Saturday, July 15, 2017

Truck Bed

Semi trucks drive back and forth across the country every day. Most of them have a sleeper cab behind the driver's seat so that the trucker can pull over and sleep when needed.  Some are fancy with a TV and a refrigerator and some are quite simple.

The bed in the cab-over semi Lee recently bought is one of the simple ones.  Most likely this is because the whole cab lifts up to access the engine underneath and anything not locked down will fall forward.

Lee has been working on the truck, but I am no mechanic so I can't help with that.  I decided to help him refurbish the sleeping area.


First off, the mattress is disgusting.  There are unknown stains on it.  I'm hoping they are spilled Cokes.


But it has to go.


Every job on the interior of this truck starts with tossing the supplies up and then climbing inside.  Don't forget anything, because climbing in and out is a pain.


The platform the mattress sits on also needed help.  I cleaned it and gave it a fresh coat of paint.  I had to tie the seat belts up and off the platform.


I guess they are there so one guy can drive and another can sleep, but still have seat belts on so they don't fly through the windshield in an accident.  On the other hand, it could just be to secure the mattress when they lift the cab.  Who cares about the driver!


I had to buy a new, kind of pricey, non-standard size, mattress to replace the old mattress.  Because, ewww.  Then I had to buy similarly pricey sheets.  Good thing Lee had a birthday recently.  The refurbished sleeping area is my gift to him.


I'm storing the mattress in a guest room for the moment.  I worry about mice setting up housekeeping in it when we aren't really using the truck.  I bought sheets and a spread to use when Lee takes the truck to a cruise in or truck show.  I won't be sleeping in there.  The A/C  in the truck isn't currently working.  But it will look nice all tricked out.

My job is done.  What is taking Lee so long?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017



I have really enjoyed the bruschetta at a local restaurant called Tizzone's.  Recently I decided to make my own.  In addition to the usual ingredients, tomatoes, onions, ( I use the sweet Vidalia onions) green onions, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, I bought an avocado.

I found a nice baguette in the bakery section.  What I did not find in the produce section was basil.  I need to plant some, because our Kroger store is frequently out.  I bought some cilantro instead.  So my treat will be a combination of pico de gallo and bruschetta!


I chopped all the produce and mixed everything together with some salt and pepper.  I left it to meld the flavors and cut the baguette into diagonal slices.  These I toasted in the toaster oven and placed on a plate.


There is a trend now to make avocado toast.  I thought that would make a great addition to the meal.  I placed a wedge of avocado on each piece of toast and smashed it down with a fork.


Then I added the tomato mixture.


I cut up an orange and we had dinner ready for our al fresco dining on the screened porch in the back of our house.


This meal was a hit for both of us.  What I did not anticipate was that the avocado really enhanced the bruschetta.


It kept the vinegar and olive oil from making the toast soggy.  It also kept the tomatoes and onions from biting back on our rapidly aging stomachs!


It was a perfect summer meal.

Mini Orchard

We have a few fruit trees.  They were planted at different times so they are various sizes.  The oldest is 8 years.  The newest was probably planted about 4 years ago.

Every year there has been one problem or another.  The peaches developed peach leaf curl, so now I spray for that every winter.

The dead wilted leaves are the result of the fire blight.

The apple trees developed fire blight.  I have been fighting that for years. You can only treat fire blight two ways.  One is by cutting off the affected limbs.  Other than that, you must spray every three days after you see the buds and until they flower out.  I did this AGAIN this year.  It is better, but every week or so another branch starts wilting.


One year we had quite a few peaches on a young tree.  There was just enough to make a pie. The next morning when I went out to pick them,  the entire tree was stripped of peaches and there were a lot of peach pits under it.  We had a small wire fence around the tree and some small animal had bent up the bottom and had a feast.  The last few years we have had a problem with a late freeze after the peaches have bloomed.  This kills the blossoms and means no fruit for the year.


The late freeze this year destroyed the apricot blossoms.  One of the peach trees is a late bloomer, so it has lots of peaches.


I may actually get some fruit this year!  I will have to fight off the deer and other fruit lovers, but that is RJ's job.


The early blooming peach has a few peaches on it, but they look damaged and spotty.  If you are a peach tree expert, send help!  I am supposing the frost damaged the blossoms a bit, but not enough to totally destroy it.  They may be edible.  I'll find out in a few weeks

If you are an expert, I know I have put off trimming the trees. I plan to catch up this winter.


I have a few plums on the young plum tree.  That looks promising!

The Granny Smith tree with the worst of the fire blight has a few apples, but we have two of them and the healthier Granny has quite a few apples!


When my sister died I was devastated.  My friends at the Fincastle library got together and bought me a pear tree.  It now has a few pears for the first time.  I will think of her every time I eat one.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Peach Shortcake

I saw a recipe for strawberry shortcake using a donut for the shortcake.  That sounded interesting. But then I heard that Bryant Orchards had opened.  They pick fresh peaches each day and put them in their store.  If you have only eaten peaches from the grocery store, you have never tasted a real peach.  The ones at Bryant Orchards are sweet and delicious and not mealy and hard like those in the grocery stores.

I decided to get some fresh peaches and make a Peach shortcake using donuts!

Peach Shortcake

Greek Vanilla Yogurt


This is super easy! Peel and slice the peaches.


Slice the donuts horizontally.  Place some peach slices on one half of a donut.  Spoon some yogurt on top of the slices and then cover the yogurt with more peaches.  Put the other half of the donut on top and you're done!


I took the finished picture and was a little disappointed.  It didn't look too exciting.


Fortunately I had a can of whipped cream in the refrigerator.  That made a better picture.  And added fun to the shortcake!


I was thinking a giant scoop of ice cream would make it even better, but I didn't have any ice cream.  If you have ice cream, then I would definitely add a scoop!

Grilled California Chicken

Have you noticed that you can make almost any recipe a "California" recipe by adding an avocado?  That is what this is.  A great chicken recipe.....with avocado.  I started with a recipe from Delish and made minor changes.

This is a great recipe for the grill, but we don't have one, so I used my George Foreman grill.  Don't judge me.  It counts!

Grilled California Chicken

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
pinch Kosher salt
ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 avocado, sliced
4 slices tomato
3 Tablespoons sliced basil IF YOUR STUPID GROCERY STORE HAS ANY!
sourdough bread, optional


Balsamic Glaze

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar


Place the chicken breasts in a gallon size Ziploc bag.  Mix up all the ingredients listed above chicken breasts. This is the marinade.  Pour it over the chicken.


Place the sealed bag in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Longer is better.


Use the wait time to slice up the toppings and make the glaze.


Pour the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan and add the brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Stir frequently until it is reduced by half.  Easy, right?  Set it aside for later.  Mine thickened too much to drizzle when it cooled, so I just reheated it and then it was perfect.  And quite tasty!


Grill the chicken until it is no longer pink in the middle.  If you have an instant read thermometer, it should be 170 ยบ.  Don't remove them from the grill.


Place the mozzarella, avocado and tomatoes on top of the chicken breasts.  Cover them to melt the cheese.

Place the chicken on toasted sourdough bread and drizzle the very delicious balsamic glaze over the top.  Sprinkle with basil, assuming your store didn't run out on you.....


My avocado didn't want to stay where it belonged.  I just smashed it on the toasted sourdough and placed the chicken on the avocado toast.  Avocado toast is a new ..ish.. trend and I happen to be trendy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A jaunt


Lee has been working on his new-to-him GMC truck.  He touched one of the hoses under the cab and the whole thing disintegrated. This encouraged him to replace all hoses and wires that showed their age, which is a lot of them.


After working on the truck for a few weeks, he decided to take it out for a jaunt in the country.  He had only been driving it in and out of the shelter.  The gearing is different than he is used to and he wanted to do some practice shifting and the steering is way different.


He has the name of the large truck mechanic in case of trouble.  (What did we do before cell phones?)   Once all the small repairs are made, I may go with him.  But only when it is cool.  No A/C.  I am a wimp and require cool air.  That is pricey, so he may not get around to it.


So, if that's the case, I will wait here for him.


He just got back.  The test drive was a success!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cutting Hay

Cutting hay is a miserable, dangerous job.  Strangely the farmer, who I won't name because I didn't ask for permission, loves it.  We have placed large objects on tree stumps that are invisible due to the tall grass and he laughs at us.  He has cut our place and knows every dip and stump.  That is a man that knows what he is doing.

He works a full time job and he and his family run cows, in addition to that.  Most of the people around here that raise cows do that.  Its hard to make a living doing just one job.


He says he loves to cut hay. That is hard to imagine.  You cut the grass and let it dry out in the field before baling it, so you have to cut when it is scorching hot.  The bugs are out and the air is still.  He does it after working a full day elsewhere.  Are there any young people coming up that are willing to work this hard?


This year the farmer got 35 giant round bales for his work. That gives him 35 days of feed for his cows over the winter.  No money changes hands.  He gets the feed for his labor and his diesel to run the tractors. We get our fields cut and this also prevents junk trees and other plant life from taking over.  We used to get hay for our horses, in exchange for allowing him to cut our pastures, but we no longer keep horses, so all the hay goes off the property.


Then Lee got out our tractor and bush hogged the slopes that are too steep to use the baling equipment.  Once again, this is dangerous and hot.  You have to go straight up and down or risk rolling over. You want to cut as close to the tree trunks as possible, while trying not to smack yourself with the branches that are right in your face.


A tractor doesn't stop.  It just keeps chugging along in the direction you pointed it.  The operator has to keep looking ahead and behind while keeping track of multiple foot pedals and hand controls.  You have to maintain focus while going back and forth and around in circles on the same pasture. Don't hit a hidden tree stump.  Don't swerve and flip.  Remember your seat belt!


But when the fields are cut and the rolls of hay are randomly placed, it is a beautiful sight.  I try to remember to stop and appreciate the fact that I get to live here.  It is a damn fine place to be.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ocean Series

I wanted to make a basket for someone who lives close to the ocean.  I searched for some fabric that reminded me of waves and found this blue green fabric with silver highlights.  It reminded me of the color within a wave, with the sunlight glinting off the water.


I looked for, and found, a bright white with some movement to represent the foamy crest of the waves.  


I finished the basket with a starfish charm.  I liked it so much I decided to make another basket with an ocean theme.


The first basket represented a cresting wave.  The next basket will represent the colors of the ocean from very deep and up to the surface.  Many people have been to the beach and noticed the differing colors from where the water is shallow and out where it is deeper.

I grew up in Southern California and spent my childhood at the beach, even living on my sailboat for a time in my wild and crazy youth.  I lived for several years in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Tonga.  I have snorkeled, gone scuba diving, boogie boarded and sailed in many parts of the world.  I love the ocean.  I wanted to make a basket that explored some of these feeling and colors.


The right side of this fabric has gold curlicues and isn't right.  But the inside is a mix of dark blues and is perfect for the bottom of the basket.

The rest of the basket is an ever changing mix of batiks in shades of blues and greens, with designs to represent the seaweed and other plants growing in the oceans.


The top of the basket has the light blue green fabric with the white from the first basket.  I completed the basket with a mix of small, polished, blue stones for coral and a seahorse and clam shell peeking out of my miniature reef.


Do you think this is a good representation of the ocean?  I am really liking this exploration and am already planning another basket.