Monday, December 12, 2011


It was a nice day for "almost winter" so I decided to drop the top and take the Miata down the hill to the bank. With windows up, heater on and ear muffs & gloves, it was a fine drive. The sky was blue and I thought, "This is why I have a convertible!" (I ignored the wind chill). I made my way to the drive up window. Not thinking...I turned off the car whilst I made my deposit. And as luck would have it, the car went "wha, uh, no" when I attempted to start it. That's what I get for not driving it so much in the winter. Of course the drive up lane is narrow and there were some big ass SUV's behind me that were stuck until I could move. So the man in the SUV behind me got out and was surprised at how easily he could push the car (it only weighs 2400 lbs) over to the parking lot. Bank employees came out to see if they could help. I called my riding mechanic but he was in the shop and didn't have a phone out there at the time. What to do? That's when a former Soroptimist club member of mine who worked at the bank (who knew?) offered to take me up the hill to home where I collected Jack and his jumper cables.
You have to admit that's PERSONAL SERVICE!
The battery is in the trunk! Here Jack is checking the voltage each day with the John Fluke meter to see if the 3-year-old battery is having "issues." So far it hasn't "trickled down" much. Perhaps my mistake was running the headlights (which I always do no matter the weather since folks just don't see a low profile vehicle because they are so used to seeing SUV's!) Evidently my short trip was not enough to let the alternator overcome the drain of the headlights.
So more driving, less garage time is the motto from now on because modern cars have computers that use a bit of current all the time and WILL take the battery down.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Our traditional December weather pattern in the Rogue Valley...high pressure...up to 30.6 that just sits over the valley and causes air stagnation. So with that we get fog and cold temps...23 degrees this morning at 7am so the fog turns into frozen fog.

Free flocked Christmas trees, anyone?

A winter wonderland of frost but all we can say is BURRRRRRR!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I ventured out on a sunny, 45 degree day to turn my leaf bin in hopes of getting more air into the pile so it would start decomposing. When I dug in, I saw some whiffs of steam. i stuck in my hand and the pile is warm. Turns out that it is already in process due to the addition of compost starter and rain.

Wonder if I can "cook" the Christmas ham in there? In one of my favourite books, "The 3,000 Mile Garden," (a correspondence between a food & garden writer for Yankee magazine in Maine named Leslie Land and a food writer in London (Roger Phillips) who managed one of London's most prestigious squares....(well, you have to be a gardener I guess to enjoy the book)...anyway, Roger gets the bright idea to roast a 20 pound ham for New Year's in his compost pile! He put it in for 24 hours after pre-heating it in the oven. The next day he had a fully cooked ham!
Probably my pile isn't big enough for that! But I am temped to try! Maybe a smaller, boneless ham that is already cooked but just needs heating up...Could work...

Monday, November 14, 2011


Our new yard has two big-ass maple trees and they can put down a lot of leaves. We knew we needed some electric help so we purchased a Worx electric leaf shredder from Sears.
We discovered that if we run over the newly fallen leaves with the lawnmower and then run them through the shredder, we get a nice fine product that we can mulch. Since maple leaves are not high in cellulose, they should decay quickly so we can use them next year around the plants in the garden. Our cubic yard wire bin bought many years ago from Gardener's Supply holds them in check whilst letting air and rain get to them. I add a bit of compost maker to the layers to help things along over the winter.
Luckily for me, Mr. A does the grinding!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


After waiting for many years, those of us who have had to go out of town to shop at Trader Joe's will be able to stay right here in Medford and enjoy Trader's bounty. The Mail Tribune calls us TJ shoppers "a cult following."

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Those little brown morsels on the right side of the plate are one of our favourite breakfast treats...fresh Pacific oysters, direct from Costco. Every year about this time when the weather cools, we get a hankering for things oysterish, including oyster stew. I always save out a few for breakfast. Served with eggs, grits, bacon & toast...we don't have to eat again until dinner! Is that a fog horn I hear?


Yeah, we knew it was gonna happen soon...tons of maple leaves have covered up the yard, making it a sea of mainly yellow with a bit of orange & red. Mr. A has been grinding them up and adding them to our wire bin that we hadn't used since our days with the big oak trees at Dark Hollow. Turns out that maple leaves have far less cellulose than oak so they grind up easily and will turn into leaf mulch a lot faster. Something tells me we'll be spending a noticeable part of this winter in leaf management!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Unlocking my inner Italian...(Armenia is close to Italy, right?) Well, whatever.
This time I had some rich beef stock from roasting beef short ribs. To that I added some chicken stock and a bay leaf off my sweet bay bush.

Then it's lots of fresh veggies (zukes, carrots, onion, bok choi or collards). I like to add cannellini beans and farfalle pasta. For meat, Italian sausage and shredded shortribs. Great on a chilly Fall evening served with slices of sourdough brushed with garlic infused olive oil and toasted. Yumm!


Yep, Mr. A and I made it to 25 years, against all odds according to some.
Chris & Susan gifted us with a fab basket of our favourite wines from New Clairvaux, great snacks and some killer chocolate.

We reciprocated with a great dinner of roasted lamb shanks and an evening out with the 'rents at the Eagles, where we danced the night away. Watching your parents dance is almost as bad as thinking about them having....well, you know. But we did manage to get Chris out on the dance floor for a spirited twist with his mum.


The frosty morning threat is looming so I picked everything left on the plants.
The pimento peppers usually are a dark shade of red by now, all ready for roasting and packing in olive oil, but not so much this year. So I just cut them up and froze them to use in chili.

The tomatoes will rest in a box covered with newspaper in the hopes that they will ripen for a nice tomato platter at Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Heating season is we had our old system upgraded.

Here in the garage is where the old heat pump furnace fit with the hot air going into the floor ducts.

This is the new unti...a 94% efficient gas furnace. It uses modern technology so we have a "dual fuel" system...the heat pump unit outside works until the outside temp get lower than 40 degrees and then the gas furnace takes over the heating duty. This spells relief in the bill paying department as we no longer have to rely on the electricity-sucking heat pump heat strips that were trying to heat during cold weather to the tune of about $100+ bucks a week! Oye!
The electric company (Pacific Power or Pathetic Power as we call it) did a number on folks here in the 1970's & '80's touting heat pumps as the way to go...yeah, if you love a $500 per month electric bill in the winter! Seems that heat pumps are great for cooling and do fine for moderate climates in the heating department but are not good for our colder winter climes.

All plumbed up. The vent is not metal but pvc pipe going out of the right side top of the unit. It is so efficient that the exhaust is lower than 55 degrees and doesn't require a double-walled metal vent pipe through the roof.
Okay, maybe it's hard to get excited about a furnace but it is nice to look forward to being warm this winter when the snow flies

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Seems like fixing up an old house never ends! We found a product at Costco that is supposed to keep the gutters from getting clogged with leaves and needles. We thought we'd get it done before the storms came in this week.

The inserts come in 4' lengths and are some kind of coarse foam stuff.

This is what happens when you've been up on the roof too long!

The sections come 8 to a box so a box does 32 feet of gutter. I think that we used 7.5 boxes. Now we'll see if it works!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


The last peaches of the season are big guys...only takes three to make a small pie!

A favourite treat around here when I'm baking a pie is the crust trimmings I call 'em "rat tails" because they are usually long skinny pieces trimmed from the outside edge of the rolled out dough. However a nicer name is "kid pie," what they called 'em in South Dakota, Jack says...just add sugar and cinnamon and bake for about 10 minutes. Have them right out of the oven with your mid-morning coffee!

Friday, September 9, 2011


Even though we have a bit more of summer to slog through, my thoughts have turned to fall! This ceramic pumpkin has proven excellent as a centerpiece for the dining table.

I've changed out the sunflowers for mums outside the entry.

On the mantle I've used an inexpensive triple candle holder with lots of bay leaves, artichokes and pumpkins.

Did I mention that Fall is really my favourite time of year and my favorite time to decorate? I did all this the day after my cataract surgery...not letting a little thing like blurry vision keep me from having some fun!

Monday, September 5, 2011


A few nights ago we heard a strange scuffling sound. Thought it was the fridge making noises. Next morning we discovered lots of mouse turds under the sink! So Mr. A went to the Ace hardware to get some expanding foam to fill in the pipe holes. He was told that the mice just eat the foam on their way in so he used wire to cover up the holes to the outside. But that didn't stop the mouse! Seems he was coming from the hole where the dishwasher pipe went through!
Now we have a mouse trap armed with Parmesano reggiano. Gee, hope the mouse is Italiano! Ciao bello mousie!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


At last! The peaches are late this year in the Rogue Valley.
Here's a box of 49er peaches from the orchard on Old Stage Road. You can't get these in the grocery stores any more...they have quit growing them commercially because they don't like to travel thousands of miles to the chain stores.
I prepare them
with the sugar, cinnamon & thickener so I can freeze them in a pie tin lined with foil. Then I peel off the foil and vacuum pack them for freezing so that all I have to do is pull 'em out and plop them into a pie shell. There's nothing better than a fresh peach pie served up with vanilla ice cream in the middle of winter!

Vacuum packed peaches for our 2-person King Arthur pie dish.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Our postbox here on Angel Crest looked as skaggy as the one next to it but a coat of spray paint and some one-shot paint numbers with a motif to match our street number sign sure spiffed it up!

Yeah, that IS a fish over there on the end. Oye! It's the country, ya know!


Jack figured it was time to give our Subaru Brat some much needed attention. In addition to a good wax job, he decided to paint the wheels.

He used a new Rustoleum 2X paint that really covers well. So "Mr. B" has spiffy new yellar wheels. Next is a racing stripe down the side!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Wait for it, wait for it! You're driving up Angel Crest and suddenly there it is...a magnificent custom street number sign!

It's made from all materials we had on hand...the metal for the sign, the paint, the pipe and the angle iron brackets. We did purchase some spray paint (new Rustoleum 2X super coverage paint). We're waiting for the City of Medford to knock on our door and ask if we're a B & B, in which case we'd need a business license!

We purposely put the "MANOR' part of the sign in a light color as it is our joke on ourselves. We have been calling this place "Angel Crest Manor" as tongue in cheek since it is a little rancher. "To the manor born" and all that.


We were without air conditioning for 5 days. The air conditioning part of the heat pump quit. We called on Monday and they got to us on Friday! For around $200 and a couple of parts...the capacitor and the points, we are in the cool again. Luckily the temps this summer have been moderate (in the low 90's) and all that new insulation in the attic has paid off. The house never got above 78 degrees. Turns out that when we replace the heat pump furnace portion this fall, they can convert this outside unit to work as an air conditioner with the new high efficiency gas forced air furnace. So our repairs will pay off.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Rubbermaid strikes again! This building is 4.8' square for $399 from Lowes. It's another block checked in our quest to have all our stuff under cover before winter.

Our final storage building was a snap to assemble and holds all the garden equipment including the mower, pressure washer, mini-tiller, spreader & weed wacker. I may even be able to sneak in a few rarely used but necessary implements and some lawn fertilizers.
This frees up the big Canadian storage building that we moved over from Grey Eagle Drive for the important stuff, like Fiat parts, etc. with no more tripping around the lawn mower.

Friday, July 22, 2011


A nice piece of plywood goes over the blocks. We coated it liberally with waterseal. Then we assembled the plastic floor and secured it to the wood on top of the blocks.

We hauled in some gravel to neaten it up.


Not a fun time! We partied with blocks until we had 'em all in place for yet another storage building! We dug sod & clay soil. We planned to STOP! when we had them in place, but....

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Thought the entry at Angelcrest Manor needed a spot of colour, so I put up a basket of sunflowers.

I added some rather unconvincing grape vines and called it good.


Well, it WAS a cold day in fact a cold weekend! So we put on our sweaters and naturally I made some chicken noodle soup. I'm going for the record of making HOT soup in every month of this year!

Tried out this new Krusteaz "natural" honey cornbread was very good. You add egg, oil and milk. I also added some shredded cheese. Yummy and a good, convincing cornbread texture.


Our new garage door here at Angelcrest Manor is not insulated. What to do?

Cut panels of builders foam ( it comes in 4' x 8' sheets, foiled backed, 1" thick), stick it to the inside of the door with Liquid Nail! Those angled pieces are just to hold the foam in place until the glue dries. Keeps the heat out in the summer and keeps the heat in the winter when we run the gas heater.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Yeah, I'm a sucker for fragrant yellow roses. This is a Weeks rose (really a Jackson Perkins registered hybrid) called "Radiant Perfume." It has a strong citrus smell and gets about 4" across.


I've had this strawberry jar for a few years so I decided to grow strawberries in it...even though I knew it was pretty much useless.

I did fill it with the best potting soil and surprise! We're actually getting a few strawberries for our cereal! I water it almost daily and give it lots of fish fertilizer each week.


Somehow, I can't live without ' Jack always says, "She never saw a rock she didn't like!" I plead genetic predisposition (from my mom).

The Brat with 460 lbs of common field rock for 9 cents a pound. Later I had to get 350 more pounds to complete the dry stack wall.

My arms feel longer now!