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Ranger Cookies & Pests

snakeskinThis last week seems to have been the invasion of the ‘pests’ – some more undesirable than others.

 

First surprise was when I found a discarded snake skin in one of the bushes in the front yard. It was intertwined in the branches . . . would guess to help in the shedding process?  Definitely not what I like to see in the yard.

 

Next had a lizard sleeping on the gate to the back porch. Little guy was all snuggled up on the top wire rail.  Tried taking a picture,  but unfortunately,  it didn’t turn out, so, have Bear in front of gate.

 

backwiregateHave to think that like a bird, whose feet tighten on a branch when they are sleeping, lizards are similar in that he had a death-grip on the wire . . . front and back legs totally wrapped around the wire.   Had his eyes shut and didn’t move even when I got really close.  He was gone in the morning and haven’t seen him sleeping there again.

 

Last critter to make themselves at home was the little tree frog that frequents the back porch. When I let Bear out  last night,  spied the little tree frog.  He had attached himself to lower portion of the back door – inside the house !!  Got the mop and shooed him out before Bear caught sight of him.  They are very good at jumping so it took a few tries to get him out.  Seemed he was more interested in coming in than going out.  I am soooo glad he did not jump and land on me.

 

Finally, we are still having trouble with cutter ants. You may remember reading how they stripped my garden a couple of years back, carrying off the black-eyed peas? The ants  don’t seem to be inside the yard this year,  but outside.  One of the crape myrtle trees has basically been stripped . . . they love the blooms and when cutterant_anithe blooms are gone, leaves are next.

 

So guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a long trail next to the drive – about an inch wide. But I was surprised to see that not only had they cleared out all  the grass along the path they take, but also had managed to clear their way through  a substantial pile of hay that was in their way.  Almost looked like a little tunnel.  They’re so destructive, but got to give ’em credit for effort.

 

Always looking for helpful hints, so when I read how to keep cookies moist thought it might be useful . . . especially if you want to ship or keep cookies longer than normal.  Who does that???

 

Seems the way to accomplish this is to use a flour tortilla between the layers of cookies that are kept in an air-tight container.  Makes sense,  tortillas are moist like bread but being flat take up very little room.  To see the whole article, visit this link.

sugaralmondcookies_2016

 

While there are some cookies you want crunchy, my two favorite ‘soft’ cookies recipes are for ‘Almond’ Sugar Cookies (get recipe here)  and Ranger Cookies or as some people call them – Cowboy Cookies.

 

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Ranger Cookies

(Makes 4 dozen)

Ingredientsrangercookie

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 six-ounce package of chocolate chips (or butterscotch)

Directions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together. Set aside
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars
  3. Add eggs to creamed butter / sugar beating until smooth
  4. Add the flour mixture gradually to the creamed ingredients
  5. Add vanilla, rolled oats and chocolate chips
  6. Drop by spoonful’s on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes
  7. Remove, cool and store in air-tight container.

 

Enjoy!

 

Awesome x 2

As mentioned, we’ve been super busy with lots of appointments these past days.    Both . . . David & Bear.    But good news,  all reports were ‘awesome’ . . . and David doesn’mailboxt have to go back to the doctor until November.  If you only knew where we’d been a couple of years back, you’d know how far we’ve come, and  how much these good  reports mean to us.  We are so blessed.

 

Full of energy, we tackled a major project this week. Repairing the mail box.  Don’t know if I mentioned but several months back a not-so-nice person, went along the road smashing all the mail boxes.  Ours included. We ended up having to buy a new box and had precariously attached it to the old post left standing.  This left the whole thing  a wee bit wobbly.  So this week, we took it on ourselves to replace the post with a  stand.

 

Turned out to be a three-day project. Poured the concrete the first day;  built the cedar stand second day; and assembled it all on third day.  Whew !!!!

 

Ended up having to cart concrete, water, saws, bricks, screws, wood, and a what seemed like a ton of other stuff down to the gate.   Since we’d pre-built most of it at the garage,  we only had to piece it together with screws and nails after unloading it when it came time to assemble.  David likes screws, I like nails.  To me so much easier.  Couple of whacks and you’re done !  🙂

 

Think it turned out pretty nice. We’re going to add some reflectors, numbers and corner trim next – then think we can say it is finished.

 

dirtspikeWaiting for that first fall cool snap, but looks like we’re going to have to wait a little longer according to the weather report last night.   We continue to walk early while it is cool . . . albeit wet.  And,  while the walk is the same each day,  it seems we continue to see new and unusual things along the way.

 

Such was the case with the dirt spike we saw the other day. Don’t know what else to call it.   Have no idea what it was, but it was so unusual and we’d not seen anything like it before.   Must have been about three inches tall, very thin only about 1/2 inch at the base but perfectly shaped.  Only saw a couple of them that one day but we keep looking for more.  I’m kinda thinking it could have been a ‘root sprout’ of some tree or more likely weed.

 

 

 

Haven’t been doing a lot of what I call ‘cooking from scratch’  since we’ve been so busy with appointments – and mail box project.   And, we still have more next week.  Appointments that is.     So, this is when I love having lots of stuff in the freezer to fall back on. Like the Penne Casserole,  BBQ’d beef, pork and sausages for sandwiches and stuffed potatoes, and David’s all time favorite . . . meat loaf!   I think I could serve him meat loaf every day and he’d love it.

 

Note:  The meat loaf I make is super simple, about 2 lbs. ground beef, 1 cup rolled oats (uncooked), 1/2 TBSP dried chopped onion, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 egg, 4 crackers (crushed) & water as needed to hold everything together.  Mix everything together really well  (adding water as needed);   form into loaf;  bake at 350 degrees until done.  About 5 minutes before removing from the oven, I mix 1/2 cup ketchup and 1/2 cup taco sauce (your favorite)  together and pour over the top.  Return to oven to finish baking.  Gives it a nice flavor – you can leave off if you don’t like tomatoes.  You already know this freezes well.  After it cools, just slice in serving size portions,  wrap and freeze.

garlicchives_2016

 

Just had to include this picture of my garlic chives.   I like using them in various dishes and  I’ve had them for over 20 years !!!   Literally.   Every year they bloom but this year the blossom stems seem unusually long with some of them being over 3 feet long.

 

 

Do have to give kudos to Tractor Supply. Went there the other day to get dog food and treats since we’d received a coupon via email for 10% off total  purchase.  BUT, when we went to check out seems the coupon – which I’d just received the day before – was expired!!

 

tractorsupply_2016Don’t mind saying, was a little put out in spite of the fact that we needed the items.   Came home and sent them an email voicing my displeasure. ( I’ve reached the age where I don’t mind complaining to people anymore ) and was very surprised to receive a phone call from a company rep.  Seems their IT people had sent out the emails with the wrong dates, so they very nicely sent us a gift card to use the next time we shop.   Guess  Bear will be eating well – unless David sees a gadget he needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best New ‘Guy’ Gadget

bearatpondbearwithleaves

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If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was already October.

 

The front yard is  covered in leaves.   Went out Sunday afternoon and did a ‘little’ raking.   It was incredible how many leaves had fallen.  At this rate, the tree should be bare in a couple of weeks.

 

And you can see, that our Bear-doggie still enjoys drinking from his personal fountain.  The goldfish don’t seem to mind.

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Raked the somewhat wet leaves (makes raking easier)  into a long pile since I couldn’t push them any higher. Now all I have to do is move  them to the burn pile outside the fence.  Should take a few days to get that done.   Only good thing about this is that is maybe I’ll get finished with raking a little earlier this year.

 

mushrooms1

 

In addition to the leaves, there seems to be an over abundance of mushrooms. They are everywhere thanks to all the rain we’ve been getting.  Some of them I’ve not seen before and found a patch of them growing on a clump of pine needles.  On second thought, maybe they were just poking through??

 

mushrooms2

 

dentastixPretty uneventful week for us. Did take Bear to visit the Tractor Supply, his favorite store as you know.    Time to stock up on chow and grab a bag of treats.  He likes the Dentastix.  Didn’t know until comparing prices that they can be purchased on Amazon at a significantly lower price.  But then we find almost everything we want is less expensive on Amazon  . . . don’t like the word ‘cheaper’ although it fits, to my brain  seems to imply poor quality.

 

Signed up to have the Dentastix delivered monthly and now instead of paying over $14.00 for a box of 32 at the store we get them for under $8.00 for a box of 32 on Amazon by signing up for the monthly subscription.   Saving $6.00 a month makes me smile  🙂  and the monthly delivery will save me having to make a trip just so he doesn’t run out.

 

May be doing some of my Christmas shopping early this year. Saw the most ingenious gadget this weekend.  For those that have men in their life that like to work with wood,  build, repair or just putter –  this little Lumber Lockgadget makes cutting a piece of wood simple.  And, if you get two of them you can have a bench – albeit a little short.

 

trivice_wood

 

In addition to the Lumber Lock for wood, there is also a companion gadget (Tri Vise) for cutting pipe or round bits of wood, metal, PVC, etc. Another great idea !

 

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trivice_pipe

 

We’ve got lots of doctor appointments next few weeks – Sigh, so think I’ll be looking for some new, easy recipes to have on hand.  If I find anything extra-special, I’ll be sure to share !

 

Netflix – Secret Category Codes

littlebarnroofTaking advantage of the sunshine today to get a few chores outside done. Mainly, laundry.  I prefer to hang my clothes outside if at all possible but all of the rain has put me way behind.  So  got up early to try and get a couple of loads finished before the afternoon rains hit.  May just make it.  (Hear it’s supposed to get cooler too.)

 

Next chore, which I actually did late yesterday afternoon, was to replace a couple of the shingles that had slid down off the little red barn. We were concerned that a leak might develop.   Truly, have to say that was more of a major project since I DO NOT like getting more than 3 steps up on a ladder.  And climbing around on the roof is not my idea of fun.   Find it amazing the things one can do when they have no choice.

 

Fortunately, there is a flat roof covering the area between what we call the ‘little barn’ and the garage so I had a good, flat surface to work from – once I got up there. Took all my repair stuff with me in a bag and when on the access portion of the roof, did a ‘duck walk’ to the spot needing attention.  Felt uncomfortable standing up walking around.

 

flexsealUsed a stapler to put the shingles back then covered them (and the shingle edges) with some Flex Seal Clear . . . like you see on TV.  Once everything was back in place, carefully climbed down.  Haven’t any idea what Bear thought was going on but the whole time I was up there, he was going nuts barking and jumping around the back yard.

 

You’ve heard the old question, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?’ Well, in my opinion, the answer would be ‘yes’.  We were taking one of our daily walks and heard a strange sound coming from the woods.  Started out soft and slow, increasing in volume and speed.  Had us stopped in our tracks . . . just knew some sort of animal was going to come barreling at us any minute.  But, when we heard a large crack,  had to think that a dead tree fell.   We never did see anything – the woods are too thick.  Maybe this fall when all the leaves are gone we can see which tree fell – not that it makes any difference at all.

 

feralhogTaking a break on the deck early one evening, saw what we thought was a black dog on the drive. Oh, but wait, here come more black dogs.  Not.   It was a whole pack (or whatever they call a bunch of hogs)  running out of the woods across the property.  From what we could see,  looked like a couple of adults and a whole slew of little ones.  Must have twenty or so in total.    Hope they keep going.  The amount of damage these feral hogs  can do to a property is staggering.

 

 

 

Bread Tip:

You may find that this works for you . . . or maybe not since I’ve only tried it once with this particular type of bread. Had bought quite a few loaves of the Miss Claudia’s French bread –  David loves it –  and froze it.  However, the last time I baked it, seemed to have come out on the dry side and we didn’t really enjoy it.    So this week when I wanted to bake some to go with our spaghetti, did something different.  Thought to myself, since it was dry maybe it needed moisture  i.e., water?

 

missclaudiabread

 

To fix this, put the defrosted bread loaves under running water. Guess you could say I rinsed them off.  Baked them as usual, and to my surprise, they came out  completely tender and delicious.  No hard ends and no dried out center.  Tasted like fresh bread that hadn’t been frozen.    This will definitely be my way to prepare them in the future.

 

Secret Categories – Netflix

netflixYou may have already heard that Netflix has hidden categories that you can search for movies and TV shows by genre identification number. (News to me)     Know when we’re scrolling through the titles  seems like there should be more . . . right?  Well this link will take you to the list of secret categories   http://netflixcodes.me/.

 

From there, you can click on various topics – some even have sub-categories – and peruse many more movies and tv shows available.    Obviously, it goes without saying that you need to have a Netflix account to do this.  Know I’ll be spending some time searching for titles we might like to add to our list.

 

For a print out of all the categories along with their identification number , visit this link: http://mashable.com/2016/01/11/netflix-search-codes/#byuUNU1OiZqk

 

Once you have the id number, you can easily replace it in the address line using this address to search:   https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/1365 – where the 1365 would be replaced with the code you get from the link above.  Seems like it would be easier and I love easy !

 

Torte Cake & Pencil Cake Recipes

colecuthay2

 

We have the best neighbors in the country. Our neighbor’s son came a couple of days ago and cut all our hay.  He did such a beautiful job, looked like artwork in the field with all the swirls and curves.

 

Hear we’re supposed to get rain next few days – that will be a nice change as it is also going to drop the temperatures into the high 80’s. We’ve been over 100 all week.  In fact, at 6pm yesterday it was 103.  That’s too much even for this Texan.

 

Now, for those recipes. Haven’t made either one, but they do look like they would be delicious . . . especially the torte one.  Of course, I would do some of it differently. . .  like put frosting as the top layer instead of the pudding.

 

Both of these are from a Duncan Hines (DH) recipe booklet; so all you need do is get a couple of cake mixes plus a few extras and you’ll have two eye-catching cakes.

Ribbon Torte

(12-16 servings)

 

torteIngredients

  • 1 package DH Deluxe Fudge Marble Cake Mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil (or butter)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package (4-serving size)chocolate instant pudding

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease & flour two 8 x 1-1/2 –  or  – 9 x 1-1/2 round pans
  3. Combine dry cake mix, eggs, oil and water in large bowl. Mix as directed on package but DO NOT add contents of small package.
  4. Turn half of batter (about 2-1/2 cups) into one pan
  5. Blend contents of small packet into remaining batter and turn into other pan
  6. Bake and cool layers as directed on package
  7. Chill cooled layers to make splitting easier. Split into thin layers **
  8. Whip cream until stiff. Blend in milk and pudding mix.  Let sit 1 minute.
  9. Place one chocolate layer on plate; spread 1/4 pudding mixture over layer. Top with remaining layers, alternating light and dark layers and spreading the pudding mixture between each layer.
  10. Frost top layer with pudding mixture.
  11. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

** Cut tops off before splitting to level each cake. This will make the cake easier to ‘stack’.

 

For those with little ones returning to school, this cake looks like it would be fun to make.

Pencil Cake

pencilcake(12-16 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 package DH cake mix (any flavor)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil (or butter)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy creamer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Food coloring – red and yellow
  • Chocolate jimmies

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan
  2. Combine dry cake mix, eggs and amount of water & oil as directed on package
  3. Pour batter into pan and bake according to package directions
  4. Allow cake to cool

pencilcake_2Frosting

  1. Combine confectioners’ sugar, shortening, non-dairy creamer, water, vanilla and salt in large mixing bowl.
  2. Beat frosting for 3 minutes at medium speed. Increase to high speed and beat 5 minutes more.
  3. Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or water to thin frosting as needed.
  4. Measure small amount of frosting and tint pink with red food color.
  5. Color remaining frosting with yellow food color.

Decorating

  1. Cut cooled cake as shown in diagram
  2. Arrange in pencil shape on large plate or platter
  3. Spread pink frosting on cake for eraser at one end and for wood at other end
  4. Spread yellow frosting over remaining cake
  5. Decorate with chocolate jimmies for pencil tip and eraser band.