Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The book ornament

I belong to a romance reader's club and our December meeting is a potluck supper, a movie or games, and a gift exchange. We put a price limit on it of $12 or so. I found '12 Days of Booklovers Christmas' kitchen towels and thought all I needed was to add a book-themed tree ornament.

Well, good luck is all I can say.

I've looked at Canton Trade Days, every department store I've been in, Walmart, grocery stores, World Market, Target. I've seen an impressive array of ornaments and actually, one book ornament at a mall kiosk. However, it alone was outside the price range so I left empty-handed.

So I've bought an angel instead. In her hand is a heart, and I guess that's close enough for those of us who love to read.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Splitting the turkey

Turkey Two Ways was my answer to the turkey doldrums this year.

I saw this in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, all pretty turkey slices just looking good enough to eat right off the page. Curiosity got the better of me and I searched for the recipe online. I think maybe they didn't have the nerve to print it in the catalog because, well, it was strange.

Strange to me that is. But, I'm a convert now.

1. Buy a fresh turkey. I've never bought fresh before, mainly because I didn't think I could find them here, but my fav Big Box had them and I scooped one up earlier this week.

After the ease of prep, ie, not having to fight with frozen innards, I will buy fresh from now on.

2. Separate said turkey into breast, legs, thighs, wings and backbone.

3. Brine the breast and legs and thighs. Make stock from the wings and backbone.
Easy. I've brined our turkeys for years. Only way to go for wonderfully juicy meat.

4. Now here is where it gets strange. To me, that is. Take the dark pieces, put in a pot similar to a Dutch oven, COVER with canola oil, put the lid on, and bake for 4 hours at 300.

Say what? This method is called a confit. After an hour, the aroma made me want to dive right in. It was cooked in about 3 hours. Falling off the bone cooked. Set it on top of the stove.

5. Roast the breast at 375 the usual way. Took about 2 hours.

6. Back to the legs and thighs. Put them on a broiler pan and broil about 10 minutes, turn once, until crispy.

7. Carve and serve.

Absolutely wonderful.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgivings a world away

We've had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, celebrating with our older son and his family and our younger son's mother-in-law while younger son and wife are celebrating their 5th anniversary in Costa Rica. But did that mean we were just a little table of seven, unconnected from the world?

Of course not! Enter FaceTime.

First, just as we were having dessert, the iPad rang and it was Mary's mom and dad and brother in London. Not just a talk, but a visit! Seeing each other over wifi--for free! (All things being relative. The wifi access is gained by a monthly subscription, but oh the things you can do with it!)

Then, later, near dinner time, came the call from the vacationers in Costa Rica. Sitting in their hotel lobby, ordering dinner, telling us about the beach and what all they hadn't been doing.

Sitting in my kitchen and talking to the world!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fish food: An adventure not for the faint of heart

Sweet potato peelings not having the desired effect in my effort to entrance a raccoon (or possum for that matter since I found one on my film), I decided to try fish food.

I've never had fish, not even the gold variety one might win at a fair booth. Never had the desire to have my cats circle a fish bowl or tank and constantly lick their chops, thereby upsetting not only the fish, but me. So, opening the fish food was a revelation, and a bad one at that. Sheesh! It smelled like fish!

I shook a few flakes onto some grapes--might as well appeal to all tastes-- and set up the trap.

My cats instantly--INSTANTLY!--went on point. Now, we're talking about half a teaspoon of fishy bait here. But they started circling. I said bad things to them and tried to scare them away.

Thirty minutes later, Sammy was in the trap and, from the photos, Duchess (don't forget that name) had circled him and sat on top of the trap in support of his plight. I let him out.

Checked an hour later. Socks was having an absolute conniption in the trap. This is the little cat who had successfully stolen the slice of deli turkey last week. The lure of fish food must have made her careless. She was clinging to the trap and I had to tump her out.

Back to the couch I go. Last night was the Dancing with the Stars finale and the cats were ruining my rhythm.

Next commercial. Duchess. Obviously someone is a slow learner because by now there's no food in the trap because it's been turned over and dispersed by Socks. Duchess patiently allows me to release her. And she performs this same trick a hour later.

So the upshot is I have 111 photos on the trophy cam, four of them after I let Duchess out the second time and none of them with a raccoon.

Dare I try the pork ribs tonight? How much sleep do I want?

And, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

What's new at the trapping venture

No one opted for the sweet potato peelings. Or, for that matter, for the pumpkin innards I tried next. I purchased the goldfish food today that my neighbor had also suggested. At $1.23, I figured, 'why not?'

But it's raining and the idea of trapping an animal and keeping him in the rain all night does not appeal to me. Even a raccoon.

And especially since I have new bait, guaranteed to catch something, probably my cats. Pork ribs. That was my first successful bait in 1996 for trapping a raccoon who'd been making a nuisance of himself for a year! He was so clever he could get into the trap and get the bone without setting the trap off. Then, when I dangled it from the top with string, he pulled the string up and nibbled and left the bone in-my-face on top. Finally, I managed to tie it top and bottom and got him. Good thing, too, as I was out of ribs.

So, I'm reluctant to try it and then have to spend the evening sorting out the cats. But I have an added incentive: last night's photos showed a new-to-the-backyard visitor: a possum.

Now, he was interested in the pumpkin, and at least Sammy wasn't sitting in the entry... but still, he didn't go in.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The doll bed and the raccoon, although not together

Update on the doll bed project: My neighbor has loaned me her Dremel with its various attachments. So far, I've blasted far enough through a steel wire brush to feel guilty so I've bought a replacement and I've totally demolished three not-as-tough brushes. Totally. GONE. Down to the nubbins. The upside is, I think a little steel wool and I'll have it clear enough to stain. We're not going to tote up the hours.

On to the great raccoon hunt.

Tired of not getting my quarry on grapes, I upped my game to include a slice (a slice--mind you!) of deli turkey. The trophy cam was in place so I could see what had transgressed and it was a sorry sight indeed.

First of all, the outdoor cats paid no attention to the extra-good aroma emanating from the trap. They were more involved with their standard cat food dinner, so I think, this is good. I can't smell it; they can't smell it. The raccoon is better than all of us and I'll have the little varmint in the morning.

I am sooo naive.

An hour into this adventure last night, the turkey is gone and the trap is not sprung. But, I have photos, right? I'll look after choir practice.

Home from choir, I traipse outside to get the SD card and there, in the trap, are two of my fav cats, Sammy and Countess. Two. Huddled together. There was not any turkey left in the trap from the raid by the (as yet) mystery animal. I spring S and C from the confines and collect the SD card. 39 photos on it in an hour where they should be half a dozen, max.

A careful reading of the card shows the turkey thief to be Socks, a lightweight in the cat division. I put the card back.

Before going to bed, I find Duchess, wily old female cat, in, you guessed it, the trap. By now, I've had it with them. There is only grapes and apples for bait. What was she thinking?

This morning, there are 44 more photos to review. What ever has gone on in the night?

Lots of traffic by my animals, the neighbors' and a raccoon. Except he couldn't get into the alluring trap of grapes and apples because Sammy had chosen to sit in the trap's entry. IN THE ENTRY. Was he protecting the raccoon from a countryside-fate?

Tonight, there are grapes and sweet potato peelings in the trap because my neighbor said she thought the raccoon would like them. We will, actually, see.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Doesn't anyone eat breakfast at home any more?

Saturday morning we're headed to Dallas to help grandson Jack celebrate his 3rd birthday. In reality, we're support staff, the oldest people at the party. Rocks amid the chaos of toddlers, so to speak.

Therefore, we decide to take our time and arrive fashionably late, about an hour would do. So what are grandparents to do except treat themselves to breakfast out?

I love breakfast, period. I particularly like it in a restaurant. The eggs are better, the bacon crisper, the biscuits there, because I don't make biscuits for breakfast. In general, I have better coffee at home, but since I'd had two cups already, I was prepared to sacrifice.

We arrive at an old family watering hole at 8:45 AM. Wouldn't you think most people would have had breakfast by then? Ah, but no. There was not one--not one!--parking place. Cars and trucks were emptying of couples who looked an awful lot like us and they were streaming into the door. But no parking spot! And because of the configuration of the building, the highway, and the neighborhood, there wasn't anything for it, but to move on.

Next stop, a popular dining establishment located in the parking lot of a mall. We parked. Ten minute wait. We didn't really believe them given the size of the crowd waiting and it was now after nine. Much more piddling around and fashionably late was going to look like no-shows.

I was getting hungry. My two cups of coffee and a banana were wearing off and then--there it was!--a sign for a Waffle House!


We got the last booth. We were out in fewer than 20 minutes. We were 15 minutes early for fashionably late.

But, doesn't anyone in the Metroplex eat Saturday breakfast at home?

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Seeing what I'm missing with my new toy

Just to get you up-to-date on the doll bed before I start the fun with my latest gadget, days 3 and 4 have had to do with hand sanding. I'm using aluminum oxide paper which is like sanding with not-so-finely ground black pepper, and I've taken the ridges off at least two of my fingers. I'll go over the bed with some finer paper and steel wool and then that baby is getting painted!

But back to my new toy: a Bushnell trophy camera! Tired of knowing the wildlife was about, but not being able to readily trap it (although I do have a fairly good track (trap?) record), I thought this would make a good addition to my arsenal. So to speak.

I didn't buy a very expensive one, I'm not hunting deer for the meat locker after all, but it does do amazing things: takes video or still, color photos with enough light, it's infra-red and motion detecting. With the current SD card and resolution, it'll take over 4000 shots! What fun would that be? I look at it every morning.

First of all, I set it up in the small house we use for storage. I know there is a cat who lodges there and enters through displaced floor boards. Come to find out, she has lots of company during the evening hours: over a three night period, there were two other cats--one of which is my neighbor's--one or two raccoons and a possum! A possum! Haven't seen one in ages and there it is, rooting around the floor boards.

That fun being over, I set it up outside the patio where I know raccoons have trod, especially since I came nose to nose with one last week when I opened the back door to feed the outside cats. Rocky Raccoon was either going up or down the pillar, but went up with the advent of me. Eventually I caught him eating the cats' breakfast and I chased him from the yard.

But I knew he'd been back (dirty water is a giveaway) and so I set the trap and the camera.

Night one, he sniffed around it. Night two, I mis-set it and he wandered in and ate the grapes. It's all on digital film, but tonight is night three and I've done a much better job of setting the trap.

I hope tomorrow morning to see Rocky R in person behind bars and then be able to view him later!

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

The doll bed, Day 2

Alas, not any better than day 1.

The weather was turning cool, uh, cold and the northern sky was dark blue, ie, a Texas blue norther, except it didn't get that cold. At least not until tonight when they're seriously talking frost.

Therefore, I thought I'd best take advantage of the last warmish temps to complete the stripping of the doll bed.

So naive.

I'm now on my third can of stripper. And my last I might add. I got so disgusted--and "burned" off the left thumb of my neoprene gloves--that after I gritted my teeth and thoroughly washed my red/raw hands in soap and water (who says Lamaze training doesn't last a lifetime?), I turned the power hose on the doll bed. Some paint actually came off.

Now I'm going to sand. And sand. And if that doesn't work to my satisfaction, I'll completely give up on the idea of staining it and go back to painting.

So I take (almost) all the old paint off only to repaint? Looks like it.

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