If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Salad In A Jar!

It works!  I saw this pinned on Pinterest and read about it, watched the tutorial, and wondered if it would work.  Then, after watching a couple of bags of pre-mixed salad and a couple of heads of lettuce spoil, I decided I was going to pursue this venture.  How excited I am that it really does work!

Paula from the site, Salad In A Jar, showed me how to preserve my lettuce and have a quick, easy, fresh salad.  I knew that Mike had one of those Seal-A-Meal things because we had frozen portions of a pork loin, a big bag of chicken quarters, etc.  It is great for that sort of thing.  Sucks all the air out and prevents freezer burn.  I love it.  Of course, there is sometimes a bit of cursing involved when our old, fumbly fingers cannot get the corner of the bag slid just where it needs to go to get it vacuum sealed but that is a small price to pay when we are later enjoying the food.

I did my research with Paula.  Then, I went online and searched for the attachment I would need and ordered it.  I eagerly awaited my week for it to arrive.  (I'm too much of a cheapo to order fast shipping and just get regular.)  Then, a couple of weeks ago when I got home from the store, I set to work.

Really, you just wash your lettuce.  You need to get it mostly dry just like 'they' have always told you to do when you are working with lettuce.  I don't have a fancy salad spinner.  So, I just put my lettuce in a dish towel and step out onto the back porch and swing that around - you know, like Granny showed me when I was a little girl to swing a bucket of milk around and none would fly out.  Well, with the dish towel and lettuce, the water does all fly out and you are left with a nice dry product.  On the particular day I was doing this it was sprinkling rain.  So, I'm not sure how wise I was and I came in a bit damp.

Then, I just got out my Pampered Chef Salad Chopper and began cutting up the lettuce leaves.  I used a head of leaf lettuce that I'd bought at the local grocery store's produce section.  I was a bit skeptical even though Paula had assured me it would work.  You know how the leaves usually turn black over-night when you cut lettuce with a metal object...that is what I was expecting. 

After cutting up the leaves, this is all the waste I had left from one of my lettuce heads:

I love this because it doesn't waste and I hate to waste - especially wasting food.  We work hard for our money or to raise some of our food and I do not want to waste!  Yes, you can call me Muffa (my paternal grandmother hated waste, too, and was infamous for combining unusual things to save them).

Next, you pack the lettuce into mason jars.  I didn't pack mine very tightly because I tried to only put enough for a good salad meal in them.  I used wide-mouths to make it easier to pack and empty, like Paula suggested.  Set the flat lid on top.  Attach the jar sealer and the hose accessory from the vacuum sealer and turn it on.  Voila!  Salad in a jar!

After removing the sealing top attachment thingy, screw a ring on it and put the jar of lettuce in the fridge.  To make matters even better, I found a new toy when I was at one of the grocery stores searching for my small egg wreath.  (Read about that HERE.)  It is a battery operated, hand-held vacuum sealer that is just perfect for a quick easy job like this and there is no hose attachment needed. 

(Don't my jars of lettuce look delicious?)  I tried it this week and it worked like a charm!

This picture shows all of the needed tools except the jars and lids (and you know what they look like):
That round, white thing on the left is what sits on top of the flat jar lid.  It sells separately and is a Food Saver brand, too.  The middle, gun-looking thingy is my new toy.  And the box is what this hand-held vacuum sealer came in.  Look a little closer and you can see what a bargain it was, too!
I love getting a deal!  This is a different brand from Mike's vacuum sealer.  It is a Food Saver brand.  I'm not partial to one brand or another and am not being paid anything to tell about them.  So, choose for yourself what you want if you decide to get one.  I would advise you to watch for a bargain, though!  That makes me happier about getting anything!

The real beauty of this endeavor is that when I opened my jar of lettuce yesterday - a full 8 days after sealing my first head of lettuce, it was just as fresh and crisp and delicious as the day I sealed it in the jar!  Love that!

The jar on the left was done nine days ago and the other two jars were done a couple of days ago.  See, you can't tell a difference.

For lunch today, I have set a jar in my lunchbox.  Added a bowl to pour it in, a fork, a zipper bag with a boiled egg and some grated cheese, a small tub of a left-over slice of the pork loin Mike grilled, and some dried cranberries in another zipper bag.  Slid in a small ice-pack to keep it all cool.  I have a bottle of dressing and a napkin and I have a gourmet lunch! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

More Signs of Spring

Aren't pansies cheerful little flowers?  I usually get a flat of them in the fall so that I can have something blooming all winter and early in the spring.  The unseasonably warm weather we have had lately has made my pansies be especially cheerful. 

This pot greets me as I climb the step onto the back porch.  There are more pots of them sprinkled here and there on the porch.  These sit right by the back door.
I also noticed this friend poking its head up right beside the steps.  I think this is the lily that I have moved twice from previous houses. 
Aren't bulbs wonderful flowers?

Sunday, March 25, 2012


They were looking leggy and spindly in those little pellets in the mini-greenhouses.  So, I transplanted these seedlings into some larger peet pots.  Hope they get a bit sturdier soon.  They look like little babies for sure now, huh?

Since I wasn't so sure about the starts we've repotted, I started some more in another mini-greenhouse.  They are beginning to sprout and will soon need transplanting as well, I guess.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Signs of Spring

Since it was raining this afternoon, I didn't have outdoor chores to tackle like we have for the past few days - lawn mower repair, grass cutting, transplanting seedlings, cutting back dead twigs from last year's flowers, tilling and planting the potato patch.  Whew!  Thank goodness for a little shower or two!  Plus, maybe the yellow film of pollen that is all over my truck (and everything else) got washed away for a day or so.  Deep breath in and exhale...

So, I came in to search for some signs of spring.  First I found this old friend.
I got this wreath several years ago.

That was when I lived in another house and used it as a base for the centerpiece on my dining room table.  Since I don't have a formal dining room here at this farmhouse, I think it works well on the front door.  I think it looks a little Martha-ish.

Two or three weeks ago on a grocery shopping jaunt, I noticed a rendition of this same idea on a smaller scale and made a mental note that in a week or so I would come back and get a couple for the back French doors.  Why do I do that?  When I see something I really like, something that will work well with stuff I already have, why don't I get it right then?  Well, you know what happened - when I went on my next grocery jaunt - all those were gone - sold completely out.  Yes, I was a bit frustrated with myself and did a little mumbling and chastising of myself. 

Luckily, my job takes me here and there across the county and when I popped in to another grocery store late last week, I looked in the 'seasonal' aisle and the cute little wreaths were on sale - $2 off!  So, I reached up and got the last two.  That is when I noticed it - several of the cute little eggs were missing.  Yes, I looked around on the shelves below and all around the area, as a matter of fact - to no avail.  After pondering my quandary for a minute, I decided to go ahead and get the one and hope to find a second at another stop.  Guess what!  Earlier this week when I stopped in at yet another grocery store, there she was - not on sale (Even though I mentioned that the other stores across town had them on sale, the clerk didn't mark it down!)  So, I gritted my teeth and paid full price.  Don't they look cute?
Sweet pair!

I had to do a bit of adjusting.  When I first came home with one, I plonked it on the wreath hanger like this. 

After I got home with the second, I thought it looked too much like I had plonked it on the wreath hanger and didn't look very attractive.  So, today I went down and got some ribbon scraps and hung them all from the green polka-dot ribbon and I love the simplicity of these sweet egg wreaths.  Simplicity seems to be my theme this spring.

I had this little wooden hang-up that I used to hang on a bulletin board in my classroom.  So, this year the little Welcome Spring sign hangs in the center of the vine wreath that hangs on the laundry room entrance.  The colors happen to be the same as the egg wreaths.

Here is my dining table centerpiece.

It doesn't feature anything new other than the sweet little speckled carnations.  The blue and white china egg is one I've had for several years.  I had bought one from some school group's fundraising catalogue one year.  Then, a couple of years ago, my secret pal at school gave me another one.  I love them - and after all, can anybody ever have enough blue and white?  No!  The other egg is an emu egg that my friend, Kathy gave me one year.  I love the beautiful deep teal color of it and it is huge.  So, most people who see it comment on its size.  The little blue and white bunny was a find that I got several years ago at a thrift shop owned by a student's mother.  (That was one time when I picked it up the minute I saw it and brought it home with me!)  The lantern was a gift from my daughter, Bridgette, and the candle is one I picked up from a bargain clearance table long, long ago.  The cloth is also a bargain off-season purchase and is screen printed with daffodils.  You can see its mate hanging on the chopping block.

On the island is another little vignette.  I ran across these tulips in the bargain tub at the grocery store last weekend.  Since they are one of my favorite colors for flowers (and I didn't get the egg wreath I'd planned to bring home), they came home with me.  They sit with a bunny and egg salt and pepper shaker that was a gift and rest on tapestry place mat with a bunny and flower scene.  The place mat was a bargain bin special years ago.
Colorful eggs in my antique cookie jar
A couple of years ago I ran across this bunch of old plastic eggs that had been hide-and-seek eggs my children played with long ago.  I poured the zipper bag of them into the antique cookie jar that was sitting in my kitchen.  Lillie just loved it - and she loved the fact that I took them out and hid them all over the house one rainy afternoon so she could have her own personal egg hunt.  So, this has become their traditional place during the spring.  (The cookie jar was a gift from my mother when I was a young girl starting my own home.  The juicer was my paternal grandmother's.)

On one side of the mantle is this little pair of bunnies which was a gift I got the first Easter I was a grandmother.  I love the fact that they are reading a book.  These girls make me smile.  My granddaughters love to sit and listen to books and I think of them when I see this piece.

On the other side of the mantle you can see the other blue and white egg sitting on its pedestal.
Standing on the hearth is another sweet pair. 

Aren't their faces sweet?


Here is a look at the entire fireplace.

In the front bedroom there is a little girl perched on the handle of a watering can and it looks like she is waiting for a special tea party. 

Here is a closer look.  I just love the soft colors of the tulips and the leaves around the base of this ceramic watering can.  I filled it with silk dogwood blossoms to honor my mother.  She used dogwood branches to decorate the church alter when she married my Daddy.

This beautiful egg was a gift from Bridgette the first year I was in the house I purchased all on my own.  I had carried a similar one around during her senior year of high school to use for matching paint and accessories for my newly decorated bedroom in our house.  She said when she saw this larger, more elaborate version, she had to get it for me to remind me of how far we had come!

I love how it looks sitting next to my yard sale candle holder!

These silk tulips provide a splash of color in the den and cozied up to their vase is a little ceramic basket and some eggs that I made when I was still a college student.

In our bedroom is one little egg.  It is the one my mother gave me years ago.  I keep it sitting out year-round because I love the colors in it and the simplicity of it. 

I guess the signs of spring are here at our house and I am thankful that I get to be here and enjoy it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sometimes it doesn't pay...

Sometimes it doesn't pay off to try to clean up your messes.  I cleaned the oven a couple of weeks ago.  Then, one day last week I turned the oven on to preheat so I could make a gingerbread.  All of a sudden sparks started flying and I could hear buzzing.  So, immediately I turned the control knob off and opened the door to look inside to find that the heating element was burning in half.  ARGH!!!

So, after my mother suggested that Mike and I could probably repair that, I went online, found the part, and ordered it.  The box was leaning against the mailbox post today.

I'm wondering if more sparks will fly and there will be more buzzing...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Plant Progress

Some of our sprouts are looking really wonderful!  They have outgrown the mini-greenhouses and I'm thinking of potting them up into something a wee bit larger this week!

Monday, March 19, 2012

On The Menu This Week...

I certainly married the right man!  He has been enjoying the extra hours of daylight and the warm weather by standing beside his grill.  Here is the view:

This will be our lunch and dinner for the remainder of the week:

On the Menu this week:

Bar-B-Q Chicken quarter, twice baked potato, tossed salad
Tossed salad with grilled chicken
Pork loin, rice, steamed broccoli
Pork chop sandwiches
Bar-B-Q pork and stuffed baked potatoes
Steak fajitas or tacos and Mexican rice
Steak and biscuits and fries

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A King!

I have thought so for quite some time but now there is no doubt in my mind... My husband is King of the Grill! 

Yesterday he had the day off from his job.  That in itself was something that is an anomoly because since we married in 2009, I think we could count on our fingers the number of times he has had Saturday off from work.  We enjoyed it like royalty.  Both of us got to sleep late - way past daylight!  Yippee!!!  Then, he cooked up a wonderful southern breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, and biscuits.  Yum.  Another special treat is that we got to eat out on the back porch.  It was a fabulous start to the weekend.

We took the time and the beautiful warm day to work on getting the lawn mower in shape to start off our season of mowing.  The wonderful day seemed to crash and burn at that point.  When we sit on the mower and turn the key it just clicks.  We thought at first that the battery was low and Mike attached the battery charger to it but that didn't work.  So, now he thinks it is some sort of fuse or a starter problem.  Of course, the lawn equipment store was not open and we will have to try for a new fuse or starter later in the week while we watch the revived green grass stretch up by leaps and bounds. 

From there we moved onward to other spring clean-up chores.  Mike cleaned all the residual straw/hay and leaves off the trailer, changed out the leaking tire for another, more reliable one, and aired up all of the others.  I began sorting through boxes and buckets and cleaning and organizing the shelves in the barn.  Lots went into the trash but lots just needed straightening and organizing.  Since we are changing garbage pick-up companies, Mike and I pulled out these huge garbage cans that are on wheels and placed them between the LP gas tank and the wood pile.  While Mike worked to cut the lids off some buckets, cleaned, and organized them, I moved a few stepping stones down to create a path from the driveway to the new garbage cans. 

We hung a wrought iron hose holder and an unbelievable find - a l-o-n-g hose that was hidden in the straw that has no leaks in it!  We also hung some antique wooden and metal singletrees that had belonged to Mike's grandfather on the barn wall.  (A singletree is a croos-bar to which the traces of a harness are fastened for pulling a cart, carriage, or plow.)  So, the barn is shaping up and we are getting closer to ready for putting some calves in it!

I headed off to the house and put the pork loin half that I'd been marinating onto the grill.  (The marinade recipe can be found HERE.)  Right about the time the grate got hot enough to put the beginnings of grill marks on the loin, the grill went out.  My grill's gas tank was empty!  Hubby saved the day by quickly starting a can full of coals and transferred the loin over to the charcoal grill.  We had thawed and injected some chicken breasts and he cooked them as well.  Mike barely had time to get all that meat situated on the grates and put the top down on the grill before a spring thunderstorm blew in.  He dashed into the house and we waited out the storm.  Over an inch of rain fell during about a forty-five minute period.  Lightning was zapping and thunder was crashing all around as the heavy rain fell and we sat just inside the French doors peeking out at the grill. 

When the storm calmed, hubby sloshed out and took the meat off the grill.  It was a wee bit blackened on the outside edges but it was juicy and delicious!  Mike joked that he braved a raging storm to see that his woman had meat on the table.  I joked back that he definitely is the King of the Grill!
I hate you cannot smell and taste what is pictured here, but we are going to enjoy it for the rest of the week!  Yummy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Forward!

I am not one who likes this 'springing forward' and wish that we could just pick one or the other and stay that way.  Of course, I'm not the Queen of the World - yet!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Touch O' the Irish

My Front Door
Wearing O' The Green

That is the extent of my St. Patty's Day Decor!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Plot Thickens...

Well, Mike learned some frustrating news.  He got more information relating to Forest's being grounded.  It seems he must have gotten reprimanded at school.  (I'm sure he was wrongly accused and unjustly treated.  How could somebody as adorable and smart as our little Huck Finn do something to get into trouble?)  Anyway, it seems there was a note from the teacher sent home to his parents. 

It seems Jessica learned about the note from another anotation from the teacher referring to it in Forest's folder of papers.  (Isn't that kind of underhanded of her?)  So, Jessica asked him about the note and gave him a few minutes to find it and bring it to her.  After a few minutes, Forest came to his mom with the note in his hand and his hand hanging low.  (I'm sure he was simply thinking of her and trying not to upset her since she so recently gave birth to twins.) 

Evidently he had already initialed or signed the note.  (I'll bet he was just trying to save her some trouble since she has so much to do.) 

Mike and I guess now he is in solitary confinement.  Maybe we can fry up some chicken and find out the visiting hours and go to see him this weekend.  Bless his cute little heart!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Harboring a Criminal

Our great-nephew Forest came to visit this afternoon.  It is always a treat to have visitors and Forest is one of our favorites.

I was straightening the den a bit and heard the kitchen door open.  So, I stuck my head around the corner and there was Forest, our eight-year-old great-nephew.  He was stepping out of his boots and stashing his mail on the kitchen table.  He let me know that he needed to use the bathroom and dashed around the corner for a bit.  Then, he plopped down in Mike's recliner, unwrapped a Hershey's Kiss,  popped it into his mouth and we began chatting and catching up on all the news that is news here on the family 'compound.'  (No, we are not like the Kennedy's that I can tell except that there are lots of us and we get a little rowdy when we all gather together.  I'm still hoping the wealth and riches will show up but, so far, it's not happening that I can tell.)  I learned that school is going okay, Dad and Jayme are fine, his mother is recovering well after her C-section, Grandma is helping out but not really spoiling him, and the babies don't do much but sleep.  They have had lots of visitors to come hold the babies but most of them bring food.  So, that is alright.  When asked what kinds of food they are getting, he informed me that there were brownies, cookies, a cake and also some turnip greens.  The mention of the turnip greens didn't sound like it was embraced quite in the same manner as the brownies, cookies, and cake, though.

I had the afternoon TV news on and we discussed a headline or two and then Forest asked if he could change the channel.  So, I got me a book and he watched some sort of kid's programming and grazed from the nearby candy bowl and I read a bit.  After a few minutes he asked if he could just spend the night.  Since he is in second grade, I knew I was way too out of practice to get a little fellow like him ready in the morning and told him that maybe he should wait till it wasn't a school night. 

After a bit, I realized that his mother and father might not know that their little Huck Finn had wandered over here.  So, I shot them off a text message and told them that I'd bring him home in a while.  I gave him warning that he had fifteen or twenty minutes and then I'd have to take him home - knowing that I'd need to get him there around supper time before his dad got finished up with barn chores.  He was agreeable and stepped back into his boots after about ten or fifteen minutes, gathered up his mail, and we trekked out the door.

I pulled up to the barn to let Mike know that I was going to take Forest home and of course, they also had to have a little time to catch up on the news.  Forest also informed Mike that he had brought over a couple of bags of cans for him to take to the recycling center.  So, after we loaded back into the truck, I slowed down and asked if he wanted me to get his wagon and put it in the back of the truck to take home.  "Naw, I'll just come back tomorrow and get it," he informed me.  So, we breezed on back to his house.

When we got to his house, his older brother, Jayme, offered me some sort of gummy, wormy looking candy which I declined.  However, Forest wanted some and was going to open another box after Jayme did not agree to share.  Suddenly, Forest's mother, Jessica, took the unopened box away from him and reminded him firmly that he knew he wasn't to be eating the candy and didn't need to open the new box.  I quietly told her that she had the right idea because he probably didn't need more candy.  (I didn't let her know that he had probably eaten about half a bag of Hershey's Kisses, though.)  She rolled her eyes and sort of gave Forest 'the look' that all mothers have which their children recognize.

In a few minutes, Jessica asked me how long he had been visiting at our house because she thought he was at the barn with his dad.  I said probably about an hour because we had watched a couple of those after school kid's programs on TV.  She again rolled her eyes and Forest got 'the look.'  Then, I overheard her and Forest's visiting Grandma talk about how he was grounded for some sort of misbehavior and wasn't supposed to watch afternoon TV.  Jessica chuckled and told me that she thought I must have been part of The Plan this afternoon. 

I guess Forest knew who the soft touch is and sort of took advantage of Mike and me.  I didn't mention that he probably had me in The Plan for tomorrow as well since the wagon was left at our house.  I also didn't mention that he wanted to spend the night.  I just said that everybody needs a Safe House and I am glad that ours feels like that to Forest.  Jessica informed me that she would expect no less when her turn came to hide out at the Safe House! 

So, I guess I could be expecting to have more visitors in the future.  That is okay.  Mike and I enjoy company.  Of course, I will always wonder now if I am harboring a criminal!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Frequently when I bump into friends or former students who I haven't seen in a while, we will greet one another with a hug.  Often those folks will tell me that I smell the same way they remember.  I guess that is because I still wear the same cheap, discount store perfume inexpensive, easily obtainable fragrance.  I hardly know what that smell is anymore because I have worn the same thing for so long.  My idea is to stick with something that works.

I always like to roll over in the bed after Mike gets up and lay my head on his pillow. It has his clean, outdoorsy, masculine fragrance. (Plus, I like to stretch out and take up the entire bed!)

I remember my cousin going into her husband's closet after his death just so she could inhale his smell. I guess we all sort of wear a fragrance whether it is something applied like my inexpensive, easily obtainable fragrance or whether it is just that natural fragrance we generate. 

Once, upon entering my house for the first time, a friend told me that my house smelled like me.  This is after I'd been told by the same friend that my truck smells like me. 

We all want to smell pleasant and we want our home to smell pleasant as well.  Of course, I think the hardest room in the house to maintain a pleasant smell in is the bathroom.  I've used those oils and diffusers in my bathrooms before and I really like that.  It maintains a soft fragrance that isn't too overwhelming.  However, when the oil had all evaporated, I couldn't find replacement oil for them and those receptacles are now stored under the sink in the vanity.

Lately, what I've been using are these scented wax chunks that are melted by placing a tea light beneath them. 

I got one for Christmas last year from a student with some oil for refreshing it.  The oil is from Yankee Candle and it is a holiday-ish scent.

Since the Christmas holiday season is over, I've changed to this kind of fragrance.  I found it on the sale rack at the grocery store.  I wish I'd bought more.

The fragrance is light and subtle.  Mike came in this afternoon and asked me what I was baking.  So, it is a bit sweet but not really sugary sweet.  This package has chunks that can be broken off sort of like ice cubes from a tray.  It looks nice in this burner I have in the guest bathroom right now, too.

Bridgette and Jessica both have asked me what that fragrance was when they were here last.  My old-age-forgetfulness didn't know what the name of it was or where I had stashed the package with the rest of the chunks.  So, here you are girls.  Good luck in finding your own and if you run across them, will you get me another package, too?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Best Sister

I may only have one sister but I'm lucky enough to have the very best!

Happy Birthday!