Milk and Childhood Memories

When I was a girl growing up in Miami in the 70’s we used to get our milk at something called a Farm Store.  This was a very small building with a wrap around drive through.  There was no speaker or menu involved, but instead a glass sliding door opened and someone stepped out to fill your order.  I remember that sometimes we only purchased eggs and milk and other times Mom’s order would include cottage cheese, ice cream and sour cream.  I am not sure how the farm store became an institution in south Florida, but I am wondering if it had something to do with home milk delivery.  Is it possible that in this very warm climate milk couldn’t be left outside the door, so instead quick stores were created and people came to pick up their order?  I am not sure, but as a child I thought everyone visited a farm store for the dairy items.

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My husband who is nine years older than me actually remembers the milk man leaving the milk at the back door.  He was delighted when the order included chocolate milk, and he wasn’t beyond begging to get it added.

Recently we started creating somewhat unique milk memories for our younger children.  Not far from our house we visit the dairy with our own clean glass jars, and Barbara the farmer fills them with fresh milk.

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Flowers in the Appalachian Mountains

It was a long winter here in North Georgia…especially after living either in New Orleans or Coastal Georgia for the last twenty years.  Spring arrived but I found that I couldn’t put away my winter clothes.  I hadn’t seen nor worn my flip flops in nearly six months and I feared that I would never get the okay from the local farmers, so I could till the earth (or watch the men in the family do it) and plant the garden.

Eventually new life did spring forth.

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The First Fishing Trip

Now that we have moved to the mountains and our older children are growing up and moving on with their lives, it is a rare day when we are all together in one house.  When our oldest child came for a visit we enjoyed seeing him, and the men took a few days to go fishing.  Why just the men?  Well, it seems that up here you must stand in the water in order to enjoy this sport.  And even though it was late into spring, we had a rare freeze and cold front come in.  The women decided to avoid freezing our lower halves and just let the men have all the fun.  And fun they did have!

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Some like chickens that are allowed to free range as it supposedly affects their mental state and evidently produces better tasting eggs. If you look closely you’ll see that my son is “walking” his catches on a rope connected to his waist.  I wonder if he has a taste-better theory on fish that are allowed to keep swimming before they are fried.

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Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

If you have ever had a cat that wanted in the house you know hard it can be to keep it out.  They can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks in a door, and they take advantage of every opportunity where your hands are too full to close it quickly behind you.  Our kitties, however, have a doubly hard time sneaking in because the door is surrounded by the deck, that the spaniels call home.

When I went out today I noticed that the cats were perched all over the deck, just out of reach from the chomping jaws of the pooches.  Their faces reminded me of these great quotes from Garfield.

Madam, I’m a cat in trouble. I’m hitching a ride in your mumu.

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(Said to dog dancing below him) Schmuck!

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Garfield: [from a deleted scene when Garfield decides to rescue Odie] I could bring him back. Then everyone will know I’m not the insensitive, self-involved, egomaniacal…
[sees his reflection]
Garfield: Owooo, looking good.

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I don’t do mornings.

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And then there is this goober…

Not only does he want to come in, but he wants his favorite chunk (stolen from the wood pile) to be allowed entry, too.

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He’s in a category of his own, and the kitties climb the trees, not the deck railing, to get away from this drooling moose.

Grown in this Country…or Even This State?

When we reached the bottom of the driveway, we had to make a choice…turn left and take the highway or turn right and make our trip to town through the national forest on a backroad.  The decision was an easy one.  Neither route gets us there any faster and the forest is beautiful, despite the bouncing created by the bumpy roads.  As we travelled down the curvy dirt road we stopped a few times to admire especially large Hemlock trees or to let the kids explore the creek for a few minutes.  When we exited the woods, and continued on where the trail changes to asphalt, we cruised by one of the oldest log cabins I’ve ever seen.  It leans in multiple directions and the chinking is wider than the logs.  I think that this home was either built before the civil war or shortly thereafter.  If only I could get my driver to slow down so I could marvel at its details.

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Our first stop was the ace hardware, which carries virtually everything but women’s underwear.  When we got out I couldn’t believe how much Georgia clay had been thrown up on the truck and the tires were embedded with this distinctive red mud.  My son saw me looking and glanced down and then he declared…”yep we definitely live in the mountains.”  We chuckled and admired the view of the range around the store before heading inside, and I didn’t have any pangs or thoughts of the coast.  Until…

…we were buying strawberries at the grocery store, a little bit later.  As I inspected the box to make sure they were grown in this country I noticed a very familiar piece of “home.”  Wrapped around the front two berries was a strand of  Spanish Moss.

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If you’ve ever visited south Georgia or North Florida you have probably seen this beautiful moss hanging from the Georgia State tree, the Southern Live Oak.   This oak is unusual in that it is non-deciduous, and this appearance of constant “alive” earned it its name.  During the war of 1812 the U.S.S. Constitution was built with live oak timbers and it received the name, Old Ironsides, because it was reported that the British warship’s cannon balls bounded off it’s live oak sides.

And the only thing that improves their majestic beauty is when their monstrous gravity defying limbs are draped with Spanish Moss.

Obviously my strawberries were from this country, and quite possibly this state.

The World’s Oldest Slow Cooker

I am about to write a post that is probably going to make my husband sick to his stomach.  But I have to do it…I am just so excited about my new way of cooking our meals.  That is, the heat source which is actually cooking our food.  Before I explain let me give you some background information.

We have been married for over twenty years and to my knowledge we’ve never had all new appliances, until three months ago.  When we moved here the kitchen only had a dishwasher, and it didn’t work.  We were very fortunate that when we went shopping the biggest sales of the year were being offered. The weeks around Thanksgiving stores like Sears, Home Depot, and Lowes have huge discounts. Because of this we were able to purchase my dream oven – a glass top stove with a huge convection oven.  In addition to that we splurged and rounded out the investment with a microwave/convection oven.  Come next Thanksgiving I am going to have those two smoking.  I cannot wait.

So…having said that…let me return to telling you what I am currently using for all (or most) of our cooking needs.

Here ya go…

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I know its hard to believe.  I am having a difficult time digesting this reality, myself.  I have a high tech brand new oven in my kitchen and I am using a wood stove.  And its easy.  Three days ago I placed a ham, cut potatoes and carrots in a dutch oven and set it on top.  The kids and I went out to work in the yard and when we came in two hours later…presto!  Dinner was ready.  Can you believe it?  No electricity consumed and no babysitting the pot.  I have found the world’s oldest slow cooker.  Today before we left on a hike I did the same thing with a marinated pork roast and when we came home we had BBQ sandwiches.  It was like I had performed a miracle.

I am truly ecstatic.  Usually when I need help cooking, I call my mother.  In this instance though I turned to the internet as I was most certain Mom has never done this.  I found lots of recipe ideas on the web and tomorrow morning we will be waking to steel cut oats that have cooked on the wood stove all night.

Next up?  Bread.

I watched a youtube video hosted by a very rustic looking woman out in Oregon, that made the art of cooking bread on the stove look easy.  She claims it is crusty on the outside and has a wonderfully chewy texture inside.  We shall see.  The sky is the limit and if I see a reduction in our electric bill next month I’ll know that I have worked a miracle.

If you think I’ve lost my mind and that I’ll be washing our clothes down in the creek or sewing the kids’ wardrobe, you are wrong.  But I am all about my rustic slow cooker that uses zero electricity.

Sincerely,

South Florida City Slicker Gone Pioneer Woman, of the Georgia Mountains

PS – I will cook the holiday meals in the real oven…after all, my work surface is very small on the wood stove.

My Secret Lair

IMG_4446As we have been getting settled into our new-to-us house, I’ve been trying to find the perfect place for all of our miscelaneous belongings.  All of this work has made me wonder,  “If I were designing a room entirely to myself what would it include?  How would I decorate the area?  What would I use it for?”  I realize this is crazy…I think it is all the days spent inside without sun exposure that is causing this fantasy.  Some get depressed…I dream about solitude in my perfectly designed lair.  By the time spring arrives I will have lost all interest in this idea.  I’ll be out in the garden planting roses, a vegetable garden, bulbs and anything that stands still for two minutes.

So here ya go….this is the lair dreamed up by a forty something year old woman with cabin fever.

1.  My place would include a loft with wall to wall shelving.  I know books are going away in the digital age, and my kindle collection is growing every day, but I adore the paper ones that I’ve accumulated over the past forty years, too.  In this area I would want a large puffy sitting/lounging area.  Add to this a designated spot to brew a warm cup of tea or coffee, equipped with a Keurig.  Ideally there would be a picture window with a great view, too.  Under it I would place my desk.

2.  Below the loft I would divide the area into two sections – one carpeted with lush thick carpeting, and the other would have a hard surface that could be easily cleaned.  In the carpeted section I’d like a fireplace and a jacuzzi tub.  Nearby a nice blue-tooth speaker would play music from my iPad, and a wine cooler would hold a few bottles of merlot.

3.  The area with a washable floor would be my creative center.  I’d have a large table to work on and shelves to hold my supplies.  I’d stock the area with paint, brushes, canvas and plenty of journals to doodle in.

As of today that is why my secret lair would look like.  Even if I could create it, I would not ever be able to find time to rest in it.  When I was younger and visited my grandparents at their house on the Ohio River, my grandmother had a barn as retreat.  Yes, a barn.  At least that is what we called it.  In reality it was a large storage shed that had been painted in the typical barn colors of red and white.  Inside I remember a small couch, a television to watch her soaps on (with bunny ear antennas), her paints, ceramics and a kiln. The barn was also somewhat functional in that it held her washer and dryer, too.  I believe the building was 12 foot square and I am now in awe that she had packed it with all this stuff.  I guess when I am old and the kids are gone (I’ve heard this happens.) I will have a barn of my own…but the washer and dryer are staying inside the main house!

I’ve heard of men having man caves and I even know one who has a dog house.  But, I am wondering if my family is the only one where the women desire their own space.

How about you?  If you could have your own private area, what would it include?