Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers

My goal for the past year has been to throw out less leftovers. Waste not, want not – that is the saying, isn’t it? For some reason though, no matter how hard I try or how often I serve leftovers in one form or other, at the end of every week there are more glass bowls filled with leftovers lining the shelves of the fridge than I started with.

Don’t over simplify this and suggest I just make less initial food so there wouldn’t be any leftovers in the first place. That isn’t an option. Grace takes them to work, Zeb takes them to school, and I do get some really great ‘Leftover Makeover’ concoctions that in some cases turn out better than what I first started with. So less is not the point. The point is the quantity of leftovers in my fridge increase the more I use them.

Now I am the first person to take responsibility when I do something wrong, or at least I try. But, I don’t believe I should take all the blame for this. I’m not certain and I certainly wouldn’t quote me on this, but I do believe there is some sort of “Law” out there about the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers. But if for some strange reason this hasn’t been discussed/discovered yet, I am right now taking claim to it – Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers.

Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers states that the harder you try to get rid of leftovers–the more effort you put into using up what at first try didn’t get eaten, the more leftovers you will accumulate until eventually they spoil and end up being thrown out, thus canceling out any intentions of the initial goal to get rid of your leftovers before they spoil.

I know, I know! You are probably wondering how I ever came up with such a thing. After all, correct me if I’m wrong…isn’t the point of cooking with leftovers, to “eliminate” the leftovers – not to make more?

That’s what I thought! I knew I couldn’t have been wrong all these years, but then again I admit that 9 out of 10 times when I cook with leftovers, I end up making even more leftovers. This obviously doesn’t happen when I “reheat” leftovers and serve them in their original form. No, then, and pretty much only then, I truly do either eliminate or at the very least make a dent in them. The trouble starts when I use leftovers in a “makeover” dish. This is when I find myself adding to the ever growing stacks of glass storage dishes layered one on top of another as high as the eye can see on every shelf of the fridge.

Let me share with you my latest example.

Thursday I made corned beef with boiled potatoes and fried cabbage for dinner. At the end of the meal I had three bowls to go in the fridge. One bowl with the extra corned beef, one bowl with the leftover potatoes, and a small bowl of fried cabbage. Plus I had half a head of cabbage still in the fridge that I didn’t use for dinner.

Friday I decided to try to use up the corned beef in a new meal. I made Chicken Reuben Roll-ups with Mornay Sauce. Plus I used the leftover boiled potatoes and made a Mashed Potato Casserole. Perfect, I could use up two of the leftovers in one shot. Well, things didn’t work out quite as I planned.

At the end of the meal we had leftover Chicken Reuben Roll-ups, Mornay Sauce, and Mashed Potato Casserole – three new bowls. Two bowls came out of the fridge, three bowls went back in. I was already losing ground.

Oh, and just when I think it can’t possibly get any worse, it does. Many a time when I use leftovers to make a new meal (a ‘makeover’), I don’t even use up all the old leftovers in the process. This leaves me with not only all the new glass storage dishes to hold the makeover leftovers, but also all the old ones holding the original leftovers. Albeit some of the old leftover dishes are possibly half empty or may have been transferred to smaller dishes, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are more leftovers now than there were in the first place.

So, back to my Chicken Reuben Roll-up makeover meal. In the process of making the Chicken Reuben Roll-ups, I didn’t use up all the corned beef so there was still that dish. Oh, and although I did use up all the boiled potatoes in the Mashed Potato Casserole, the casserole called for 6 slices of cooked bacon. I couldn’t very well just fry up 6 slices, so a pound of bacon got cooked and crumbled and what didn’t go into the casserole, went into another glass bowl.

So, I started out with 2 glass bowls coming out of the fridge to use up, and put five back in. It’s no wonder there’s never any space in the fridge and this does justify why Hubby can never find anything in there either (and here I just thought that was a man thing – don’t tell him that though, I’d never live it down).

But, not to be discouraged, today I decided to use up the remaining corned beef and the rest of the cabbage in Corned Beef and Coleslaw Sandwiches. At the end of the meal there was one sandwich left and some coleslaw. Two bowls came out, two bowls went back in. Okay, no gain, but then again no loss either.

Now, there aren’t enough leftovers for a meal for the four of us, so guess what? That’s right, tomorrow I’m making something new. Sure Grace will take some of the leftovers on Monday to work and Zeb might be persuaded to take some to school, but that will just make the leftovers even smaller, thus not enough for a meal for three, then not enough for two, then Everyone Will Be Sick Of Eating Them And They Will Get Pushed To The Back Of The Fridge Until Weeks From Now I GET SO FRUSTRATED WITH HAVING NO SPACE TO PUT ANY LEFTOVERS THAT I TEAR EVERYTHING OUT OF THE FRIDGE AND FIND THEM ALL MOLDY AND GROSS AND END UP THROWING THEM DOWN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL CURSING UNDER MY BREATH THE WHOLE TIME ABOUT ‘WASTE NOT, WANT NOT!’

Whew! Well, I feel better. Sure I didn’t really solve anything here today, but at least now I can blame it all on Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers and perhaps come to accept that some things are just never going to change. And hey, I got five great new recipes out of my corned beef and boiled potato makeovers, it doesn’t get much better than that. And for this I am – Simply Grateful.

Addiction

I have a problem.

There, I’ve said it. Now, isn’t that supposed to be the first step, half the battle, or count for something anyway?

Yes, I have a problem, an addiction really, and I didn’t realize it until just recently. I had an idea that perhaps there might be a small issue, but actually, now that I have faced the facts, I realize this is far more serious than I ever allowed myself to believe.

Sure I put up a good front, not letting on that lurking just below the surface, behind closed doors, heck even under the mattress that there was a secret I couldn’t bear to reveal to anyone. Not even myself.

Most of the time I keep it in check. Out of necessity really. I mean, addictions can be very expensive. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and somehow I find a way more often than I should.

Now, I’m not discounting that there are many addictions out there far more worthy of attention than mine. This is by no means meant to poke fun at such a thing. But in a way I think everyone has an addiction of some sort be it to sugar, television, smart phones, working out, or even gardening or say cooking (yeah, I’m definitely borderline when it comes to those last two).

My addiction isn’t serious in the sense that I could hurt myself or others, unless of course I find myself somehow trapped under the fruits of my addiction or Hubby finds out and tries to perhaps “help” me, in which case, YES, he could get hurt. For the most part though, the only consequences of my weakness are a lighter checkbook and the continuing shrinkage of space available to enable me. Although I don’t think there could ever not be enough room for just one more…

So, here it goes…without further procrastination…there’s no time like the present to fess up…it’s time to be brave and acknowledge one of my many shortcomings in life…

I am addicted to…of course to many of you out there this will probably come as no great surprise and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this and many of you share this same affliction…

Where was I?

Oh yeah, I am addicted to —

COOKBOOKS!

I know, I know. This isn’t the end of the world. Things could be worse. But if you only knew how many cookbooks I really have and how I never think I have too many. Sure I have those few gems proudly displayed on my baker’s rack in the kitchen, and a few sparsely placed about the house for show, but if you were to sneak a peek into the cabinets in my dining room or open any of the many binders hidden among the books on every bookshelf in the house, you’d find cookbook after cookbook after cookbook after personally compiled cookbook. And this is after I vowed to scale down and get rid of my collection.

Actually I’ve down scaled my collection twice thus far in my lifetime. The first time was after Hubby and I were married. I’d collected hundreds of cookbooks prior to our marriage with the good intentions of using each and every one of them until my fingers bled. Throw in a new house, two kids, home schooling, part-time jobs, and life in general, and cookbooks became the least of my concern. So at a garage sale I sold off more than 3/4 of my collection, keeping only those I truly used or just couldn’t part with.

Then, as the kids got older I began volunteering at our local library for their used book sales. What a little piece of heaven that was. Not only did this enable my cookbook addiction like never before, but I also acquired a passion for children’s books (here I managed to collect more than 5,000 children’s books), mysteries (who knew there were so many mystery series that included recipes), and Christmas books (everything from decorating ideas to cooking to traditions from around the world). In all, over the course of ten or so years I managed to fill our house and every bookshelf in it with more than 8,000 books.

When the kids graduated from home schooling and began schools outside the home, I began downsizing my children’s book collection. I donated more than 1/2 of them to an elementary school and then sold the rest to a book dealer for practically nothing. The Christmas books too have nearly completely been donated back to the library. I have only two bookshelves of children’s books and one of Christmas books in the basement. All of the mystery novels have been donated to local charities, except for a few that have recipes in them I don’t want to just copy and stick in a binder.

The cookbooks…well, this is another matter. While I did go through and scan recipes out of nearly 1/3 of them and then donate them to St. Vincent last year, there are still lots of cookbooks I just can’t seem to part with. And to make matters worse, a good friend of mine introduced me to America’s Test Kitchen and now I am addicted to their cookbooks, their website, and even on occasion their shows. (Thanks Suzanne!) So far I have bought five of their books off Amazon, found two at the library book sale, and have three or four in my cart on Amazon for whenever I get the money to buy them.

For me a cookbook is not just a collection of recipes. I read them like books and because of this, I prefer cookbooks that share the history behind the recipe, the theory that makes the recipe work, or any personal insight an author is willing to share. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to read where a recipe originated, what ingredients were tried and then changed because they just didn’t work well, or how someone’s great-great-grandmother brought the recipe over from England when she came here with her husband seeking a better life. Danielle Steele, James Patterson, and J. K. Rowling have nothing on Mark Bittman, Julia Child, and Christopher Kimball.

Addiction, obsession, or quirky hobby — whatever you want to call it, for me cookbooks are it. There have been many other addictions through the years, but none have held on so long or so strong and I do believe this is one that is going to stay. It does go in spurts. Especially if someone happens to entice me with say watching an episode or two of America’s Test Kitchen (which opened up a whole can of worms — America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Country, Cook’s Illustrated) or perhaps sharing a movie with me (Julie & Julia – which led to a near obsession with Julia Child!), then all bets are off. (Again, thanks Suzanne!)

Anyway, I just had to get this off my chest. I’m really in a hurry now because I just got a delivery from the mailman. He has a box of three brand new cookbooks I got on sale and the evening is young, I’ve got a hot cup of caffeinated coffee, and Hubby is working in the office — and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

The Bathroom Incident

I sat on the edge of my unmade bed staring into the bathroom knowing what I had to do. For months I’d been avoiding it, many months, too many months. Excuses had been made time after time until finally there were no more excuses, no more getting around it, no more denying the inevitable.

Already my day had been full and it was only 8:00 a.m. I’d made breakfast for the kids, gotten them both off to school, done a 45 minute workout, put in a second load of laundry in the washing machine, and had one drying in the dryer, put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, taken out some meat for dinner and set it on the counter to defrost, and wrote three things on my daily to do list in the hopes it would motivate me to actually do them. Surely such a productive morning could be rewarded, surely this would warrant the governors reprieve from what I knew was waiting for me in the bathroom.

A new excuse — Hooray!

But alas, I knew this lame excuse would not be enough to thwart the guilt I would carry with me, as I had been for months, if I didn’t just bite the bullet and do what had to be done. It wasn’t like it was going to take me any time. In fact it would all be over in just seconds. The trouble was I didn’t want to face the ugly truth. It was far too easy to ignore the situation than to walk that lonely mile, or ten or so feet in this case, and deal with what was absolutely necessary if anything I did the rest of the day, week, or month was going to make any difference.

Yes, the time had come and as much as I really wanted to just shut the bathroom door, walk away, forget all about it, and go on living in blissful ignorance, I knew I just could not do it. Not and be able to look at myself in the mirror again.

Mirrors! That was all part of the problem. Every morning when I look in the mirror I see what I want to see. I have gotten very good at fooling myself, brainwashing almost, into believing that everything was fine and there was no reason to do it. No reason to rock the boat. But there were tell-tale signs everywhere beyond the fun-house mirrors I’d convinced myself were real that even if I wanted to ignore them, I couldn’t.

No, there was nothing I could do, nothing I could say, nothing I could dream up as a reasonable excuse to delay walking into the black hole that surely would destroy the false sense of complacency I’d spent months building, designing, engineering to justify my actions.

Slowly I slid my feet onto the cold floor and with my hands firmly on the bed, pushed myself to a standing position. Halfway there. Not really. Standing was surely not half the battle here. Actually it was just the first step to the many it was going to take to actually do this deed.

Sucking in a deep breath I closed my eyes and took a step. My feet felt like lead. The natural spring in my step was now nothing more than a mere dragging of cinder blocks across the floor. My heart began to race.

“Maybe I’ll have a heart attack before I get there,” I thought to myself. “Then I’d really have an excuse worthy of listening to.”

The cinder blocks dragged on, slowly closing the distance between me and my nemesis. Sweat began to stream down the back of my neck and drip into my eyes from my forehead. Why was this so darn stressful? People do it all the time. In fact, some people do it everyday and think nothing of it. Why oh why had I put this off so long? Why had I spent so much time trying to avoid this when I knew it would only make matters worse? Ignorance is a wonderful thing, until reality smacks you upside the head and tells you “You’re only hurting yourself.”

I crossed the threshold into hell — I mean the bathroom, and the cold ceramic tile made me wince. A mere pat on the back compared to the slap in the face I knew was waiting for me just a few feet away. Reaching the end of the road I stood staring aimlessly at the wall in front of me, refusing to look anywhere else.

Closing my eyes I sucked in one last breath of air and stepped up with one foot and then the other. Firmly positioned at my destination I squeezed my eyes tighter, willing them to glue themselves shut. No luck. I opened my eyes and looked up, then to the right, then to the left. I looked everywhere and anywhere I could except where I needed to look — down.

For hours (actually minutes, but it sure felt like hours) I stood there, enjoying every last-minute of life as I knew it, as I had convinced myself it was okay to be, before I finally let out the breath I’d been holding and looked at my feet. There it was. I could no longer go on telling myself nothing had changed. It was right there in front of me, in black and white — literally.

How could this have happened? How could I possibly have let things get this far out of hand? Panic began to set in. How was I ever going to fix this? It was worse than thought, worse than I imagined, although to be honest my alternate reality had really convinced nothing was wrong so thinking and imagining were rarely, if ever, done.

I jumped back onto the hard floor and quickly retreated back to the bed. It was done! I’d finally done that which I hate doing the most. That which causes me more stress and anxiety than it should because I put it off rather than deal with it. That which in order for any changes I make to mean anything needs to be faced and addressed. It was over and now I could move on, make plans, deal with it. None of this gave me any comfort. No, the writing was right there on the wall, well not exactly the wall but close, and it was time to face the music.

Yep — 155! That’s what the scale said. ONE FIVE FIVE! ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FIVE.  ONE WITH TWO FIVES AFTER IT. FIFTY PLUS FIVE PLUS ONE HUNDRED. TWO HUNDRED LESS FORTY-FIVE. ONE HUNDRED, FIVE TENS, AND FIVE ONES.

My heart was in my throat. Sure the holidays had been full of wonderful food and lots and lots of sweets, but that’s what the holidays are for. But this has started long before the holidays were even a line on my to do list. I’d been ignoring the ever tightening jeans, the rolls that formed on my back between my bra straps, and the ever-increasing chins that formed when I lowered my head toward my chest (actually lately I’m not sure I even have to lower my head for this to happen!).

Yes, I’d finally gotten myself back down to the gym and was making great strides at maintaining a regiment, adding more reps, increasing the weight, and getting my heart rate going three or four times a week — but this was almost too much to bear. How was I possibly ever going to get back into shape, lose the weight, have the will power not to eat chocolate, sweets, sugar — basically everything I love to eat and cook with. No, this was just too much for any one person to deal with.

So without looking back into that horrid place that houses that tortuous contraption called “a scale,” I threw on some clothes, grabbed my coat and keys, opened the garage door, and got in the car. There was only one thing that was going to change my mood, give me hope, make that ugly memory of what will be forever referred to as “the bathroom incident” forgotten. I tore out of the driveway, flew down the street (stopping only when absolutely necessary), and headed to the hairdresser.

Yep, nothing like cutting off 8 inches of hair to bring that scale down an ounce or two. Hey, and if your hair is really thick like mine, you might actually be looking at nearly a whole half pound. Then, on my way home I stopped off and bought myself a candy bar to celebrate. No point in letting my well-intentioned efforts go unrewarded now, is there?

So, that was my morning. How’s yours been? I’m home now, planning on how to continue making all the sweet concoctions I want to share with the family and somehow be able to show restraint and not eat them myself, and working on menus of salads, yogurt, cottage cheese, and fresh vegetables for myself while the family still gets to enjoy loads of mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables in cream sauce, and other gazillion calorie entrees that can no longer be on my plate. But I’m not bitter. No, I got myself in this mess and it’s up to me to do the time and get myself out of it.

I sure am hungry though. What I wouldn’t give for a fresh slice of garlic cheese bread right about now — but instead I’m going to go make a fresh salad for lunch, and for this I am (sort of) — Simply Grateful.

The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas to start the New Year right

I caught up on dirty laundry and made everything clean & bright!

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Starting the New Year off on the right foot is a good thing, at least it feels that way. For weeks as the push for getting everything done for the holidays closed in, everything around the house seemed to be put on the back burner. And I do mean everything.

Nothing got cleaned, nothing got washed, nothing got put away. If people were coming over, I threw clutter in things, under things, or buried them under a stack of presents for camouflage. Dishes were only done when there wasn’t one dish left in the cupboards. Laundry got done only after Hubby threatened to start wearing my underwear if he didn’t get some clean ones of his own. Waste baskets overflowed making it easy to shoot baskets with wadded up tissues because the basket was buried under a mound of already wadded up tissues so the target was three times its original size. And the dust was so thick on the end tables and floor that I dared not put on a ceiling fan for fear of reducing visibility in the great room to zero.

Yep, the house was trashed and I couldn’t stand it, but what could I do. Running away sounded good, but if I ran away, Hubby and the kids would just want to come with me, and then what would I be accomplishing. Ignoring the situation certainly wasn’t an option, not when you’re tripping over piles of papers, wading through baskets full of dirty clothes, and constantly moving stacks of dishes from one spot to another just to find an inch of counter space to pour a glass of milk.

So, what better way to start off a new year than to spend it trying to get caught up on some long overdue house cleaning and laundry that I seriously think could have walked itself to the washing machine. Obviously not everything could get done in one day, but even finishing one load of wash, running the dishwasher one time, and clearing a couch off so we could comfortably sit and enjoy a movie as a family is success in my book.

I’ve got the rest of the year to get caught up and catch my breath, and with any luck maybe I’ll be more organized and prepared for the holidays in 2016 — or not. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all, even if it is a day late — but heck it is still the new year and when exactly will it become the old one? For now, I’m going to enjoy the smell of a freshly dried towel from the dryer, eat off a clean plate with a clean fork, and yes, put my feet up on my still cluttered coffee table while sitting on my uncluttered couch — and for this I am, Simply Grateful.

The Rantings Of A Burned Out Canner!

Every morning when I come downstairs from a restless nights sleep, I know exactly what is waiting for me, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Canning season has been in full swing for what seems like FOREVER now and the house, the kids, Hubby, and especially myself are really starting to suffer for it. As I trudged down the stairs this morning, dreading what I knew was waiting for me in the kitchen, as well as every other room in the house, the first thing that popped into my head was:

I want a clean stove!

Is that really too much to ask for? Can having a clean stove be something I will only dream about or is it something that might actually, possibly, just maybe happen some day in my life before we have to replace it for the third time because I’ve burned yet another one out?

Don’t get me wrong, I do clean my stove. Not as often as I should, or probably as often as most people do, but it does get clean. The trouble with cleaning it though is that gosh darn it if it doesn’t just get completely dirty again. And we are not just talking a spill here or a drip there. No, we are talking totally and completely unrecognizably stained, burned and splattered.

I don’t think I’m a messy person. I wouldn’t consider myself to be flippant when it comes to cleaning up messes, but my stove is NEVER, and I don’t use that word lightly, clean. Even when it’s clean, it’s not really clean. There is always just a subtle streak, a tiny spot, or because this stove is now several years old those black marks that just won’t come off there to mock me. Is it a curse? Am I the only one who can’t seem to have one day when her stove is clean for more than the ten minutes between meal preparation, canning projects, or kitchen endeavors?

Realizing that a clean stove just might be too much to ask, I began to think about all the other things that I want, and the list was HUMONGOUS!

  • I want a kitchen floor that I can walk on barefoot and not have to worry about crunching, sticking, or slipping.
  • I want kitchen cabinets without food drips all down the front of them.
  • I want empty counter space. Yep, either the counters are filled with full canning jars, empty canning jars, stacks of dishes to be cleaned, pots and pans to be scoured, or food to be processed.
  • I want a kitchen table without crumbs all over it because no one thought to shake out the tablecloth after the last five dinners I made.
  • I want a kitchen sink that isn’t already full of dishes soaking or stacked so high you can’t even use the faucet.

Then I moved from the kitchen:

  • I want coffee and end tables that aren’t covered and stacked with recipes, note books full of notes on future blog posts, gardening books, and all sorts of papers strewn on every table and taking up every cushion on the couch.
  • I want to know what color my carpeting is. I think we have navy blue, but for all the dust, lint, dog toys and hair, and other paraphernalia all over it I just can’t be sure. Doesn’t anyone around here know what a vacuum is – oh yeah, that’s my job. Okay then, I want my carpet vacuumed.
  • I want to know what watching television without a ½ inch of dust on it is like.
  • I want to know who keeps putting all those cobwebs in every corner and in every crevice imaginable.
  • I want the stack of ironing sitting on the fireplace to magically be done and all the baskets of unfolded laundry folded and put away.

Moving upstairs:

  • I want the sheets on every bed to get a washing that is too long overdue.
  • I want all the work that needs to be done in Zeb’s room behind me: The border on his ceiling needs removing, the walls need to be primed and repainted (including the ceiling and closet), his videos, trophies, and anything on his dressers or bookshelves need to be boxed so we can throw out his old “little boy” furniture to make way for his new bedroom set being delivered in a couple of weeks, we need to remove the old carpet and put in the new, and I need to find new bedding, make a new window treatment, and all the finishing touches a remodeled room requires. I want it done before he turns 22, which is in a few months, but in reality I have less than a month to get all the prep work done before the furniture arrives.
  • I want to wash my windows. Yes, you read that correctly. I WANT to wash my windows. I hate washing windows but at this point the prospect of washing them appeals to me. I basically only streak them, but I want clean windows so I’m willing to streak them as only I can and clean the tracks too! Of course the reason I want to clean windows now, when it isn’t really a priority, is probably because there is no way in the world I’m going to do it. When I actually have the time for such a project, I will hate every minute of it, but if I went upstairs right now and started cleaning any window, I think I’d find some sort of distorted comfort in it.

Miscellaneous:

  • I want a fresh cup of coffee. I have been drinking out of the same pot of coffee, just reheating it, for the past three days now. A fresh cup of coffee sounds so good right now, but a luxury that cannot be – BECAUSE I’D NEED A CLEAN SPOT ON THE COUNTER IN ORDER TO MAKE IT!
  • I want all the shoes that everyone just tosses off and leaves in the entrance to the laundry room put away where they belong. Let me qualify that by saying “put away by the people who tossed them there” and not by me!
  • I want someone to walk Bell. Although it does give me a reprieve from everything overwhelming me here in the house, it would sure be nice to have someone else take her for a change.
  • I want dinner done. No matter what I do all day long, dinner is the one thing that absolutely, positively, without fail has to get done TOO! Not in leu of, but along with. How nice it would be to actually spend a day just making dinner and not have to worry about everything else on my perpetual to do list.
  • I want the gardens to be cleaned out. The cucumbers and peas are done and need to be cleared to make way for spring crops and there are several gardens that need revamping for next year as well.
  • I want all the peppers and tomatoes waiting to be harvested picked and processed, the pumpkins pureed and frozen and the corn dried. Actually at this point I just want the peppers and tomatoes to STOP. The peppers especially seeing as I can’t figure out anything to do with them and there are at least a few hundred more peppers out there to pick.

Is all this really too much to ask?

Oh, and I want a stocked, full pantry. Wait. I forgot…the pantry.

Yes, this is stocked and overflowing. A testament of where my time has gone, what I’ve been doing, and why everything else in our house seems to be in complete upheaval and an utter disaster. So is this the price I have to pay for a full pantry?

The argument could be made to pace myself. How??? Fruits and vegetables wait for no one. The window of opportunity for preserving is so short that it is impossible to stop and smell the roses. So the only thing to do is push forward and keep telling myself “this too shall pass.”

Still, what I wouldn’t do for a fresh cup of coffee right about now, and with that I’ll sign off – Simply Grateful.

The Scariest Scarecrow Ever!

This morning as I sat enjoying my first cup of coffee I peered out the great room doorwall admiring the pumpkin flowers that had bloomed. Movement caught my eye and looking up into the corn I noticed a tiny flock of sparrows chasing each other through the corn, stopping just long enough to tear at the tops of the corn.

Uh-huh! Another unwelcome critter in my garden. This fix however was going to be much less invasive to the garden and far more fun than eliminating the cucumber beetles, Japanesse beetles, and slugs. Yep, this type of intruder called for a scarecrow.

Setting to work, I gathered a 7 foot 1 x 2 and two scrap pieces of 1 x 2 2-feet long each. Next I scavanged an old pair of jeans from my drawer and an old work shirt. Placing the clothing on the 7 foot board I measured out where I wanted the clothing to fall and screwed the 2 foot sections to it. To reinforce the joints I wrapped twine around the cross and tied it off.

Next was the fun part, I began to dress my scarecrow. I cut lengths of twine to suspend the pants by the belt loops from the arm bars and then stapled the twine in place so it wouldn’t move. Then I slipped the shirt over the arms and buttoned it up. By this time it was really starting to look good. I carried my scarecrow to the garden and pounded it in the ground.

It looked good, but of course I was just getting started.

Figuring out what to use for the head was a bit of a challenge. Not having any burlap or really any plain material, I recycled an old kitchen apron and stuffed it with plastic bags to make it round. I then slipped the head over the top of the 7 foot board and tied it securely in place just above the collar.

Every scarecrow needs a hat, and this I found in my closet. I punched two holes in the brim and ran another length of twine through these and secured the hat to the head, tying it under the chin. The head was filled pretty solid with bags, so the hat was a tight fit, but the twine will make sure that the hat doesn’t fly away should the wind pick up.

In order to make sure that this scarecrow did a good job scaring birds and other critters away, I then found two foil pie tins to attach to the arms. I punched a hole in the side of the pie tin, threaded a piece of twine through the hole, attached two washers that would hit the foil tin and make noise, and then pulled the twine back up through the hole. The length of twine was then attached at the very end of the wooden arm frame and the sleeves of the shirt were pulled over the twine.

Now the scarecrow really looked like something. But what about a face? Obviously I could use a black marker and draw a face on it, but I could do that anytime. I wanted something really scary, something that would teach these birds a lesson.

Then, it came to me. I ran to the computer and began flipping through years of family photos. Finally I found the perfect one. I cropped it, enlarged it, and printed off. Perfect. I cut off the edges and with some straight pins attached it to the head of my scarecrow.

Stepping back I laughed out loud. This was too funny. But would Hubby agree? I had to chance it.

All morning I kept sneaking peeks at my scarecrow, making sure the face hadn’t torn or blown away. When Hubby came home for lunch I met him at the door. I told him, “I did something today and I want you to take it in the spirit it was intended. I made a scarecrow.”

He tilted his head and said, “What? Did you put my picture on it?”

Laughing I told him, “No, better.”

We walked to the window and looked out at my scarecrow. Hubby burst out laughing, wrapped his arms around me, and gave me a kiss.

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It was his mother!

Once he stopped laughing he said, “We’ve got to take a picture and send it to her.”

Now my mother-in-law only lives 5-minutes away, but I see her less than once a month. Hubby sees her more often, but lately only under protest. Mother-in-laws can be great, but not always. This scarecrow is our way of enjoying her company without actually having to spend time with her. I tell you, I have never seen so much of my mother-in-law in my life and she has never made me smile or laugh so much.

When Hubby was getting ready to leave for the gym a little bit ago he came and gave me a kiss goodbye and I reminded him, “Say goodbye to your mother.” He obediently went to the window and said, “Bye Mom.” How much fun can you have with a scarecrow?

Having fun with the garden — and for this I am, Simply Grateful.