Friday, August 29, 2008

noise machines

I got sidetracked again.
The point I was going to make about the sound of the rain night before last was about noise machines for sleep. I don't sleep very well - often. I'm probably being stalked by a need to entertain the terrible twos of my life: diet and exercise, but that's another tangent I'd rather not discuss right now. Especially since I have a pie in the oven.
My mom uses a nose machine....TYPO....excuse me...a NOISE machine (jeez!) to help her get to sleep. She's used one for years and even travels with it on overnights. My dad uses a noise machine too, but I will stop that discussion right there because I may spill some family secrets. Like the why of why he uses one. Anyways, my mom and my sister used to get my niece to sleep by running a window unit air conditioner on "fan" in a darkened room. Poor Baby Jordan was out like the dead! So noise and sleep aids have been one of my family values for years.
I've tried noise machines. The problem is I end up listening too hard - I begin to drift off to sleep, only to pick up on the "click" where the loop of the intended relaxing sound ends. Like the "rain" setting on a machine I had once. It was about a 5-second loop...."patter, drip, drip, patter, drip, dr-click!- patter, drip, drip..." and I would lay there and count the repeats. No dice.
The "ocean waves" setting wasn't much better. Way back when we used to saute ourselves in baby oil and lie baking on the sand (oh, my gosh. HOW DUMB WAS THAT? And me a redhead.), I'd count the waves at Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. Every seventh - or occasionally sixth - wave is bigger than the rest in the series. There is a longer pause as the water sucks back to gather for a breaker. Noise machine engineers failed to take this into account. Most machines I've heard either don't caputre the cycle or have the cycle too short - every 4th or 5th wave was the big one ("click"!). Perhaps a surfer's dream come true, but it wasn't helping me catch any zzzzzzzs. I'd just lay there feeling anxious. (In case that grammar is incorrect, I would lie there, too.)
Before I ever purchased (gasp!) a noise machine, in an attempt to make do with what I had, I frugally set the clock radio to the far right, I mean...SIDE of the dial (of course! you don't think I'd go over to the FAR LEFT, do you?!) to enjoy some cost-free "white noise." All was well and good until late one cloudy night... in that place halfway between awake and asleep I about wet the bed when I heard a heavily-accented man speaking statically in a foreign language from my bedside table. Must have been one of those Spanish language stations out of New York that we pick up when we travel late-nite. Well, adios to the clock radio idea.
So I'm back to the not sleeping. Probably for several weeks if I don't raid the melatonin or spend several hours in the National Forest. But if that's what it takes, then I'll.....
Well, alas, it is 8 minutes till midnight and I am waiting for Andy to come home from a rescue call. I am getting sleepy so I think I will close for now. Before I go...
I made the easiest and most delicious dessert for a cookout we're going to tomorrow at my pal Jessica's. After that last paragraph I took it out of the oven to cool and it smells delicious.
Want the recipe?

Easy Graham Cracker Cookies. Or pie.
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

mix all of these together with a spatula. pour/spoon into 9x9 or 8x8 square baking dish. bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. cool. slice and enjoy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Steady rain for over 48 hours, with few breaks. Last night was amazing sleeping weather. Cool, maybe high 50s and a soft - very soft - steady rain that went on for hours. Even most of the frogs took advantage of it and dozed instead of providing a running commentary to the night. Sometime around the early wee hours I heard a screech owl...must have been in the pine trees beside the house. I didn't even wake up all the way just waited for it to stop so I could get back to that deep restful sleep that has been eluding me for weeks.

The Sugar Baby has a lump on her forehead. Yesterday Hannah wanted to play "Mary [Miriam] and the Baby Moses" in the basement. I was trying to make a thank you card and only half paying attention. "You be the 'fay-row' Mama." OK, so I was the 'fay-row'. I walked around once booming, "WHERE are the Hebrew babies?" Hannah said, "I'm a girl baby!" (She LISTENED to the story...remember they only killed the BOY babies! That's our girl!!) But then... "Abba is the baby Moses." (So much for taking care of her sister!)

I had turned back to my card making, letting Han continue being the princess, but I wheeled around at the sound of "reeds" breaking, just in time to see Abba crying in a pile on the basement floor. The handle was broken on my straw woven laundry basket. "I'm sorry Mama, I didn't mean to drop him." Sugar Baby was none the worse, just a little surprised. Guess she was expecting river water instead of concrete?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


We are hot off the road from an extended visit to Tidewater...we were gone almost a week! Time just flies when you're having fun - truly! Lessee, after an 8-hour trip down (TRAFFIC), we destressed in the spa on my parents' deck (read: blue baby pool), vistited friends (OK, only Naurine & Emmy, and a quick pop-in to Lynn) and family (did the ole' SURPRISE drop-in on Andy's dad...I think it worked!).
Enjoyed a "berry" lovely dessert with Gaga, Aunt Robin, big brother Josh....
Met a very nice African tortise named - - - RootBeer - - - - at a marina where my Dad's company is bidding a job....
Sugar Baby became rather proficient at walking.....
and horseback riding - and keeping Han away from the horse.....

You know, I can't say that I am "sooooo glad" to be home! I mean, I AM glad, but we really had a good, relaxing time down there. I got to do my favorite: nap in the afternoons, shop at some really good thrift stores....most importantly, though, it was low stress. To those friends who we missed visiting - SORRY!! But we just can't do it all and still get the girls over tired. We have a short window to do anything and we just can't do it all every time!
A highlight was my visit to Thrift Store City and a new thrift store over near Bayside High School, where I used to work....good thing it wasn't open 4 years ago when I was working there, or else I'd be in there 4 days a week!! I got Hannah some cute clothes (they had Hanna Andersson like new dresses for $4!) (who is Hanna Andersson? I seem to remember they have a catalog with $30/baby outfits as their cheapest item...those days are long gone - I have a $75/week grocery budget now) (!!!)
Well, enough about us, thought you might like to see the pictures.
Jean: we're praying for you that you don't get waterlogged with all the rain from Fay down there in (sunny?) Florida.
Sabrena: I don't have time to blog. I carve it out of my laundry time. That is why I go to thrift stores so I don't have to wash clothes. For months.
Andy: wasn't Abba sooo cute the way she was so glad to see you yesterday?
Ma: Why don't you read my blog????!!!!
Alleghany County: Its good to be home!!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Science Fare

I made a tent from a sheet for Han & Abi to play in yesterday. As I was tying it on the carport post, Han asked what kind of bug this was:

After an hour, we saw this:

I didn't think that color existed naturally in nature. Amazing. Hannah was mildly impressed; Abba wondered what it tasted like. I, however, was estatic - see, we have literally dozens of cicada shells at the bottom of our maple trees. I wondered what the story was, so I researched on the Net and found this:

(scroll to the bottom of the page and press play).

I was totally hooked.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Easy, easy delicious biscuit recipe.

These are a quick favorite at our house. Uses what you have on hand and takes about 25 minutes start to finish.

1 stick of cold butter
2 cups (plus a handfull more) self-rising flour
1 cup cold milk PLUS
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 450.

Using paring knife, cut chunks of butter into about 1/4 to 1/2 " slices into the SR flour in a bowl. Toss the butter with the flour. Use a pastry cutter or fork to chop butter into the flour. Doesn't have to be exactly the size of peas, but should be pretty chunked in.

Cover and chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Add vinegar to milk, let sit about 2 minutes. Take flour/butter mix out of fridge, stir in milk mixture with for, just until ingredients are moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle or whatever. Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper.) Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). THIS is the secret to getting the biscuits to rise and have nice, flaky layers.

Cut with a biscuit cutter, champagne glass, empty washed tuna can, or whatever. Cut straight down, do not twist as this seals the edges and they won't rise.

Place on your pizza stone, with rounds slightly touching. You can also use a cookie sheet.

Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.

For variety, add a handful of Bleu Cheese or a cup of shredded cheddar and course ground pepper and/or dried herbs.


You know, writing this out reminds me of the many folks who have influenced or had an impact on the various parts of my life at various points.

Whenever I make biscuits or anything requring flouring a table, I'm reminded of Joe Olbris. Who else knows Joe?He used to always um....remind me... to close the drawers when I'm working in the kitchen so the flour doesn't get in them. Later, when I go to reach for things in my kitchen drawers, and I find flour or bits of dough, I grin, remembering....Thank you Joe!

Any homemade biscuits always remind me of my grandparents. They (and my mom) made drop biscuits. This recipe can easily be converted to drop biscuits adding a little more milk, and just spooning the dough out by tablespoons onto the cookie sheet.

Finally, my pal Heather introduced me to the concept of meal planning to plan grocery shopping or using what I have on hand. These biscuits are part of my repetoire for certain meals - especially last minute if I have forgotten to make bread!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

West Virginia State Fair!

A view from the top....her first Ferris Wheel ride!

The Wheel was one of the few rides we rode...poor girls have the misfortune (? uh, I think NOT) of having their Daddy-o being a certified amusement device he really has an eye out for safety! And probably knows too much....he keeps up on the accident reports of the various rides as well as the death and injury count.

See that baby in the backpack? She has double ear infections. But other than her runny nose, she had a great day in the pack with her Daddyo.

I think there were 8 chickens. Guess its a precaution against avian flu. There were a few turkeys, some newly hatched chicks and ducklings, but nothing like in the past. Maybe it is a good thing, though, as I would have been MIGHTILY tempted to bring home a couple of nice Brahmas. Or three. Or nine.

Oh, the beauty!

Oh, the Sleeping Beauty!

Was it crowded? Uh, yeah. LOADS of campers, but we got there early (10:30) and left at 2:30, so we missed the bulk of the traffic. Also, we took the handy-dandy back route out of Lewisburg to avoid miles of cars. We haven't been around that many people for years, and it was kind of freaking us out! We love the 39 people per mile (density) of Alleghany County!

Cotton Candy cheeps. Can you see that she was getting tired at this point? We'd been there almost 4 hours and saw just about everything!

NOTE TO SELF: Next year, do NOT ride the Dizzy Dragons, or for that matter, anything with the word "dizzy" "crazy" "super" "twisty" or "loopy" etc. in the title or description. Vertigo is nothing to be toyed with....36 hours post-fair!!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Heirloom tomatoes

I had some fresh tomatoes from the arden arranged nicely in my picking basket, and was going to pick some more, when I made the mistake of running inside for "just a minute" to get my camera. This is what I found.

CVS trip

I am still pretty new at this, so I am SURE that this wasn't my best, but it was still pretty good for me. I bought all of this in 3 transactions, and spent a total of $6.04.

Transaction #1: Extreme Energy $4.99 + tax = OOP: $5.27 , Earned 4.99 ECBs

Transaction #2: 4 Pert Plus (BOGO) @ 3.99 each; 2 Excederin @ 2/$5, Dawn soap $.88.
Used: 4.99 ECB from previous transaction

$2 Pert coupon
$2 Pert coupon
$2 Excederin coupon
$.50 Dawn Coupon
$ 2/10 CVS coupon ($2 off a $10 purchase)

Total OOP: $.77

Earned: coupon for free asprins

Transaction#3: CVS adult low dose asprins - FREE!

OOP= Out of Pocket BOGO=Buy One Get One Free ECB=Extra Care Bucks

Sooooooooooooo, even though I did not QUITE make it $5, I wonder if this is helpful and/or encouraging to you. See, I had to get that second transaction over $10, but not too far over. When I gave the cashier the coupons, I had done TOO well, and she couldn't (or wouldn't) take my last coupon for $2 because my total was $.77 or something. So I just told her to ring up another Excederin and I'd use that. They were on sale anyways, so it cost me $3 for two. I needed them, so no biggie. I know that veteran CVS'ers would frown on this, but the OOP overage came out of coins from the bottom of my wallet!!

Check out other scenarios at Keeping the Kingdom First blog.....

Oh, one more thing. I didn't qualify for KKF challenge because I didn't "grow" my ECBs for use later. But I will, OH YES, I will next trip!!

AND, I could have made the entire purchase under $5, and alas, the REASON for my agitation and distraction is pictured in the photo above. I get rattled at the checkout and lose confidence when I am being badgered! On the way home I lectured her for 4 miles that "Mama will NEVER EVER EVER buy you anything at the register or the checkout line, so you NEVER EVER need to ask." "Do you understand?" "Yes." A moment later: "Mama, when I get big, I am going to buy LOTS of candy with my OWN money!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


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See those cucumbers? Those and many, many more are now pickles - about 10 quarts and a couple pints. In fact, I have another batch of pickles midway through processing now; they are soaking in ice water. I use the recipe on the back of the pickling lime container and they always turn out great. My grandmother loves them, so I think I'll give her 12 jars for she can have a jar a month for the next year :)

Andy's friend Peewee from work sent over a big box of yellow squash, pattypan squash and it looks like a few zucchini. WE canned a bunch of squash from our garden on Sunday, but I'm running low on jars so I think I'll just freeze this. My aunt said that canned squash doesn't have a good taste, too, so that's another reason.

Well, I have a crying baby who is getting over a cold and probably has an ear infection, so I better go and get her to sleep for her first nap. More later!