Thursday, November 18, 2010

They say 'Never travel faster than your angels can fly'

Like many others in the country, our health insurance premiums have sky rocketed and we can no longer afford our Cobra. But Mr. Clay still has the Veteran's to fall back on. So yesterday, Wed, we took another trip to the VA Hospital in Salt Lake, 150 miles away. We were hoping to get them to carry the oxygen order for the hubster and save us a few shekels.
We packed up the car and headed for Salt Lake City at 6am. We made great timing, the roads were clear, not 1 deer in sight as we drove the most dangerous Hwy in Utah. Mr. Clay insisted on driving the first part of the way, which is of course the most dangerous part, and I knew he would be loathe to give up the reins after we made it through the mountain pass.
1/2 way thru the pass we stopped so I could strap in his oxygen tank. I totally forgot to do that when they loaded it in the car yesterday. So I gotter strapped into the seat belt, which is not easy in the best of circumstances, but was even more fun when it was 20 degrees outside and dark still. And Mr. Clay is 'tudey' because 'I should have had this done last night and blah blah blah...' So he reaches up and switches the station on the radio after we got back on the road, and on came a Christian channel and they were playing music and telling inspiring stories on the air. Now normally he would say 'change it and find something good'...but because he's being 'tudy' with me, there is this silence between us, and I figured maybe he needed to listen to this stuff and mellow out.
We got through the mountain pass and just as I suspected, he continiued to drive on. Still listening to the Christian channel as the sun came up and we were flying down the highway! I saw the speedometer bounce out of range we were going so fast! We got to the VA an hour early, and got some details attended to beforehand and then sat........they were running late and it made for a long day exhausting day. We were drained physically and emotionally when we left. They have now ordered Hospice for my dear husband. They no longer want him making the long arduous trip and exposing himself to more cooties coming into the hosital for Dr. visits. At this point, they just want him kept comfortable. Everytime this disease takes another notch out of him, it is so emotionally draining on both of us, and we both kinda go through a stage of processing and getting used to the idea.
We were really tired by the time we got out of there at 3:30pm, AND we had promised a friend to stop and see him before we went home. Once again Mr. Clay wanted to drive, so we pulled out of the parking lot into the long driveway of the hospital and there was a big thunk! Both of us said 'what was that?' and we looked to see what we ran over? and then Mr. Clay says "I lost the steering" (on the car). He managed to get us pulled out of everyone's way into the Ambulance loading area. I went back inside to the VA and called our friend who was still waiting for us ALL DAY and told him what happened.
I could see that something was hanging under the car (maybe the drive train?) but I didn't know what it was. And Mr. Clay can't bend down anymore so he couldn't know what it was. His guess was a CV boot. All we knew was, he pulled on that steering wheel like heck to get us where we ended up and then it wouldn't budge anymore.
Our friend showed up with AAA card in hand, phoned a tow truck, called his long time mechanic, made arrangements for our car to be repaired, took us to his house, fed us and put us up after a night of reminiscing. It was good for Mr. Clay to get to visit his friends, but you could see the whole car thing was taking a toll on him and the sooner we could get home, the better.
This morning, Thurs, we got the mechanic's call that the engine had dropped off the car, onto the steering column with the motor mounts intact! What are the odds of that happening? And how insanely protected were we flying all way up there? It certainly felt like the Angels were all around us; after all their broadcast was coming though on the radio! We are so thankful that it didn't happen while we were on the freeway busy breaking the sound barrier.
We are home now at last after a repair, but I can see we now need to save our pennies up for a new car. So that's how my last two days went...

Until next time,
XOXOXOXOX and never travel faster than your Angels can fly :)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

It was the best of times; It was the worst of times

I am almost done harvesting this year and have a few pics to share. How cute is that carrot drop? It's no bigger than my pinky fingertip :)
Here is a comparison of our carrots: Those humongous carrots are as big as large baking potatos!

All in all the garden was a success.... for peppers! I harvested over 175 lbs of anaheims (green chiles) and over 75 lbs of jalapenos. Our freezer is more than half full of anaheims and I have countless peppers drying for ristas.
Here's a comparison shot of our jalapenos. The ones on the right are called super nachos
and here is a shot with some Mammoth Jalapenos!
I wish I could say the tomatoes were a success, but everyone had tomato trouble this year. We had frosts turn to extreme heat, then hail and LOTS of rain. Had a few tornados blow through and just as the tomatoes were coming on we had a week of storms and the tomatoes filled up with water and many burst right open whether they were ripe or not. It was so disappointing to watch, but I am thankful that I was able to can 2 cases with these: After that the storms hit, and everything was waterlogged. We have had several frosty nights and last weekend I pulled all the pepper plants. I still have the tomatoes left to pluck and I think I am going to have to learn how to use the tractor for tilling, if Mr. Clay is able to learn me.
He has not done well lately. The pnumonia he had this summer took him down another peg. A shower is a major undertaking now, and he has trouble standing for more than 5 minutes. He doesn't venture outside the house much anymore :(
So it's been the best of times and the worst of times

Til next time...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cheater Chile Rellenos

As promised here is my Cheaters Chile Rellenos Recipe- I apologize in advance for the crummy pics on this one. The kitchen must not have been as brightly lit as what I thought.

Preparation time is less than 15 minutes and baking time is 1 hour. The ingredients you will need are:

anaheim (green) chiles-roasted and peeled --canned whole green chiles will work, too!
1/4-1/2 lb of grated cheese-your choice-I've used colby, cheddar, sharp cheddar, and jack**
6 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups milk-fresh OR canned evaporated will work
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon season salt
*optional-cream cheese
Preheat oven 350 degrees

Butter/grease 8 in round baking dish.

I stuff cream cheese in the chiles that line the sides, but this is optional.
Just slice open the chile and place a thin layer of cream cheese inside; then fold closed the chile and place along the sides of the pan

Next add the grated cheese into the pan. In mixing bowl beat for 2 minutes:

the eggs, milk, flour, garlic, and salt.

Pour this mixture over the cheese and chiles already in the pan.
I add a couple more stuffed chiles on top, but it is not necessary. Bake 1 hour. It will get 'poofy', like a souffle. And when taken out of the oven it will shrink somewhat. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting. **some cheeses will produce more oil than others. If you use an exceptionally oily one, either lay a sheet of foil under your oven rack to catch the oily drippings or reduce the amount of cheese.

Now I know this is not what a chile relleno looks like but believe me the flavor is all there in this scrambled egg pie/quiche version. PLUS you didn't have to spend hours slaving over the stove.
I have served this with avocado slices, guacamole, and cottage cheese. I've also heard that beans are excellent with this.


And until next time,(and who knows how long that could be with the way these peppers are begging to be harvested weekly) on my list is jalapeno peppers. Wait til you see the size of some of these jalapenos!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where's Cindi?

Mr. Clay snapped this picture of me in the garden this morningWhat's that?? ...You say, you can't see me in there? How's this?Need me to zoom in a little closer? I am not squatting or kneeling; some of the tomatoes are taller than me now. I was really stretching my neck to see above them. So far only a handful of ripe tomatoes. But...

this week I harvested 16 pounds of anaheim chiles. This is what they looked like before roasting:

Then that much roasted down to this:

And then after peeling, deseeding and stemming, it bagged up to be this much (16 pounds reduced to 8 pounds)...and off to the freezer they went...

(shown pictured in snack baggies and sandwich baggies; later transferred to 5 qt sized bags)
Well all of them, except one baggie, that will be used to make 'Cheater's Chile Rellenos'. Complete recipe with pics on my next post.

Until then

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2 Month Old Garden

When did all this happen? Sometime between watering, weeding and mowing the lawn the garden sprang up while I wasn't looking. Take a look at the difference between last month and this month's progress:

Tomatoes are starting to set on:
The peppers last month and this month:
And the squashies:
And the different varieties:

Early Straightneck Prolifics-yellow squash

Bennings Green Tint
or "Patty Pan"

Yellow bush
(these are supposed to have a buttery taste)

I lubs me some butter :)

Cocozelle Italian Marrow Squash

We had a huge storm pass through this last week-marble sized hail and flooding rains for almost an hour. I was so thankful our garden was spared. The only tell tale sign left is a mud line on the 7.5 tons of rock that we have our trailers sitting on. Even though we were punded with flash flood rains, the rocks remained above the flooding. So Mr. Clay's idea worked :)

Well, it's about time for me to mow that yard to join me for a sit in the shade and watch the garden grow???
Until next time...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hubster & Garden

Here's a better update than what I left you with last week. I worked a temp job for a couple of weeks and wouldn't you know it, Mr. Clay goes into the hospital right smack in the middle of my commitment to the job? So, here I was, caught between a job and my husband - he was admitted to the hospital the second week I was temping.

There was already no time left to train anyone for what I was doing at the company. Normally I would have been right there at the hubster's side the whole way through; but jobs are tight and this was a repeat performance. I temped there last year, and the lady liked me so well that she asked for me specifically.

It was a handful trying to work full time, keep things under control in the garden (pics in a bit) and then then go to the hospital everyday to take the hubster a care package; what was even harder was leaving him and coming home to try and sleep.

The hubster has been home from the hospital since last Monday night. He felt great in the beginning because they had him all pumped up on steriods. But since he's not on those anymore, his breathing level has not been the best hoped for...he may be having to switch to liquid oxygen in the near future...But for now, when he is sitting or sleeping his oxygen level is at a medium level; and then if he has to move at all from sitting or laying, his oxygen has to be turned up to the highest level. From what we have heard, the liquid oxygen will keep his heart from having to work so hard to pump the oxygen.

We went for his check up today the pnuemonia is still in the bottom lobes of both lungs. She said she'd call in an order of meds at the pharmacy; apparently there has been some kind of mixup and the pharmacy never received the orders and the office closed at noon today. So here we sit, hoping he doesn't get any worse and end up in the hospital again. Any and all prayers and positive thoughts sent his way are greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile he is taking great pleasure at dictating which yard work needs to be done. And instructing me on how to use 'the manly equipment'. I have now done 3 lawn mowings with no male supervision ;) and I think I've done pretty well keeping up on all the weeding and such. Here are some pics submitted for your approval. The small pic was when I planted on Memorial day weekend...

And now here is a month later (this pic was taken June 30)...
In the far left of that shot you can see the peas growing along the fence.; many of them are waist high and some are chest high now. We have had peas everyday now for days. Besides eating straight off the vine, my new fav is sauteed lightly and eaten with rice or all by themselves. But Mr. Clay has found they are tasty in his cup of noodles and in his Ramen too.

Every variety of squash has sprouted. Some are larger than others. And that drought resistant variety so popular in Texas? Well the plant grew about a foot long almost touching the fence ready to climb... and an army of ants moved in at the base of the plant and took it down in less than 24 hours! By the time I saw what happened to the first plant they had moved onto the 2nd plant and its demise was well under way. But here are the other squashes we have...

In the upper right of the pic you can see the carrots, lettuce, and radishes. The 2nd crop of radishes is nearly gone. I should have already planted a 3rd crop, but alas...I have fallen short in this one area.

The peppers are doing great; I'll show close-ups of them on my next garden update.

Until next time, here's a shot looking out my back door
I'll have you know I've mowed that grass 2X with no male supervision ;)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thank You Thank You Thank You

Thank you everyone for taking the time to include my husband in your prayers these last few days. I brought him home from the hospital just a couple of hours ago, and his lungs are definitely working better now than before he went in. After they cleared up the infection in his lungs, they were able to run down his oxygen level. He is not allowed to do anything for 2 weeks except walk a little. They said he was lucky he made it through.

So-thank you everyone for all the well wishes and good thoughts sent his way. I really appreciate it.

Until next time..


Friday, June 25, 2010


Wish I had better news, but my beloved Mr. Clay is in the hosptial and has been since yesterday. He has a bacterial pnuemonia that I must read up on, cause they claim there is alot of people with it in the hospital right now.

Anywho, it is in both lungs, and he is not responding to the meds, and is having severe breathing problems. He has asked for prayers and good thoughts to be sent his way...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The garden is done and so am I

I finally got the garden finished planting last weekend-the final totals are:
*I tried to get all the plants in the pic, but a few just didn't make it in the frames*

32 tomato plants-all grown from heirloom seeds
12 squashes - 5 varieties; also from heirloom seeds (I'll show these when they get bigger).

93 pepper plants-more than half are anaheim chiles-some are the Big Jim variety and their chiles will grow to a foot long!...the rest are: cherry hots, jalapenos-we have a few Super Nachos that grow peppers 5" and a couple of Mammoths that grow fruit 6" or better (we'll see), and 1 lone serrano that somehow sneaked it's way into our cart at the store
The lettuce, radishes and carrots are sneaking into the upper right hand corner of the pic and the far spaced plants next to them is the squashes.

1st and 2nd crop of radishes, lettuce, and carrots...the first crop of radishes has been completely harvested and almost all eaten now. I'm embarrassed to show the 2nd crop up close; they need weeding so badly...

We have been eating salads from the lettuces I thinned. Mr. Clay can't stop raving about how good the lettuce is.

and of course, the gazillion peas...and lookie! Mr. Clay got the neighbor to cut his weeds back away from the fence :)

The peas are full of blooms and have just started bearing pods. I love peas right from the plant; can't stand canned or frozen ones though. *this is just a small section of the row of peas*

I ended up planting 4 tomatoes in a neighbor's yard and gave away more than a dozen; my poor aching arms and hands just could not take anymore planting. Each plant has had its own hole dug, the hard pan clay broken up, mulch and soil added and then planted. I'm really not a wimp; the tiller broke and was in the shop, so I had to do it all by hand...141 individual plants + the peas and radish, lettuce and carrot crops...the only thing left to do is water,weed, and watch them grow.

And remember this shot last time? Well here is the same tree (from a different angle and the grass is starting to come in nicely now
And those trailers??? We moved them out, laid down weed protectant material, and had 7.5 tons of rock hauled in and I 'got' to spread it all out. My arms were like aching noodles afterwards. The rock is about 5-6 inches deep.

The area under the white trailer (which is really Mr. Clay's shed) is the lowest part of our property and when it rains or the snow melts, we always have a pond there, making it impossible to get into the trailer. Mr. Clay's theory is that the rock will be raised enough so that we can get to the trailer during 'wet times'...I shall let you know how this works out.

All this work really took a toll on my body. The old grey mare just ain't what she used to be...My arms and hands were hurting so bad I couldn't sleep through the night for weeks. I finally went and had it checked and turns out I have a bulging disc. I went to my acupressure guy and he fixed me somewhat. I was told not to push, pull, or do anything for 10 days...but you know how that goes. As luck would have it, I got a callback from a temp job I did last year. So I will be temping from Monday thru til the end of the much for that 'rest and not do anything' stuff :)

And finally, our latest toy which actually arrived a few weeks ago is....

the tumbling composter...this will make it easier for us to make our own compost. We have started our first batch with vegetable scraps, egg shells, paper from our shredder, a bucket of rabbit poop from a friend, peat moss, some mulch, and a little depleted soil. And all we have to do is turn it and let it do it's thing.

And "what will we do with all those anaheim chiles?" is the question I keep getting asked. Stay tuned and next time I will share my "Cheater Chile Rellenos" recipe.

We lubs our anaheims :)

Until next time,



Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our Backyard

After the whole Giovanna thing I found it extremely difficult to come back here. (see post below for a short explanation)

The hubster and I have spent the weeks since, preparing our yard for the upcoming garden season. Our garden area is 49' wide by about 55' long. Here is Mr. Clay, in all his glory, riding his tractor tilling up the garden area. He has on his portable air tank (backpack) and he has to wear a dust mask to help protect his lungs:
Since he cannot do heavy strenuous work anymore, I spread gypsum (to help break up our clay soil) and countless wheelbarrowfulls of soil prep (also for the clay) and spread it all over the garden to be tilled in. Here is a far away shot of him on 'compost day' . The dark area is where he hadn't yet tilled, and this shot still blocks off about 12 feet of the left side of the yard.
We cannot plant tender plants (tomatoes, chilis, and squashes) until the end of May here, and even then one year, we still lost half our plants to a late freeze on Memorial Day weekend. So we have spent weeks weeding (burning, cutting and pulling by hand) and cleaning up the rest of the yard.

I don't have any really good shots of how bad the backyard looked because ...well, to be frank, it was quite 'white trashy' looking and I never wanted to have pics of that. This is about the only pic I have, and even then you don't even see the half of it:

And here it is cleaned up... most of the way. We wanted to plant grass on this half of the backyard. And those paving stones you see stacked up there on the left in the shade, are to make a walkway to the garden area :

After planting the grass and laying the pavers:I'd like to say that the grass has come in nicely; but as you can see, it hasn't. This is 3 weeks after planting and the only green you see are very happy weeds. :) Mr. Clay has to till this all up and we have to replant it again, due to us listening to uninformed people at the farmer store where we bought our seed.

This has been the first year we have actually got our butts out (well, ok, me really) and planted the cold crop seeds-peas, radishes, lettuce, and carrots don't mind being planted in the cooler temps. Our peas are doing very well:

See all that green on the other side of the fence? Our neighbors have a ton of weeds! This is only shows about half the peas we planted. We are so going to be so busy minding our peas, we won't even time time for the Q's ;)

Our first crop of radishes, lettuce, and carrots have sprouted and we are already eating fresh radishes.

See the baby lettuces?..they are so cute and in the background is the first feathery leaves of the carrots. If you have never had a homegrown carrot, you don't even know what a carrot tastes like. Talk about flavor! And homegrown lettuce is better than any store bought, by far!

So I planted a 2nd crop:

The second crop is under the white cheese cloth type material. It allows the sun to shine through and also I can water through it. If I don't cover it we have a flock of doves and other birds that come and pick it clean. This way the birds are kept out while the seeds sprout, which has already started:
I also planted two of my squash plants. These are two that I started from heirloom seeds, indoors under lights, and is a variety I have never tried before called 'Tatume'. The fruits are round to slightly elongated are are said to be even tastier than the normal zucchini. I was told they are easily grown onto a trellis or fence, are drought tolerant, and are supposedly resistant to vine borers, too. For those who have grown squash before, you know what a nuisance those squash bugs can be. I shall let you know later if they are in fact resistant to them, and if they indeed grow up the fence.
Well, it's time for me to go cover up the plants for the night(blankies and tarps). We are expecting freezing temps and a chance for snow....and then I hear my world famous tacos calling me for dinner :)
Until next time...