Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life is good,,,,,,,


I know my posts are hit and miss lately,, life is busy but life is good!!

I have been very busy getting ready for the winter months ahead.  I have sauerkraut fermenting in crocks, the sausage I made is all packaged up and in the freezer, and I have been stocking up.

I wrote some time ago about a work at home job I was starting, that one did not work out so well but when one door closes, God opens another one.  Today I am starting as a "Professional Researcher and Genealogist".  Again I will be working from home, which I love but the company is located here in Illinois.  Soon I will also be training for an at home "virtual call center" position again and yes, I will be working two jobs!!  Each will average about 30 hours a week, 60 hours total, but especially over the winter, that is fine with me.

Even though I have paid off the mortgage, have no car payment and have minimized my bills quite a bit, there are still bills to pay.  And I want to start putting back some money for an extended vacation next summer that I hope to take.

When time allows I am continuing working on my own family genealogy.  There have been some brick walls that get frustrating at times, but over-all it's been great!!  I love doing it.  I have worked on genealogy for some other people as well so finding this job should be a perfect fit for me and I am looking forward to it.  I'll also be doing searches for live people who are heirs and companies are looking for them about their inheritance.  I can't go into any more detail than that because it is confidential, but it should be interesting.  :-) 

This past year we lost all the older cats and I lost my best buddy Rusty in August.  He was 17 and we got to celebrate his birthday with him before he past.  I loved all my pets I have had over the years but Rusty was a very special dog.  He stuck by me and protected me through some of the worse situations imaginable.  He was very loving and devoted to his momma.  It's going to take me a long time to get over his passing but I know he is in a much better place now with no more pain.

I have tried to sell my camper 3 times now with no luck so I guess I am meant to keep it.  It will come in very handy when I take my trip next year.  Such a nice camper!  It was used when I bought it but certainly not junk.  And hey, it's paid for so why not keep it, LOL.

As I have stated before, the comments here are on moderation.  Nothing will show in the blog without me approving it.  So to the person who sent me the most recent comment, you must be some kind of stupid to think that a) I would approve that comment for posting,  and b) that I would give you any information regarding my other accounts or personal information about myself.  You sound like someone I once knew and was very happy to get out of my life.  But you go ahead and send me your comments it gives me something to laugh about, LOL. 

Until next time,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Making sausage,,,,,,,,,,,,


It has been a while since I have posted last.  Just been one busy person.  This past weekend I made sausage, both breakfast sausage and Italian sausage.  This was my first attempt at making sausage but I am sure glad I did!!  The breakfast sausage was perfectly seasoned to our tastes and the Italian sausage was very good but I think I will cut back on the thyme the next time I make it and also make a few alterations to the process which I will explain as I give the instructions.  The recipes for each will be posted at the bottom of the post.  You guessed it, I do have pictures to post as well!!

As you know, I always love being frugal and saving money.  The price of breakfast sausage and Italian sausage has, like everything else, gone way up.  Our local grocery store had pork butt on sale last week at $1.59 per lb.  Rolls of breakfast sausage start out at $3.59 per lb. and go up depending on brand and Italian sausage patties like the ones I made are now at $5.39 per lb. unless you catch them on sale.  So I averaged a savings of $3.00 per lb making it myself.

I went BIG with my purchase and bought just under 30 lbs of Pork Butt.  I have a big freezer and so decided to make a lot to freeze.  The recipes below are for smaller amounts of sausage at one time so I just figured out how much spice I would need for the amount of pork I was using, then I adjusted some of the spices according to our taste preferences.  I for one do not like a lot of pepper.  I suggest you adjust according to your taste preferences as well.  These recipes are only to give you a basic guide.

So, let's get started,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Whole Pork Butts average 7 - 10lbs and do have a shoulder blade type bone in them.  I cut off most of the meat from the bone and then put the bone and remaining meat in a crock pot to slow cook.  I actually had 3 of these.
Cut the meat from the bone and then cube.  You want no more than about 20% fat and 80% meat.  I opted for a little less fat and trimmed some away but if you do that be sure to use a little oil or cooking spray when cooking to prevent sticking.

Because I bought so much pork I actually wound up with 2 of these big bowls full of cubed pork.

The bowl on the left has the spices for the Italian Sausage and the bowl on the right has the spices for the Breakfast Sausage.  Mix your spices in with your cubed pork.  Mix thoroughly, turning your pork several times.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or over night.  I had added the red wine vinegar to the Italian sausage pork and let that set over night also but I found when grinding it made the meat a little too wet so next time I will add the vinegar in after grinding.  It grinds much better being a little drier.  Also you want the pork very cold when grinding so the fat does not soften up too much.

This is grinding the Italian Sausage.  As you can see it is really too wet and clumping up a bit.  It gave me a little bit of a fit but not too bad.  Lesson learned!!

Grinding the breakfast sausage.  No liquid was added and as you can see it is grinding much better and not clumping up.

A lot more grinding to do yet, but this looks to be pretty good breakfast sausage to me, LOL.
Once all the grinding was done, I covered each bowl with plastic wrap and chilled them in the fridge for a couple of hours to make handling the meat easier.

Making breakfast sausage patties for the freezer.  I froze my patties first before packaging them into meal size packages so they would not stick together when frozen.

Italian sausage patties.  Just the right size for a hamburger bun!

Cooking sausage for breakfast.  We had eggs and toast with it, so very good!!

Cooking Italian sausage and sauteing peppers and onions.

They made great sandwiches on toasted hamburger buns!!
2 teas dried sage     2 teas salt     1 teas ground black pepper
1/4 teas dried marjoram     1 tabls brown sugar     1 pinch ground cloves
1/8 teas crushed red pepper flakes     2 pounds pork
In a small bowl combine spices and mix well.  Cube your pork meat and mix the spices into it thoroughly.  Cover and chill at least one hour, preferably over night.  Grind your sausage and chill again before forming into patties.  You can also use casings to make links if you prefer.
3 tabls red wine vinegar     1 tabls salt     1 tabls cracked or ground black pepper
1 1/4 tabls dried parsley     1 tabls garlic powder     1 tabls onion powder
1 tabls dried basil     2 teas paprika     2 teas crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teas ground fennel seed     1/4 teas brown sugar 
1/8 teas dried oregano     1/8 teas dried thyme     3 lbs pork
In a small bowl mix all dry ingredients well.  Cube pork and mix the dry spices into it thoroughly.  Cover and chill at least one hour, preferably over night.  Grind your sausage, mix in the red wine vinegar.  Cover and chill again before forming into patties.  You can also use casings to make links if you prefer.
NOTE:  You can order casings online at walmart.com
Until next time,,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Short note,,,,,

Just a quick note to let you know things have been really busy but are going well. I started training on the new job last week and it has kept me hopping. I love it already!!

To the spammers,, please don't waste your time and mine. All posts are moderated and will be deleted if they are forms of advertisement or harassment. I do get notification of each post and review it before deciding if I will allow it or not. I might not be actively posting at the moment but rest assured the blog is still monitored.

To my friends, I'll be back on a regular basis once training is over and I get back into a routine. As with everything it takes time. Miss you all and will talk to you soon!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fruit and canning,,,,,


I had bought a lot of fruit at the market recently and yesterday I made some blueberry and strawberry syrups.  After that I cut up melons and added other fruit to make a couple of huge fruit bowls to much on this week.  I was really surprised at how good and ripe the fruit was.  Nice and sweet tasting!!

I got 3 1/2 pints of each flavor out of the berries I had.  So tomorrow we are going to have pancakes and open up the half pints and try the syrup.  I wish I had bought more berries and made a lot more syrup, but this will do for now.  I have some pictures below.

Today I am going to start a small batch of sauerkraut.  This is my first time making sauerkraut so I did not want to make too big of a batch in case I mess it up some how, LOL.  I have about 10 lbs of cabbage which I will slice into thin shreds, then mix with canning or pickling salt.  That then gets pressed into a crock and brine added if necessary.  Enough to make sure the cabbage is covered.  The brine is salt and water, boiled then cooled.  The cabbage might make enough of its own brine and I might not need to add more.  We shall see.

The crock is then covered with a cheese-cloth and a plate and weighted down to keep the cabbage compressed.  It takes 3 to 6 weeks to ferment.  I need to skim the bubbles off every day and press the cabbage down some more.  Once the fermenting is complete it will be time to can it.  I'll try to remember to take pictures as I go along and post about my first attempt at making sauerkraut.  If all goes well I will be making a lot more in the future.

Next week I plan on canning sweet corn and carrots if I can get a good bargain on them.  I really want to stock up on the canned goods in my pantry so each week I hope to be doing at least one batch of something.  There is nothing like having a good supply of delicious home-canned food on hand.

This morning I was reading about canning breakfast sausage patties.  I have canned a lot of meat over the years but never breakfast sausage.  So needless to say I will try a small batch of that as well.  If it comes out as good as it sounds, I will make more.  I'll keep you posted on when I do that as well.

Do you have any favorite foods you can?  I would love to hear from you.  I always like trying new recipes.

Until next time,,,,,,,  Blessings!!

Sorry folks, I have been trying to upload the pictures for a few days now and every time I do it shuts Windows down for some reason.  Not sure what is going on but I guess I will have to post pictures another time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Busy, busy,,,,,


I have been very busy lately.  Lots of paperwork for the new job and getting ready for it.  Plus I am trying to get as many things done around here as I can so when I start training I won't have to worry about much else.

I'm trying to get some meals lined up in advance.  I have made a tray of meatballs and put them in the freezer.  I made up several hamburgers and froze them as well.  I have chicken breasts and other quick fix meals ready to go. 

Tomorrow I am going to make the blueberry pancake syrup and can it along with strawberry syrup and raspberry syrup.  I also got a nice watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon.  I'll cut those up and make a big fruit salad with the melons and some of the extra berries I bought.

I've also been working on my own genealogy some more.  I added over 600 pieces of information to my family tree.  About half were new names in the family and the other half was things like censuses, deeds, wills, newspaper articles etc.  It sure does keep me busy but I love it!!

In the midst of all this, when I went to check on my camper I discovered some yahoo had stolen the spare tire for the camper.  Needless to say I moved the camper to a more secure location which of course I am not telling anyone, LOL.  It appears they also tried to get into the under-storage areas but did not succeed in that, Thank you Jesus!!  That reminds me, I do need to call the storage place tomorrow to see how it is going reviewing all the surveillance camera footage.  Hopefully, they will be able to catch the creep who did this!

Saturday, I am starting to make sauerkraut the old fashioned way.  I have never made sauerkraut before and always wanted to try it, so now is the time.  I have a couple of old crocks which should be big enough to hold all the cabbage I bought.  This is going to be fun!!

One more goody before the weekend is over, I plan on making an old fashioned lemon meringue pie!!  It has been a very long time since I have made one and I have been craving a good one for a while now.

Well, I need to head to the kitchen and wash my jars for tomorrow and get the crocks ready as well.  I keep things stored in the basement so always wash them good before using.

I hope this finds you all well and happy!!

Until next time,,,,,,Blessings!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I got the job!!


Happy 4th of July!!  I have been so busy I forgot to post earlier today.  The interview went well yesterday.  I was so nervous, but didn't really need to be.  I have been offered a position and have been busy doing all the necessary new hire paperwork.

I start training on July 30th.  The company has an extensive training program that will last about a month.  I am really looking forward to it.

It will be awesome to work from home.  No more commutes in bad weather.  No more worrying about having the right type of clothes for this job or that.  Great savings of gas money, wear and tear on my vehicle, etc.  This is awesome!!

I am not sure how much I will be able to blog, especially once I start work.  I guess for now I will play it by ear and see how things go.  After all, the job needs to take priority.

Well, I am going to keep this short.  It is a holiday and I have been celebrating since yesterday, LOL.  No, not that kind of celebrating, I don't drink!!  LOL

Until next time,,,,,Blessings!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

I'm so excited!!!


I am so excited!!  I have a job interview online on Wednesday for that genealogy web site job I was telling you about.  You know, the work from home job.  I am so stoked and a bit nervous.  It has been a long time since I had to do a job interview and this one is a bit different.  It is online and in a group.  There will be others interviewing at the same time for the same job.

I got through the application process and all the tests.  Let me tell you, that was not easy.  Now, I have to get through the interview and if I do OK I should start online training by the end of the month.  There will be 4 weeks of training.  Right now I am wishing I was about 20 years younger, LOL.

So today I am finishing getting my office ready.  Clean off the desk, put my genealogy papers in their binders out of the way.  Make sure I have my resume at hand.  A notebook and pens to write with and take notes.  And lots of misc. stuff just to make sure I am at ease and as comfortable as can be.

The rent is due on the camper storage so I need to run out tomorrow and check on the camper and pay the rent.  It will probably do me some good to get out for a while and get my mind off this interview for a bit.  Did I say I was nervous?  LOL  I am, but I am also looking forward to it.  The worse that could happen is that don't feel I can handle this particular job.  They have offered me a total of 5 positions to try out for, so hopefully, one of them will be a good fit if not this one.  But I sure would love to get the genealogy one because I love doing it and am sure I could help others.  I guess time will tell.

Well, I need to keep this short today because I have a ton of things I want to get done.  Please say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed for me!!  Thanks!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Work at home jobs,,,,,,


I have spent the last couple of days putting applications in for work at home jobs.  Yes, there are real, legitimate work at home jobs out there.  But, yes, there are also a ton of scams to be weary of during your search.

Oh how I wish I could make some money off the ads on this blog but it is just not happening.  Very few have clicked on the ads and that is how I make the money.  I suppose that is one of the reasons I have cut back on writing.  I need to make some money and this is just not going to do it for me.  I love to write and also do it for the pure enjoyment of it, however, I need to free up some time to make some money.  Those bills are not getting paid otherwise, LOL.

Back to the work at home jobs.  If you are seriously interested in working from home there are jobs out there.  I go to a web site called ratracerebellion.com  They investigate work at home jobs and try to weed out the scams from the legitimate jobs.  They have tons of legitimate jobs listed.  It helps to have an idea of what type of work you want to do and how much you need to make along with how hard you are willing to work and how flexible you can be.

By no stretch of the imagination are the legitimate jobs, get rich quick schemes.  You are not going to sit at home and collect a pay check without working.  I have applied for two types of "in home call center" jobs.  One is in reservations.  I would be taking inbound calls booking reservations for a company, which would include taking credit card payments over the phone.  There will be a background and credit check I will have to pass before being considered for the position.  This is a part time, temporary position which might lead to full time and permanent.  They have paid training but there are still certain skills I will have to have in ordered to be considered.  I do have those skills.

The other one will be taking inbound calls for a genealogy business/web site. (I don't know which one).  In that one I would be required to answer questions about genealogy, sell products or services, take payments, etc.  I hope to get this one because I love doing genealogy and helping others with it.  So it's right up my alley.

On ratracerebellion.com  you will find all sorts of job listings.  Some are for independent contractors and some where you would be an actual employee.  They also have some for inbound calls only and some where you make outbound calls.  Some pay by the call, some the actual minutes you are on a call and some by the hour.  Then there are jobs for bloggers, survey takers, transcriptionists, researchers and so on.

I limited my search to In home call centers.  Employee not independent contractor and paid by the hour.  I also searched for jobs with benefits.  You also need to check the equipment requirements, some are very specific of the type of computer, speed, memory, Internet service, phone service and so on.  The two I have applied for thus far I have exactly what they require.  There are others I plan on applying to as well.

You will need to realize that working in this manner is a real job.  You can't stop what you are doing to play with the kids, visit friends, do a load of laundry or cook a meal.  You have to have the discipline to treat this the same as if you left your home and went to a brick building to work.  You need a quiet place to work, without interruption and other responsibilities to get in your way.  Because it is a call center you need to be flexible with your schedule so you can be available during the high volume call hours.  You need to be disciplined enough to show up for work when you are scheduled.  Yes, you have to work a schedule just like any other job!!

Some of the perks of working from home.  You save money on gas, vehicle maintenance, clothes, eating out, etc.  Your commute is non-existent, unless of course you count the steps from your coffee pot to your home office, LOL  You don't have to go out in bad weather, or fight traffic jams and construction.  And for those who are "green", you lower your carbon footprint.  If you are disabled or have physical difficulties you can still probably find a work at home job you can do,, even if you are in a wheelchair.

Given the money you save on expenses a conventional job incurs, you can make comparable pay working from home.  Finding the right job for you takes time and research however.  I have been researching this for several months, almost a year.  Then I found ratracerebellion.com and it made the searching even easier.  There are other sites out there as well.  I have not checked them out yet so I do not know much about them.  I am sure I will find a position with one of the companies soon.  I am really leaning towards the one with the genealogy contract and am currently waiting for an appointment for an online interview.  After that, there will be several weeks of online paid training if I make it through the interview OK and decide it is definitely what I want to do.

I'll keep you posted as things progress.

Until next time,,,,,, Blessings!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Has it been a week? Really??


Has it been a week?  Really??  Where did the time go?  I don't feel like I got much accomplished in that week away from here, but I know I did.  Well at least some, LOL.  Seems my time is taken up a lot by the genealogy I am doing.

A couple of days ago I decided names and dates were starting to run together on my mom's side of the family so I switched and started working on my dad's side again.  Last night I sat up late printing out a history of the area my ancestors settled in.  It was 142 pages long.  But I was so afraid I would not be able to find it again and wanted a hard copy.  So now, I have it.  It really is interesting!!

The work on the house is progressing,,,, slowly.  We were not suppose to have any rain this past week.  It rained every day but two.  That of course flares the fibro and I move really slow, maybe slower than a snail, LOL.

I took one day to get laundry caught up.  That is a chore for me because the washer and dryer are in the basement and when the fibro is flared the trips up and down the stairs hurt.  But at least it is done!  For now, LOL.  That is one of those chores that seems never ending!!  We are to get more rain today.

The other day we had the first corn on the cob of the season.  It was really good.  We had meatloaf, buttered Amish noodles and the corn.  Not sure what I will make today.

I paid $10 for a trial membership at genealogybank.com  While it is a neat site and has a ton of newspaper archives it is not really doing me much good.  Most of my ancestors settled into small communities and the newspapers are from bigger cities.  I did manage to find a few things that I printed out but not much so far.  I don't think I will renew the membership. There are a lot of genealogy sites you can get information from but for me, so far, ancestry.com has been the best.  I also like archives.com but won't pay for a membership right now.

I should have been out dead-heading the roses this past week.  With this particular type if you dead-head them you can get a second bloom out of them.  But the rain kept me busy inside.  For those who don't know, dead-heading the roses is when you take the blooms off that are dead.  It makes the bush look prettier but also gives it a chance to grow another bloom.

I have been wanting to make a lemon meringue pie so sometime this week I will venture out to get the supplies.  Nothing like a good lemon meringue pie from scratch.  :-)  I still need to organize my baking pans and equipment better.  Between all the things I already had and what I had bought for the store I have a very well equipped kitchen.  :-)

I have not figured out a regular schedule for posting on here yet but I think Mondays for sure and I hope to get at least one more day in there perhaps somewhere towards the middle of the week.  Time will tell.  Sorry I am not more specific right now but I just don't know from one day to the next what I am doing.  A lot of it depends on the weather and how I feel.

Until next time,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New York Cheesecake,,,,,,,,,,plus,,,,,,,,,,,


Sorry I did not post this yesterday.  Apparently I have come down with either an ear infection, sinus infection or both.  Yesterday I did not feel like doing much of anything and spent most of the day resting.  I do not feel much better today but hate wasting yet another day.

Time is really getting away from me with getting household chores done and the remodeling I am doing in the home so I am going to cut back on my posting at least for a while.  I think I will shoot for once or twice a week and will have to let you know on a schedule just as soon as I figure it out, LOL.

Below you will find the recipe for a New York Cheesecake followed by pictures I took while making it.  I did divide it into 2 pans rather than making one big one.  With just two people I felt for us this would be better.  I put the second pan in the freezer for another time.  Baked cheesecake freezes well.  Of course I cut back the baking time just a little bit to a lot for the smaller sized pans but the recipe I am posting is actually for one larger pan.  Win wanted the traditional cherry pie filling on the top of this one but when I use the second one I want to make a fresh fruit compote or perhaps a white chocolate ganash to put on the top of it.  Time will tell, LOL.

Sunday was Win's 65th birthday as well as Father's Day so I also made him a nice dinner.  Late last year I was given a rack of lamb and I put it in the freezer for a special occasion.  This was that occasion!!  I actually split the rack and we will have the other half probably tomorrow as I am making spaghetti and meatballs today.  Below the cheesecake recipe and pictures is a picture of our dinner.  I think he was happy and had an awesome day.


6-8 honey maid graham crackers, crushed          1 cup of sugar + 3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of flour                                          1 tablespoon of vanilla
3 tablespoons of melted butter                            1 cup of sour cream
5   8 ounce pks of cream cheese softened           4 eggs
1 can cherry pie filling or topping of your choice


1)    heat oven to 325 degrees F
2)    Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil, with ends of the foil extending over the sides.  Mix graham crumbs, 3 tablespoons of sugar and melted butter, press onto the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 mins.
3)    Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until well blended.  Add sour cream, mix well.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low just until blended.  Don't over mix!  Pour into pan over crust.  Tap lightly.
4)    Bake 40 mins or until center is almost set.  Cool completely.  Refrigerate 4 hours.  Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.  Top with pie filling or topping of your choice.   Enjoy!!

I put my graham crackers in a Ziploc baggie then keep rolling them out until they are crushed.
A couple of more passes with the rolling pin and they will be ready
Add in the sugar and butter and mix thoroughly.  Some folks do this step right in the pan but because I was making 2 crusts I found it easier to mix in a bowl first.
Press it down in the pan to form your bottom crust and bake 10 mins. in your preheated oven.
Mix your cream cheese, flour, sugar and vanilla
Add in your sour cream
Add  in and mix one egg at a time just until incorporated into the batter.  Don't over mix!
Pour into pan over crust and bake 40 minutes.  If you are using two smaller pans like I did, then bake for about 30 minutes.
Cool completely then put in the refrigerator and chill for 4 hours before serving.
Cut, top with your favorite topping and serve!!  Normally a New York Cheesecake would be much thicker if you bake it in one pan, but this worked out well for us.
We like our lamb cooked well.  Most restaurants serve it medium rare unless you specify.  I also made mashed potatoes with sour cream and chives and sauteed green beans.  Yummy!!
Until next time,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Yay, it's Saturday,,,,,,,,


Yay, it is Saturday!!  It seems to have been a particularly long week for me for some reason.  I am glad it is over even though I still have a ton of work to do around here.  I am in the process of making a cheesecake today for Win's 65th birthday tomorrow and of course Father's Day.  I sure hope everyone has a great Father's Day tomorrow!!  If all goes well I will post pictures and recipe of the cheesecake on Monday.

I have become such a lazy cook in some ways.  Often if I am making something that takes a lot of work I will make extra at the same time and freeze it for another day.  This cheesecake is no exception.  To me it takes just as much work to make one as it does two, so I am making one for tomorrow and making one for the freezer for another day.  Actually, I should not say "lazy" I should say "frugal".  After all, I am saving energy by baking two cheesecakes at one time rather than baking them at two separate times, LOL.

Well, I did promise I had another set of pictures that I "restored" to show you.  The pictures below are of my brother Leon and me when I was about 11 years old.  Leon had not been out of the Marine Corps long.  He served in Vietnam.  This is in about the spring of 1970 if memory serves me correctly.  I am so happy I was able to salvage this picture and printed it out in an 8x10 and hung it on my wall.  :-)

My brother Leon is suffering from the affects of Agent Orange and not doing very well.  Please say a prayer for my hero and brother!!

That picture was in pretty rough shape but look what I did to it!
Amazing, isn't it??
Have a great weekend!!
Until next time,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Photo restoration,,,,,,


Ever have a photo that got damaged over the years?  Perhaps cracked or torn or something spilled on it?  I have had several and hated the idea of throwing them out.  Of course now there are several businesses that restore photos.  And you will pay dearly for their services!!  Recently I have been teaching myself how to restore photos.

With the advent of computers and digital photography it is not impossible for the average person to restore photos without the excessive cost of hiring a professional to do it.  It takes a lot of time and patience and of course a good program or two.  Mine are not perfect yet but they sure do look a lot better than they once did.

Below I have some examples of before and after pictures I have restored.  I am still learning and still playing with it, but I don't think they look bad.  I have printed some of them and hung them on my walls to show off, LOL.  Some I am still working on.  One I did for a friend.  It is of her mother who is deceased.  The picture had a lot of cracks in it.  It was a wallet size she carried in her pocket for years since her mother passed.  The only picture she had.  She was thrilled to get this restored just in time for Mother's Day.

In the program I use I can also "age" the photo to the proper time frame.  Older pictures had distinctive color tones to them depending on the years.  As photography progressed the tints changed.  You can even colorize black and white pictures.  I have not really gotten into that yet because I like keeping them as close to original as possible.

This is the original picture of my Aunt and Uncle on their wedding day.  Not exactly sure of the date but I would put it around 1940.  You can see the cracks and coffee that someone had spilt on it before I got it.  What a mess!  Below are a couple of restored and altered pictures I played with.
The one below is one of my brother's baby pictures.  It was in pretty bad shape as you can see.
Fixing that torn off corner was a real challenge!  I have put names on a lot of the pictures I have done thinking in the future someone will be going through these after I am gone and wondering who they are.  I guess that is the genealogy in me wanting to preserve photos and information for future generations.  :-)
The corner is fixed and the cracks and scratches are gone!!
Here is one of the 143rd Regiment Company F Officers that I found online.  This is from the Civil War Era which my grandfather served in this Regiment.
There are spots on the picture and some minor cracking.  I also aged the print to the proper time frame.
And last but not least, my friend's mother.
Lots of cracks and that horrible one right across her face!
It's not perfect yet and I want to do some more playing with it to see if I can get it smoother, especially on the face, but still an improvement.
I have a few more pictures I will show you tomorrow.
Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013



I finally found a picture of our beloved Smokey, who we just lost.  There was one in some genealogy pictures I was going through on a thumb drive.  Go figure!  I cannot imagine how she got in that file but there she was!  This was taken just last year when I first got my new digital camera.

She was such a pretty cat!!
Below is a picture of the stuffed shells I made the other day.  Just getting ready to pop them in the oven.  They really came out good and we are having the leftovers today.  :-)
Win's 65th birthday is Sunday and of course it is also Father's Day.  He loves cheesecake so I plan on making him a New York Cheesecake from scratch.  I'll try to remember to take pictures and post them along with the recipe next week.
Back in the day you did not have the fat content you find in hamburger meat today.  My mom would have stuffed her shells with raw meat, but I mixed mine up like I would for my favorite meatballs and pre-cooked the meat, draining as much of the grease away as possible.  I shaped the meat into an oval and cooked them like I would pre-cook meatballs in the oven.  I pre-boiled the shells, till almost done.  I did not want them too flimsy for stuffing but not too hard either, LOL.  After they sat in ice cold water for a while I drained them and stuffed the meat with some mozzarella cheese.  Covered them with sauce and baked for about 40 minutes in a 350 F degree oven.  I removed them from the oven and sprinkled shredded mozzarella cheese over the top and put them back in for another 10 minutes until the cheese was melted.  Served with some garlic toast,,, yummy!!
Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brain dump,,,,,,,


I think I am suffering from information overload, LOL.  As you know I have been working on my family genealogy and I have come to the point where I have so much information floating around in my brain that I need to dump some of it out and make room for more.

It's time to put some of that information down to hard copies that I can refer to rather than trying to remember it all.  If I don't I will surely forget something!!

I have a big black 3 ring binder that I am filling up with all this information.  I have in it, copies of obituaries, deeds, military records, various censuses and so on.  Yesterday I found an obituary for my great-grandfather's wife.  It was interesting!  I found out my grandfather had more than one sibling.  I only knew about the one but he actually had 3 siblings!  I know their names and need to go hunt them down.

I have spent a lot of time on findagrave.com trying to find cemeteries that some of my ancestors are buried in.  It is a great resource, however, because the photos and listings are done by volunteers much of them are incomplete and names are still missing.  Still, it is a good place to look.  And if you know the name and location of the cemetery you can always ask for volunteers to take pictures for you, especially if you live some distance away.  Be patient!!  Sometimes it takes a while for a volunteer to get to the cemetery.  For example I am a volunteer photographer locally but have not been out to take pictures yet this year.  The weather has not been very co-operative.  Most days when I have the free time to go, it is raining cats and dogs.  I was hoping for today but alas we are expecting some wicked thunderstorms again later today and right now the heat and humid is enough to choke an elephant.  Tomorrow or Friday early in the morning should be better days to make a trip to one of the local cemeteries and get some pictures taken.  I'll print out a list of the requests later today to take with me.

Yesterday when I was looking for pictures of Smokey on some thumb drives I came across a ton of military records and censuses I saved some years ago.  At the time I had no idea if any of these people were relatives or not, but I saved them anyway thinking someday I might make a connection with them.  I am glad I did because I now know some of them are indeed ancestors and I can print them out and attach them to my other records for the individuals.

If you are like me, money is often tight and you cannot afford to join every genealogy site online now.  I suggest you do what I did when I did not have the money to pay for a membership.  Take advantage of their free trial periods.  Most of the sites offer free trial periods a few times a year.  Get in on them and save every record you can find to your computer.  Even if you do not know if they are a relative or not.  You might find out later that they are and that will save you tremendous work down the line.  This is how I found a lot of pieces to the puzzle and many pieces I did not know fit,,,, until now.  There are still so many more pieces to look for but it is so much fun!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saying good-bye,,,,,,


No matter how much we are prepared it is always hard to say good-bye to a loved one or a beloved pet.  Yesterday, we lost one of our older cats, "Smokey Lynn".  She was one of a litter of 5 strays that were born under our porch nearly 23 years ago.  We took all 5 in, now only 2 are left.

Smokey was the last to come in, she was hard to catch.  You see she had been severely injured while running the streets.  She had a hole in her right hind quarter about the size of a large grapefruit.  The skin was ripped back and dangling and the bare muscle was exposed.  Winter was coming on strong and we were expecting a blizzard.  We had already gotten the other 4 in and kept trying for her.  We put food out and she would come to eat, but if you went near her she would run away.

First I tried tricking her into a cat carrier.  But she was too smart for that.  So out of desperation I called the animal control officer, Jim Sullivan, (at that time) and I talked him into loaning me the live animal trap, which he was not suppose to do.  But he had such a love for animals and knew I did too, he went against policy and loaned it to me.  He knew I would take care of this cat.  For three days she would not go into the trap.  So for three days she did not eat.  I was getting upset because the temperature was dropping, the wind was blowing and we were expecting a blizzard soon, followed by very frigid temperatures to around 35 below with the wind chill factor.

I called my vet at that time and asked him for suggestions to trick her into the trap.  Also to give him a heads up that we would be calling him immediately once we had her.  Dr. Osthus was great, he accepted those emergency phone calls 24/7.  He suggested covering up the bulk of the trap, so it looked more like a shelter and put some wet food in there as well as the dried.  We did as he suggested and then waited,,, and waited.

We had to go to Wal-Mart and run a couple of errands and it was getting dark for the evening so we left.  While we were out I said a little prayer and I told God if He wanted us to take care of that cat that He needed to get her in that trap because we couldn't do it.  We finished our errands and when we came home it was dark out.  As we pulled in the driveway the headlights caught the eyes of an animal in the trap.  Oh Lord, that better not be a raccoon!!  Nope, it was Smokey!!  God had spoken and said YES take care of my creature!!

We immediately called Dr. Osthus and told him we had her and he met us at his office.  We didn't even take her out of the trap until we got to the office.  We got her out of the trap and I held her and talked to her for about 15 minutes to get her to calm down.  She scratched and clawed only the first couple of minutes but then seemed to calm down.  Maybe because even though my hands and arms were bleeding I was not letting go of her.  I just kept holding and talking to her calmly.  The Dr. Osthus was able to examine the wound and clean it.  He said she was lucky because he did not think she would survive the coming weather had we not taken her in.

After he cut of the skin that was dangling from her he decided to try treating it before doing a skin graft or any surgery.  I was to clean the wound every two hours, round the clock and put an antibiotic cream on it as well as give her antibiotics orally.  It was infected and before he could do much else we had to get that infection down.  We also had to keep her from the other cats so they did not accidentally tear on the wound.

We made a make-shift cage in the living room and I would lay down on the couch near her.  For over two weeks I tended her wound every two hours round the clock.  Finally the infection cleared up but the skin was not growing back as it should.  Smokey would need surgery.  They actually had to pull the skin up from around the belly and over the back to sew it together to close the wound.  The next few weeks again I treated the wound every 2 hours round the clock and gave her antibiotics.  Her 3 brothers and 1 sister barely left the living room and her side.  We all waited, watched and prayed she would come through this.  She was the smallest of the litter and this was such an ordeal for her to go through.

Smokey made it through that crisis and went on to live a normal, healthy active life until a few years ago.  She had a stroke!  Her left rear leg was partially paralyzed.  She got around OK but with some minor difficulty.  But it was touch and go for a while and we were not sure she would pull through.  Smokey is a fighter and a survivor!!

Late Sunday we noticed she was not acting good so we kept an eye on her.  Yesterday she was unable to urinate so Win took her to the vet.  It was time, her body was shutting down.  Smokey had a rough life, but a good life too.  She got great care over the years.  But she and her two remaining siblings would be 24 this year.  That is a very long life for a cat!  Even knowing they don't have much longer, it is still so very hard to say good-bye.  We know that soon Bootsie and Midnight Star will be saying their good-byes as well.  Even so, knowing it, doesn't make it any easier.

Smokey  was a "Maine Coon" cat, also known as a long haired tabby.  This morning I looked for a picture to post on here but could not find one.  I know I have a ton of them on a disc or thumb drive but could not put my hands on the right one.  So I will post a picture at a later date if I remember.

I believe God loves all His creatures and my four-legged babies I have lost over the years are all in heaven now.  Smokey is reunited with her brothers that passed before her and all the others she shared this house with over the years.  Someday, we will all see each other again!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday morning blahs,,,,,,,


It's Monday and I've got the Monday morning blahs.  I was going to write about the violation of Trademarks and Copywrites this morning but when I started doing research on it to make sure I had all my facts straight I realized there is going to be a lot of reading required before I post about it and with the blahs this was not the day to do it.

I think the main reason I have the blahs is once again we are expecting rain.  The rain flares up the fibromyalgia and spine issues and makes me uncomfortable at the very least and in excruciating pain most of the time.  Yup, I have the blahs.

Nonetheless I will be making bread today.  We are almost out and tomorrow it is suppose to be hot and humid so I want to get the baking done today while it is still relatively cool.  Today I will make 3 loaves of bread and a batch of cinnamon buns.  My recipe can make up to 4 loaves at a time or I can divide them and make other things as well.  The last time I made 2 loaves and then the rest I made into hamburger buns and froze them.  I just take them out of the freezer as we need them.

Because I am baking, dinner will be light today.  I'll make a couple of cheeseburgers, chips, dip and some pickles.  The hamburger patties are already made up and in the freezer.  I took a couple of burgers and buns out a little while ago so they will thaw in plenty of time.

I bought a big package of hamburger meat recently.  I made half of it into patties and froze them.  The other half I made into filling for some stuffed shells I am going to make tomorrow.  I then precooked the filling and put it in the fridge.  Today I will precook the large stuffing shells and stuff them with the filling, cover with spaghetti sauce and put them in the fridge for tomorrow.  Then all I have to do is top them with mozzarella cheese and bake them for about a half hour tomorrow.  I won't need to have the oven on long, which is a good thing when it is heating up outside, LOL

The meat was on sale at almost half the normal price so I got a really good bargain.  I will get at least 4 meals out of the one package.  Now that is being frugal!!

Well, I am off to the kitchen to get the bread started.  I hope everyone has a great day!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What was I thinking???


I had a brain hiccup yesterday, what was I thinking?  I thought it was Saturday.  Actually all week I have been a day off in my mind.  I lost a day somewhere!  I don't know, maybe because I have been so wrapped up in genealogy I just lost all track of time.  Anyway, it is tomorrow I won't be posting, not today.  But because I had my days confused I did not have anything planned to write about for today.  I decided to quick snap a few pictures of my office.  It is not completed yet so you are not getting the full view, LOL.  I still have books to add to the shelves and things to put away, but its getting there.  And believe it or not, I also have more pictures to hang,,,,,,, somewhere in here.  :-)

This is the corner by my computer desk.  Mostly mementos from my store and other businesses I have had over the years.
Ancestors, family and pets in this corner
This is the top of the shelving unit that has my TV, on the bottom are books.

The top of 2 huge book shelves.  The big sign in the back was from my store I just closed.  Once I finish filling the shelves with books and get things put away I will add some more pictures here.
That's it for today folks!!  Sorry it wasn't more.  I do hope you have a wonderful weekend!!
Until next time,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Friday, June 7, 2013



As usual I have a million thoughts running through my mind but I decided to write a little about the genealogy I have been doing.  I have actually done genealogy on and off for several years.  I started with my dad's side of the family because it is such an unusual name and I felt it would be easier to track.  I quickly got back into the 1600s with family information.  It was fascinating!!  Revolutionary war heroes, ancestors connected to the Mayflower and Civil War soldiers and much more.

My mom's side of the family proved to be much more difficult.  I had very little information to go on and a very common name, Parker.  All I knew was my grandfather's name and the approximate years of his birth and death and where he was buried.  I had no idea if he had siblings and if so, where they were or had died.  I did not know his parents names either.  Right off the bat I discovered all the records were destroyed by a fire and there was no birth or death certificate.  Years went by and I could not find anything.  My mom's generation are all gone.  I have a few cousins who either did not know anything or were not discussing it.

You can imagine how frustrating that can be when you can find no information at all.  I went back to work on dad's side of the family for a while.  Then I even stopped for a few years.  I tried again, still nothing to be had.  This went on and off for several years.

Recently ancestry.com had a free two week trial and a special deal if you joined.  I took the two week trial and then joined.  Suddenly, everything had opened up and I found all sorts of information!!  Not only did I find my grandfather's parents names, I know his great- grandparents names.  I have census reports, property deeds, obituaries, newspaper clippings, the name of the cemetery, and even some pictures!!

I have met a couple of "woodpile" relatives online and we have joined forces to find even more information.  I may have found the name of my great-great-great-grandfather but am now in the process of trying to confirm that.  Sometimes I feel like I am trying to connect the dots or perhaps putting the pieces of a puzzle together.  Other times it is like looking for a needle in a great big hay stack and seems impossible.  But that one needle will sew all the pieces together neatly like the quilt of our life. 

Along the way I am learning way more about history than I ever did in school.  Actually, I hated history in school, it was my worse subject.  Being able to tie it to ancestors and places I have actually been to makes it interesting to me and so now I am really enjoying it.

I have downloaded a couple of e-books about the history of the area my g-g-grandfather settled in when it was still wilderness.  I have an e-book of the Parker genealogy written in 1889 which takes my family history back into the 1200s in England.  I have a newspaper article stating that Captain John Benjamin Parker of the Lexington, Mass Militia was the great-grandfather of my great-great-grandfather, but I have a couple of generations missing that I need to connect the dots with to prove it without doubt.

I have learned that just because someone told you years ago something it does not make it true and you must have proof for everything.  For example, everyone was told the land that my mother was raised on was a land grant from the King of England to my ancestors pre-revolution, turned out to not be true.  My great-great-grandfather purchased the land in 1853.  I have a copy of the deed to prove it.  I also have a copy of the plat map that shows the boundaries of the land he had purchased.

I have a sibling who insists g-g-grandpa was an Admiral in the British Royal Navy and that is why he was given the land in a grant.  Impossible!!  He was born in NY State, and in 1817 long after land grants were given by the King of England!!  Yes, I have the proof to back it up.

Recently I discovered one of my uncles had been married twice.  Something I did not know!  The first marriage apparently did not last long but was "ordered by the superior court".  That was in 1930, long before I was even a glimmer in my daddy's eye.  No one had ever spoke of it though, so I thought that was interesting.  I believe he had a child with his first wife.  I might have discovered the child's name, but it is not confirmed yet.  If I am on to the right person he would have died very young by an "accidental drowning" and that might explain why my uncle never discussed it.  Time will tell as I am still digging.

Today I plan on punching holes and putting all the documents I have downloaded and printed out into a three ring binder.  It helps to have hard copies to check dates and names from time to time.  And I am accumulating quite a mass of papers now.  It is so interesting to find out about your ancestors in history.  Who they were, where they came from, what kind of work they did, etc.  You can find out a lot about your own personality traits by your ancestors traits.  For example, I definitely have the Parker strong will and determination.  I know it came from them by how they were written about in that genealogy written in 1889 that I mentioned above.

I will not be posting tomorrow for it is the Lord's day.  But I will be back on Monday.  Have a wonderful weekend!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Homemade Chicken Pot Pies,,,,,


I am afraid I over did it making those pot pies yesterday.  I was in so much pain and should have thrown in the towel.  I hate fibromyalgia and neuropathy along with all my spine damage!  I hate having to admit I just can't do things like I used to.  We won't even mention the getting older part!!  I had to stop several times and take breaks and sit down and rest my back and legs but I didn't quit and I managed to get them made.  We ate dinner about 4 hours later than usual though, LOL.  NEVER GIVE UP!!  That is my motto, but I do believe I am going to have to cut back on what I do though.

Anyhow, I changed the recipe slightly to adjust for our likes and dislikes.  I also added some potatoes because I did not have peas the recipe called for but over all, they came out great and I made enough to throw the extras in the freezer for another meal.  Below is the recipe followed by some pictures of the process.  No, there are no pictures of me sitting down taking breaks, LOL.


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed        1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen peas         1/2 cup sliced celery              1/3 cup of butter
1/3 cup chopped onion        1/3 cup all purpose flour             1/2 teas salt
1/4 teas black pepper          1/4 teas celery seed           1 3/4 chicken broth
2/3 cups of milk                       pie crust


1)      Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
2)      In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas and celery.  Add chicken broth and boil for 15 mins.  Drain the broth and set aside the chicken and veges, set the broth aside in another bowl.
3)      In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper and celery seed.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.  Simmer over medium-low heat until thick and then set aside.
4)     Place chicken and veges into prepared pie pans with crust.  (you can either make a larger pie or individual serving pies)  Pour in the gravy mixture to cover the chicken and vegetables.  Place on top crust, seal and cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
5)     Bake in a preheated oven 20-25 minutes for individual servings and 30-35 minutes for a large pie.  Let set for 5-10 minutes before serving.

NOTE:  I doubled my batch and made 8 individual serving pies.  You can change the seasonings to suit your taste and also change the vegetables to your liking or what ever you have on hand.  If you use canned vegetables, do not cook them with the chicken but add them in for the last few minutes of cooking or they will become to mushy.

I made pie dough early in the morning, wrapped it and put it in the fridge to chill.
I had carrot and celery sticks already cut in the fridge so I just chopped them to go in my pies.
I didn't have any frozen peas on hand so decided to peel and cube 3 medium potatoes
That is about 2 lbs of chicken cubed.  I doubled the recipe
I boiled the chicken and veges in this broth
I lined the pie pans with the bottom crust and filled them with the chicken and veges
Sauteed the onions and spices in butter
Added the flour and broth to make the gravy
Filled the pies with the gravy
Put on the top crust.  A batch for the oven and one in the freezer
Can we say yummmmmmmyyyy???
I even had enough gravy left over to do up a large pie using up leftovers someday.  It's in the freezer,,,,for now, LOL
Until next time,,,,,,,,,,Blessings!