Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's December 15!

Can you believe it is December 15th already? A whole year has gone, again. I have been unemployed for a year and a half now. The job market is terrible out there, in fact the last time I went and talked to the unemployment office I asked if I could repeat the places I tried to find work at. I tried to explain to them that I live in a rural community, but it didn't seem to set in. I said there is only so many places I can apply and still be withing a reasonable distance to drive. I will not drive to Rockford every day, that is a good hour or more away. In Lanark where I am the closest to there are a couple of bars, a grocery store, bank, eye glass place, and a few other small businesses that have been here forever, and the people who work there have been there for a long time. I am a people person, I love talking to people, helping people, I am just happy interacting with them. I was a secretary for 15 years before I was let go, I loved my job... I was good at my job, I cared about our customers.... I do not see that so much anymore...I worked in a hospital, in the medical record department. Let me tell you, it is a low paying job that you work your ass off at. I wore a pedometer for a while and discovered that I was putting on between 5 and 7 miles a day running around the hospital with charts. I did it for little pay and felt like I had found the perfect job for me, working with others who care about people and our department was mostly ladies my age, a little older but still out there doing a good job, no matter what. I was let go from this also. I still keep in touch with the ladies from that job, they were great ladies to work with, and anyone who knows women knows there are not always easy to work with. This group was some of the best gals I have ever come across. A year and a half has gone by now, I have worked a little part time here and there, but not enough to keep me busy. I have hosted at Poopy's Pub N Grub in Savanna, and because I am a people person I love it. I have met people from all over, one from France, some from Canada, all riding a motorcycle to see Poopy's. I loved it. Now weather and the economy is bad, I am not working the weekends like I had been. I am home, stuck inside with my hubby and dog, probably for the winter... don't get me wrong, it is not all bad, we save gas money, we don't have to pay to be plowed out if I am not going anywhere, and I am here, at home. I am depressed again, but fighting every day to be good. I am a good person, I have so much to offer, but where is the outlet for that? I need people, I need to be needed, that I think comes from being a mother, but this day in, day out, no hope in sight, it takes a toll, and I am not as bad off as some of the unemployed out there, so far our home is still ours, it is for sale, as many are now, I have this terrible gut feeling that things will get worse before it gets better. I see this in so many peoples eyes, I do what I can, I offer my home to friends to come and dine, I tell friends to come stay all night, take a break from the stress they have, let me help you relax, it is a small thing I can do. I want to share our home as long as we have it. My house is a home, it is inviting and warm. I feel love here, and even when I am totally depressed and feel so alone, I am at peace here. If I can share this with a friend, it pleases me and makes me feel good. It is no trouble, it is love.. it is sharing..

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, Dec 12th, 2010

Our big storm was not as bad as we all thought it would be, country roads and side roads are slick and you do have to be careful. I did not have to work today so that was nice, didn't need to be plowed out or take a chance on the slippery roads out here.
I have a fire going in the fireplace, made chicken soup and had some great music playing. Times like this I could just sit here and do nothing for most of the day.
I have a review on a CD I just purchased. It is called O Holy Night, by Jackie Evancho. She was on Americas Got Talent, and I do not know how she did, if she won or was second or what, but I heard her on tv one morning and I must say, if an angel broke into song, this is what it would sound like. She is only 10, but you will not believe her voice. If you know someone who likes opera style of singing, or just loves a great voice I highly recommend this CD. It is a great gift for Christmas and will not set you back much, I paid $7.00 at Walmart for mine. I give this CD a 10. Let me know if you have it or have heard of Jackie, I would love some feedback. If you give it as a gift let me know how the recipient liked it. I almost forgot, the picture of my dog Baxter was him sitting by my chair with this great look on his face. He was listening to this CD. I watched him for a while and he just sat and looked up at the speakers. Jackie's voice will calm the savage beast..or... at least get his attention.

My chicken soup turned out soooo good. I put some of my homemade salsa in it. This batch of salsa was a little hot and really heated up the soup. Joe's and my noses started running, a sign of good spicy soup... I had two bowls and could have had another, but I think I will save some for later.

I am posting a recipe today, Oven Baked Brown Rice. I use this all the time and like the way it comes out. I can not make rice, it comes out clumpy,dry, stuck together, even the instant I have a hard time with. Since I found this recipe I stopped trying any others. It is from the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. Hope you try it and enjoy.
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/3 cups water.... you can use broth if you like
1 tablespoon olive oil, I use butter sometimes

heat oven to 375: spray dish, heat water to boiling, put rice and spices, salt pepper, I use mushrooms or celery in dish, pour water over rice and cover dish. Bake for about 1 hour. take rice out of oven, uncover, fluff with fork, cover let sit for a few minutes. I divide this and make spanish rice or stuffed peppers. I do freeze it and it seems to thaw well. If you have some in the freezer it is great to grab and add to soups, or make a sauce and pour over.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

first snowfall

It's Saturday December 4th and we woke to our first snowfall. The brightness of the snow was almost blinding as you emerged from your bed to the living room to see what had transpired while you slept. Newly fallen snow is so beautiful, no tracks, so peaceful, it has always amazed me how the snow takes on a secondary beauty. The beauty at the end of the day and there are animal tracks, my tracks, dog tracks and if you have kids, lots and lots of tracks, each track a foot print in time, as you walk your dog, smiling at the beauty of it all, the next time your out you see rabbit tracks all over as they run around your yard, and mabye at the end of the day as your taking your last walk outside, you look around at all that went on in the new fallen snow, the joy of waking to it, and the first tracks you put on it in the morning, to those last tracks reflected in the rising moon, shining on the end of one snowy day, that very first snow day.
The picture of my dog walking out into the snow makes me think of a rock star getting ready to go out on stage. The quiet dark hallway, away from the crowd, just feet away from an explosion of unexpected joy. He did not know what he was walking toward, but he walked on, into the cold unknown, and he liked it. Baxter rocks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

tea time

Sat down last night and made myself a cup of tea, using my pretty little cup and pot. I go in spurts with tea, I like it for a while, then I am good and don't care if I have it or not. But when I am in the mood, yes the tea mood, I do like it. Our exchange student from Germany gave me lots of different tea, and I am going to work on trying them this winter. Some of them taste like warm cranberry juice, not like our regular tea, some taste like cider, these teas are comfort tea, you just sit and sip and enjoy all the flavors. mmm
Today I made banana bread, which is one of Joe's favorites, and hope to make a cake later in the day. When I fire up the oven I try to make as much as I can, and I am a messy cook, sometime I will share a photo of the poor sink and counters. I made meatballs too, trying a new recipe that has bacon in it. First time I made it a few days ago no one could taste the bacon so this time I left it out, you may not taste it but these meatballs need the bacon. They were no where near as good as the first batch. Oh well, I like cooking and like to play around with the recipes, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. I know I will put the bacon in the next batch.
I caught Baxter looking in the oven door while my meatballs were cooking, this is the first time I have seen him do that. He knows he has to go sit down out of my way when I open the oven but he was actually looking at the meatballs, silly dog.
I have been so hungry for tuna and noodles I thought today was a good day to make some, water boiling, cans opened ready to go. When the noodles were ready to drain I grasped the pot and turned to the sink to drain them, guess what ?, the handle broke off the pot and the pot fell to the ground spilling boiling water and noodles all over the floor. I was so very lucky today not to have that boiling water hit me. My foot got splashed with hot water but that was all, it could have landed on my chest or legs. I never pulled my sock of as fast as I did today. When I went back to check the damage in the kitchen I was looking for the handle that came off, it was still in the pot holder on the counter. I am still so thankful, it could have been so much worse. Baxter was in the kitchen with me all morning, right in front of the sink. I hate to think he could have had a pot of boiling water and noodles all over him. My foot hurts bad enough, better me than all over him. He was on his cushion sleeping at the time. He must have sensed something was up because he came and sat by me looking at me so sadly, I said I hurt and he laid his head on me, so sweet, and he didn't even step on my foot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

no excitement here

I enjoy my drive to work and back so much. The sky is ever changing and clouds like you can't believe. I have driven by this tractor several times and each time I think I should take a picture of it before it is to late. It has a peacefulness about it. It has done it's job and now resting, or should I say rusting. It makes me think of all of us, the time comes when we have to step back, rest, let someone else do the work. Hope I am able to step back and rest. The image of that tractor and I may blend together someday.
Baxter, my English bulldog and I laying on the floor, which is my all time favorite place, watching a little tv. He doesn't usually lay silently beside me. He has to get a toy and drop it on my head or back, and just consistently annoy me. If I ignore him he starts nipping at me. So this picture is what I told my husband Joe was the perfect moment and a perfect dog. Some people can't understand why I take so many pictures, it is a second in time, never repeated, caught for us to return to when we need reminded of that split second. I know it is a moment that is in my head also, like so many moments that there are no pictures of, but I get a tremendous feeling when I see some of my pictures, a reminder of sorts, of how precious each second of each day is. I will still say "Take a Picture!" as long as I can...

turkey cooking

Tried something new with my turkey this time, you cook it at 450 degrees for 2 hours. The turkey I used was a Honey Suckle white and weighed 12 1/2 pounds and had the pop up timer. I rubbed it with olive oil and sprinkled my seasoning on it and popped it in the oven. I was afraid that 450 might be a bit high but as you can see in the picture, it turned out great. You do have to wrap the end of the legs with foil to keep them from burning and tuck the wings underneath. The skin is crispy and brown and the meat inside is nice and juicy. I did have to add a little water now and then to the bottom of the roaster. I was a little chicken when I checked after and hour and decided to put a little foil over the top of the turkey. I am not sure I would have needed to do this, but if you try this just check it and see what you think. If you like crispy skin try it with out putting the foil over it. Lacey (my daughter) and Vinny (her husband) are coming over on Wednesday for our Thanksgiving dinner. I have for the last few years cooked my turkey the weekend before Thanksgiving, it is all boned and sliced, ready to heat and eat. It frees up my oven for all the other things, and there is nothing I hate more than seeing that turkey carcass sitting there waiting for me to pick off all the meat. I am usually so full that that is the last thing I want to do. Buy cooking the turkey ahead it makes the meal a lot more enjoyable. I can sit and visit and catch up on what is happening with family.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nov 28, 2010

I took a picture of my old grade school on the way home from work today. It was called Center Hill School and we went from first grade to eighth grade in the same building. Our classes were small and we knew everyone. The gym served as the cafeteria and basketball court. I think it was our 8th grade class that had a removable wall that opened up to a stage area and we used that for our plays and special programs.
As kids we played marbles out back, and sometimes the teacher would join in. You don't hear kids talk about marbles anymore, and that is sad, many a good time was had at recess winning someones prize shooter.....
Girls back then would wear pants under their dresses and thought nothing of it because we all did it. Now they don't even wear dresses to school, and if they did it would not be fashionable to have a pair of warm slacks on underneath. I have many a photo of my friends and I outside in the winter running and playing with boots, pants under the dresses, a scarf tied around your head, bulky coat, gloves and enjoying every minute of it. Now I don't think they let the kids out if it gets very cold.... they have movies in the gym..
When I graduated from 8th grade we were bussed to Mt. Carroll High School. It was about 8 miles away from Center Hill. We had a day to go visit and I remember thinking it was the biggest school I had ever seen.. and it was. Center Hill was one story,with the gym and cafeteria on a lower level, Mt Carroll School was 3 stories.. with lots more students. I remember when we started our freshman year, we felt so isolated. Most of the students in Mt Carroll already had long time friends and their little clicks. It was hard to fit in, and some of the kids from Center Hill were on a dividing line and went the other direction to a town called Savanna. Starting at a new, bigger school was terrifying to most of us, and some of us lost childhood friends to the other town. You were really alone then.
Center Hill School is no longer a school. It was sold and turned into apartments. The kids from that area are bussed to Mt. Carroll, Savanna, or Thomson now. Every now and then as I drive by the remodeled school I feel a little sad. Sad that kids nowadays never had the chance to share in the closeness that we had at that little school. I still try to keep in touch with some of the kids, it seems the older you get the more old friends come back into your life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

strange weather for November

November 22nd, 2010, and it is 66 degrees! Just walked outside and it is sprinkling a little and thunder is rumbling in the distance, heard there were tornado watches out. It is freakishly warm out there today.... clouds are blowing by quickly so maybe any storms will pass by us....thunder is getting closer and more frequent ... Well, while I was sitting here the rain began, no wonder the thunder got so loud, it was here. Rain only lasted a few minutes and thunder is once again in the distance, it is moving quickly..
My husband, Joe, just got home from Freeport, and I just have to share, he was in Walmart and it was raining, just a little and he headed on out to the car, now you have to know Joe walks with a cane, and is not real fast, as he gets to his car it lets loose! He said it just poured and hailed, and on his bald head no less. He said that did not feel very good. Joe was in a hurry to get to Pizza Hut because he had ordered a pizza, and in his haste he left his cane in the cart.. he pushed the cart to the cart corral and hurried to get in the car and found his seat full of rain and everything inside soaked too. His sweatshirt was still soaked when he arrived at home. But, back to the cane, he left it in the cart at Walmart ; when he pulled up to Pizza Hut a large black truck pulled up beside him and a man hollered over at him and said he had followed him from Walmart with his cane in hand. Just shows you no matter how bad the storm, a little sunshine miraculously appears now and then. I still get the chuckles when I think of it hailing on his bald head..... I am bad.....

post cards

I am selling post cards of my dog, Baxter, he is a Registered English Bulldog, and just the funniest dog I have ever had. Post cards are $1.00 each and can be mailed to you for the cost of a stamp... if you know a bulldog lover, these post cards make great framed photos also. I will show some of them with my posting now and then, to order one just comment on my blog and I will respond as soon as possible.

in the begining

I have been wanting to start a blog for a while, tried one posting that I was going to lose weight. I thought if it was in print and out there I would do it, so much for that. I still weigh the same, no hope in sight. So, this is a new beginning for me, I love to sit and write, sometimes about nothing and sometimes about the things that mean so much to me. I am calling this blog ruralgal, which is what I am and always have been. My past is something that I am proud of and should have fun sharing. I hope those who chose to follow me will enjoy my postings, and here is to a great new start....