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Thursday, June 16, 2022

What is BBQ sauce made of?

Another food post? You betcha! I have been craving some BBQ sauce, normally I'd just grab a bottle from the condiments section at the store, I don't eat it enough to warrant keeping a supply at the SkyCastle, it just goes bad before I can finish it... So as I was saying, I normally just grab a bottle from the store and run with it. And by running, I mean I soup it up. I add my own touches to it, adding extra honey is my go-to touch up. 

Since I'm striving to eat healthier, one of the things I'm working to cut out of my "diet" is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I just watched a mini-documentary on YouTube about what a minefield that substance is for your body. Wellllll, no matter what bottle of BBQ sauce I pick up in the store, everyone of them have HFCS as one of the top ingredients, if not the number one ingredient.  Why oh why do the food companies do that to us??? 

I could have gone over to the healthfood store, I'm sure I would have found a healthier bottle of BBQ sauce, I'm also sure it would have been a pricy little bottle, and no guarantees I would have liked it, or worse, if I did really like it, I would have been stuck liking something harder to find and expensive. 
So my next thought, I wonder what BBQ sauce is made from, I'm a pretty good cook, I even make my own mayonnaise (commercial mayo smells like rancid oil to me now), surely I could make BBQ sauce, how hard could it be? 

Sidestory, I didn't tell you before, but I grew up in a family BBQ joint. My uncle Marvin and my dad had the business, I did my tour of duty working there, got pretty good at trimming brisket, I still have the scar on my thumb to prove it. 

I learned a lot about making great smoked meats, but the BBQ sauce, well that was my uncle's secret, I don't know if he ever shared the recipe, he always made it himself. That combined with the fact that we were BBQ snobs, we always said properly cooked meat doesn't need a sauce, you only needed sauce to cover up medeocre BBQ... But if you felt that you wanted a sauce, my uncles BBQ sauce was top notch. 

Back to yesterday, I'm standing in the condiments section of the store, picking up, reading the label, and putting back bottle after bottle of BBQ sauce, I'm sure I picked each bottle twice, hoping the HFCS would vanish from the ingredient list... No such luck. 

I decided to consult chef Google, doing a quick search for homemade BBQ sauce. I didn't need a full recipe, I just needed a guideline, the basics of what goes into BBQ sauce. I read a couple of recipes and had all the information I needed. Turns out BBQ sauce is pretty simple, it's basically a sweetened smoky flavored ketchup, the main ingredient is a can of plain tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce), the plainer, the better, then tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, a few spices, a quick simmer on the stove and voila, almost instant BBQ sauce. 

I was missing liquid smoke, paprika, and a couple of other spices,  but for me, that's part of the fun, the challenge is to make something from what I have on hand or can get now where I am... and one of my challenges is the fact that I'm shopping in a dollar store (the company I work for services dollar stores) and I just don't want to go over to the grocery store. I did find a spice blend that had most of the flavors I needed so I grabbed that too. McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning

Once I got home, I told PB about my idea to make my own BBQ sauce and he couldn't wait to try it. I don't have a recipe for this that I can exactly write down for you, I tend to cook by the seat of my pants, adjusting as I go. I'll do my best to explain my process. 

It started out with a 15oz can of tomato sauce, half a can of tomato paste, I poured in some apple cider vinegar, it was probably around 3/4 of a cup, I think next time I'll add less, it was a tad too vinegery for my tastes, if you like the Kansas City style, you'd love it! I dumped in around a half cup of brown sugar, I wish I had some honey to add, I really love that flavor in BBQ sauce. Next came a generous few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 3-4 tablespoons at least, next a few tablespoons of the powdered spice mix. I mixed this with a whisk in a heavy sauce pan, I brought it to a boil, then let it slow simmer, stirring often for about 20-30 minutes. 

Like a lot of things, the longer you simmer it, especially low and slow, the better it tastes, the raw vinegar taste mellowed out, and everything else had a chance to get friendly with each other. 

By then the breaded chicken strips in the oven were done, I know I mentioned eating healthier, no judging 😀😉😂...  The BBQ sauce turned out very tasty. We have eaten it on several occasions now (several days later), on both chicken strips and smoked sausage. It made enough to mostly fill 2 one quart canning jars, one of which has already been fully consumed. I purchased another can of tomato sauce with the intention of making another batch. 




What will I do differently next time? I'll go easier on the vinegar, perhaps a half cup, I might even measure it LOL, I'll look around to see if I have any honey, I might need to buy another jar, that's something that I don't mind cheaping out on since it's not medicinal or anything like that, it's just for flavor in a sauce that will be consumed in short order. 

Everything else about the BBQ sauce came out great, I'm very happy with my first attempt, and I know it will just get better and better each time I make it, and the best part, no HFCS! 

Have you ever tried making your own BBQ sauce? If so, what is your recipe? Let me know if you try this or already do it, bon Appétit! 




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Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Salad in a jar

Salad in a jar, have you heard about this? The deal is it's supposed to make the salad last longer, and it's prepped ahead of time, making life so much easier. I'm going to be honest, I'm not a big salad eater, it's not that I don't like salad, I in fact love salad, especially if someone else made it, LOL! While I love to cook and bake, I've just never been a big salad maker, it's always been easier and quicker to make a sandwich or make almost anything else, I suspect that is because I didn't grow up eating salad. That was something that was served at a restaurant before the meal, typically at a buffet or some such place. I do remember as an adult there was this restaurant called Souper Salad, it was just that, it had soups and salads, it was buffet style, you paid first, then you went through the line and added whatever salad fixings and soups you wanted, in the amounts you wanted... It felt like eating healthier, but a little green lettuce with tons of really rich salad dressing, creamy soups with lots of crackers, and don't forget the dessert bar, I enjoyed the sweet breads, pumpkin, blueberry, chocolate... I think what I liked best was the fact that someone else did all the prep work, I didn't mind eating the salads I just wasn't into cleaning, cutting, mincing, storing all that hard work afterward.

So today, I tend to just not think about salad, and honestly it's not something I can buy from the dollar stores that I service, the grocery stores where I could get the fixings for salad are closed by the time I get done with my jobs. Another issue I have with salad, I buy it then I don't eat it quick enough, I do like the pre-made salads in the stores, but those are starting to get more and more expensive. When I look at the ingredients and realize I can buy everything I need for just a few dollars, it's hard to justify spending the money on a mere convenience.

Earlier today, I needed to go to town, my truck was just about running on fumes, I knew I wouldn't have enough fuel to go to church on Sunday AND make it back out to town on Monday to go work. Sure enough, my truck complained about half way to town (about a 22 miles one way trip), I was expecting it, I knew I'd make it, just...

Before I left to go to town, I made a shopping list, I needed to keep things on the frugal side, I had things like plain pasta noodles, rice, and salad. I did a quick search on Instagram for summer salads, I needed inspiration, and I found it, lots of it, then I remembered salad in a jar, I searched for that and found a few good ideas. I don't need a "recipe", just some ideas.

I knew I had several cases of Mason jars in the non-functioning storage fridge outside, at least I thought I did, I hadn't looked in there in a long time, but I was fairly confident that the jars were still in there.

I made short work of fresh veggies there, buying what looked best and was a good deal, romaine lettuce, a head of green cabbage, a red onion, I found 2 packages of fresh pico de gallo, no need to buy and chop tomatoes, white onions and peppers, and they were marked down to 99 cents, I bought the 2 they had marked down. I already had 2 cucumbers at home, and everything I needed to make my own salad dressing. 


Once I got home, I found those canning jars, fortunately my memory hadn't failed me... I cleaned the jars and lids, then began to prepare the veg. I chopped the lettuce into one bowl, the cabbage into another bowl, I thinly sliced the red onion, I did a quick blanch with boiling water poured over the onions, it helps take the peppery bite out of the raw onion. I opened one container of the fresh pico de gallo and got that ready, I diced the cucumber... Next I began to pack everything into my jars, pushing everything down firmly as I went. Starting with the cabbage, layering everything else as I went and ended with the lettuce. I decided not to put any meat or salad dressing in the jars, I'll add those when I'm ready to eat the salad. I screwed the lids and rings on the jars.

Right now, my fridge is full of very pretty jars of salad. I'm very interested to see how long these stay fresh, it's supposed to last much longer than just having it in a bowl. I really hate throwing away fresh foods that have gone south. That's one of the reasons why I so rarely buy stuff like this, I'm hoping this will be the start of a beautiful (and healthier) relationship.


This was my final salad that I ate last night. I wanted to make my own salad dressing, I also wanted to make hummus, so hummus won out, it's so easy to make, let me know if you want my recipe. 

Let me know what you think, have you tried this? If so, do you like it? 






All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Waste not, want not...

Everything is costing more and more, fuel where I live is currently close to $5 a gallon, and since everything where I live is far a part in distance, averaging around 20 miles between our towns, it is really making me think a lot about not wasting anything. 

I also am a child of a parent who was born and raised during the Great Depression of the late '20s and early '30s, you'd better believe I was taught all of my life not to waste anything. That goes double for food.

I will admit to occasionally tossing foods that I could have used, but for the most part, I'm pretty frugal when it comes to food. I like cooking and baking from scratch, give me a well stocked old school kitchen and I can put together a pretty good meal.

Today I was going through my fridge and discovered I had some bell peppers and green onions that were going south, they were still good but weren't going to last much longer. The onions were in worst shape, I had put them in a hidden place in my fridge and forgot about them, but it was easy enough to remove the bad layers, I had plenty left to work with.

I diced up the red, yellow, orange and green peppers and chopped the green onions, I sautéed them in a little butter and pink Himalayan sea salt, low and slow, I didn't want to brown them or cook them to a mush, but just until they were getting tender.


I placed them into 2 quart sized zip baggies that I labeled, I flattened them and popped them into the freezer. They will make a nice addition to whatever I choose to add them too in the future, and bonus, I will not have to sautée them again, just put them directly into the dish. I ended up with approximately 2 cups of sautéed veg in total.



Freezer



Now, the green onion roots, most folk just toss those in the trash, not in this house, I have been taking the root ends and planting them in a built in planter on the east side of the SkyCastle in what we like to refer to as the "smoking lounge", a small semi-enclosed room just outside of the living room. I have been doing this for a couple of years now and each summer I have a perpetual source of fresh green onion tops to cook with. All from something that is normally tossed into the trash.

 

 

 

 


I don't generally have any issues with critters messing with the onions, it's too high off the ground for the ground dwelling critters to get to, rodents don't seem to be attracted to them, the only critter that messes with them, typically when I first plant them, are the Towhee birds (Link  Link Link) they seem to be curious about what is in the dirt and will pull them up, they don't eat or damage the onion roots, they just pull them out of the dirt, so when I first plant some I have to cover them for a while, once they start sprouting green shoots, the birds leave them alone after that.

 

 

 

It doesn't take long for the onions to sprout some green tops, they seem to be very happy in their location, anytime I need or want some fresh onion, I cut off some of the green tops from one or more onions, they quickly grow back in just a few days, and I have more than enough in my little onion patch to keep us in fresh onion tops. 

How are you being more frugal now that everything is more expensive? Tell me how you are saving money, reusing things or anything else that is a good tip!


All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Going LED in my truck

Seems I had to change out my headlights, again... Let's go back in time, March of 2015, I had an encounter with an elk cow, did a bit of damage to the front of my truck. PB managed to get everything put back into place, mostly.

Of course after damage like that, unless you are willing to get things professionally repaired ($$$), things are never really back where they belong, and the fact that I drive on unpaved mountain roads, my truck takes a beating every time I drive around my neighborhood. Things vibrate and bounce much more than they did before on the front end. 


I have had to replace my headlights once or twice a year ever since that encounter, regular halogen lights with their spring filiments, they just keep breaking, going out, specifically the passenger side, the bright light on that side blows out over and over, it will last around 6 months, then bam, it stops working. It did it again a few weeks ago, I decided to go with LED bulbs, something with no moving parts. I expected them to be more expensive than the lights I had been using, which weren't cheap, I tended to buy the more expensive lights because I wanted the brightest lights I could get, the better to see the critters with... 

I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of LED lights that were a 1 to 1 replacement for my lights, no need to make any changes to my current system. And they were significantly less expensive that my previous go-to lights. These are for any vehicle that uses the H13 9008 style bulbs, these fit my 2008 Ford F150 perfectly.

 
I just got to put them in this last week, haven't had any real chances to give them a good night-time test. They do light up, are significantly cooler in color, leaning heavily to the blue side of white. I can tell they are brighter than my former headlights, I can also tell that I need to adjust my lights better. Before it  didn't matter as much, but with these very directional lights, it does matter. Another thing I noticed, there seems to be little difference between the dims and brights, much less that my former lights. I have always thought that on some vehicles, as they were driving toward me with their brights on, once they turned off their brights, it didn't seem to go much dimmer, just a pattern change in the lights. Mine do that now. There is definitely a difference in the light pattern as more LEDs are lit, but little change in the actual brightness, meaning the dims are a lot closer in brightness to the brights.

One thing I definitely need to do next is replace the entire headlight fixtures /assembly. These are the ones I'm looking at, they look nice, I like the dark color, and more importantly , the price is right...
 
The ones I purchased right after the elk encounter have served me well but are showing their age, the lenses are scratched and look yellowed, I know you can polish them, and I have, but they are getting to the point where that isn't helping as much. One of the fixtures has a broken piece bouncing around, that little metal dome that covers the end of the light bulb, and no, it isn't on the same side as the bulb that kept going out. For now, it's functioning well enough, once more money comes in, I'll be replacing all of those parts. 

Hope your day and week are going well!!!




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 23, 2022

The calm before the storm

This week is literally the calm before the storm... It's about to be rainy season, something that officially begins late June-early July, but overnight we have been having the promise of rain, I've heard a few sprinkles and seen some lightening flashes, it's supposed to rain later today and I think it's actually going to happen. We really REALLY need this rain, I'm hoping it's just a nice rain and not a gully washer. I do have to go to work in a few hours, it's going to be a long day, I plan on working 2, possibly 3 stores today. The reason I'm working so many stores (typically I spend one day a week in one store) is because of what I have going on the rest of the week...

I have a funeral to attend mid-week, a good friend, someone we have known and loved since moving to our community in 2007. As the music director of my church, I'm involved in the music part of the service, I sat down yesterday after church with the pastor's wife and the family of the deceased to work out the order of service and what songs they want. That was when I realized that I needed to seriously cut my work week short. Fortunately I am able to do that, I have a fairly light week anyhow, I just need to have my boss move one big job to next week, it's no big deal.

The following day (Thursday) we have family coming out for a visit, I'll remain vague about who it is until after they go home. It's going to be an exciting visit though, it's basically going to be a long weekend with them going home on Monday,

My house is getting full, the little SkyCastle, PB's brother has purchased the property to the west of us, he is working on getting his place setup for him to live there. And just recently, PB's grown son moved out here, he is in the process of buying a property out here as well, it's a little farther away but still in the neighborhood. He is converting a cargo trailer into a tiny house, he's been staying in that at the bottom of our property until his property closes. I am so happy to be getting more and more of our family moving out here, I enjoy having them closeby. 

I hope your week is going well, I must get ready for work now, have a blessed week!



All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

I'm a member...

Spring has sprung, it almost feels like summer, getting into the upper 90s during the day, but it will not really be summer until it stays warm overnight. Currently, it still drops down into the upper 40s and 50s during the nighttime. I really love that about where I live, being in the high desert mountains of far west Texas, pretty much no matter how hot it gets during the day, it cools off nicely at night. I keep a long sleeve flannel shirt in my truck year round, I don't have to use it often, but it's nice to have around on those cooler evenings. How is it where you live?

Here's something new I'm doing... Since I live in a very rural area, I have no big stores nearby, the closest town to me is around 20 miles away, and that is a microscopic town, one small grocery store, one dollar store and that's about it. The nearest "big" town is a couple of hours away (at highway speeds), those towns have Walmart, bigger grocery stores and other smaller stores. As a result, I don't go shopping much, I much prefer using delivery/shipping services being offered by some of the bigger retailers.

I of course have the obligatory Amazon Prime account, I also do some shopping (for delivery) at Walmart, but the newest addition to my delivery companies is Sam's Club Join for $45 and get $45 off your next in-club purchase of $45 or more.. I used to have a membership when I lived near Fort Worth and used it quite often. Where I live now, the nearest Sam's Club is a minimum of 3 hours away (at highway speeds), it just didn't make any sense to maintain my membership, until now.

I actually had a need for a specific kind of product that isn't easily found, a generic "clear" nicotine patch, Sam's Club carries a Member's Mark brand of nicotine patches icon at a very reasonable price, I had been getting a friend to pick them up for me when they went into town, but that became rather inconvenient, I'd much rather be able to get them when I want or need them. I decided the price savings on that item alone made it worth renewing my Sam's Club membership, and when I discovered I could get free shipping for just a little more, I jumped on that!

I am now a full on Sam's Club Plus member. I've been ordering on average, once or twice a month. I don't go too crazy, but the savings I get from ordering there is so incredible, especially with the free shipping. Unfortunately I live too far away to get the fresh foods (fruit, veg, meats...) delivered, but the other things I can get are great. Where I live, the price of food and other retail items tends to be high, I am getting a major savings shopping like this.

For now, I've mainly been ordering PB's kind of powdered creamer Coffee Mate The Original Powdered Coffee Creamer (56 oz.), nicotine patches, liquid Tylenol Children's Tylenol Oral Suspension, Cherry (4 oz, 3 pk.), instant coffee Folgers Classic Roast Instant Coffee Crystals (16 oz.) .... I recently ordered these giant bags of Skinny Pop popcorn SkinnyPop Original Popcorn, Value Size (14 oz.) for PB, I couldn't believe how big the bags are compared to getting them in the dollar stores that I service. I also purchased a huge bag of almond flour Blue Diamond Almond Flour (48 oz.) , something that was really out of my price range (of what I was willing to spend) locally, the price was really REALLY good!

One more thing I have started ordering from Sam's, 5-hour ENERGY Shot, Extra Strength, Watermelon, (1.93 oz, 24 pk.) 5 Hour Energy drinks I tend to drink one of those a day when I work, the vitamins and amino acids in them help me stay alert, I will occasionally drink one at home when I am having a clean up day and need to stay motivated, focused and moving. These tiny bottles of varoom juice costs nearly $4 each, I found them at Sam's Club for just under $2 a bottle. Of course I have to order a 24 pack to get that price break, but since I'm already spending the money on them each week, it is truly a no brainer to go ahead and order in bulk. I have tried other brands and types of energy drinks and either they didn't work well, or were so full of questionable ingredients that I'm just not interested, I find the 5 Hour ones work, they taste terrible (I'm just being honest), I don't drink them for their taste, I drink them because they work. I found the watermelon flavor is the best one for me, it reminds me of watermelon flavored Jolly Rancher candy, I can deal with that... 

When I order, it typically takes 3-4 days to arrive, not bad considering how far away I live from their stores, it's shipped via FedEx, I wish I could choose UPS, I much prefer UPS but honestly I haven't had any real issues with FedEx, none worth mentioning anyhow. I can't complain when the boxes are delivered pretty much straight to my front door.

Do you have a Sam's Club membership? How about an Amazon Prime membership? What do you think of them?  Do you use the free delivery very often?

All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

New Digital Devices

Well I hope everyone is doing OK today, I did something kind of fun, my devices have been aging, some well, some not so well, so I decided to upgrade to the newest Samsung phone and tablet. I have the phone now, I've had it a few days, it was real easy to transfer everything over from my old Samsung phone, it was funny, it seems that all of my Samsung devices knew I had a new phone, it was very much like a family gathering around a new baby. 

Anyhoo, I've been in the process over the last few days of setting up the phone the way I like it, the way I want it to look, the way I want it to work, and I've made some decisions, I decided not to install a couple of apps that I had on my old phone, mainly in the social media realm, the two biggest offenders being Facebook, and Instagram. 

I figure out that I can access them on my desktop through Chrome, I can log into them there, without having to have the app. I believe the apps are a lot more intrusive, for example, and I'm using this example very loosely, I can discuss purple tomatoes, and an hour later, I have ads on my Facebook app for purple tomatoes, now they tell us that they are not listening to us, and trust me I have not done a Google search for purple tomatoes, and yet there are the ads are, popping up in my face saying look at me, look at me... So I'm going to see how this works now using the browser to log in and access those two specific apps, and see just what happens. 

Something I noticed was going on with my last phone, I have a driving app call Onmyway that tracks my driving without me being on my phone (gives me points), I also have an app that will shut off anything running in the background, so I noticed that every time I would start up the driving app, Facebook would also become active in the background, I would shut Facebook off, and I don't mean just minimizing it, I mean actually forcing it to stop, on a few minutes later it seems the driving app has pulled up Facebook again. 

I have searched high and low to try to figure out why this driving app is also starting Facebook in the background, and I can't find anything about it, no one else seems to have said anything online about it, I'm not real happy about that, so if the Facebook app is no longer on my phone, then no other apps can pull it up and have it running in the background for whatever reason. 

Am I paranoid? Probably a little bit, do I have a reason to be? Probably. I'm not ready to give up Facebook, at least not yet, I do use it to keep up with family and friends, I also run a handful of groups, it's nice to have around.

So my new phone, it is the Samsung S22 Ultra, the phone itself is physically pretty big, I'm going to have to dig out my old LG v20 and see if it's the same size or bigger, this looks like it's a little bit bigger, definitely heavy. I want to get back into phone photography or they call that, phonetography? Whatever it's called I enjoy doing it, and have seriously missed having a phone with really really good cameras and really really good apps to take and edit the pictures.

I am hoping this week to get out and get some good pictures, you will see them when I do. So tell me, did you jump on the new Samsung devices bandwagon? If so what did you get? Do you have it yet? 

When I ordered this phone I was able to get a few accessories to go with it, so I ordered this silicone case, I'm not extremely happy with it oh, it does protect the phone, I feel a lot better about it if I drop it while it has this case on it, and I like the color, it's kind of a light olive green color, easy to put on easy to take off, the thing I don't care about is it's actually is kind of slick, meaning as I'm holding this somewhat heavy phone, I feel it slowly sliding through my fingers, so I ordered a couple of new cases, they were fairly inexpensive so I didn't mind ordering two, I'm hoping to find one that I really like, these two cases seem to have some extra texture or something like that on the edges the side edges so that I don't feel like I'm going to drop my phone. 

So this phone the Galaxy Series it seems that they have combined it with the Note series, so it has a built-in S Pen, and I've had a really good time playing with that. The pen itself is rather small, which is fine, to fit inside of the phone you need something small, I do wish it had some sort of a texture on it, it is somewhat slick but since it's lightweight oh, I don't worry about it dropping out of my fingers.



All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Being a night-owl is cold business...

How is everyone doing? Well I hope, things are going well here for us, the winter weather is beginning to turn, I can detect spring in the air, the days are getting longer and warmer, even the nights are not as frigid as they have been. I've been dealing with nights getting down into the mid 20s most nights, but on occasion getting down into the teens and even single digits for a couple of nights. Living off grid we don't have utilities that generate heat, meaning no gas heater, no electric heater either, instead we use wood to heat the SkyCastle. Anyone who relies exclusively on wood heat knows that you generally have to get up at least once in the night to stoke the fire to keep a consistent temperature going, welllll we don't do that, not regularly, unless it's going to be really REALLY cold. We tend to get a fire going then we nearly shut it down for the night. The outdoor temps drop seriously overnight, inside of the SkyCastle, especially in the bedroom, it might get down in the 30s and 40s, I remember one morning it was so cold in the bedroom that my tablet refused to charge because of the cold. So how do we stay warm overnight you ask?

This is something I have worked on and developed over the years, the first thing we did was to wear good sleeping clothing, lots of layers, I like having one or two layers of thermal underwear, the kind that has the waffle pattern, I can slip on a sweatshirt and pants if necessary. I wear socks, if it's really cold I'll add another pair of wool socks, I also have my "sleeping jacket", a lightweight zipper hoodie, I can pop on the hood if it's really cold. 

The blankets are an important part of keeping warm overnight, in the early years out here, I treated my bed like I was still living in the city with regular utilities, I would add more blankets as needed, but eventually I'd have a thick, heavy multi-layered monstrosity that really didn't keep me warm, especially my feet. That's when I discovered wool blankets. Those were a game changer, I would layer one or two wool blankets with my other fuzzy soft blankets and I was much warmer. But it still wasn't perfect, I would add one or two hot water bottles, those work really well, but they are a bit of a pain to get setup, it takes some time to boil all the water needed, but the payoff was worth it.

Last year, I got a 100% down king sized comforter and a couple of duvet covers. Now talk about a game changer, this is it! They are expensive, but honestly I've not had to add anything else to my bed this winter, that single down blanket keeps me toasty warm, I double it over and slip into it like it's a sleeping bag. It even keeps my feet warm, and it's, well, light as a feather... The blanket itself if quite thick, it's 3-4 inches thick and is loaded with down fluff.

So tonight, it's about 1:30am right now, I'm looking at the weather station and it says it's 50 degrees F outside and going up, it was a bit of a chilly day today and the temp did drop down into the mid 40s once it got dark, but it seems like it's moving up. Inside the living room area it's 63 degrees F and it's quite comfy. It's funny, last fall this temp would have felt cold, I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I do have a light blanket wrapped around my shoulders, mainly for my arms, PB has the woodstove going on a low burn, I know when he gets up later on he's going to comment on how warm it is.

Whatever the temp is in the morning when I get up to go to work, PB will warm up the main room which encompasses the living room and kitchen area, that's where I get ready for work, since it's reset season where I work as a merchandiser, I need to get up early to go to work because of the longer work days. 

That's how my winter has gone, there are many more exciting changes that are going on right now, I'll write about them soon, for now, I need to go to bed, I just wanted to pop in and give an update on things. Goodnight!





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Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 15, 2022

First sick of 2022


Dang I hate being sick, I've managed to not get sick for almost two years, I've had little scratchy throat here and there a couple of times, but not a full out, full blown sick. Well that all changed this week I've basically been in bed since Monday, it did go to work on Thursday, only because I have pretty much had no choice, I had one day's worth of work to do and all my stores, had to get done this week, so I got up washed my face, put up a big girl britches and went to work. It just about kicked my butt, but I'm glad I got it done, I'm sure the companies I work for also glad I got it done.

I'm also glad it was this week, and not happening anytime in the near future, the kind of work I do, I'm about to get real busy, it's reset season. This is actually my slowest week, something I normally wouldn't enjoy, but this week I'm eternally grateful. 

So what do I attribute to my extended health for almost 2 years? Well I started doing a thing called intermittent fasting almost 2 years ago now, unless you've been living under a rock I'm sure you've heard of it, I basically eat once a day, I don't restrict what I eat or how much I eat, one can only eat so much in one setting so there's pretty much no way I can over eat, I just restrict the time that I eat.

I won't go into any detail right now about intermittent fasting it's easy enough to look up, I suggest looking up Gin Stephens, I like her method. 

Anyhoo, all week has been me basically in bed, not doing much, PB has been hiding, he does not want to get sick and I don't blame him. Fortunately the weather's been pretty mild, PB is pretty typically in charge of building fires to keep us warm, only been one night that it's gotten really cold down into the 20s... and I have really good sleeping gear, my favorite part of it, is a king size 100% down comforter, I have it folded in half on my bed and I use it kind of like a sleeping bag, it can get cold in this room like down in the 20's and 30's on the inside, and I'm still toasty warm inside this down burrito. Right now it's 54 degrees inside the room, no fire in the wood stove, I just don't need it. 

I try to hide out when I get sick, I know are animals do that too, I just don't know why people do it, but I do it, a few people around me are starting to find out that I've been sick, very sweet friend and neighbor found out I was sick today and message me to ask me if I wanted some homemade chicken noodle soup. I happen to know this lady is a really good cook, and anything that she would bring over would be very tasty, and yet my knee-jerk reaction was to say no thank you I'm fine. I even started writing that in the message, and then deleted most of it before I sent it, I graciously accepted her offer, besides the fact that I know it's going to be really good, I also know how good it is to give and receive hospitality and kindness, and I need to get better at the receiving part, LOL. 

So the few people who do know that I'm sick, very first question that they have for me, is what is it? They want to know if it's the thing that's all in the news, and I don't believe it is, whatever this is it's been very mild, mostly scratchy throat, I've had a fever a couple of times that I felt, and a whole lot of being tired. In the past I've gotten sick oh maybe once or twice a year, and it almost always has to do with coughing sore throat that kind of thing, are pretty typically get over it pretty fast, I guess this is just making up for me not being sick for a couple of years. If you do wish to comment about this, please do not use the "C" word, it's not what I have, and I don't want that word floating around on this blog, thank you.

So I hope everybody's January has been going well, I know I have some people still reading this, leave me a comment say hi, let me know how everything's doing. Thanks for reading!




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!!! 2022 is finally here, woot! Hope you had a great weekend, today I spent a great deal of time with an old friend, well she isn't "old", just someone I've known for many years, I am so excited, she and her husband bought the house next to me. It's always a scary thing to have the house/property right next to you on the market, you just don't know who might end up living next to you. I was thrilled to find out that the house sold to a friend.

Today she came out to look at the house in detail, she had been inside of it many MANY years ago when it belonged to my good friend and neighbor Glen, she had since moved away from the neighborhood, I kept in contact with her but didn't see her or talk to her as often as I did when she lived out here.

The property on the other side of me had also been put up for sale last year, fortunately for us my brother in law bought it, so I'm happy to know (trust and like) my neighbors on both sides.

Weather......

It's been quite warm, and breezy these last few weeks, but tonight there is a major cold front moving in, the temps are dropping, it even snowed/sleeted a tiny bit, I could hear it hitting the roof, I went outside to check it out, I could see stars in the sky, I still don't know where that moisture was coming from, I don't expect to see white in the morning, it's just going to be cold, supposed to get down in the mid teens. I can still hear the wind blowing, that's supposed to let up overnight, that's a good thing, we can build a fire to warm the house in the morning before church. It's hard to have a fire in the woodstove when it's really windy, it pushes the smoke back into the house.

I drained all the outside pipes, there isn't much to drain, our system is still pretty small, but it's important to get it done if it's going to really freeze overnight, which it is. I also drain the washing machine, the front of the machine has been removed and PB installed a drain so that the water that would sit in the bottom parts can be drained, it's typically less than a half gallon of liquid, but it's enough to cause trouble if it freezes. The washer is sitting out in an enclosed but unheated space, it's protected from the weather, but is subject to the outside temps.

I also drain the water line that goes to the washing machine, next I drain the shower, and if it's going to get really REALLY cold, I drain the inside water lines. Our system is pretty small and simple, but ingenious, it can drain back into the water tank without losing a drop of water, then the pump inside the house can pull the water back into the inside system in around 30 seconds.

Again, I hope you have a good weekend and I wish you a wonderful, peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year for 2022!




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!