Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hodpodging The Wasps' Nest

Our entire crop of McIntosh apples
One measly apple from our poor tree.

Join Joyce and the gang


She writes the questions;
we write the answers.
Plug them into your own blog
and link up!

1. What's on your September calendar? Anything fun?  YES, we're going to Westby for a weekend. I always love that little trek to the unglaciated (why is spellcheck questioning this??) and beautiful part of Wisconsin.

Photo from September 2014
We're much older this year.

 Country church cemetery
Near Westby, WI
2. You might be described as a natural born _____________________?  Problem solver. I've wasted a lot of time and annoyed a lot of people  - people who come to me with a problem but who, unbeknownst to me at the time, had no desire to have their problem actually solved. I think I have a callous on my scalp for the number of times I've scratched my head over that one. At least I've finally learned a thing or two, and don't always try to find the best and quickest solution to a problem or the shortest point between A and B. Many times, I've learned, people don't want the shortest route. They want the long, circuitous route that has no end in sight. It's been a foreign concept to me that has taken a long time to learn.

Basil for Pesto

4 cups (packed) fresh basil
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (Pine nuts are expensive
and have a disturbing 'pop' when you bite into them. Makes me think of woodticks.)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
3 T. Extra virgin olive oil
Pulse in food processor
I made a double batch of this and put it in 1/2 cup containers and froze it. It's so nice to have those little containers in the freezer that I can pull out in a morning and use at dinner that night.

3. September is National Courtesy Month...what one act of courtesy would you most like to see more of in your home, town, or the world at large?  

Let someone else go first. Think of all the car accidents that might be prevented, the people who would be made happier, if we all just let the other person go first. (Of course, you literalists out there, I do realize that if we ALL did that, no one would ever get anywhere! Just bear with me.) Whether it's related to traffic or the line at the supermarket, it could make a huge difference in people's overall health and well being.

4. Eager beaver, chicken out, clam up, or let the cat out of the bag...of the phrases listed, which one have you related to most recently? 

Eager beaver might describe me in the morning, from about 7:15 or earlier (after that morning coffee has kicked in) until about 4:00 in the afternoon. I can get a lot done in a short amount of time. After that, it's a slow slide into evening with little-to-no energy or desire to go out after dark (and did you notice how early darkness arrives now??)   

 Picking beans is an every-other-day activity
with a cannerful after the second picking

 It doesn't pay to use leftover unused lids from last year.
Each batch has left me with one jar that doesn't seal.
I'm using 2015 lids now.

At least one jar didn't seal even with the new 2015 lids.
So it's not the process or the date of the lids,
but the fact that lids aren't made as well anymore.
I think there's less gummy stuff on them. Annoying!

5. What's your movie theatre snack protocol? Do you chow down on snacks during the previews or wait until the movie begins? Do you buy snacks or refuse to pay those kind of prices? What's the last movie you saw in a theatre? How many thumbs up would you give it?

I hate to watch previews, so I like to time it to arrive when the previews are done. That way I not only avoid movie trailers designed for 15 year old boys, but my kid pack of popcorn and Mike'n'Ike isn't already gone before the movie starts.  We prefer, however, to watch something in our collection of DVDs rather than go out to the movies. Also, Mr. C. makes better popcorn. The last movie we went to see was The Hobbit. We took two of our granddaughters to see it in 3D. It was incredibly boring and I found it especially annoying that the one redeeming feature, Mr. Thornton (North & South), kept looking UP, as though he were a dwarf or something.

No thumbs up.  North & South, on the other hand, (not to be confused with North and South) - two thumbs up! 

6. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, "Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind." Agree or disagree? Why?

This is a really tricky question. It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'work' is. Being busy is no guarantee that the mind is engaged. Work can involve physical labor or reading and thinking.  I can't picture C.S. Lewis working in an assembly line at a Ford plant, throwing hay bales around, or working out at the gym, but he was certainly not idle.

And actually, I can spend a lot of time thinking about that question. I need to move on. 

 Mr. C. found a wasp nest in the flowering crab.
It's at head height. It's a wonder that no one ran into it!

 If you look hard, you can see a few of the
angry wasps 
Makes me think of an old Poirot: The Wasps' Nest

7. What's the last job you completed or task you performed where you had to 'work like a dog' until it was finished?

Cleaning up after spending the day canning, so that I can wake up the next morning to a clean kitchen. It's not exactly 'working like a dog,' but then my dogs just lie around all day, so...

 Jazzie, workin' like a dog
8.  Insert your own random thought here.

In the past month, we celebrated 5 family birthdays!  Here are a few pics from the last two:

 Just turned two!

5 year old minion

Five years old - hard to believe!

Not the birthday boy,
but his little sister

This post is linked to Theresa's

and Eileen's

and Judith's



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Have a great Wednesday, everyone!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Hodgepodge That Never ENDS

Birthday hayride, minus passengers
Guess who missed out on getting the photo...

Join Joyce and the Gang


She writes the questions;
we write the answers.
Plug them into your own blog and join in!

1. It's hard to believe, but next week's Hodgepodge will find us in the month of September. What's one thing you want, need, or hope to do still before summer officially ends?

Visit Duluth. It's kinda like going to the ocean...for Wisconsinites.

2. When were you last at 'your wit's end'?

That would probably be when knitting that peach colored sweater, which I ripped out and started a couple times. Now it's been so long since I've worked on it that I'll probably have the same problem. I need to set a deadline for myself.

 Diaper Covers
The shadows in the photo reminded me of another photo
which I took in the spring of 2007
in the Yorkshire Dales

You're right - it's moles on a gate!

(Since so many were asking, I wrote an
explanation of the moles in a comment, below)

Wider shot of the same gate 


 Here's the shepherd who's lost his sheep
and doesn't know where to find them...
(photo by his mama)

...and whose birthday it was on Saturday:

 Party by Mama and Daddy
at Grandma and Grandpa's house

3. Describe a time you were figuratively thrown into 'the deep end'?

I think it was when reading through this week's Hodgepodge questions. No synapses firing.

  First year for this sweet dahlia

4. Does the end always, ever, or never justify the means? Explain.

In many cases, such as sending young people off to war, I'd say that the end rarely justifies the means, plus it usually brings a ton of long-term unintended consequences. Giving my dog a treat to teach her to be happy to come when called definitely justifies the means.

 Visitor to my algae-filled pond

5. What makes your hair stand on end?

Literally, humidity. Figuratively, the movie 'What Lies Beneath.' 

 Lots of green beans already canned
with many more blossoms portending a long canning season

6. I read an article on the website Eat This! Health, that listed 11 foods we can eat to help end bad moods. Basically it's a feed your brain so you're less anxious, grouchy and lethargic. The foods are-mussels, swiss chard, blue potatoes, grass fed beef, dark chocolate, greek yogurt, asparagus, honey, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and coconut. Which of those do you think would most help end your own bad mood? Which do you fear, if forced to eat, would put you into a bad mood?

Definitely not the first three. Beef, maybe, if it's dinner time. Dark chocolate, Greek yogurt (daily), asparagus, cherry tomatoes (daily), and coconut are among my favorites. But they don't act alone. One needs a good movie and dark chocolate or a good book and Greek yogurt for them to be really effective.

Anything, if forced to eat it, would put me into a bad mood. Especially mussels and eggs. Yuk!

 One thing I love about late August

7. What project around your home, office, or life in general feels like there is 'no end in sight'?

Cleaning the basement. And that's simply because there literally IS NO END IN SIGHT.

 Cute little place (and fence and ash tree)
across from the post office in Chetek 
which I visited yesterday to mail a birthday card.
(another August family birthday coming up!)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

It will be a while before I'm back posting regularly. With the quickly-ripening tomatoes in the garden and the number of them already waiting on the picnic table, I think that tomato canning is in my immediate future.

Also, fall is definitely in the air. When I came into the house yesterday morning after picking tomatoes, little grandson was wearing polar fleece and a hat because it was that cold in the house! But it just seems wrong to turn on the heat in August, and building a fire would quickly cook us out. It's supposed to be in the 80s by Saturday, so I think we're going to get a bit of summer back. I'm already missing it. I'm definitely not ready for Polar Fleece Season.


This post is also linked to


as you may have noticed,
there are a number of fences in the photos above.

And because there are a few critters in this post,
I'm also linking it to Eileen's



Check out my natural, handcrafted vegan soap!
Buy any 5 or more,
Get 1 FREE

Frosted Apple Spice
Pumpkin Spice

...and more! Check out all my handcrafted soaps at


and at

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Have a great Wednesday, everyone!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hodgepodging by Pints and Quarts

Tomatoes on the picnic table

Join Joyce and the Gang


She writes the questions.
We write the answers.
Plug them into your own blog
and link up!
(Thanks, Joyce!)

1. Way back when (the Hodgepodge bicentennial to be precise) several of you submitted questions as part of a giveaway I was hosting. I went back to that list for inspiration today and found a question  submitted by Marla, who blogs over at Marla's Musings. Thanks Marla!

She asks-At what age did you feel like a 'grown-up'? What keeps you young now?   

I'm still waiting for that to happen. I'll let you know if/when it does. 

the littlest librarian

'You have a book that's 3 months overdue!
But that's okay. Here, have a Dum-Dum.'

2. When did you last buy a vehicle? Was this by design or because you had no other option? Was the car/truck purchased for your own personal use or was it bought for someone else to drive? On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being delightful and 1 being 'pass the Excedrin') how would you rate the experience?

I don't know when that was. All of our vehicles are old. And first of all, we never ever buy new. We let someone else experience the joy of those first few years of depreciation. I don't think there's been a time when we've had no other option. We try to buy with relatively (operative word here) low miles (you know, nothing over 150,000) and something that is functional for a good price. I don't know the last (if ever) vehicle we purchased because we liked how it looked. It's pretty much a utilitarian thing for us, although by now I've become fond of my little very old white Jeep, which has too much wrong with it to make it worth fixing. It simply sits at the top of the driveway looking cute (to me.)
Corn field south of the house
Early morning fog above the creek

3. Corn bread, corn chips, corn pudding, corn on the cob, cornflakes, corn chowder-your favorite of the corn-y foods listed? What needs to be served alongside your selection?

Okay, if I must follow the rules, I'd say.........No, sorry, I just don't like any of the above-listed foods. Actually, I  avoided corn for years (I'm convinced that it's meant solely to fatten cattle and pigs - and I have no trouble translating that!).  BUT then, there's Popcorn. And I even avoid popcorn unless it's made 'just right.' Mr. C. makes it just right. I've talked about that before, but for those who may not remember, Jolly Time white popcorn is the only acceptable popcorn, and it's made in a pan on the stove with coconut oil, a wee bit of butter, and cayenne in the pan before putting in the popcorn. Let me know if you try it. You'll see what I mean. 

Served alongside popcorn? A good British mystery.

 Produce conveyors

4. What's something in your life that regularly requires you to 'put your thinking cap on'?

That would be when reading medical journal papers written for doctors, who have a mysterious language all their own. For example, when the term 'sunken down in' (referring to a hip prosthesis) would be understood by approximately 100% of English-speaking people, doctors use the term 'subsidence' instead, which the rest of us tend to use in an entirely different context, and which term (as they use it) would be understood by a small percentage of normal people.  I swear they do that just to be oblique and exclusive. It's so annoying. It's even more annoying to have a surgeon say patronizingly, 'Subsidence is the term we use for that.'  I had to suppress my inner Doc Martin response.

5. Share a favorite movie set in a school or classroom, or whose theme relates to school days in some way.

SCHOOL OF ROCK with Jack Black. He is hilarious!

 Radmilla and the last of the Gladioli
Flowers from Carla's garden (thank you, Carla!)
Be sure to stop in at her blog, The River
And don't miss her post on the Paine Museum in Oshkosh
hosting the Downton Abbey dresses exhibit!

6. Reading, writing, and 'rithmatic' are commonly referred to as the three R's. What are the three R's in your life right now?


7. What's something you've learned or tried recently you can say was as 'easy as ABC'?

I'll have to look up the origin of that phrase, 'easy as ABC.'  I suspect that in our society today, there would be many who would find the ABCs anything but easy. But anyway,  I'd say that choosing a birthday gift for our youngest son was 'easy as ABC.' His birthday was on Monday, but his gift didn't arrive until Tuesday. He'll open it tonight. I don't want to divulge a secret or anything, but let's just say that it's his turn to make waffles on the weekend. (I think he'll love it!)

Also, canning  is as 'easy as ABC.' It's time-consuming and messy, but easy. And very rewarding.

 We tested a jar...JUST like Mom's! Yum!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

       ♫ Oh it's canning time again, You're gonna leave me,
I can see that faraway look in your eyes...
I can tell by the way you're pickin' produce
That it won't be long before it's canning time.

Just wanted to throw that in, should I end up absent from the blog world for a bit. The tomatoes, beans, and peaches are all racing to the canner.  So if I'm not posting, that's the most likely reason. 

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!


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Soap log, just before cutting

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Wisconsin Barns and Summer Squash Recipe

 August 15, evening light
Hay field along the Poor Farm Road
Barron County

Our shortcut to Barron is to turn right at the chiropractor's office onto the Poor Farm Road, which is a straight shot to Salem Lutheran Church, to Highway 8, or to the Barron Hospital, depending. The Barron County Poor Farm is, or rather was, located just before you get to Barron.


"It was 1884 when the County decides they should look after the poor, they bought land and built buildings on the southeast edge of Barron, it was called the poor farm. In 1885 $2000 was appropriated to build the buildings; The Barron County History of 1922 stated that, “Improvements have since been made from time to time until the County now has a pretty modern alms house, adequate barns and sheds, and a well cultivated farm, excellently stocked and admirably equipped.”  - The rest of the brief article can be found HERE.

Tractor and Rake
Same hay field
Different angle, missing out on that golden light

I took the barn photos on the way home from Eau Claire, when we took a slight detour into the lovely, hilly countryside west of Bloomer. It's full of picturesque old barns, beautiful hillsides, and sand mines.

The collage is of produce from our garden. I picked the lavender and dried it in the dehydrator. I had forgotten what a mistake that was. Next time, and I do have another small 'crop' to pick after it blooms, I will pull out the plants and hang them upside down in the corner of the kitchen. I think that will dry them just as well and better preserve the beauty of the blossoms.

Quick and Easy Summer Produce Dinner

Of course, the summer squash and zucchini that we've been waiting for months to taste, come on incredibly suddenly, and in a matter of a few days there's way too much of both. But they do make a tasty, light summer evening meal when combined with peppers and tomatoes fresh from the garden, onion (not from the garden because I have no success with raising onions), garlic, black olives, and a red potato.

Just in case anyone is interested, this is what I tossed together:

Summer Squash, Zucchini, & Tomato Stirfry Recipe:

Smallish yellow crookneck squash (2), cut into chunks
Smallish zucchini (2), cut into chunks
One large onion, cut into chunks
1 fresh green pepper, seeded, cut into chunks
optional: part of a jalapeno, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red potato, skin on, julienned
1 or two fresh tomatoes, skin on
1 can black olives, drained
Parmesan cheese
Salt, Pepper
McCormick Mediterranean seasoning 
Dash of cayenne (if the jalapeno isn't used)

Actually, I had some leftover beef roast, so I had cut that into thin strips and sauteed them, along with the onion and garlic and pepper(s), in a couple T. olive oil.  When the vegetables were somewhat translucent, I added the other ingredients, except for the seasonings, and stirfried it all together just until the zucchini and squash were hot, slightly cooked, but certainly still having some serious and crucial crunch to them.

Once everything is hot, I sprinkled it with salt and pepper, some Perfect Pinch by McCormick, a wee bit of heat from cayenne, and Parmesan cheese.  I loved it. I don't think that Mr. C. was a huge fan, however. Oh well. I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. Even better. 

Hog Panel Fencing



(on Thursdays)

Also linking to


Sneeze Art
I wonder if this is how Jackson Pollock got started.

Jazzie, doing her bit toward kitchen clean-up

This post is also linked to





Check out my handcrafted, vegan soaps!
Buy any 5, Get 1 FREE

'Lemongrass & Eucalyptus'
Natural, handcrafted, vegan soap

...and more! Check out all my handcrafted soaps at


and at

Our ETSY Shop

Have a wonderful Monday, friends!


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