Sunday, March 29, 2015

Take Five of the Week: Part 2

Week Two!  This is some kind of record for me!
[As a note, I was ready to post this post last night; however, I had trouble with my PC (see Number 1 below).  I inadvertently turned off the "mouse" and couldn't operate the damn computer.  We call that user error.  The guys in IT likely have a different name for it.]

This is what I have this week.....

Number 1: Learned: Mac vs PC.  I always used a PC until I came to SBU.  I had the option of getting a Mac and I did.  Twice.  Each time I had problems I never had with a PC.  In fact, the problems were so odd and ridiculous that I swore I would never get another Mac. I was the only one I knew who had this trouble until I talked to a couple of others.  Macs are highly overrated.  PC all the way.  Love my PC.

Number 2: Experienced:  It's not that kind of party.  I got a mammogram this week.  Early detection is key to stopping cancer in its tracks.  For those who haven't had a mammogram (and some who have I guess), they give you stickers to put on your nipples.  It helps to identify the nipples in the films (or so they tell you). Please remember to remove your nipple stickers before leaving the facility.  I don't know about your place of employment, but SBU is not a nipple-sticker kinda place.  It's not that kind of party.  They are also uncomfortable if you forget about that.  And that can happen in the race to get your shirt back on, stupid as that sounds.

Number 3: Experienced.  Once you buy it I don't care where you rub it.  I participated in Springtime in the Country this weekend.  I debuted my new name (Wild Mountain Botanicals), new logo and new look (see photo below of my hand and body lotion).  Same great products!  I was reminded of a show I did in North Carolina several years ago. Our Skin Repair Cream works really well for people who struggle with eczema.  A woman came up after reading our sign (Got eczema? See us.)  She encouraged her husband/brother (I don't remember which he was - husband or brother).  She told him that he needed to get the cream.  His response?  "Can I rub it on my balls?"  My initial thought was, "Dude, that's not eczema."  But I said "Once you buy it I don't care where you rub it."  His sister/wife was mortified and apologized up and down.  It gave me a story to share with my friends.

Number 4: Learned:  White Rabbit Design and Insty-Prints rock.  I mentioned that I have a new logo and look.  I also have wonderful new labels.  Thanks so much to Katharine Smith of White Rabbit Design and Joyce DeLong of Insty-Prints.  They were able to design and print labels for me to make my products shine.  Like Wild Mountain Organics on Facebook for more photos and other info.

This is the lotion with the new logo, look and labels.

Number 5: Learned: Perhaps you shouldn't use flowers to choose paint colors.  Last week I mentioned that I discovered power sander love.  This week I am not sure if the color works in the living room.  I have a picture below of the before and after of the hutch I refinished.  I don't think Jamie likes it.  When the sun goes down, it looks pink in our room rather than the Valspar La Fonda Spanish Dancer that it is.

Before sanding and refinishing.

After photo against the wall. See how the colors seem different?
This is an evening photo.

After sanding and repainting.  This is a daytime photo.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Take Five of the Week: Part I

I have seen people who have posted three or five things they are thankful for.  I thought, hey, I can do something like that with a twist.  I would like to start posting five things I have learned, have experienced, don't want to do, accomplished, whatever.  I'll call it Take Five of the week.

Number 1: Learned: I don't dislike and fear all power tools.  I don't care for tools that may kill me like power saws, power drills, and nail guns.  I do like power sanders.  I sanded and repainted a console table.  Jamie wasn't exactly thrilled with the color I chose, but I think he's getting into it now that we are putting the new hardware on the cabinet doors and drawers.  Picture to come in the next post.

Number 2: Learned: The crockpot is the best kitchen tool.  At the end of the weekend, take everything out of your refrigerator (within reason) and toss it in the crockpot.  Delicious!  A few months ago I wrote about making the best pork dish in the crockpot.  I used this method.  Today I took a chicken dish and added the rest of my leftovers.  Delicious.

Number 3: Experienced: You can't redo a recipe if you use the above step. I have no idea how to redo the pork recipe.  We would love to do that.  This recipe today was pretty good.  Won't be able to repeat it - at least not easily.

Number 4: Don't:  Don't shite up the loo and then close the door without turning on the fan.  Dude, it doesn't dissipate.  The smell is still there hours later.  It does beg the question - if you fart in a jar, can  you capture the smell?  Torture people with it later?  Hmmm.

Number 5: Experienced: Flowers make everything better.  Flowers at the dreary end of winter especially so.  We have been getting flowers from Tops (not highbrow, but still awesome) for several weeks.  They make the house feel like spring even though it's not spring outside.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Living Room

I was looking through my blog posts and realize that it's a bit of a cluster f.....  My intention was to highlight some of the work we are doing and have done on our house.  I have after pictures before the before pictures and they are several posts apart.

Let me add some before and after together.  Imagine....

Before we ripped out the carpet, filled the shelves
and redid the walls and window treatments.

After with wood floors, no panelling on the walls,
new window treatments, new furniture.

Living room with limited view of hallway.

Tap that Tree

Since we live on a farm, it seems fitting that we tap some maple trees.  People make syrup from that delicious maple sap!  It's surprisingly easy to tap the tree.

We decided to tap just one tree since we didn't want the project to get unruly right out of the gate.  Now we think we may need at least two trees.

Tractor Supply had the buckets and taps.  We figured it out and poured our first sap through cheesecloth into a food grade bucket. It's sitting outside in the cool weather waiting to be processed into syrup.

Let's hope this work!  More word when we get somewhere.  More photos as we make our first attempt.  This should be fun.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tagine Dreams

I had been looking for a tagine for some time.  I had never used one, but had heard it was a wonderful cooking vessel.  I found a store on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo what sells them along with olive oils and other Moroccan treasures.

Not only are they wonderful "steamers," they are quite lovely.  I can't hide mine in the drawer because it's much too beautiful.

The tagine on the stove.

Beef stew cooked in the tagine.

I am used to cooking on a gas stove and cannot wait to get rid of the electric stove that came with the house.  That said, I was afraid to try cooking on the stovetop.  You may also cook in the oven using the tagine.

Low heat is all it takes and about an hour later you have a fabulous stew.  Our initial stew looks great, but I would have chosen a better cut of meat.  Next time we will try chicken thighs.

Oh, the smells.  And the little pipe of steam coming out the hole in the top.  This was just cool to watch.  The idea is that it is also a serving platter so you can take it from stove to table.

Christmas at the Homestead

Looking through recent posts it occurred to me that I didn't post any of the photos from Christmas.  I thought I had, then I remembered that I posted them to Instagram.

Our plan is to invite Christmas into every room in the house but we haven't gotten that far yet.  I will tell you that we raided Lowes' after Christmas sale and bought ornaments and enough lights to do the town of Franklinville next year.  Let's see how they get used.

We also had a great time finding vintage ornaments at our local antique stores.  Look for them next year also.

This year we decorated our living room.  We got our tree from our usual tree farm - Almeter's in Cowlesville/Strykersville.  He has a wonderful selection and the atmosphere is great.  If you choose the right weekend you will be wandering about in freshly fallen snow on acreage with a marvelous view.

My cousin Clay has made wooden ornaments for the family for years.  Each year I look forward to his newest creation.  I have Santa's head and the drummer boy (boy is harder to see).  One year we plan to have a tree with just the wooden ornaments.

Ages ago when HGTV had how-to shows, I saw them make this Christmas tree.  All you have to do is get a Christmas-themed pot, some pillow/decorative rope and a conical styrofoam piece that fits the pot.  Put glue on the styrofoam base and then pipe the rope around.  To store it, I just take the "tree" out of the pot.  The other trees are from dollar-type stores or Rite-Aid.

The mantle of the fireplace had two small trees, lights and pine garland.  You can see the shelves decorated to the right and left of the mantle.

My "sister-in-law," Jennifer Stewart, makes these wonderful little ornaments.  This is my naked snowman. Love him!

I love to collect trees. The trees in this photo and the one below came from the Marilla General Store.  If you've not shopped here, it's worth the trip to Marilla.  Fun country, general store with great gift items and home decor.

Nothing says Country Christmas like a cock ornament.  Thanks, Nancy!

Rustic deer that I could keep out year round, but I like him at the holidays.  Found him at the gift shop in Machias.  They also have some neat finds.

Snowmen and trees.  Love them all at the holidays.

Uncle Jim left several ornaments behind.  A couple of them were farm-themed, so we had to hang the John Deere.  Hey, in the country, Santa drives a tractor.

Our tree in the perfect corner.

Monday, December 29, 2014


I love leftovers.  Jamie, not so much.  I love to challenge myself with what to do with leftovers.  We made a wonderful pork tenderloin for our day after Christmas dinner.  We have plenty of pork leftover and had plenty of roasted veggies.  I thought I'd make a stew.  I tossed the leftover turkey broth which we made and froze a year or so ago with a leftover turkey carcass from some dinner.  Then I added the cut up pork loin, the roasted veggies and a can of diced tomatoes.  I also tossed in some rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme and a couple of bay leaves.

Holy hell!  That was the best stew we've ever made in the crock pot!  I told Jamie we need to remember what the hell we did and do that exactly.  Of course, that won't be possible given that we just tossed it all together from leftovers.  Heck, I don't know if I remember what spices we put on the pork loin and roasted veggies to get that taste!

But we will try.....

It is just as delicious the next day!

Reno over Christmas

Many people celebrate Christmas with family and friends.  Well, we've moved far enough away that it takes effort to get to family and friends.  Also, we were having people over the day after for dinner.  Christmas was our free day.

So we did some home remodeling projects.

We had painted the hallway earlier in the year.  We wanted to mimic the color we found when we drove by wheat fields.  We knew we could find "amber waves of something" in Lowes or Home Depot.  Come on - that had to be a color.  We sure did.  Jamie didn't like it.  He didn't think I would like it.  I lived with it for a few months and decided I did not like it.  If this color was to mimic a field of grain, we were driving my different fields.  It sure didn't do that.

We found a different color that was a bit more brown.  Jamie called it mushroom.  Official name:  Valspar Hotel St. Francis Fawn.

Yes, I did find it ironic that I chose a color with St. Francis in the name since I do work at the first Franciscan University in the U.S. - St. Bonaventure.  I digress.

Also, Black Friday has become a shopping day for my good friend and me.  We don't hit the normal outlets, but choose local shops.  We always go to Cone Five Pottery on Hertel Ave. in Buffalo.  They have wonderful things and we go ape-shit crazy each year. I bought these wonderful wall vases to add to the hallway.  Here is a pic of them before and after the wall painting.  Please note that we also painted the French doors to the front room!  They are the usual trim color - Snowbank.  Hey, we didn't have a white Christmas, but we were painting with Snowbank so all is right with the world.
Wall vases with new wall color.
Wall vases with the original
Amber Waves wall color

French doors painted with doorknobs.  We will get to the trim soon enough.
French doors from the dining room.  We will get to the wall trim.  Baby steps.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto

What do you do with fall veggies?  My nieces grew pumpkins this year - eatin' pumpkins - and they gave us two.  I also had a great butternut squash from the farmer's market.  I cut both up and roasted them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper at 350 for about an hour - about.  I stirred every so often (how's that for vague instruction?)

After the squash was good and soft, I put about a cup in the food processor to mash it up so that I could add it to the risotto.

Then I used a recipe adapted from Cooking Light (link to the specific recipe is not available as I write this - will try to find it and add it later).

4 cups chicken stock/broth
1 cup white wine
1 cup risotto (arborio rice)
1 cup mashed squash (see comments above)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup cheese (I used a combo of parmesan and cheddar because it's what I had and needed to use)

Bring chicken stock to a boil on the stove.  In a skillet, add olive oil, onion and garlic and cook until both soften.  Then add the arborio rice and cook for 1 minute.  Add the white wine and stir until absorbed (not too long).  Then add chicken stock one cup at a time until each cup is absorbed, stirring nearly constantly.  Keep in mind that everyone always says you need to stir risotto constantly.  I do, kinda.  Sometimes I refill my wine glass; sometimes I run to the loo.  The risotto has never failed me.  Don't go watch TV or something.

When the chicken stock has been absorbed, add the mashed squash (butternut squash and pumpkin in this case).  Then add the cheese and salt and pepper (should you want salt and pepper - with the cheese, I don't add as much salt - but I love pepper).

Then serve.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Garden Recipes

What do you do when you have a bumper crop of everything in your garden?  You make stuff!  We had a crap load of wonderful herbs and cabbage, carrots, peppers, carrots, you name it.

Caprese salad done my way.

Coleslaw my way.

Tabouli to take advantage of mint and parsley.

Caprese Salad done my way:
Pick fresh tomatoes from the garden.  In my case I used grape tomatoes and whatever else happened to be there.  If grape tomatoes, cut in half.  If others, cut small enough to be half a grape tomato.
Cut up fresh mozzarella small enough like the tomatoes.
Cut up fresh basil by rolling the leaves and slicing.
Add a bit of olive oil
Add balsamic vinegar

I don't measure any of the above.  I add enough olive oil and vinegar to touch each of the pieces and to taste.  Also add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Stir up and serve.

Coleslaw my way:
This recipe was adapted from Robert Irvine and Bobby Flay of Food Network.  Far be it for me to think I can improve on two wonderful chefs, but I did try.  This recipe is delicious and takes advantage of what you have growing in the garden.
1 head green cabbage
1 head red cabbage
2-4 cups carrots
2-4 cups turnip
1 onion
1 c. mayonaise
1/4 cup champagne or other white wine-type vinegar
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp try mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients from mayo down into the dressing.  Chop all veggies into slaw (some like it very finely chopped, others more like ribbons, if you will).

This recipe was adapted from Food Network.  Adapted is the wrong word.  It was damn near taken completely from Food Network because it's so good.
1 cup bulgar wheat cooked according to package direction (likely with 1 cup water)
1 cup parsley (I use a combination of flat leaf and Italian parsley)
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1 small onion diced
3 tomatoes diced
2 cucumbers diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
The recipe suggests that you seed the cucumber.  I never do.  Everyone in the pool, I say!
Cook bulgar according to package directions.  When finished, add all ingredients through cucumbers.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice.  Add to veggie and bulgar mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit in the refrigerator several hours.  I usually make mine the day before and let it get good and tasty overnight.