Friday, September 28, 2012

Jack Frost...

Frost has come early to the Valley and Natureman was on it knowing that it was time for the potted plants to come inside until at least next May. So when I returned from my trip South, our 'living' space had new visitors...

There are still more to come in but for those who were just saved, their new indoor life has begun in the window line up adjusting. Yep the far left plant is Bird of Paradise, my newest plant and next to it is my 'old' lantana which is in its 11th year here in the Valley! It started out pink and has morphed into more of an orange.

Well I appreciate his life saving savvy, even though they are not quite saved yet - What Natureman didn't realize is I don't just bring them in without some prep whether its spraying them with the garden hose from above and below to remove creepy crawlers from the foliage or dead heading besides giving them a good trim outside since they will be stressed in their new environs.(FYI cut plants back at least 1/3 - 2/3.)

Well, lo and behold we did have some extra visitors brought inside... The other evening Natureman calls me to come look at something. The largest toad I have ever seen had jumped out of one of the pots. He was quickly ushered back outside...

What wasn't ushered outside until the next day was the hibiscus tree that was covered with aphids. Many branches were covered in a white powder and if you looked on the underside of the plant this is what you saw.

SO the plant was pruned, subjected to the hose and sprayed with soapy water too to hopefully save the plant and its new neighbors. Dawn cleans more than just dishes. :)You may wonder why not just buy a new plant next summer, well sentimental reasons as this plant was a housewarming gift seven years ago.

Yes, it'll be messy for awhile as the plants dump alot of their leaves followed by new growth eventually. It's always a challenge to see how long/how many plants we can keep alive through winter. AND it's always fun to get some bloom color during the winter months.

The wash tub herbs will come in next as a sheet can still be thrown on them for right now. I just have to remember to uncover them in the mornings. Then we will move the tubs inside and those herbs will be cut fresh inside as long as possible. AND when I get tired of watering/ sweeping up dried leaves,they will be harvested.
It's more housework but definitely worth it as all these plants will be the only winter green we'll be seeing for many moons right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oh no! They're back and just plain obnoxious...

It's that time of year again and there has been an explosion....
that is of Boxelder Bugs. These little guys are just bothersome. Not as bad as the biting Japanese ladybugs but obnoxious just the same.

Yesterday when I drove into the garage, hundreds swarmed around me... I was in the Miata with the lid down and they love hanging out on that warm south facing dark green garage door. I guess winter didn't discourage their population growth. We have never experienced this many. When I looked at the garage door mid afternoon, I should have gone for my camera as there were colonies of hundreds huddled together that made the garage door appear to have giant moving spots. Today there wasn't such a multitude but it looked like random adventurers on the garage door. They like their ladybug friends don't have any natural predators to get rid of them either.

Apparently one bug got squished in the garage door as it reclosed and his buds decided that he would be good for dinner. YUM. So once they are dead, I guess they like each a lot.

They really don't cause any harm to their host (the boxelder tree, imagine that! But can be found in other trees and they like chewing on my garden plant leaves...) So it wouldn't be practical to try to treat every tree. But if they decide to move inside, they tend to leave their droppings even if their life span is only a couple days. If you squish them, they stink and are a nuisance as they land on you. Therefore if I find them inside, I pull out the big trusty shop vac and suck them right up. ( Oh BTW I noticed there was an earthy smell in the shop vac and GOOGLING said just place one of those hotel coffee packets and it will absorb smells. SUCCESS)

Anyhow, for the houses's exterior, just take the hose with a forceful spray of water and displace the undesirables, drowning them. Die suckers die. I am thankful we don't have as many ladybugs yet. It could and might still be worse but for right now, we are just going to have to coexist with them in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Jewish Penicillin

There's nothing better for a cold /holiday meal than matzo balls and chicken soup.

I could give you the recipe of making matzo balls from scratch but who would I be kidding... I don't even know anybody who really makes it from scratch. Manischewitz makes a matzo ball and soup mix. The thing is I like a different brand and it is Croyden House. I swear the Matzo balls come out fluffier. I also added a couple extra ingredients although I have to be honest that I couldn't taste a big difference since I have a whopper of a cold. BUT anyhow I also added the following to the eggs,oil and matzo meal.

1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Place the matzoh mixture in the frig and while it is chillin', bring a big pot of water to a boil, add the soup packet.(it's just chicken bouillon)

After the matzoh mixture is chilled, (about 15 minutes) place some olive oil on your palms and take about a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Then drop each ball into the boiling broth, reducing the heat and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.


You can buy a stewing chicken which costs more/ any type of chicken/ parts...Reality is that you are going to cook it to death /til it falls off the bone.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the following:

1 1/2 kilo chicken parts: bones, wings, thighs, feet, gizzards, hearts, skin in any ratio (not the liver)
2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, broken into coarse pieces
1 large onion, peeled, cut into quarters
2 celery stalks, cut into quarters
1 medium parsnip, washed, unpeeled, cut into three pieces (or parsley root)
6-8 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, whole
4 sprigs fresh thyme, whole or 2 tsp dry thyme
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn
when I have a 'parsnip' (peel and chop like you would carrots)

Turn the heat down and let simmer for at least 4 hours.

Many strain all the ingredients out to have a clear broth but I love my veggies. So after skimming off the fat,and adjusting salt. I remove the chicken bones and onion pieces and ladle out the soup adding a matzoh ball and some of its broth or two.

Ess und geh gesund... Eat and be healthy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Harvestfest, a neighborhood street fair in Arkansas is definitely not a whole lot different than one in the country in Wisconsin. Temps might be the biggest difference. I melted as I strolled from booth to booth grabbing some shade at the dog show and the music stage on both ends of Hillcrest's Harvestfest.
There are similarities in the fests such as people bringing their pets. Now granted there was a pet competition. But it was too dang HOT to subject the pooches to being dressed up and having to endure the multitude of people.

I guess this particular fest has been growing since its inception 6 years ago as more vendors have joined the happening and it's another excuse for the neighborhood to get together.
Activities include face painting for the kiddies, a cheese dip contest which for $2 you can taste test and vote for all the entries AND you can even bring your paper to be shredded and recycled. I was asked if I wanted my blood pressure taken. That was a big 'NO' since it wouldn't have been such a good idea since I had just left my parents after apparently upsetting them. OOPS.

People watching's by far the best activity. There were some real interesting outfits.

It's the weirdest thing that the result of all this de-cluttering at my folks has left me with absolutely no desire to shop. Shockeroo.

OK,I did find one little thing for my friends Chris and Jim for their Halloween collection. My big purchase of the DAY... Now how cute is this bottle stopper ?

THANK goodness for the directional signs...although it would have been nice if they had included where I had parked. Well it wasn't such an enormous area to find the side alley I had walked from my parking space. I had just enough energy to walk the couple of blocks back and continue with a few more errands before collapsing...

Monday, September 24, 2012


OK now usually we think of the women as being the nuturers but I have to give a big shout out to my male hosts during my recent trip to Arkansas. Due to my folks' new sleep patterns, I stayed with others. We could call it 'Couchsurfing' with people you know. They were all so kind and gracious to house me, the Zombie, after long days at my folks' home helping declutter.

My overnights were divided into 3 homestays. The first was with my highschool friend Chris and her husband Jim. Jim would graciously hand me a glass of wine as I plopped down on the sofa. I slept really well... Thank you Jim. 5 * rating.

The next great lodging was provided by my Scout buddie Lou Ann and her hubbie Troy. Troy 's booming voice would fill the early morning hours as he'd yell from the hallway " Let's get a movin' Ladies, breakfast is being served." He'd hand over a cup of coffee as I descended onto the breakfast bar stool. 5 * rating.

My third homestay was at my brother's whose house was occupied earlier in the week with my brother Keith and one of his boys, Noah and my two kids, Lori and Steven. I descended upon Leawood when Lori left on Thursday. In between lots of schlepping to Becky's tennis games Marc provided lots of sustenance. They have stuff I never get at home- 5 * ( great junk food too.)

Then there's the man who has even a bigger job now having to become the main nuturer for my Mom with her limited vision, my Dad. They will celebrate 60 years of marriage this December and he has had to take on a lot of new responsibilities.

To all the women of these households, Chris, Lou Ann, Terri and Mom, you have all chosen wisely. I also am grateful to return home to the Valley and have my nuturing Natureman awaiting me.

I guess you could say that "We've come a long way Baby..."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Long live the MOTHBALL...or not

I know that you may find this incredulous but I am just too tuckered out to write. The day's projects included bringing down all the folks's winter clothes from the attic and hanging them up outside. Since part of the deal is to filter, some items needed to be thrown in the wash. If an item couldn't come clean, don't worry, it hit the goodbye bag.

AND while those winter belongings were airing, the day's in-between project was clearing out the linen chest. So many linen tablecloths of all sizes. If only those tablecloths could talk!

You know there was the daily trip to the Goodwill dropoff. I think I have met all the employees and we are now on a first name basis.

At the end of the day all those clothesline winter clothes had to come back inside and find a home. Now what happened to that closet space? OY.

I don't know how many people even know what mothball smell is but within that lies the answer of why I got to do so many stairs... Today I made up for missing my exercise classes and I feel it...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Purge baby purge... and feel lighter

I have been spending a lot of time helping Mom de- clutter.

After a week of being in closets getting an extra set of hands was a welcomed relief... No it wasn't this bad that we needed a dumpster like the remodeling neighbors across the street BUT it almost felt this bad... Thank goodness daughter Lori got in the process and could be the ladder climber. The day's project was a catch all tiny bedroom off of the kitchen.

Whenever you have storage space,it is soooo easy to fill it.Take for example how much you can put in just three of the built in shelves.

Picture being able to fill 3 large garbage sacks just with cards. You know cards for every occasion - birthdays, anniversaries, get well, graduations, etc.. and there were invitations cards too. Some dating back to the 50's - classics. Lori helped herself to a few... AND note pads lots of note pads. 2 of these stuffed garbage bags were donated to Goodwill, one full of yellowed envelopes went into the garbage.

The room also houses kitchen overflow appliances and bakeware that 'sat' in a protruding book case at the room's entrance which all now is housed in the built in unit allowing the bookcase to be removed.

Contents from the room's closet included a great find of my GG's (Grandma's) costume jewelry which during a much needed break Lori sifted through making earring pairs and now are part of Lori's collection.

Previous purging added on to Lori's STUFF. But how wonderful that these things have now found a new home and will be heading to Atlanta.

But receiver beware since now they are part of your STUFF...

In reality it's a good feeling to purge. AND purge we did. The purging will continue. Let this be a lesson to you. Unless you are really going to live to 120 Do your children a favor and get rid of it now...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A funny thing happened...

We have been laughing alot... sometimes in the moment, sometimes after. Family get togethers are just like that - So many comedians and sometimes not intentionally.

Don't ever trust a dishwashing crew that is staying in the kitchen too long... don't they look mischievous? BUT that's expected... here's some of the unexpected:

A funny thing happened en route to the Chinese restaurant. Ten minutes into the journey there came an expletive from the back seat as my Dad said ... "I forgot my teeth."

My Mom also has been supplying some really good one liners... and funny thing is that they have to do with her sight / lack of it. It feels good to be able to laugh with her...

A funny thing happened in the theater as the lights rose and we made our way out and Mom declares, " I just wish that they would turn on the lights." You should have seen the people around us look at her.

A funny thing happened one evening when my Dad tells my Mom to go get him a pair of blue socks. She replied: "And how do you think I'm going to find them? I'm blind."

A funny thing happened when my Dad said he had gained 3 pounds... Don't I look better? My Mom without missing a beat says: "You haven't ever looked better."

Heck yeah, We are going to relish these 'Oma'isms.

We even went out to eat as a group on 'Steven' at the Purple Cow. The funny part is that Steven didn't expect us all to go... Ha, ha but how could we pass up purple drinks? Thanks Steven. We had a really good time! Laugh on.

Monday, September 17, 2012

L' Shonah Tova... Tikva tenu

Due to the religious holiday and family time, this blogger will be busy celebrating the New Year the next couple of days, May sweetness and good health fill your year.

All across the world the shofar, ram's horn, will be heard welcoming the New Year. Here the Rabbi made a house call to blow the shofar in case my Mom would not be able to make it to Temple to hear it.

Back with you all on Wednesday.

L'shona Tova Happy New Year!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Going into the closet... rather than coming out

OK, so guess what this picture is. If you guessed wall paper, you are oh so right. Only thing is that I haven't seen this wall paper since I was like 5 years old. It used to cover my folks bedroom walls when we moved in back in the late 50's. I just can't believe they decided paint was a better idea, can you? :) The only thing is that until I removed their top closet shelf of all its goodies, I didn't discover that this original wall paper has remained intact way back in its small upper corner closet wall. And what am I doing in their closet?

Well, today My Mom and I tackled this main bedroom closet... For those of you who may have missed this piece of news, my Mom lost her eyesight this past August. She has spent the past month acclimating to a home she's lived in for some 50 odd years. Her navigation is pretty awesome until she gets to a closet. How do you pick out what to wear much less accessorize? This is where I come in...

Starting first thing in the am, I situated my Mom on a chair next to her bed, grabbed the step ladder and started pulling items from the closet shelves. Hey I have been watching my HGTV as the piles included piles to keep, donate, re-gift , wash and toss . Most of these items were purses/hangbags/ as my Grandmother used to call them POCKETBOOKS. (She hailed from Brooklyn.)
Boy, did these purses bring back memories as I associated some of them with babysitters. Since if I ever saw one of these beauties, I knew the folks were going out.

It wasn't difficult to eliminate the worn/stained/newer ones for which held no personal attachment for me. Every zipper was unzipped, snap unsnapped to empty whatever contents still were housed. I'd describe the contents and then we tended to have a consensus of its fate. Most ended up in the give away bag. Goodwill hit it big today especially in purses.

Get a load of some of these vintage handbags.

We didn't emliminate too much clothing today but we still have more closets to go. AND as Scarlett of 'Gone With the Wind' said so memorably "After all, tomorrow is another day..."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Love a Parade...

There's something about parades that brings out the kid in everybody. Mindoro's Sunday's parade and the Spanferkel celebration was no different. The adults wanted the candy as bad as the kids did. And you know they were going to raid that haul as soon the kids fell asleep...

Here's a sampling of the parade's particpants. Of course there were interests for all the spectators... Princesses from various surrounding towns came were represents.

You can never have too many princesses.
Even Ms Piggy participated. I think she brought those cheese balls. Do you think she wanted to be Ms Congeniality?

And the seniors were there relieving stress with their exercise group.

What's a parade without music? There was at least 3 high school bands...
And this guy never misses a parade...

There were the floats advertising upcoming festivals in other small towns...

And there was every kind of horsepower... including the real thing.

I told you there was something for everyone including local super heroes... These little towns know how to throw a parade besides dishing up great weather to boot...