Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Just Saying

William sent me a text from his bedroom (because that's communication in modern parent-child relationships) asking me about "that horrid smell"  and several animations of people offended by or dying of a bad smell. I was cooking, but not just any old thing. I was making dog treats. Liver to be exact.

He thundered down the stairs, gagging. Really, it wasn't that bad. "It smells like a mixture between burnt brownies and meatloaf," he whined. Well, brownies are good. Meatloaf is good. I don't like liver, but this was not an offensive smell to me.

The dogs go through a lot of treats to train and I don't want fatty treats with sugar added. Some treats have loads of chemical preservatives and ingredients or cost more than steak per pound. Chicken liver is very cheap. In case you want to offend your own children, here is how I make them.

Pre-soak some of your dogs kibble in water until all the water is absorbed and the kibble is soft. Using a food processor, blend two cartons of chicken livers until liquid. Add in the kibble to give it more body. I also added in some gluten-free flour to make it nice and pasty. I added a small amount of flax seeds. I spread this goo over silicone baking sheets on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for half an hour. This cooks the mixture but doesn't completely dry it out so after cooling it, I cut it into squares and dry them on a cheap Rival dehydrator. Then, dogs will love you forever for the crispy treats that can be broken into small pieces. The treats, once dry, have little to no smell and it makes a lot of treats. Even the cats like them. In fact, Luna, William's cat, tore open the plastic bag on the counter to get to them.

There was the one time that I decided to clean by boiling the opossum skull I found out by the road for our natural history collection. Now, that, that was a smell I don't even intend to repeat. (Next time, clean bones by burying them for a while in the backyard.)

I'll take the smell of baking liver treats any day over a teenager's room. Just saying.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

One day, ten years ago, my children and I helped a mama miniature horse birth her baby. She still lives here with her brother miniature horse born the year before. The mama and daddy returned to their original owner and were later sold. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't Blink

"I am going to be homeschooling my kindergartner. What curriculum should I use?"

If only I had one day to have my little ones little again. Just one day. Blink and they are graduated from high school. Blink again and they finished college and are starting careers, getting married, moving away. Looking back, I have no regrets because I know we made memories. We played in the dirt. We were present in our days.

What curriculum? My advice is no curriculum. Go to the library and get out all the books you can carry and that the library will let you. In our county at the time, that was 99 books per person in the household, so I brought crates on wheels and filled them. It was like bringing my kids to the candy store and telling them everything was free. We read and read and read. I read aloud so much my throat would hurt and I would have to quit.

Go to the zoo. Go to the woods. Play in a creek. Dig a hole as deep as you can. Collect and identify leaves. Turn over rocks. Look at bugs under a good stereoscope (dissection) microscope. Go out into the world on field trips. Go to concerts and theater. Have a picnic under a tree. Paint. Play the piano. Blow on pieces of grass and dandelions. Raise chickens and hatch eggs. Find all the wildflowers you can. Use lots of paper and markers and paint. Make cookies and measure things. Count marbles and pennies. Play classical music all day as background. Sing. Dance. Go out in the rain. Get dirty. Get really dirty. Make forts out of blankets. Have lots of play time. Make ice cream. Laugh. Do messy science experiments like dropping eggs out of windows. Roll balls down an incline. Make a pyramid out of sugar cubes. Grow a garden. Go to a bird blind or put out bird feeders. Lay in the fresh spring grass. And above all, watch the joy of learning in your babies eyes.

I know you are anxious to get started, to not let them get behind, to make sure they keep up with their peers, but I'm telling you, your time with them will be very, very short or so it will seem when you are old like me. There is no curriculum that can instill in them the joy of learning like exploring the world with you. You will have years to nag them about their homework but the time will come, if you don't make those memories now and cherish every minute when you'll be wishing you had just one more day....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

In typical Kentucky style, it is cold again after unseasonably warm weather but it is sunny. Driving home from the gym, I relished the sunbeams coming in through the car window and heating my black leather GAP jacket I got for $12 at the resale store.

"Oh," I remarked to William, "this feels so good I ought to wear a suit of only black leather."

"That," he responded, "makes me cringe. I mean, (sputter sputter sputter), not cringe because of you in black leather.....well, yeah, maybe, but....(sputter), I mean it would be hot and sweaty! (sputter) Just forget I said anything."

Not known for my fashion sense, my kids do have opinions and always warned me that if EVER I wore anything animal print, they would swear they didn't know me. My careless fashion sense would have made Phyllis Diller proud. And if you don't know who she is, you should.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tasty!

I was careful to warn the guys, "Don't eat what is is the dehydrator." Daughter #2 has not forgotten the day she came into the kitchen, reached out and popped what she thought was a small square of brownie into her mouth. She claims I watched her do this without stopping her, though perhaps my lack of memory on this detail is in my own self-defense. That batch of dog treats had been made with calf liver so it was darker. It is not the first time that I've cooked for the dogs and it was mistaken for people food.

This batch looks like blonde brownies as I used chicken livers pulverized with dog kibble and a few eggs. First baking the mixture for thirty minutes in the oven to brownie consistency, I then put the squares on a dehydrator to completely dry. I broke them into small bits and refrigerated in plastic bags in case any moisture remains. The dogs are wild for this treat. People, not so much. It did, in my opinion, smell pretty good baking and not unlike a brownie. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1984

A lifetime ago, I remember my grandmother telling me that on the 700 Club, it was reported that the government was watching us through our televisions. Puzzled, I asked her how they could do that? (Remember this was in the 1980s, pre-Internet.) She pointed to a round circle on the front of her television. This was the light sensor that automatically adjusted the brightness of the screen. I assured her that it was not a camera. Silly me.  Little did I know that she was right!

If the government is watching through my microwave, I can only say that the person assigned to our household must have the most boring job on the planet. Surely, they have better things to do? Now, I need to go work on my aluminum foil hat.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Different Times

Many thanks to my mom who always
was generous with my book order
Memories came flooding back as I pulled to a stop at a traffic light. The Scholastic Book Truck was in the parking lot across the street! My son, always homeschooled, puzzled over my exclamation. What are Scholastic Books?? Well, when I was growing up, one of my happiest moments was when my Scholastic Book order arrived. Four or five brand new paperback chapter books with that new book smell! I couldn't wait to get home and devour them. (Yes, I was a nerd.) I read many books from the library, so I can't really tell you why the order appealed so much to me.

The flimsy paper order form would come weeks ahead. We lived in a time when Amazon didn't bring things the next day. You had to think hard on what you wanted, wait a good amount of time for it, and the anticipation was part of the joy when it finally arrived.  Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my Amazon Prime, but I think in exchange for the convenience, we've lost a little of the magic.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bosch Posh Revisited

Husband always says if you have a problem, someone, somewhere, has already had that same problem and put it on YouTube. He is right. I found a "work around" on my dishwasher and can run it now, though it is not fixed. It involves starting it, waiting for two particular pauses, turning it off, turning it back on, all while saying the "Hail Mary". It worked.

The true fix is replacing the turbidity sensor, which is like taking the engine out of a foreign car to change the oil filter: it isn't easy. I can do it, though, and have ordered the part. William gagged as I explained that turbidity meant it was sensing soil or gunk in the dishwasher. The sensor wasn't necessarily sensing turbid water; the sensor isn't working. 

Still, I wouldn't be surprised. For many years, I have instructed that great chunks of food and slathered sauces must be scraped or rinsed before putting in the dishwasher. Not washed, but at least scraped. And here we are: turbid. 

My dad instilled in me the belief that most anything could be fixed and that I was capable myself of fixing it. I remember he finally had to replace our dryer, not because it wouldn't run, but because we'd worn all the porcelain off the tub and it had begun to rust, getting on the clothing. This dishwasher is almost 8 years old, so we still have a few good years together.

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