Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...

I am thankful today that our son is visiting and had a safe trip here.  I just LOVE it when he comes to visit his parents!  :)

My niece and her hubby hosted the Thanksgiving dinner in their first Thanksgiving in their renovated house.  We all contributed and enjoyed WAY too much food!  

Most important was those gathered:  My dad and mom, my niece and her hubby, my brother and sister in law, my hubby, our son and me.  It just makes it so wonderful to sit back and look at everyone enjoying the time around the table.  I was enjoying the watching and camaraderie so much that I totally spaced taking pictures!  (sometimes I really miss those brain cells!!!!)

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether it is a traditional gathering or a new tradition that you are just starting

Friday, November 18, 2011

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Squeezy...

As you saw on Thursday's Things In A Row, I came upon some free pumpkins in town.  I actually drove past the truck a couple of times thinking "Nah!  Just have to clean it up when it rots!"

Then I thought "Hey!  Thanksgiving is coming!  We can decorate right?"

So, I took 1 big one and 3 little ones for a nice display.

Then I thought about last year when I made Crockpot Apple Butter and it was so easy and GOOD!  Wonder if the same is true of Pumpkin?  Hmmmm...

So, I fired up the old laptop and started to Google Pumpkin Butter Crockpot.

As I read, I found out that serendipity had been with me when I chose my pumpkins because pie pumpkins are the little guys and those are the ones I was supposed to get.  Yay!  My Dad also counseled that you turn the pumpkins upside down and the females have a dip in there and the males are straighter on the bottom.  You want the females.  They all looked the same to me--and Dad (they ALL seemed to have the dip in the bottom)--so, free is free, give em a try huh?  

I also found out that the first step is Pumpkin Puree.  

Now, Pumpkin Puree directions vary--A LOT.  One method is laboriously cutting the pumpkin, taking the skin off, scraping out all of the inards and putting the lovely leftover meat into the crockpot to cook, mash and freeze or can.  

This gave me flashbacks to when I was young and my mother was freezing pumpkin.  She was using one of my dad's fish filet knives (which he kept very sharp--I mean, how do you filet a fish with a dull knife?)  The knife slipped and she really cut her hand bad--stitches folks!  Yikes!  Still makes me shiver!  Didn't want to go THERE!!!!

Several other sites said to hack that baby in two, lay it on a cookie sheet and bake for a while THEN take the guts out and skin off.  

One even said what the heck--mash the outside in with the meat also.  (the author swore that she could tell NO difference when she left the outside on!)

I kind of chose to stay somewhere in the middle.

I got out the surgical tools, a white trash bag and started with the larger pumpkin cut into pieces.   I had read that a serrated knife works best so I tried my Ginsu.  Uh--NO!  Then, I used my filet knife (which I also keep very sharp) and that worked perfectly--Like Butta...I took the innards out of half with my ice cream scoop and even scraped with my paring knife. 

Then I put them face down on the cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 375 for about 45 min.  I had to add another 25 minutes to get the flesh soft...

It came out dry and rather difficult to remove the outside skin in one piece--but I am sure that it was easier than if it was raw and I stood a better chance of keeping my fingers intact!

Next, I  plopped the other half of the pumpkin on the pan with guts intact and  put in at 375 for about 45 minutes.  I had to add another 25 minutes to get it soft...

The guts came out much more easily--no scraping for what seems like an hour with a spoon or ice cream scoop--they just came right out.  Good deal!  But, the pumpkin was still dry and the skin still had to be flaked off in sections.

Next I cut one of the smaller pumpkins in half (thinking "Oh how I wish I had a reciprocating saw.  This would be SO MUCH easier!"--Perhaps this would be a good reason to pop for the cordless reciprocating saw to my Craftsman C3 set huh?  Hear that Santa???  But I digress...)

As I was getting the foil out for my next try at easy pumpkin baking I spied a box of Oven Bags.  You know, the kind you put the turkey or chicken into and then bake it to keep it moist and oh so good!?  My brow furrowed like a cat spying a mouse and I grabbed the box thinking, what the heck!  Can't be worse!

So, having removed the stem, I put the pumpkin halves into one bag.  One side up and one side down.  All I did was wash the outside before cutting, remove the stem, cut in half and put in the bag.  No peeling, no gutting--see the seeds and pulp in the picture?

I tied the bag in a loose knot and put it in the oven at 375 for 1 hour.

I removed the bag and Voila!  I could NOT believe how good it was!

The skin came off in one hunk.  

The guts fell out!  

The meat was so nice and mushy that I barely had to use my stick masher at all!  Wow!

So, with this great info, the rest of the pumpkins were put into an oven bag and baked.

You may or may not remember that I live in a 5th wheel.  My oven is my microwave which is also a convection oven.  I also have a good size toaster oven.  I had them both going with pumpkins and each one worked just as well with the pumpkins in oven bags!  I bet a roaster would work too...

And you thought you only had ONE oven!  hah!

Now the pumpkins were done very quickly and NO MESS, not fuss, no hours peeling and gutting!  Wow!  This wasn't so bad after all!  All of my fingers even stayed intact!

Just a little note here--I use my microwave as a dry erase board too.  Each time I pureed pumpkin, I measured it and wrote it in neon dry erase pen on the front of the microwave so I could remember how much pumpkin puree I had   (the smudges are things written on the microwave as reminders like phone numbers and personal stuff, so I just smudged them out before I put the picture up...)   Another note here--when using the microwave as an oven, the splatters that you may have from microwaving COOK onto the interior!  I guess I should have cleaned it first...

and then I threw the puree into my crockpot (with one of those nifty crockpot liners of course!).

By the end I had 15 cups of puree.  It is beautiful stuff!  So pretty!

At this point I could have put some of the puree into bags and frozen it (canning is not recommended according to many things I read--but many still like to live on the edge and can it--I live in a camper folks!  I don't can and I can't freeze HUGE amounts for long--Okay?--but YOU could!).

Instead, I added 7 cups white sugar, 7 cups brown sugar, 7 tsp. cinnamon, 3 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 1/4 tsp ginger and a scant tsp of cloves and mixed well with my blending stick.  I also added 7 tsp pure vanilla to it.  I mean, what the heck, right?  I tasted it and declared it good.

The crockpot was plum full, and I had read some places that the pumpkin butter will splat all over the place as it cooks because you want to leave air space so that the liquid will evaporate while cooking.  One place even showed the crockpot sitting on towels with towels surrounding everything in site to catch the splats.  Okay--THAT'S not working for me!  
So, I raised the plastic liner all the way up so it looked like Don King's hair, 

then put the lid on a bit sideways so that as it cooked, if it wanted to splat, the bag would catch it.  Then, I turned the crockpot on high and let her rip for 3 hours.

Oh boy did the camper smell GOOD!!!!  Who needs glade when you have nature, right?????

And it IS good!  I had toast last night with some on--and then I had some more.  :-)  This morning I had toast, put a layer of whipped cream cheese on the toast and the pumpkin butter on top.  OHMYGOODNESS!!!!  It was AMBROSIA!!!!!

I dipped some out for my brother and sister in law, my niece and her hubby and mom and dad (though just a little because I haven't made the sugar free version yet--making that this evening or tomorrow because they are diabetic)  I also gave some to the guy who was kind enough to give away all of the pumpkins!

I froze the rest in freezer bags.   I got this plastic beaker with my blending stick and it was just perfect to hold a quart size freezer bag with the zippers flipped over the top of the beaker which makes it easy to fill and keeps the zipper things clean and easy to close.

I decided to freeze in 1 cup quantities because the smaller bags are easier to fit in a camper freezer when flat.  To close the bags just zip the bag closed but leave just a little bit open.  Then, lay the bag down flat and push as much air as possible out and close that last little bit.  

What will I do with all of that, you ask?

Well, I have read that once you have the pumpkin butter, you can make pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pudding--you name it.  After all, it is just puree with the spices, sugar and vanilla already incorporated, so just add whatever ingredients flip your skirts and enjoy!  Is that cool or what?

I am thinking I might make the Pumpkin Roll with cream cheese filling from the book that I just finished reading.  The name of the books is "Pumpkin Roll".  How original is THAT???  LOL

Today I am going to go and process that last pumpkin (yep, I ended up with TWO larger pumpkins so I still have one) and make the sugar free Pumpkin Butter.  

Then, I am gonna sit and read or watch TV until Gman makes his appearance (he's flying in tonight).  

Then, he is gonna take me out for my birthday!  :-D

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Victims...Uh, Pumpkins...

This is my row of pumpkins...

I was headed into the post office for my mail last week and there was a box truck full of pumpkins with the sign "Free"...

So, I chose a few victims, uh, Pumpkins to come home with me.

No, Halloween is over--not for Jack o Lanterns...

Stay tuned...Bwahahahahaha...

For more things in a row, visit Pat at A View From The Edge--she started the whole Things In A Row Thing!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jolly Old Elf--For Kim...

This is for Kim over at Cheap Chic Home.  She has a Possible Dreams Santa that she picked up but he is a little rough.

 I found what he should look like...

This is an interesting one--I like the star, but I am not sure the hands are right.

This one lends itself to the way the hands are on Kim's...

This one would be easy to do with Kim's Santa--but does he look a little unhappy to be carrying that tree?

And then I saw this one and when it was small, I thought that was a bottle of Coke and I thought Aha! Wouldn't it be neat to fix him up like a Coca-Cola Santa?????  Put a bottle of Coke in his upper hand and maybe carrying the Coca-Cola polar bear in is right hand?  That could be REALLY FUN!!!!

If you guys have ideas, hop on over to Kim's and let her know!

Oh and be sure to catch her new reindeer!!!!  :)

A Redo In The Loo...

We recently moved the Mother Ship to a new location that is closer to my parents.  With the winter forecasts predicting a worse winter than last year, we felt it would be a good idea to be just up the street--just in case...

Before we moved Mother I had noticed that the ceramic tile around the loo was cracked and actually low in the middle and popping up around it.  

This is not a good sign!

We also noticed that the loo moved when we sat on it and was downright shaky--like, sit lightly lest you fall through--or over!  Yikes!

Having experience in the loo department with houses we have owned in the past, I knew they were NEVER as easy to repair as one might think and worried that I would get it out but not be able to reinstall,  I chose to call in the big boys for this job...

I called a local company, 3 R RV, whom I had used in the past.  They had a mobile service that would come to the site for repairs rather than taking Mother to them, which is essential since we LIVE in the camper and therefore cannot have it in a shop--where would we live?

3R RV lost their mobile unit guy and were currently looking for a new one.  Darn!  They had done a great job for me before!  Darn and tarnation!

So, I tried another guy--RV Doctor--whose card I had snagged at the office last year when he left some after servicing a rig at the campground.  

When I called him he told me that the cost would be upwards of $2,000 or more.  Yikes!  

When I questioned him he assured me that my insurance would just take care of it.  I told him I had not planned to turn it in to insurance.  I mean, with homeowners insurance you don't get your loo covered if it falls through the bathroom floor--why would RV insurance be any different?  

He just kept saying that people just turn it into their insurance and just have to pay the deductible which is usually about $250 so that is all it would cost us.  Ummmmm...

I just didn't have a good feeling.  

So, I called Bob.  Bob fixed the hole in the side of my camper left by the canoe when it hit it.  You can read that story here--just in case you missed the flying canoe incident.   

Bob said he sure would take a look but was certain they could be of help.  He and his partner came over to take a peek and said Yep, we had a leak--actually a really BIG leak.

We put a towel behind the loo to catch the leak (fresh water folks!  Thank goodness) and he and his helper would get most of the stuff to rip the china throne out to see exactly what else was needed and then I could be the parts runner.  

Cool!  I can do part runs!

Remember that we live in the middle of nowhere Missouri.  Population 200.  Closest town--population 1,600.  Closest place with RV parts--Columbia, MO--50 miles away.  Or Wentzville, MO--50 miles away--the opposite direction.  Get the picture????

One of the sticking points in Bob's mind was matching the ceramic tile.   You can see it in this picture which was taken to advertise the camper when we bought it because I did the cardinal sin of not snapping one before we started.  Hey!  You have done it too!

I quickly reassured him that I wasn't married to the tile--nor did I even LIKE the tile!  I'm just NOT a teal kind of person, but I do LOVE the radiant heated floor on a frosty morning when I step onto that floor and really hadn't PLANNED to replace it.

OTOH, this was an opportunity I wasn't gonna pass up!

So, I headed the 50 miles to the closest Lowe's and Home Depot that night to get the new tile.  I knew the tile I wanted because I had used it on my bathroom in our house when I remodeled it prior to selling it and was all set when the loo surgeons arrived.

The loo was extracted with quite a bit of grunting and such.  Mine is china--not the plastic one.

After finding that the pressure relief valve was the culprit, I called around.  I also needed a collar and connections since the floor had rotted.

I called Wentzville.  Nothing.  They have no parts for china toilets because they don't work on them very much.

I called Loveall's.  What kind of toilet do you have?  
Huh?  A china one.  
Well bring the part in and we will see if we can match it--we have a lot of parts now that our new building is up.  (their old one had burned last December)

I arrived all happy and ready to take the part and run.

Nope--didn't have the collar. 

Oh FART!!!!  (Do pardon my french here!)

But, there is a store called Tyree that has everything Mobile Home and RV.  

I wanted to hit myself in the forehead and say "I could have had a V8!" because I knew about Tyree!  Duh!

So, off I headed further in to Columbia to Tyree--located by a Horse Vet, a "Gentleman's Club", and a motel with hourly rates.  Surprisingly, none of these establishments has bars on the windows!  Go Figure!

Tyree had a gal working who was very knowledgeable and helpful.  I was able to deduce from their catalog of parts that I have a Sealand 510 and we found all of the parts.

I took my bag like a burglar scurrying away with the bank cash and got back before the guys left.

They looked at the parts and I had done a fine job!


The pressure relief valve was not the same as the one in my toidie!   The one I brought back was right, but didn't have the 3rd connection on it for the sprayer.


I could have it installed without the sprayer or hit the road again for one WITH the sprayer.  I was disinclined to live without the sprayer.  The sprayer is like the one you probably have at the kitchen sink that you pull up and spray pans and spray the sink when you clean it.  You know what I am talking about!  It is SO GREAT for cleaning the loo and since there is no water in the bowl as there would be in a home model, it is wonderful for getting paper to go down the drain too!

So, off I went the 50 miles (one way--that's 100 miles round trip for those of you who are mathematically challenged--like me!) back to Tyree to return the part and find the right one.

I arrived and they didn't have it.  

Not only that, but it wasn't in their catalog!  Huh?

She was gonna have to do some investigation by calling the company, but it was too late.  5:00 pm.  She would call first thing in the morning and let me know.

I called Loveall's once again and they surely did have the valve I required.  They work on a LOT of campers with that brand of toilet.  (I had found that most places don't stock the parts because this is an upgraded toilet and most people don't choose to spend the extra $$$$ on it)  Come on over...

I scurried over as fast as the Durango would go without attracting bears (of the police kind) and pulled in just before closing.

The guy was about ready to leave.  He had his coat on.  It was a #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr coat!  I was wearing MY #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr coat!  He stayed to help me!  Bless Him!

They had the one like I returned to Tyree.  He went to the back to see if they had the one with the sprayer attachment.

They did!

Turned out that the one with the sprayer comes in a kit with a new sprayer hose and head.  That's why we couldn't find them as just the valve.

Hah!  So, now I knew the brand and model of my toilet AND that the sprayer comes only in a kit!  How about that????

So, off I went after having a chat about Dale Jr and his chances this year.  You know, all the good stuff that NASCAR fans discuss...

I arrived home to see a lovely new floor surrounding a pipe where the china throne should have perched.  The guys were gone, of course, since it was now around 6:30 pm.

Good thing we have Little Blue.  I had to run across to him to use the potty for the evening.  As the weather was only brisk--I lived!  ;-D

I also could use NO WATER in the Mother Ship because it would have sprayed out the supply pipe where the toilet should have been, so I used the bottled water for me and the pooches and washing hands and they just had to live with the fact that I didn't get a shower that morning.  (Little Blue was not hooked up to water)

The guys came back the next morning and installed the part and put in the new flooring (which I LOVE!) and then installed the toilet and it WORKED!!!!  It works like NEVER BEFORE since we have had the trailer!  This must mean it has been leaking ever since we purchased it.

Anywho, the bathroom is now sporting a nice new floor and a level toilet which sits on 1/4" steel plating topped with marine grade plywood.  You would NOT BELIEVE how bright the bathroom seems with the lighter floor!  I was amazed and when Gman got home, HE was amazed!  We LOVE IT!  

Isn't it great when a plan comes together????

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Halloween...2011

Yes I know!  It has been a while.  

Well, it has been busy, but I have a minute so I wanted to share our Halloween with you.

We moved the camper closer to my parents.  The forecast is for a worse winter than last year here, so I wanted to be closer--just in case.  And as usual, there is a story with THAT!  But that is for another post!  LOL

So, we weren't at the campground for the Halloween fun there.

Halloween is the one day that I get to take my makeup OFF!  hehehehe...

I found this shirt and earrings at Cracker Barrel a couple of years ago after Halloween and wore it last year.  That is about 2 cans of extra hold hairspray up there along with glow in the dark glitter on the hair!  It was really something!

This year I found a very ladylike hat to add to the fun.  I think a hat just adds that little something to any occasion--don't you?  :)

Oh and how about those glittery jewels by the eyebrows!  

I found this guy hanging around too.  I guess he wanted his mullet back!

The dogs were enjoying the fright too...

Me and Tank...Is he CUTE or what???

Check out my right cheek--to YOUR left there...A little friend caught a ride...

Gman and two of the pugs, Frank and Shadow...

We took a picture of me with our other pug, Tango, but he was really blurry...I think we broke the camera...

And, of course, I did my nails for the occasion...

I put white on first, then a bright orange, then Sally Hansen's black crackle polish.  I topped it all off with a hologram topcoat for sparkle!  How fun is that???

Oh and did you catch the little spider below my thumb?  Even he is blinged out for Halloween...

Since November is my birthday, I wore my birthday ring, but added a couple of little "blings" to might have to enlarge the picture to see them...

We headed out early to find sustenance and went trick or treating on the way.  We stopped at my mom and dad's house and scored some mini oreos and a peanut squared candy!  Wow!  Yum...

Then we headed next door to my brother and sister in law's house where we came upon them AND their daughter and son in law.  They bought the same candy we did, so we decided to let them keep their candy.

We ended up driving through McDonald's (okay--town of 200 people--had to drive 5 miles to the McDonald's--16 miles for anything else...k?) and headed home with our supper and goodies to wait for the little ghosts and goblins...

We had about 10-12 little trick or treaters--about average for this town of 200 people--and had a wonderful time viewing their costumes.  One of the little ghouls was deaf and surprised me with sign language which I actually could understand and reply to in sign language.  I haven't used sign in more than a decade--and at that time I wasn't proficient...The little ghoul was a little surprised that I could answer I think...did you know that sign language is the same in every language?  So, if you want to know where the restroom is in a foreign country, find a person who can sign and you can find one!  ;-)  Cool huh?

I digress...

We had a lot of candy left, so I am sending it to work with my nephew in law.  He works at a hospital in the lab and they enjoy a bit of sugar now and then...

Hope you had a great Halloween with many treats!  :)