him down in the kitchen and he walked around switching his tail, and staying as far from the carrier as he could get. By then it was 11:55, too late to get him to the vet before they closed for lunch.

Now the dilemma is what to do with the cat for two hours. I knew I'd never get him in the carrier unless he was completely loopy and in two hours the sedative would start wearing off. I picked him up in his cat bed, carried him to the family room, and we rocked and watched Gunsmoke for an hour. Then he started getting antsy. He wanted out of my lap. In fact, he wanted to go outside.

Back in the kitchen, he searched for a way out. He growled when I picked him up and meowed at the door. The sedative was definitely wearing off. I wet the remaining bits of pink salmon paste so I could scrape it off the plate and smeared it on his feet. He growled at me and pulled his feet away. He ran a few feet and then stopped, swaying. I guess that made him dizzy so I seized the moment, whisked him up, spun around a couple of times, and put him in the carrier.

Once again, I only got his front end in, but this time he fell over before he could fight back and I got the gate shut. This time I made sure the gate was latched well, and I taped it. I thought I could leave him in the kitchen for a half hour until it was time to go, but after he regained his balance, he started hissing, growling, yowling, and clawing at the metal gate and the plastic sides of the carrier. I saw little fragments flying out of the carrier. I didn't know if it was shredded plastic or claws. Turns out it was both.

I decided to put him in the car and drive around. I figured if it worked on babies, it might work on a cat. He didn't go to sleep, but he quit fighting the carrier. And when we got to the vet, he was as meek as a kitten. He let the vet roll him over, examine his leg, check his heart, and squirt a syringe of antibiotic in his mouth, all things he would never allow at home. Made a total liar out of me.

Turns out we were right, and there is an infection deep in his leg, so Buddy is on antibiotics for a week. The vet gave him the dose yesterday by just opening his mouth and then holding it closed. I can't see that working when the cat isn't drugged and paralyzed with fear, so the vet suggested making sure he was starving by breakfast and mixing it with some food. So I put away the self feeder and did that this morning. It worked except he didn't eat every bit of it. So I'm not feeding him any extra until this is gone.

And today we are starting carrier training. If you have any ideas let me know.


February 11, 2013

Word of the Day: Cataracts

The good news is that I have a few years before I have to have surgery. The bad news is that I need more light to be able to see clearly. There goes my night driving. Photobucket

February 08, 2013

Spring Planting Started with Onions

I love a freshly turned garden, the earthy smell of the soft black soil. This year we planted red onions and super sweet whites.

This my Favorite Things this week.


February 06, 2013

Missed Out on a Prize

I went to an estate sale today because it had a Singer Featherweight listed. A neighbor went with me to a town about 50 miles away. We waited in the drizzle for the sale to start, and when it was time, the door opened and a man announced that some items had been removed from the sale by the family. The Singer was one. Rats! But I did pick up a bag of old sewing patterns. I thought I'd venture into Etsy with something easy to ship.

Tomorrow, there is another estate sale, further away and on the other side of the city. We're not sure if we want to go or not. But it's listed as a Quilting/Sewing sale so we are both tempted, not that there is anything either of us really need. They do have a long arm quilting machine, but neither of us have room for it.

Or I could stay home and paint beadboard. Fun.

Hot Drinks, Good for What Ails Ya

Hubby has been down with The Crud lately. It started Saturday with a sore throat, progressed to laryngitis, and now the deep, painful cough. Along with a Multi-Symptom Cold Remedy, I bought Dr. Pepper, lemons, and the ingredients to make instant spiced tea. You may already have these recipes, but if you don't, they are just the thing to soothe a sore throat. We like them any time it's cold too.

Hot Dr. Pepper

I feel silly writing this as if it's a recipe. It's really easy. Pour two cups (or whatever fits into 2 of your mugs) into a sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until hot but not boiling. It doesn't work right to heat in the microwave. Cut a slice of lemon for each cup, about 1/4" wide, and drop into empty cup. Pour hot Dr. Pepper on top. Enjoy. That simple.

Instant Spiced Tea

1 cup sugar
1 cup orange Tang
1 cup Instant tea (I use decaf but if you want caffeinated you could use some with lemon and skip buying additional lemon)
1 package (1 Tablespoon unsweet) powdered lemonade (I use Kool Aid brand or True Lemon)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix well, store in airtight jar. Use 1-1/2 teaspoons to a cup of hot water.

Tonight I made Tortilla Soup for dinner. Hubby proclaimed it the best medicine yet. But he's still coughing.


Wordless Wednesday


February 05, 2013

Bedside Tables Finished and My Experience with Chalk Paint


The bedside tables I built from scraps are finished, painted with diy chalk paint using the non-sanded grout recipe from Diane at In my own style. It's funny, she said Plaster of Paris was more expensive than Non-sanded Grout at her Home Depot and it was just the opposite at mine. But that's why I used that recipe.  I had watched several videos of Annie Sloan demonstrating the paint, and I didn't care for the look at all.  It just looked like a mess to me.  But after seeing Diane's work, I changed my mind and decided to try it.  Her paint seemed to be a bit thinner than mine, and I don't know if that is because I didn't measure the grout with a real tablespoon or because my paint had been sitting around for awhile and was perhaps thicker than hers.  In any case, I found it hard to control how it went on, and impossible to apply without brush marks.

Part of the problem was my brush.  While buying the grout, I remembered reading that several people recommended using a chip brush so I bought one and began using it.  The chip brush shed more than Great Aunt Edna's gen-u-whine faux mink coat after she cleaned it with lighter fluid instead of paying for dry cleaning. And then it not only left a pile of fur where she sat, it smelled. But Great Aunt Edna kept wearing it. And just like Great Aunt Edna, once started, I kept using that brush through the first coat, even after it looked like this:

After the first coat, I scoured Diane's blog to see what she used and found that she uses a quality Purdy brush or foam roller.  After getting one coat of paint on both tables, I threw away both cup and paint brush and switched to a good paint brush. Another thing I noticed about this recipe was the smell. At first I thought I was too close to the litter box, even though I had just cleaned it. Then, I took a dinner break and put the cup and brush in a plastic bag. When I came back out, I didn't smell anything until I opened the bag and then it hit me, and it definitely smelled like the litter box. I checked the original paint and it was ok, and the second batch I mixed smell ok too.  So it was the chip brush.  Or Great Aunt Edna's gen-u-whine faux mink coat.

Another newbie tip I'll share with you, don't use a giant plastic cup to mix the paint. It was hard to mix up that small amount in the bottom of such a tall cup. When I mixed up the next batch of chalk paint, I used a round Gladware bowl, which was much easier to stir and also nice because I could put the lid on it between painting.

One reason I wanted to try the chalk paint was to see how smooth it sanded.  Everyone said it was easy to distress so I thought it might make a nice smooth surface as well.  And it might have if I had a smoother piece of furniture to work with, or maybe if I put three coats on instead of two.  With two, very much sanding went down to the wood. 

I also found that it was different over the different wood surfaces on these pieces.  It coated very well over the unfinished and primed woods, but not as well over the top and shelf which, even though they had been sanded, were prefinished.  It didn't help that those two pieces were also large, flat, dark colored surfaces.

I applied two coats and let it dry.  It looked and felt a lot like primer.  I sanded until it was smooth and then put on a coat of clear wax.  The instructions on the can of wax said to let the first coat dry completely before putting on a second coat.  So that's what I did.  My second coat was a dark wax to give it the antiqued look I wanted.  After putting some on, I got a sick feeling that it wasn't going to look good at all.  I wanted tables that said these could be vintage pieces from some great grandparent.  Instead I had tables that said they looked like could have been in some old dirty shed.  But some of the dirty look came off when I buffed it, and another coat of clear wax removed more of it from the surface, with the dark staying in the pits and lines.  I liked that much better.

But the top and shelf still bother me.  They still have more of the dirty look than I'd like, and more brush strokes.  I may try to repaint those two areas, either in white, or possibly a mocha brown.  Actually, while painting this, I thought how cool it would look with harlequin checks on top and stripes on the legs.

Purchasing the grout and chip brush brought the total of these two bedside tables to $15 for the pair.  Still not too bad and I have nearly a full bag of grout too.

The drawer pulls had been in my garage for awhile, and I thought they were just the ticket for these tables.  But I didn't really like the shiny brass on them.
So I used a metallic paint to darken the finish.
Unfortunately, there is a stub of the shiny brass inside the plastic crystal, so from the front, it still looks like shiny brass.
Hmmm.  I might need to dig through the junk drawer to see what other knobs I have.
I'm linking this to  Flaunt It Friday at Chic on a Shoestring Decorating.


The Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet

Without the yowling.


February 02, 2013

Just in Time for Company

Do you ever feel like your home is just a way station rather than a destination? Brownie is here, or was here. She and a friend came down last night, arriving about 1:30 a.m. They slept a few hours before leaving to go shopping, visiting, and to the concert they actually came here to see. They'll leave from there so we won't see them again this trip. My guest room got to know Brownie better than I did this trip.

But the good news is that I finished building the bedside tables just in time for their visit. I've been wanting to try out chalk paint on something I didn't care a lot about, and these fit the bill. I might do that this evening.

No great shakes, but here they are, built almost entirely out of scraps. I did have to buy one 2x4. So total cost for these two tables was under $6.00. And I got to practice with the router table and Kreg Jig. I don't know why I never used the Kreg Jig before, it's a pretty neat little tool.

I found a plan by Ana White, but altered it so much she might not want me to mention that. *grin*