Thursday, December 18, 2008

FROM OUR NUT HOUSE TO YOURS.......

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY NUTTY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LOOK WHAT THEY FOUND IN OUR ATTIC......

Today Atlanta Wildlife Services came out to the homestead to check out our critter problem...4 guys showed up and began working on the roof........I was impressed that it was a team of four.
We explained the situation to them and they got to work......To our surprise this is what they discovered living up in our attic................


I knew it....I told the husband it sounded like a band of terrorists were trying to take over the house..


They discovered this was the ring leader and general "squirrel troublemaker"........

The "Boss" was no match for this guy......He laughed telling the story of how the Boss got his shotgun the other night in case they broke through the ceiling.....Overheard by the wildlife guys was this hot shot saying...."Was that big guy kidding....I bet he didn't even have Ammo in that thing".....


And then they found the Red Cross had set up shop just in case there were any fatalities when the extraction took place....You know you could break a nail getting in and out of those traps...


I was highly insulted when they found the Squirrels version of 'Top Chef"......I thought I was the only cook in the house......So that's what we've been smelling.....

ofcourse they sleep during the day.....just like the Boss....


They discovered this one who apparently was from the North and heard that we were having cold weather down here....


This was insult to injury......How dare they try to steal my shrine to the Lady in the Harbor..
"Give us your tired..your poor...your huddled squirrels......"

Okay....this one was sunning itself under the skylight in the bedroom.....


The last thing the guys saw was my red convertible going down the driveway.......This was the last straw when I checked my wallet and my B.P. credit card was missing.......I'm hoping this is the last we see of them...but just in case the Wildlife Service has a lifetime guarantee

the squirrel in these pictures is a real grey squirrel that is kept as a pet by a lady in Florida...Who knew they were so photogenic!!
that lovely house is not ours.......boo hoo....

Monday, December 15, 2008

AND THE CRITTER IS............................




We have "flying squirrels" in the house.....now, I know what your thinking...cute little squirrels, kinda like Rocky.........No, these things look like a cross between a squirrel and a bat....I guess he thought he could keep our Moose company...........Wednesday the guy comes back out to extract them from the attic where it seems they have set up shop......the house will also be sealed up from the outside so hopefully they won't be able to get back in......Can you say....."Creepy".....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

HEARING A PIN DROP IN A NITROGLYCERIN FACTORY......


Never a dull moment in this household.....As I was getting ready to go to bed last night the "Boss" decided it was time for a snack...he knows this drives me crazy but being the good wife that I am I complied and went into the kitchen to get him some soup and biscuits...As I was leaving the kitchen to walk into the family room I hear what sounded like the Radio City Rockettes dancing on the ceiling directly above my head....directly above my head would be the location of our hallway outside the bathroom on the second floor of the house....This was loud folks and scared the hell out of me....I stopped in my tracks and start yelling at the husband..."There's an animal in the house, there's an animal in the house"....I knew for sure a herd of "something wild" would soon be running down the staircase to attack us...I immediately got the Boo dog up and into the safeness of our bedroom...I had to do this by luring him with a trail of cookies as he heard nothing and seemed annoyed that I woke him..........Husband gets up and comes to the area of noise.....He declares very matter of factly......"something is out on the deck".....Now, if I have anything at this age that works well it's my hearing....I'm like Aunt Betheny in Christmas Vacation......a bit confused but I hear things no one else can....The noises are getting louder and the scratching is getting more intense and my blood pressure is rising....Not because of impending danger but because the husband is explaining to me how it's impossible for anything to get between the two floors of the house....I felt like I was at a home building seminar at the Home Depot.....He was explaining all about floor joists and beams and stuff and I wasn't buying any of it.......All I knew was if I were to go to bed at some point during the night I would wake up with something eating my face....

So it's now 1:00 a.m. and I'm falling asleep sitting on the couch with my eyes affixed to the ceiling just waiting and husband is telling me his favorite line "Would you just relax"..........In the meantime (and I actually was tempted to get out the camera and take a picture of this for all to see) He is now up on the second floor landing "pantsless" wielding his shotgun....Hey, we live in the South you have to own a shotgun....I envisioned him blasting a hole into the wall and hitting a water pipe....But he was prepared just in case.......Ofcourse he tried to convince me that whatever it was it was more then likely just a small "baby" squirrel that got inside and couldn't find his way out.....At one point we were outside with the big flashlight circling the house looking for holes in the cedar siding, we did have pants on at that point.........He insisted that in order for the critter to be between floors, and not just up in the attic, it had to have come though at mid level.....It was getting very late so I finally gave in and went into bed with my faithful companion at my side for protection.....that would be Boo.....I shut the bedroom door leaving the husband to defend the homestead.........At 5:00 a.m. Boo woke me up to take him out, Boss was sleeping like a baby...........I got up and when I went to leave the bedroom not only was the door closed but the door was locked.....So much for the "Boss" thinking it was just a baby squirrel.......
Sunday Morning Update...................
Waking up this morning I found the bedroom door locked again so I knew the "Beast" was back....After I went to bed last night while husband was watching "The Smoking Gun"...in between car crashes he heard 30 small animals playing football in balled up newspaper up in the rafters.....We're going to have to give the creature a name if he spends one more night....either that or give him a bill.....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

HEY!! LET'S MAKE MORE CANDY...........
















YES.....THESE ARE GOING TO THE VET'S OFFICE TOMORROW.....YOU GOTTA TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE THAT TAKE CARE OF THE BOO.....





Today was the final day of my candy making........on today's schedule was peppermint bark, with both white and dark chocolate...a la' Williams Sonoma....and my famous coconut haystacks.....actually they are only famous among the family members....They are both super simple to make and it takes very little of your time. I spent a about an hour and a half between making it, cooling and packaging it.....

Peppermint Bark.....black and white.
Take 2 boxes of candy canes, break them up inside a zip-lock bag then crush using a heavy rolling pin....
I used on bag of white chocolate disks by Wilton.....you can find this at Michael's....
1 bag of Nestle's dark chocolate chips...
put a sheet of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.
Start with the white chocolate, melt half of the bag in a small bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes....At the 1 min. 30 sec. point take out, stir to start it melting then continue for the other 30 seconds....stir again, it should be very liquid. It you over heat the chocolate it will start to harden and get clumpy....

Stir in about 1/4 of the crushed peppermint into the chocolate and quickly spread it onto the parchment paper in a thin layer........Add about another 1/4 of the peppermint onto the top......Let cool and harden, this happens pretty quickly.....When it's set up, carefully peel it away from the parchment paper and turn it over....Heat half of the dark chocolate the same way until melted.....Spread on top of the underside of the bark..The dark chocolate takes alot longer to harden so you can either put it in the fridge or the freezer at this point.....When it's hardened break it up into rather large pieces.......Repeat with the remaining ingrediants.

Coconut Haystacks.......
These are even easier but does have one tricky step.....
I used a large Hershey's bar 7 oz. size. ....you can also use the milk chocolate disks found at Michael's..again 1 bag.
and 7 oz. bag of Bakers coconut.....I actually used half of a 14 oz. bag, so I'll assume that their small bag is 7oz......
Here's the tricky part.....Heat your oven to 300 degrees.....spread the coconut onto a cookie sheet....and toast until slightly browned....It will start to brown on the edges first so keep an eye on it and use a spatula to turn it in to the center.....It will smoke a bit and you think onions make your eye's tear....what until you get a gander at what toasting coconut will do to you...Just keep checking every few minutes and when it's half toasted and half not take it out of the oven and let it cool.....
Melt half the bag of chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes, stir at the halfway point. Stir again when you take it out.....Stir in half of the coconut....You want just as much coconut as chocolate. You don't want the coconut swimming in the chocolate, you want all the flakes coated. Don't be stingy........using small candy cups, or small cupcake papers, spoon a heaping teaspoon full of the chocolate into the cups and pop in the fridge until hardened......These taste the best at room temperature....repeat with the remaining ingrediants...

Monday, December 8, 2008

MY BOYS............ALL DRESSED UP FOR CHRISTMAS!

I've been enjoying everyone's blog with all their Christmas decorations but noticed that there are no nutcrackers.....So in the spirit of the Holidays I bring you my guys......

Collecting for 38 years these are a few of many.....

Hope you enjoy!!!!












































































































































Friday, December 5, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

DESSERT FOR TWO................



Everynight the Boss asks the question..."Sue, what's for dessert"....after 38 years you run out of ideas....Plus this is just an aperitif before our midnight snack....But an all time favorite is Tapioca pudding with warm blueberry sauce.....So easy, so fast, so fattening! If you have ever made Jello brand Tapioca right out of the box, following their instructions you probably weren't too impressed. This is how I get one box of powder to look like the above picture....and yes, it tastes as good as it looks....
1 box of Jello Tapioca
2 cups of whole milk
1 egg white
sprinkle of nutmeg
1/2 pint of blueberries
2 tablespoons of sugar
a splash of lemon juice
Beat one egg white until it forms a meringue
cook the pudding according to the directions...
Fold the hot pudding into the egg white keeping the egg white in big "puffs"
Sprinkle with a little nutmeg and cool.....this can be served warm (really good) or cold from the fridge.
put the blueberries in a shallow saucepan with the lemon juice and the sugar. Cook on low heat until the berries pop and a sauce forms.....Pour over the pudding, serve with whipped cream.

p.s. For all of you who wonder how "Tiny" got to be the size he is........this should answer all your questions.....................

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

LET'S MAKE CANDY!!









I have been making candy since daughter was in college and her crazy friend Dave got us hooked....Dave started out making chocolate lolly pops and over the years we have taken it one step further.....Candy making is easy, it's fun and you can really impress people who think it's some sort of mystery treat....We started with the basic melt and pour system and I have more molds for every occasion then you can count....I expanded my repertoire years ago when I added coconut haystacks, chocolate covered cherries, lemon white chocolate bark and the Boss's favorite....Butter Nut Toffee....Today I made the toffee....A bit harder then the others but with a little patience (think stirring pudding only a little bit longer) you can make a very impressive gift for someone.....The secret to your success is once again in the packaging......I have seen for sale many a "pop" wrapped up in their little cellophane bags only to be tied shut with curly ribbon....you know that stuff you can curl with a scissor....Not a good choice...The cellophane bags are great and fairly cheap.I always use a gold sticker announcing that it's "Homemade Candy".....to go with the sticker I use gold metallic ribbon...not cut too short and tied in a bow...If a man is getting the candy I use raffia or brown twine....Michael's is a great place to pick up their $1.00 special ribbon on a roll and I use this often. They always have cute patterns like polka dots and stripes....This kicks the visual appeal up a notch...on to the candy process.......


Ingredients......this recipe has been cut in half by me, I think it's easier to work with making just one pound at a time....I just don't move fast enough to make two trays at one time....You will need a candy thermometer which you can get at Target or Walmart, the cheap ones work just as well as the Williams Sonoma expensive ones....Just make sure it has a clip.

1 1/2 cups of chopped, toasted almonds...divided.

3 Hershey's milk chocolate bars or about 1 cup of Merkins candy disks (found at most candy making supply stores....Michael's also sells Wilton candy disks but I'm not crazy about them)

2 sticks of good quality butter (do not use margarine)

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons of water

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Scatter half of the almonds on parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. In a heavy 3 qt. saucepan bring the butter, sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, Stir constantly until the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees, the "hard crack stage". This takes patience and will take about 5 minutes to reach 300. Use a deep saucepan with high sides so the candy thermometer can clip onto the edge of the pan....I always forget to do this, and I find myself stirring with one hand and holding onto the thermometer for dear life trying not to get burnt with the other.....Once it reaches the right temperature remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla...Immediately pour a thin layer of hot toffee over the almonds that you have spread over the baking sheet.


Break up your chocolate if your using candy bars into a microwave proof bowl. Heat for 1 minute 20 seconds, take out and stir...heat at 10 second intervals stirring in between until chocolate is fully melted. Using a flat knife or spatula spread the melted chocolate over the toffee.....Sprinkle the remaining half of the almonds over the chocolate and press lightly with your hands...Let stand until chocolate is firm. You can also put this in the fridge or freezer until set up. Break up into semi-large pieces....Stand back and accept the compliments!!


Note: homemade candy makes a great "favor" for wedding receptions or showers.....When daughter got married I made 300 pieces of coconut haystacks for the men guests. Each getting 6 pieces each. I made them in Georgia and shipped them up packaged in shoe boxes to New York...We wrapped them the night before the wedding and I must say they were a big hit with the gentlemen....For the ladies...daughter is a photographer so we took 4 of her favorite prints from Paris and had them made into note cards....Each lady guest got a box of 12 note cards...3 cards of each of the 4 prints...Everyone seemed to like the personal touch of the gift.....

ZAPPOS.COM.......NOT LONG FOR THIS WORLD.



Don't buy stock in this company........I enjoy shopping online and I adore free shipping and Zappos offers free shipping coming and going.....Oh, you do pay a little more so they actually are adding some shipping costs into the item cost but all and all they have a year return policy and that can't be beat......But.....there is always a but....Last night I ordered the daughter an extra Christmas gift....Excited to find it and excited that it was on sale I was surprised to get back an e-mail saying it would coming "next day air"...for no charge.. Sure enough today at 5:00 up pulls the U.P.S. guy and out flew a very large box. The U.P.S. guy, unlike the Fedex guy, comes up the driveway and with a flick of the wrist flings our packages out the door of the truck landing the box infront of our garage....God forbid he should get out of the truck and bring it up to the front door....Anyhoo, I brought it inside and opened up the box to find...........a pair of leopard skin earrings....I didn't order leopard skin earrings....Not even close. Now lets talk about "cost control"........Zappos should be out of business real soon if they continue their current habits....

1.) they sent an item the size of a pea in a box the size of a small t.v.
2.) they employed two people to inspect, pack and ship the item....and they even had the nerve to put both their names on the packing slip for "quality control" purposes.....
3.) they spent the extra dough to ship overnight.....I didn't ask for overnight, but they claim it was done because I'm a good customer...
4.) they have to go to the expense of having the item picked up and re-routed to the correct owner....
5.) But, and this is a big but..................they don't have the expense of sending me the correct item....Why? they don't have anymore ..............ofcourse.

I think need to put away my credit card and sit out the rest of the holiday shopping season.....
UPDATE ON THE ZAPPOS FRONT.......I just checked my e-mail and Zappos has put a $20.00 credit into my account for a future purchase so kudo's to them for following up and trying to make a bad situation better....thank you Zappos!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

CAMPBELL'S SOUP STEP ASIDE......SUE MADE SCOTCH BROTH!


I was blessed in life with two talents.....Worthless talents, but talents none the less....I can match colors expertly and I can re-produce anything I taste.....I could have been the person that came up with that cookbook that copies all restaurant food and been a Millionaire right now but I missed the boat. This comes in handy when dealing with the Boss because he loves to eat and is usually impressed with my food and he dabbles in Military Miniatures (WWII crap) and every now and then he needs to do touch up work and he's always amazed that I can match the paint color perfectly.....Anyhoo, back to the soup of the day.....

Growing up in Jersey I was a huge fan of Campbell's Scotch Broth soup...It was so thick and hearty, you had to spoon it out of the can because it was so thick and the Mom never added a whole can of water.....maybe 1/4 can...And I got the whole can!! As I've said in a previous post I would eat this with a cream cheese and jelly sandwich....Great taste combo....A number of years ago Campbell's, in what I guess was a cost cutting move, diluted the soup to a watery consistency with very little "stuff" in it. It was poison.....Shortly after.... it was off the market. So last week when I made my Mushroom Barley soup it tasted pretty similar so I thought I would tweak the recipe and go for the good stuff.....I started late last night. I found some cheapy lamb chops (not the good ones) at Publix for only $3.10 for 2 chops. I knew they would need to cook long to be tender......I also knew that the barley needed to sit in the broth to soak up the flavors...This was not going to be a quick cooking process....That's okay, I have all the time in the world.....What to do??? I got out my favorite cooking implement of all time....THE CROCK POT!!! I use the crock pot 3 or 4 times a week ever since I almost burnt down the house back in 1993, I've discussed this event a few months ago and it's too stupid to repeat the story.....I put all the ingredients in the pot, plugged it in and went to bed.....Pretty easy huh? This is how I made it and I have to admit that it is spot on....In fact I think it may be slightly better. If you ever had this soup as a kid you must try this, on a cold day it will hit the spot!!

I sauteed' in olive oil 2 small onions that I diced along with 4 stalks of celery and about 3 carrots peeled and diced small.....The secret ingredient was then added to the mix.....the infamous Rutabaga...I used about 1/2 cup also diced very small. Some salt and fresh ground pepper was added along with about 8 stalks of fresh Thyme.....I never cooked with Thyme before, I'm hesitant to buy fresh herbs because they go bad so quick.....not Thyme....it stays good forever, great stuff and adds great flavor....To all this I added 5 cups of chicken broth. No Martha, I didn't make my own, I'm not that ambitious...In to the crock pot....I lightly browned the lamb chops then threw those in. I then cooked up 1 cup of Barley in 4 cups of water. I covered the pot and reduced the temperature after it started to boil....It cooked for about 30 minutes, stirring often....After draining the Barley it too went into the pot....Lid on, heat on low and off to bed.....

Only bad thing....about four o'clock in the morning I was woken up by either the smell of the soup or the husbands snoring....Whatever, I couldn't fall back to sleep....I got up and tasted the broth....being half asleep I burnt my tongue and the wooden spoon flew out of my hand....Boo opened one eye and looked at me like "Lady, would you go the hell back to bed, your disturbing me." But I was excited, the taste was just as I remembered. I lowered the temperature to "warm" and went back to bed serenaded by a buzz saw.. This morning it was perfection, the barley was all plumped up, the veggies cooked but still intact and the lamb came super tender.........I broke it up with a fork and popped it back into the soup....I let it cool to skim off any excess fat and there is enough to enjoy for days..... I did add a splash of lemon juice because the Boss loves lemon juice in everything and it does kick things up a bit.............I have to say that I think the crock pot was one of the best inventions of the 20th. century....You could spend $7.99 or $179.99 and they all work the same, you could cook roof shingles in it and it would come out like filet mignon....and there's no fear of burning down your house by leaving something cooking on the stove.....Ofcourse, you could have an electrical short in the cord...but hey, as long as it's not my fault!