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Welcome to The Clampetts!

Introduction

First blog postKarlaRetirementParty

Hi All!

Here it is fresh off the press, my very first blog.

Let me tell you a little bit about us.  Our name is not really Clampetts but we sort of resemble the Clampetts prior to them striking oil!

My name is Karla and my husband of 13 years’ name is Brian.  We live on at the end of a narrow, dirt road, in a small village, in a small county in the small state of New Hampshire.  I am just recently retired; hence the picture above with the huge corsage!

This blog will be about living off the grid completely and our trials and tribulations of every day living once retired and living in a small, rural area.  It ain’t always easy!  For example, the time I made a custard and the oven kept blinking at me and B was away on a business trip.  Why was the oven blinking?  Would the custard cook?  Well, of course the oven was blinking, it wasn’t getting enough power!  I did not have the appropriate inverter on!  We have 2 inverters that converts DC (battery) current to AC (house) current.  I obviously had a lot to learn. . .

One of the newest additions to our off the grid living and something that makes me very happy, and we hope will make life a little easier, is a propane generator and a new 500 gallon propane tank.  Now the generator comes on automatically when our power begins to lessen.  Since this is a new installation (and not a cheap one either I might add), it still needs tweaking; that would be B’s job.  So far it is working well.  Previously, we used a gasoline fed generator, and required some manual tweaking that was always difficult for me.  I am not mechanically inclined and the generator required a lot of pulling and usually accompanied by some cussing to even start it.  I am not good at jumping up and down while pulling the cord as well as B is!

We live a pretty ordinary life and if you were to visit, you would not necessarily even realize we are off the grid.  However, we do have a few quirky things by today’s standards.  We have a special small refrigerator that requires manual defrosting (yuck) and is deep but short, causing the food that gets pushed way back to freeze.  Have you ever tried reviving frozen celery?  It doesn’t work well.  And our gas powered oven also requires manual cleaning (double yuck, as I cook a lot).  However, my husband has every power tool known to man and uses them frequently.  We have a regular washing machine, but I prefer to hang my clothes out to dry during the summer months, and I use wooden clothes racks in the winter set up near the wood stove to dry most of our clothes.  Why not use the sun and the wood stove to dry one’s clothes???  We do own a dryer but it is at my in-law’s who live a mile from us and live on the grid.

I am also very interested in homesteading, for lack of a better word.  I believe in eating local, either growing my own food or buying local food and meat.  We have raised pigs in the past as well as ducks, chickens, and, if lucky,  B brings home venison – in season,  of course!  I am fortunate to live in an area where I can easily buy any of these items, should I run low on my own food.  By the way, we do have 2 freezers living off the grid.  See?  You would never know we do so.

I hope you like my new blog!  Please feel free to make any comments you care to make.  Well, only positive comments of course!  Ha, ha.

Karla

Tootin’ Tuesday – July 16, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

I have to say that, so far, today is going better than yesterday.  I sure do not want a repeat of Monday any time soon.

To finish up on Monday, we met a very nice couple that we both liked at one rental property in the early evening.  However, they thought it was a bit further than they wanted to drive to work.  Sigh.  Why is it that the ones you like the best usually have a legitimate reason for not renting the property?

B had to go back to work before dinner to make up for some of the lost time he spent on the telephone, so I held his dinner for him and went ahead and ate.  I prefer we eat together, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  I didn’t want to eat spicy ribs and then go to bed.  As it turned out, he wasn’t as late as I figured.  He had to pick up the trunk of the maple tree from the rental, as he is having a local person saw the two huge trunk logs into planks.  The little old pickup was pretty saggy when he got home.

Tuesday morning, B had an appointment for an ultrasound on his aorta!  Had I known this I would have been concerned.  I thought it was something to do with his esophagus problem.  Apparently the good doc from the wellness check up wanted an ultrasound of his aorta because B had once been a smoker!  I smoked many more years than B and no word yet to me about having this ultrasound.  I sure hope Medicare helps to cover this expense.

So after I got a load of laundry done and hung out on the line, I left to go to one of the rental properties to work on cleaning the refrigerator the tenant stuck out in the garage because they brought their own.  What a mess it was to clean!  B plugged it in the other day and it works fine.  The inside is not all that dirty, but the outside was horrible.   It’s spent 8 years in the dirty garage.  I sprayed and sprayed.  Of course it was new back in the day when the textured look was popular.  Mom had one of those refrigerators and complained constantly about not being able to keep it clean as the dirt just drifts to the crevices in the textured part.  Anyway, B came along and he also scrubbed and then we had an idea to power wash it.  There isn’t a darn thing wrong with the refrigerator; it is just a little small by today’s standards.

B took the doors off and we brought them home.  Personally, I think hot water and soap would help a lot.  He doused the doors with Dawn detergent and he said he could see the dirt and crud lifting just from that alone.  Of course, then we got a rain shower so that ended that.

Once home, I made us some lunch, as B had been told to stop eating and drinking after midnight and could not eat, or even have his morning orange juice, this morning until after the test, so he was hungry.  It isn’t anything unusual for B not to eat until noon, but knowing you can’t eat somehow makes one hungry.  Often I have to remind him to have a bowl of cereal after he gets up.  But I figured he needed to eat and I was ready for lunch.  Home we came.

Oh, on the way down to the rental, the town workers were grading the road after finishing the “ditching” process.  Boy, am I glad that whole procedure is over.  The road is much nicer, though.

After lunch, B found out that the big old pickup was finally ready to be picked up.  That meant we both drove to Claremont so B could drive the beast home.  He had two things to do in Claremont, so he tried to talk me into driving the beast home so he could do the other errand in one trip, but I wasn’t having any of that!  After we got home, he hooked up the snowmobile trailer to the “new” old van to go pick up the “free” riding mower from the repair shop.  Remember that whole story???  I can’t wait to find out how much the “free” riding mower cost to get fixed!

Meanwhile, I am home and decided to make two jars of mustard.  I love the homemade mustard recipe, but the first batch I got a little lumpy in that I did not make sure to get it smoothed out before I cooked it.  The second batch came out much better.  I made each batch separately, but my friend who gave me the recipe makes 5 batches at once!  I would get way too confused doing that.

Tonight dinner is easy and is mostly leftovers I want to get out of the fridge.  We have enough potato/egg salad for dinner; a small qty of baked beans, and fish chowder plus beets.  Then I decided to throw in some hot dogs to round out the meal.

The BathFitters guy couldn’t come out today due to an emergency, so that has been delayed until Monday.  There have been way too many delays in getting this one particular rental rented, but steady is probably better.  I am a bit concerned that the feeding frenzy died down so quickly.

As to tomorrow, B has to be up and over to the sawmill at 7:30 a.m.!  I have PT in the morning and am also delivering B’s laptop to the local store, as it has been slowly dying and needs an upgrade.  Then, mid-afternoon, it is time for me to get another haircut and a mani.  Plus we need more fresh veggies.  Sigh, sigh.

B is currently outside running a lawn mower.  He must be testing out the “free” riding mower.  By the way, he found a free power push mower at the recycling center Saturday so that somehow jumped in our van to come home with B.  The owner dropping it off said it would run for awhile and then stop.  B likes a good a good challenge.  B also said there was another “free” mower at the recycling center with a high horsepower engine, but he couldn’t fit two of them in his van, so he plans to get the other one next time.

With that, I am signing off for today.

Stay well!

Rentals, Ribs, Rodents, and Much More – July 13-15, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

Here we are, back to Monday again.  It’s been a whirlwind of activity at the Clampetts yet again.

Saturday found us with plenty of sunshine, so our batteries were fully charged with energy (the solar system batteries, not mine, that is) and I didn’t want any of it dumping, so I got to work cleaning.  This was partly to make up for time lost during the week to strawberries and peas.  Anyway, I cleaned both bathrooms and then moved on to dusting, dry mopping, and vacuuming both downstairs and upstairs.  Actually, the dusting was on the light side, but nothing seemed to need a deep thorough cleaning, so that was good news.

I remember when I was working, and prior to hiring outside help for cleaning, this was a typical Saturday’s work, plus get dinner.  I got dinner as well, but it was also on the easy side.  I fixed us each a ham & cheese hoagie and we had fish chowder from the market.  My main grocery store’s headquarters are on the Massachusetts coast, so they make really good and fresh fish chowder.  I know it is summer, but if we went out to eat, we might well have fish chowder to begin the meal, plus it was on sale this week (!), so it was on our menu.

Sunday found us going to the Mason’s monthly breakfast here in the village.  We had an opportunity to chat with friends and had a good breakfast to boot.  Then it was a few quick errands and home.

Saturday, B finally got a chance to post the two rental properties on Craigslist and that always produces a feeding frenzy for a few days, and Saturday/Sunday was no exception.  I would say about half of the inquires via email are duds and can quickly be eliminated.  The other half, B sends the standard inquiry to them of 4-5 questions such as, how many in your party, any pets, are you currently in a lease, any smokers, etc.  You know, pertinent information.  This again usually weeds out about half of them, as we either do not ever hear back or something else eliminates them.  That leaves us with a handful of potentials.

Sunday was no exception to the rule.  We showed the properties to 3 couples; 2 couples wanted to see both properties and one couple was only interested in one of the properties.  B always gives the potentials the same information; once you get home and think about it and if you are still interested, email me for an application.  In our early days of being landlords, we used to hand out paper applications to anyone who stopped by, but we quickly realized that was not only a waste of paper, but also did not produce many serious results.  We seem to get a number of tire kickers, as I call them.

Once we got home from all this, 2 of the 3 couples did indeed email us for applications.  Meanwhile, I got dinner started before we left for breakfast.  Here’s a kicker, I cook spare ribs in the slow cooker!  I know this seems strange, but it works very well if cooked on low for a long time.  I also stand the ribs up in the slow cooker.  I first rubbed them with a dry rub I mixed up Saturday night and then poured barbecue sauce over them.  I also had time to steam the creamer potatoes for a potato salad before we left.  Again, Saturday evening I hard boiled the eggs for the salad.  B likes eggs in his potato salad.  I never make potato salad the same way twice, and Sunday was no exception.  I actually got a bit heavy on the eggs to the number of potatoes, but not much I could do about that since I had no extra potatoes.  Dinner was on its way.

In between showings, B donned his haz mat suit, as I call it, and put up a canopy so he could do some sandblasting.  B likes doing sandblasting.  He says the machine uses abrasive granules and compressed air to knock off rust and leave the surface rough for good paint adhesion.  Aren’t you glad you asked???  Here’s a picture:

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The ribs came out well, as did the potato salad.  I opened pickled beets to go with it, so that was dinner.  B promptly fell asleep after that!!!

Monday didn’t get off to a great start either.  We received a nasty gram from one of the tenants who just moved out.  She is demanding her security deposit back NOW, so that took a bit of diplomacy to word that email appropriately.  B did a good job.  No doubt, she won’t see it our way.

Then I tried calling the dealership where I bought my car in order to eradicate my rodent issue.  It seems the little buggers have gotten into my A/C so that every time you turn on the A/C, a horrible, mousey smell is emitted so that you have to roll the windows down to breathe until it gets past a certain stage.  They have also thought it is cute to use tissues from the box of tissues in the car to build their nest.  I solved that issue; no tissues in the car.  No more thinking mice are cute, as in Christmas cards.  They are on my sh***t list now!   B used to think mice were cute, but now he kills all he can find.  It only takes a few ruined things, sometimes very expensive things, to turn one into a real mouse-hater.

I never did get through to the dealership.  They recently changed hands, so now you go through the hell of the telephone maze or you can “chat” with someone live online.  After a frustrating time trying more than one phone call, I tried the chat line.  B was up by then and took one look at the wording on my screen and said, “That is someone in India.  Don’t bother.”  I thought it was strange as well as annoying when she asked for the VIN number.  Like who has that information at their fingertips???  So, unless I have to, I am no longer going back there for help.  B is going to ask his mechanic about the issue.  This is part of the problem of living “in the country.”  Stay tuned.

B meanwhile was going through his own phone hell.  The guy who wants to buy the plane had arranged for a  phone conference call with the FAA about the ongoing issue with the plane.  After that call, B was on the phone trying to get a local propane company to come out and hook up a tank of propane at one of the rentals, since the tenant went directly to the previous company for their refund instead of through us.  We no longer do business with that company.  And, just for kicks, the local hospital called B to arrange for a routine procedure the doctor wants him to have, so there was scheduling and a phone pre-check up with the surgeon.  Plus B has one test already scheduled for tomorrow!  Never, ever go for a “wellness” check after 65!  You come out with at least two tests plus a few shots you weren’t expecting!

I was then on the phone with BathFitters to arrange for them to come out to one of the rentals.  One of the bathrooms is atrocious and we need something done to the tub.  I pretty much figure this is way over our budget, but we have to start somewhere because the crud is just not coming off.  Sigh.  Plus painting is still going on at the rental and we need to make an appointment to have the two bedroom carpets cleaned.

At 12:45, B was on the phone conference call with the FAA rep and the guy who is interested in the plane.  After that call ended, I asked B if it was worth it and he said, “not so much.”  The original plan stands; the FAA guys are coming out to look at the plane next week.   The big question is whether or not an inspection visit and “test period” are necessary due to a prop change that happened a long time ago, before we owned the plane.  B no longer cares either way; it’s the potential buyer who’s so hot to trot on it.  He’s probably going to be ticked if we decide in the end to not sell the plane.   We still have mixed feelings about it.  However, we also just got a notice from the state of Vermont that our hangar lease cost is going up about 40%, so that was another irritant.  Last year, the town of Springfield, Vermont doubled our hangar property taxes, which was what precipitated the plan to sell everything.  Vermont apparently needs a lot of money to pay for all those give-away programs.

Thankfully, the afternoon has been a bit quieter.  I finally got a little sewing project done and will talk more about this later.  Basically, I am making sink rags or cloths out of old fashion cloth diapers I buy in Walmart.  More on this story later too.

And finally the critter pens are long overdue for a cleaning.  B got me out the wheelbarrow and I went to town on it, but only after I gave the kids a snack to keep them out of my hair.  They like to get right in there and watch and supervise any work.  We had one and a half bales of shavings, so the duck pen got the half bale and the chicken coop, after shoveling out the current shavings, got a full bale of shavings.  Let’s see if they complain about that!  They were all under the porch snoozing when I got done.  B took two loads of used shavings to the compost bin for me, as my ankle doesn’t allow me to go down that slippery slope yet.  As I was doing this, B had to go to the post office with a few packages to leave off.

One last thing.  I did not go to PT today because the town workers finally decided to finish the “spring” grading work on our dirt road today.  I hope this is done now.

With all this, I am now closing today’s blog.  We are showing one house at 5:30 this evening and eating leftovers.  I guess I will put the ribs in the oven to slowly heat up and there is sufficient potato salad and plenty of beets leftover.

Whew!

Stay well.

 

Peas are Done, Birthday, and Lunch! – July 10-12, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

Here we are again on a very steamy Friday afternoon.  The weekend is almost here!

I intended to write on Wednesday, but I was way too pooped to pop.  I had PT and a couple of errands, and then back to the peas.  Since we had shelled a whole bunch Tuesday evening, there wasn’t a whole lot more to do.  I got it done and started the prep work for canning.

B came along and did the canning for me.  We again had enough peas for a canner load, 14 pints.  We even had extras, so I bagged up two small bags of peas for the freezer.  In hindsight, I probably should have just made up one bag.  So now we are so done with peas!  The jars look good.  Here is a picture of some of the jars.

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Anyway, all I had energy enough for was leftovers for dinner, so I grilled fresh local zucchini for dinner on the grill, along with some onions.  So good!

Meanwhile, B is working on cutting up wood at one of the rentals and getting people lined up to do some maintenance there, so we can finally get it on the market.  He is also negotiating with the former tenants about the condition of the house.  There were a few minor things that needed clarification from them.  Naturally, they are quite interested in their deposit money.

Thursday morning, I was up early and off to the market for the weekly groceries before the hordes descended.  If you get there before 8:00 a.m., it isn’t too bad and you have plenty of space to wheel the cart and actually look at things in the store.  As I was leaving, it was getting very busy in the store.  I didn’t even bother to eat first.  I had breakfast and made coffee after getting home.

Thursday was also B’s birthday.  We are now the same age and I am no longer the older woman.  Ha, ha.  He received some nice cards and calls, etc.  We both enjoy each other’s birthdays.  We were also invited to John and Sandy’s for dinner last evening to celebrate B’s birthday.  I half intended to bake a cake after I got home from grocery shopping, but instead realized I had a quart of strawberries to take care of.  Every year after picking strawberries I make a strawberry pie (already done this year) and an “icebox cake.”  The icebox cake consists of mashed strawberries, lemon juice, a can of condensed milk, and 2 cups of cool whip.  You mix this all up and put in a lined loaf pan.  The topping is crushed Oreos and a little butter and sprinkled on the top and the whole thing goes into the freezer for at least 6 hours.  When you take it out of the freezer, you pop it out of the loaf pan, frost it with leftover Cool Whip, and decorate with sliced strawberries.

Since we were invited out for dinner and Sandy was serving homemade ice cream, I didn’t take it with us.  We had a very nice dinner and evening.  Of course, it showered off and on and was humid.

Both Thursday and Friday have been incredibly steamy, showery days.  I can’t get any of the towels to dry and find it hard to breathe unless I’m sitting in front of the fan.  Last night was incredibly difficult sleeping.  However, relief seems to be on the way.

Oh, by the way, our dirt road is getting an overhaul.  The road needed “ditching” and the village is half done with that aspect and then will grade it thoroughly.  We didn’t realize it, but the town workers apparently do not work on Friday.  Thinking we would not be able to use the road today, B took my car down to his mother’s yesterday and drove the Gator home.  Since I had a lunch date with my friend, Missy, I could drive the Gator through the woods to my car.  Aha.  With my iffy ankle, I suggested B take me down so this morning, down we went over the trails.  I was holding a dozen eggs for Missy and bouncing up and down in the Gator, hoping none of them cracked!  I don’t think they did.  It was also sprinkling off and on so my hair was standing on end by the time I got to my car (for several reasons).  I have another whole story about my car and mice but I’ll save that for another post.

Missy and I had a delightful time over lunch.  This is significant because I can finally drive myself as far as Newport, so it was like old times.  My driving is still a bit difficult with my ankle and, having not driven for so long, I am a bit anxious when driving.  However, it was well worth it!

On the way home from Newport, I stopped at my favorite garden center, Kathan Gardens, and bought a summer plant for the upstairs deck.  I miss looking out the window to the deck and not seeing a pot of plants.

Speaking of plants, yesterday when going to the market, the store had pots of petunias; some red, white and blue violet, and other colors for sale for 2/$10.  They also had large pots of basil for 2/$10.  I got one pot of the red, white, and violet blue petunias for my rooster buddy out on the balcony off our bedroom, and the basil for us to eat!  I thought that was a really good price.

B is back down to the rental, presumably working on the wood situation.  We had to have a large sugar maple tree taken down as it was listing towards the rental house.  We are the lucky recipients of the wood from it.  I’m sure he is doing some other things as well, as he is not home.

So this about sums up the last few days.  Have a great weekend.

Stay well.

Day 1 of the Great Pea Canning Experience – July 8, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

Well, it is now 5:00 p.m. Tuesday and we have 14 pints of peas still in the canner, waiting to cool down enough for me to remove the jars.  We got through one box of the two boxes of peas today.  We actually started shelling peas from the second box, because box two had even more peas in it than box one.

I saved out one cup of peas for dinner and we had enough peas left over from canning to fill another couple of pints, but we were out of room in the canner, so they will wait for the next day.  What a job to shell a bushel of peas!  Whew!  I started shelling at 10:30.  B had something he had to do, but when he came back, he too started shelling peas.

I have never canned peas before.  Last year I froze peas instead of canning, but we are leery of putting too much in the freezers for fear one of them will die or get accidentally unplugged for some reason.  So mostly I am doing the canning method.  Actually, B does most of the actual canning.  I do the prep and clean up.  Since I chose the raw pack method, B had it quite easy once all the pots and pans were steaming on the stove top.  With raw packing, you pack the uncooked peas into hot jars and then pour boiling water over them.  Since one reason I do my own canning is to avoid salt, I left out the option to add salt.

I ended up calling the farm in Vermont where the peas came from to ask if they used any chemicals on them and I was told that no, they did not spray them in any way.  Good, as I did not wash the pods first, but I did rinse the peas before processing.

Since I am finishing writing this blog on Wednesday, I can say that the peas look good in the jars.  And the peas we ate were really good too.  I think we will enjoy them all winter long.

We even shelled more peas while watching TV this evening in order to get a jump on the procedure.  Then we will be done for awhile.  Of course, while all this was going on, no cleaning nor laundry got done!

So I am closing this blog now and leaving you with a picture.

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Stay well!

Strawberries, Insulation and Peas – July 8-9, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

At first glance, it doesn’t appear that strawberries, insulation and peas have much in common.  But this is how our days have been going lately; way too much on our collective plate and it sometimes feels like a freight train is bearing down on us.

With having such a long winter and a very late spring, we are, like all New Englanders, cramming way too much into this short season called summer.  I have been chomping at the bit, as they say, to pick strawberries, but I knew I needed help this year.  Last year B went with me and we picked a lot of berries, but I am down to 3 bags in the freezer.  Anyway, B said he would go with me again this year, but he wanted to wait until it got cooler.

After reviewing the weather forecast last week, B declared Monday morning as Berry Day (before the strawberries quit producing for the season).  The early morning was supposed to be cool with temps in the upper 50s; ideal picking weather.  Sooo, I got B up at 6:45 a.m. (yes, please note that time!) and off we went.  As it happens, the strawberry field is now in our village but owned by the same group that have a veggie stand up in Plainfield.

We arrived and found very few people at the picking area, and we were sent off to a particular field.  I will say, this family runs the fields like a well oiled machine.  We always get explicit directions as to where to pick and are asked to move the flag when we finish.  The berries in this field are very bushy and under normal conditions would have been easy to pick but due to weather conditions and the morning dew, you had to dig for the clumps of berries.  Unfortunately for the owners, they are losing a lot of berries this year to rot.  We would grab up a clump only to find some rot on the best looking berries.  Such a shame.  B brought us each a milk carton to sit on, so some of the time I sat and some of the time I stood and bent over.  I knew if I got down on my hands and knees, I would not get up easily.  It was laborious picking.  We each had a berry basket and worked the row on opposite sides.  After almost 2 hours, we figured we had wiped out as many berries as possible in our section of the field.

B got the bright idea we should go to another field where most of the few people picking were working.  This particular field has a different kind of berry, and the picking is easier as the berries aren’t in the ground, but rather on a taller, less bushy plant.  So we ended up finishing our picking there.  Neither of us had a full basket, but hey, close enough, and 2 hours is 2 hours, plus the sun was getting warm, plus we had to get home to catch the contractors coming to our house.

As it turns out, together we picked over 30 lbs of strawberries and, after paying and chatting with one of the owners (B went to elementary school with her), we were on our way home.

Now, a couple of weeks ago I happened to look under our porch, which is open on the outside and is now part of the critter pen.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!  A huge chunk of the cellar wall styrofoam insulation was gone!  Wiped out!  Those naughty, naughty chickens had shredded the insulation!  Our house, by the way, is wrapped in styrofoam insulation as a double protection to seal against the cold and heat.  This goes along with it being a solar house.

I really didn’t want to make B see what the chickens had done, but I knew I had to.  I stayed safely on the deck, as I wasn’t sure if feathers might be involved when he saw it.  Much to B’s credit, he took it very well.  He also found that my NH Red had decided to lay eggs inside the area she had helped peck out of the wall.  B found 5 brown eggs.  I knew something was up, but I didn’t know where she had decided to lay eggs.  GRRRR.

Anyway, to make a long story short, B had already arranged to have the firm that sprays in foam insulation do a job at one of the rental properties, so he called and arranged for them to also re-do under the porch while they were out here.  And, wouldn’t you know, the time arranged was early Monday morning!  That meant before we left for strawberry picking, I had to get all 7 critters out of the pen, bring them food and water and close the gate.

At first, the chickens could not understand why they couldn’t get in the pen but we had to leave so no time to babysit them.  Sure enough, when we pulled back into the driveway, there was the truck and the guy in an outer space suit, okay, Haz Mat suit, blowing in the foam.  Meanwhile the chickens and ducks were kind of enjoying the freedom of being outside the pen and were scattered everywhere.  The ducks were smart enough to find a cool shade under the deck, but the hens???  Nope.  They were down to the chow hall called a compost bin, digging for all they were worth!

B had plans to take the “free” lawn tractor to the repair shop (ha, ha) and I had to go to PT pronto.  I had time for a quick snack and was on my way.  Once back from PT, I had strawberries to fix.  Strawberries do not wait!  I roughly calculated it took me a total of 4-5 hours to hull, wash, dry and mash the strawberries and then clean up the mess.  I kept out a quart for a dessert I plan to make, and we took my mother-in-law a box, and I am trying something new this year.  I am trying freezing a bagful of whole strawberries.  I hulled a batch but did not wash them and put them on a cookie sheet and then into the freezer.  I have to bag them up today.  I know it will take much more space in the freezer fixed this way but I want to see how this method comes out.  It would be much easier than mashing and sugaring and then bagging the strawberries.  It is sort of an experiment.

Anyway, I got 14 bags of 3 cups each of mashed strawberries.  B wrote on the bags for me, as I now add the quantity in each bag and, being left-handed, my writing is horrible.  Then he whisked the bags to a remote freezer for winter eating.  Whew! I was done other than for cleaning up the mess.  B took all the strawberry trimmings to the chickens.  By the way, the chickens finally worked their way back to the pen area and I helped the ducks decide to go back to the pen before they got a bright idea to go for a swim in the pond.  B, once home from delivering the lawn tractor to the repair shop, had to get busy and cover the foam with plywood boards so the critters could not begin on that project.  Chickens get bored easily!

While all this was going on, I got a call, from the same farm stand that owns the strawberry fields, saying that my peas were in!  Yep.  I had ordered a bushel of peas and they had arrived and could I please come get them???  Oh, sure.  So I took a break from the strawberries and went after the peas.

Anyone have any idea just how many English peas, the kind you shell, make up a bushel?  A lot, folks, a whole lot.   So today, after I finish this blog, I am headed to the kitchen to begin shelling peas.  I just knew the strawberries and peas would arrive at the same time, and I wasn’t wrong.

So, I had better go get started!

Stay well and stay tuned for the great pea experience.

Off to the Races, Literally! – July 5-7, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

Today, Sunday, is a lovely day with temperatures around 80 degrees, a nice breeze, and dry air.  Breathe it in; dry air!  Yesterday, not so much dry air, but storms that produced today’s delightful air quality.

In the winter, B gets an email notice that the New England Dragway in Epping, NH, is beginning to sell tickets for the New England National races in July.  Once you purchase tickets, you get on their roster and they notify you and let you upgrade after you renew your seats from last year.  Now, in the winter, races in July sound pretty darn appealing.  This was our third year we have gone to the races.  Our seats get better and better every year!

Year One in 2017, the race was held in June before I retired and frankly, we were downright chilly!  The day was cool with a strong, chilly wind.  It is really difficult to know how best to dress for the event.   That year, a storm came up and we dashed to the car for cover.  As it turns out, they did eventually finish the day’s races, but we had already left.  Last year, the race was moved to the Saturday after the 4th of July, like this year.  It was hot, but not unbearable, and we stayed until all the races ended.

Fast forward to 2019.  It was hot, folks.  Damn hot.  We got there earlier than ever, as in 9:45, because one of our smoke detectors decided to have some fun with B and go off around 7:00 a.m.  B was not amused.  However, once awake, he got up and stayed up, and we left earlier than planned.  Meanwhile, I was making us each an egg McMuffin to take with us.  Honest, I had nothing to do with the smoke alarm going off!  I hadn’t even begun to fix the sandwiches.  By getting there early, we were parked unusually close-in.

Anyway, I of course dressed too warmly, but for a reason.  One is, because I am wearing silly compression stockings, I had to wear long pants and for some foolish reason, I thought the jeans would be lighter weight than the knit pants.  Wrong, so so wrong!  And because I have such light skin, I wanted to keep as much of it covered as I could so I wore a short sleeve t-shirt type blouse and a cotton crinkle long sleeved shirt over it.  Aha.  Well, the inner top was way too hot, as it was some kind of polyester, and then add a long sleeved shirt over it; and you can imagine.  I think I was a walking heat machine.  No other woman had long pants and long sleeved shirt on!  Trust me; most of them had very little on, in fact.   So, I was hot.  Although we remembered and actually found the seat cushions we bought there last year, sitting on metal bleachers in the blazing sun is no picnic.  Since we were early, B wanted to walk around the grounds and look at things.  I found the beer tent (ha, ha) and plunked down and told B to go along.  He eventually came back for me and we headed for the bleachers.  We kept as hydrated as we could.

Now, you have to remember that my walking isn’t the greatest and this was an outside event, practically in a sand pit, so you can imagine how that went.  Plus did I mention there were thousands people there besides us?  Anyway, I did okay, all things considered, and again, remembered to bring sunscreen and I kept putting it on.  I also wore a straw hat that has UV50 protection, but did I mention that no woman except a few of us wears a straw hat????  If they did have a hat on, it was the baseball cap type.  Boy, did I ever stand out!  There is something to be said for wearing a burka.  Think about it.  It hides a multitude of sins and is probably much cooler than pants that stick to you and everything else.  The burka isn’t just for religious reasons; Arabs mostly live in hot climates and know how to dress for hot weather.

Anyway, despite it all, the races were fun to watch and we did get to see the nitro-fueled funny cars race, as well as some other vehicles fueled by nitro.  Thankfully, none of them blew up.  Then, as predicted, about 3:00 p.m., the clouds rolled in and someone in the bleachers said that the storm was only 5 miles away.  Sure enough, soon the announcer suggested we get out of the metal stands because the lightning was headed our way and no racing would occur during an electrical storm, nor do they race on a wet track.  It seemed like all the stands emptied at once, but it was an orderly group that went for their vehicles.  B had a bit of a time finding my car, but by the time I caught up to him, he had found it.  Everyone was hitting their panic button on their car keys to find their car!  One poor man walked around the lot we were in numerous times looking for his car.  I hope he found it!

We made it to the car just as the skies opened up and it rained, got very dark, and there was lots of lightning and wind.  There was no snap, crackle or pop so I guess nothing got struck.  I don’t know where the people who did not return to their vehicles hung out, but I hope it wasn’t in the stands.  We waited quite awhile to see if the weather was going to let up soon so that the races and the second round of funny cars would resume.  The announcer said all the heats would run Saturday, but they could not predict what time.  Finally, after 4:00 p.m., we decided to leave.  Many people left way before us.

We came home via Concord and stopped in Chichester for dinner at the Weathervane.  It didn’t seem as good to me as I remembered it, but B enjoyed his large lobster dinner.  I am getting really picky about restaurant food in my old age.  However, I was more than ready to give up cooking for a day.

Today, Sunday, as noted, is a beautiful day, so the people with tickets for the final races today got a much more delightful weather day than we did.  However, I would not want to be on the roads traveling on the Sunday after a 4 day weekend!  Whew!  B had two customers come to the house today, so he has been busy.  In between, he has worked outside at this mother’s house preparing to remove some stumps from some evergreens he removed for her last year.  He tried to get an early start and did better than normal, but not as good as he would have liked.

In between things, I’ve been fixing salads for dinner and washing a tub of dirty dishes, despite not being home to eat yesterday.  How does that happen???  Anyway, I had all the ingredients for a Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad and it sounds really good, so that is dinner tonight, along with a jello salad.  What does one serve with a pasta salad?  Since I found two more packages of our own bacon in one of the remote freezers, I cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast, but with an ulterior motive.  The salad calls for 6 slices of bacon. As well as tri-color rotini (I actually had this in my pasta stash!), chicken (I am using previously frozen turkey), cheese, tomatoes and green onions.  The salad is “resting” now.  I always wish I could make a pasta salad the day before I plan to serve it to really allow the flavors to meld, but I never seem to be able to do that.  And, oh yeah, ranch dressing and bacon.  I even made my own ranch dressing.  If I had known how easy it is to make ranch dressing from scratch, I would never have bought the store bought kind.  It was so simple to make up.

I just got a call from a local veggie place that the bushel of English peas I ordered has finally arrived.  They get their peas from a farm in Vermont.  I will drive up tomorrow to pick them up.  Sooo, you know what I’ll be doing for the next few days.  B says he will help me shell them.  I hope to can them this year, rather than take up valuable freezer space.  We also plan to be up extra early, as B has promised to help me pick strawberries in the cool early morning.   Tomorrow morning is supposed to be the coolest for many days in either direction; down into the upper 50s at first light.

We also have contractors coming here in the morning (hopefully not until we get back from early berry picking), and B has a list of things he needs to get and do in Claremont tomorrow.    And I have a PT session in the afternoon.   Very busy day lined up.   Looks like, when it rains, it pours!

That’s about all our news for today.  Next week is again shaping up to be a busy one.

Stay well.

Happy 4th of July! – July 3-4, 2019 – at the Clampetts

Hello Folks,

It is hot, hot, hot here, as in nearly 90 degrees, but not quite as hot as last year at this time.

I was a busy gal Wednesday.  Remember the cupcakes I mentioned in the last post?  Well, I made a large batch of yellow – or “yella” as my YouTube friend, Phyllis Stokes, says – batch of cake mix batter.  Again, I used Phyllis’s sheet cake recipe, which calls for heavy whipping cream in the batter instead of butter and/or oil.  Anyway, it is an easy cake batter to mix up using my stand mixer.

I could only locate one large cupcake tin, which makes 12 cupcakes.  Then I had one small cupcake or muffin pan made out of silicone.  Now I ask you; who wants a slippery, flippy like pan to make muffins or cupcakes?  I don’t and I don’t know why I bought it, but since I had it, I used it.  Because the cake batter is for a sheet cake, I got 30 cupcakes out of the batter.  I figured surely out of 30 cupcakes I could get a decent batch of 12 or more.

In the end, I divided the 30 and fixed the best looking 15 for the cake auction and 15 for us.  As B noted, I wasn’t consistent with the size, as it was difficult to figure out how much batter to put in each mold.  We joked about this because we watch the British Baking Show on PBS and the judges are always asking for consistently sized whatever.  However, since I was donating 15 cupcakes rather than 12, I figured I could mix and match the sizes.

I added orange rind to the cake batter just to give it a bit of flavor and I’ll be darned if I didn’t judge it correctly.  There was just a hint of orange in the cupcakes!  I added a cream cheese frosting and then sprinkled the top of each with red, white and blue sprinkles.  I also used either flag cupcake holders or blue ones.  The holders nowadays are so flimsy!  Then it was time to put them in the dorm fridge, as I call it, for the night.

B found a flat Land’s End box and fixed it up for me to take them to the event.  I added tinfoil and a white doily.  I also added a sparkler candle to some of the cupcakes.  I did this somewhat in order to keep the plastic wrap up off the cupcakes and as a 4th of July touch as well.

In other news, on Wednesday, we also went to the hanger late in the day to meet one of the two guys from Connecticut interested in purchasing the plane.  I figured he was flying himself up, but he drove up.  Who the heck drives to NH from CT on the day before the 4th???  He claimed the drive wasn’t too bad.  Wonder what it was like driving back???  Anyway, he poked around the plane and asked some intelligent questions and met the local mechanic they want to hire to do a pre-check.

Frankly, and I find this difficult, I am getting cold feet about selling!  It is a long story, but I am now leaning towards keeping it.  The final decision is really up to B, but we have taken a few good flights in it and once gone, it is gone.

Today, I made B get up early, as I had to deliver the cupcakes.  I did not want to make two trips, so we went together and way earlier than we normally get there.  And guess what??? I liked going early, as we got a flatter place to park and got our chairs set up to view the parade way ahead of time.  People kept streaming in.

Anyway, as to the cake auction, there were 7-8 cakes in all.  The cake auction was to raise money for the Plainfield Historical Society.  Last year I kept bidding and ended up with two cakes.  I was much smarter this year and, with cupcakes at home, did not bid on any of the cakes.

In the end, my cupcakes came in 3rd as to money raised and someone won them for $25.  One cake went for $50 (!) and another (with glass sea shells for a decoration) went for $30.  My presentation wasn’t good, as the box idea was fine, but didn’t look very appealing.  I will work on that for next year.  I certainly wouldn’t have won any prizes on Pinterest with it!  Ha, ha.  By the way, I thought I had an ingenious idea.  I put a dab of frosting under each cupcake wrapper in order to keep the cupcake in the correct position so they didn’t slide around when driving or carrying them

As always, we had a nice time at the Plainfield festivities despite the heat.  B ran into a couple of old cronies, but I did not see many people I know.  I did chat with B’s cousin, Lorraine, for awhile.

We had lunch “under the tent” where the Plainfield firemen put on a pulled pork dinner.  It is always good.  We have it down to a science.  B goes and picks out the seats at long tables and I stand in line to get the food.

At the other end of the tent, the local church always makes strawberry shortcake.  Well, this line was atrocious.  But I really wanted to support the church, so I stood in line for dessert.  They make very generous strawberry shortcakes and whip the cream in front of you, using a stand mixer with local cream.  I felt bad for the elderly gentleman trying to keep up with making the shortcakes.  One lady cut the biscuits and took the orders.  Then the man stood and put on the strawberries and cream.  The third person, a woman, worked the stand mixer.  That’s a lot of work with a line of people getting 2, 3, 4 shortcakes at once.  I heard someone say they picked 120 lbs of berries!  For an aging congregation, this is a lot of work.  The prices remain consistent; $5 each but well worth it.  The berries were excellent – very sweet.

As I’ve joked before, by 2:00 p.m. everyone is gone and the town is pretty much back to normal.  We left a little early and were home by 1:15!  B got in front of the fan and then decided to use his new electric weed whacker to whack weeds in front of the pen so we can turn the electric fence back on.  After awhile, he came back in and flopped down under the fan again.  The sun is blistering hot!  I am resting my foot.  It did okay today, but was complaining a bit by the time we got home.

I hope you all are having a fun 4th of July!  It is a great holiday.  Here is a picture of my cupcakes for your amusement.

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Stay well!