Early Spring Sunrise Snow on the Silo

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween from La Granouille

Boy did our Halloween season last a loooong time! We started off over a week ago at Stonefield historic village, where 'the frog' learned the essentials of getting lots of loot, "trick or treat" and "Thank You!". He was a little bashful at first.

I can't think of a better setting for a haunted village, complete with a graveyard and covered bridge, and the bargain price of $2 per adult and $1 per child can't be beat.

Then we carved pumpkins Saturday, managing 3 very basic faces between carving, gutting and running down to the chicken house at regular intervals. Meet Manny, Mo and Jack! Boogie decided the insides are 'ucky!'.
Halloween night we headed to Cassville, spent a little time at the park running off excess energy, then an hour or so trick-or-treating. The little charmer ended up with quite the haul!
The Boogie-foggie felt the need to taste test some of his goodies en route and now has a lovely sugar buzz which I am hoping will wear off by bed time.And now, the shops are already pushing Christmas merchandise!
Guess it's time to start planning Thanksgiving dinner!


Friday, October 29, 2010

All the ladies in the house

A friend sent me this e-mail a while back and it really made me think about what these women went through just 90 years ago so that we can take for granted the right to vote.

This is the story ......of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold.

Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the
'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh MY memory. Some women won't vote this year because - Why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder, But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn. The right to vote had become valuable 'all over again.'
HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing,
but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

National Pit Bull Awareness Day

Sgt. Stubby was embalmed and lies in the Smithsonian Museum
While my little monsters are all American Staffordshire Terriers, their heritage is from the APBT and the breeds are often confused. Because of this relationship, and the stigma associated with Bully breeds, I try to give them my support whenever possible. The media rushes to "report" any negative acts by Bully breeds (and often mis-identifies non-bully breeds just for the shock factor) they tend to neglect the helpful and often heroic acts these dogs have performed.

"I own many pit bulls and have used
them for one of their original purposes, as a Nanny to my kids."

Once known as the nanny dog, and the most popular breed of dog in this country. Helen Keller owned a Pit and 'Buddy' was the co-pilot on the first cross country automobile trip! People certainly have changed! However there are still many, many supporters and defenders of these breeds working to fight prejudice and breed specific legislation across the country.

Grant is a dual registered AKC AmStaff and UKC APBT who works at the Milford Memorial Library in Iowa, check out his Facebook page . Then there is Ruby, a certified therapy dog that was found abandoned and ended up in the Minnesota Veterinarian Medical Association Animal Hall of Fame! Even the majority of the dogs confiscated from Micheal Vicks fighting operation are in happy homes, many of them with Canine Good Citizen certifications, a few are working therapy dogs. Who would have thought anything good would have come from that mess. Just proves the heart and versatility of this wonderful breed. There are lots of small, breed specific rescues like Last Chance Pit Bull Rescue that specialize in Bully breeds since so many shelters have a kill policy regarding them, usually based on their insurance coverage. Please give them your support when ever you can.
Mine just make messes, occasionally terrorize my chickens and keep the Boogie-monster entertained. The pups are nearly six weeks old now. They are eating solid foods and goats milk and have had their first vaccinations. The littlest guy is already spoken for! (but he's not going anywhere for AT LEAST a few more weeks)
There are so many groups,clubs and websites that I can't even begin to cover them all here.
So if you ever have the chance to befriend, defend or love a bully, go for it!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trying to Beat the Store at its Own Game (or If it's Free, It's for ME!)

Since I get a lot of questions about how I manage savings of upwards of 50 percent on my grocery bills, I thought I might try to put together a brief overview of my 'system'.

I work really hard at keeping my grocery bill
s to a minimum without sacrificing quality or quantity. A lot of the produce we eat comes from the garden and I cook most of our meals from scratch. I can and freeze and bake, but I have yet to figure out how to make toilet paper so off to the store I go. Now I hate shopping. Groceries, clothes, sundries, doesn't matter. The only store I enjoy going to is a craft store, and there are on-line coupons for them! To make buying staples a bit more interesting, I work on reducing my costs as much as possible.

Unfortunately, I have few stores in the area from which to choose. Walgreens is the only national pharmacy chain, plus Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly are about all I have to work with. NO double couponing here. For those of you with CVS, Rite-Aid, Teeter Harris and the like, I'm jealous! The more competition, the better deals there are available.
Some of my sundries stock pile
First I built my stock pile. This is the key to the whole system. Aside from extreme perishables like milk, bread or fresh veggies, I could probably avoid going the grocery for a few months. It's important to not need to buy an item, but to be able to purchase staples when they are on sale or clearance. Then you can add coupons (both manufacturer and retailer) to pay the lowest possible cost. Take the Hydro Razors, Walgreens had them on sale for $9.99. There was a $4 off coupon in the Sunday paper and Walgreens offered $5 in Register Rewards for a net cost of 99 cents. You can't buy disposables for that price. By picking up these kinds of deals as they are available and keeping them on hand, you can avoid paying full price. Don't be afraid to get multiples of items with a long shelf life.

I also get samples and freebies in the mail. It's nice to be able to try a product before you dish out hard earned cash. Sometimes a company sends a sample size product, which can be great for travel, other times a full size product or a coupon for a free product. Target has just gotten into the sample business, as does Wal-Mart and various website like sampleaday.

I get my coupons from the Sunday paper and various on-line printables as well as the manufacturers themselves. You can get a preview of the Sunday coupons at the creatively named Sunday Coupon Preview. I even save coupons for items I don't generally use as sometimes it pays off. For example, last week Piggly Wiggly had Greek yogurt in the reduced bin for 25 cents each. I make most of our yogurt, but I had clipped some 30 cent off one coupons and was able to buy it at a net profit of 5 cents each.

CellFire loads coupons directly to your customer loyalty card, so no clipping! Just choose the coupons you would like to use and they will be applied automatically when you use your card.

There are plenty of blogs and websites, Facebook pages, books and magazine articles full of tips for reducing your grocery bill. Here are few more helpful links (you can send me your favorite too!).

Mojo Savings
Red Plum
Smart Source
Because Cheaper is Better

Summer, in Galena, in October

Early last week I received a surprise telephone call from one of my best friends during my grade and high school years. Seems she was heading out to Galena, Illinois for a mini vacation this weekend, and seeing as we hadn't seen each other in some 30 years, could we get together? Hell to the yes!
Galena is an historic little iron mining town located in north west Illinois just about an hours drive from me. Turns out she picked the busiest week end of the year, Country Fair, a huge craft show in the city park. She also picked the BEST EVER weather. It was, no lie, close to if not 90 degrees out on the 9th of October! My only complaint is that I should have worn shorts, I was hot. There were tons of shoppers, lots of vendors and well crafted items. My only purchase was two pieces of over priced fudge from a fund raising tent ( I really do not have the 'shopping gene'), but there was certainly something for every one.

Post Office, formerly the Customs House for the Port of Galena

Main Street was extremely congested, but we did find an out-of-the-way restaurant in the lower level of the DeSoto Hotel that had immediate seating and Boogie allowed us about 15 minutes of peace to look over photographs before he was completely bored.
Belevedere Mansion

We wandered over to the Belvedere Mansion, built in 1857, and took a somewhat disappointing tour. While Grants home and the Dowling House (circa 1826 and the oldest stone building in Illinois)are historically accurate depictions of their original uses, Belvedere is basically home to an eclectic collection that has very little to do with the post civil war era or the lifestyle of its builder. Two rooms on the main floor, the ladies and men's parlors, are interesting, however the Tiffany lighting in the dining room, while beautiful, is just another, albeit valuable, piece of the owners collection. Other unrelated items included pieces from the Liberace estate, movie memorabilia like the green curtains from 'Gone With the Wind' and furnishings from Teddy Roosevelt's Chicago office. Not worth the over-priced tour fee, at least in my opinion.
Regardless, we had a very nice visit and it was nearly 5 o'clock before Boogie and I headed home.The Boogie-man was a very good boy once again. He enjoyed the shuttle bus rides to and from the car, walked for hours and stayed out of trouble with only a minimal melt down at the end of the day when he was completely exhausted (I was exhausted too!). Little guy was fast asleep before we covered the 8 miles to the Wisconsin state line.I'm looking forward to visiting with her again in spring, but right now I need to figure out what to make for dinner!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Vinegar, Knitting and Matters of Life and Death

Have we had great weather lately! It has been frosty in the morning, but 70's and even 80's in the afternoon. Both lower gardens are pretty much finished for the year and I collect squash and pumpkins every day. The front garden has only been lightly touched by frost and I'm still getting some tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I even picked two small watermelons this morning!
I stocked a few more hand knit wool hats and a funky eyelash yarn skinny scarf at my Hyena Cart shop, EUC. I've done a few custom hats for friends as well, so if anyone would like something special for themselves or to give as a gift, please let me know.
This is Boogies new hat, knit from some funky vintage wool.And now for something completely different!

Did you know you can make Apple Vinegar from the cores and peels? I've been making a lot of cinnamon apple sauce and pie filling, which produced a lot of peelings!Place the peels and cores in a large, clean jar and cover with water.
Cheese cloth helps keep the fruit flies away.
After about 10 days in a cool and dark place. The peels have all risen to the top and the liquid is a nice pink color. After straining away the peels, you are left with a very tasty vinegar. It smells wonderful! This also works well with peach peelings.Put your vinegar in a clean jar and store it in the refrigerator, or can it in quarts. I like this stuff for cooking and salad dressings, it should not be used for pickling or canning as the acidity is not consistent and may not be strong enough.So now I have to make a BIG decision. I have way too many cockerels and have not been able to give them away. It had gotten to the point that they were beginning to injure the hens so I removed all but two of them from the hen house and penned them up. What do you do with unwanted cockerels? I may have to make the decision to send them off to freezer camp :'(
It is so hard to be the direct cause of a creatures death. No way I can do it myself, Rob has no problem butchering them, but I am still the one who makes the final decision.

Boogie and I will be off tomorrow to meet with my best friend from Grade School, whom I have not seen in over 30 years. (Gotta love Facebook!)
In the mean time, if anybody wants any cockerels...........

Monday, October 4, 2010

Arboretum, last Grandpa visit of the season :(

Boogie and I were able to go for one last visit with Grandpa before he heads back down south. Yes, the go cart actually made the trip again, this time on much needed shiny new tires.

My sister and her two girls also made trip up from Chicago, so all the Grandchildren were there.We wanted to get a picture of the four of them, but The Boogie-monster was not at all co-operative! Holding still is not his strong suit!We stopped at a small arboretum in Delavan, Wisconsin and helped the youngest niece collect leaves for school project. This tree is labeled as the 'Robin Hood Tree' and is purported to have been grown from a seed of a columnar Oak from Sherwood Forest.
Then we headed back to the cabin to chill for a while before heading home.
I was finally able to snap this picture of Grandpa with all his Grandchildren, though Boogie was still not willing to hold still for long.
I know where he gets all his energy though, he sucks it all out of me!