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Thursday, April 23, 2015

We Are Through With Restaurant Food for a While!!

I am thinking we are through with restaurant food a while.  Not because it was bad, but because we have had WAYYY too much--- a complete overload!

My sister Shmoo (Linda) and her husband Fuzz (Mike) and his brotherinlaw Dave own a bar and grill in the U.P. of Michigan.  It's called Fuzz and Dave's Mid City Bar and Grill    The name Shmoo is from the Lil' Abner cartoon.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmoo

Because they cook and serve food in their bar, they were invited by their food supplier to come to Green Bay for a huge "Food Show" on Wednesday.  Since they come all the way from Caspian, MI they travelled down the night before, after they were done with work.  We met up at The Texas Roadhouse in Green Bay for dinner with them for:
(restaurant meal number ONE) 

We enjoyed mar-gar-EEE-tas!  Each drink has an iridescent plastic test tube of tequila shots set in each glass called "Kickers"  What a surprise!

Steve ordered half a baked chicken and I had garlic shrimp,
Fuzz had a rib eye steak and Shmoo had sirloin &shrimp---- yummmm

We ate wayyyy too much of course, but it was so good and we left with full bellies for us to wander on back to our house and them to their hotel for the night. With promises of seeing each other in the morning, we went home to sleep off the restaurant food as it was quite late.  I think a walk would have been better for us, but it was after 10:30 and Steveio had to work early in the morning.

Arggghhh I woke up and felt just as full as the night before!  Steve left for work after getting a BIRTHDAY KISS  from me... Yes.. Wednesday is Steveio's birthday!!!!  He is one year older but also one year better!

I let the doggers out to the potty yard one last time before locking them back in the house for the day.  I hopped in the car and drove up to Green Bay.  I met up with Shmoo and Fuzz at their hotel and we headed over to the Shopko Hall Expo Center for the food.... this entry scene just BOGGLED THE MIND:

This array of fresh vegetables and fruit was just "too much" 
and I have NO idea why they displayed all of this in such a humungous manner????  
It was later torn down and donated to a food pantry.

Each vegetable was perfect in size, shape and color,
even the potatoes were polished or oiled up to a sheen?
What was the point? 

 The colors were eye dazzling and the fruit was amazing too. 

We were registered and I was their guest so I got a name tag too.  The general public is not allowed in, just restaurant and bar owners that serve food and have accounts through the main wholesaler, Reinhart Foods.  The folks displaying today are all the vendors who offer their foods to be ordered through the wholesaler, not direct sales.  So it really wasn't a "sales pitch" at each booth, more of a "taste pitch" and "hope your next order with Reinhart you will remember our food and add us to your order" type of offering. 

The first stop around the expo hall was also the most interesting.  It was booth of all the commercial cooking supplies, utensils, gadgets and tools. These items could be bought on site and carried home, or left till later or ordered/delivered with your normal food order. We browsed for a while, and then decided to come back there later to pick up the things they needed for their bar's little kitchen. I really enjoyed seeing some top quality kitchen stuff at really wonderful prices, many lower than what you find in any cooking gadget store or retail outlet.

There were six aisles with food vendors up both sides of the aisle.. so that is TWELVE rows of food to learn about, sample, mark your order books and perhaps get some non-perishable take-home samples.  Everyone had their "best of their best" food cooked up and prepared for sampling.

So many things to try... the best cuts of meats, the freshest fish and shrimp, the newest flavors, ideas, spices and sauces to sample.  The folks manning each booth seemed knowledgeable and there wasn't any high pressure sales because technically they weren't "selling"  they were giving the restaurant and bar owners the opportunity to taste the products that they already have available.

I tell you, with probably 70-80 different booths, each with multiple deep fryers, nesco roasters, sterno stoves, heat lamps and baked foods on display, it got VERY HOT in there in a short time.  Whew....

This guy on the left had "fish n chips on a stick" it was like a fishstick patty on a stick, and coated with tiny lumps of hashbrown cubes and then deep fried.  It was a "take and go" meal!   The guy with the crazy pizza hat was actually selling the individual items to go on pizzas so restaurants can buy the ready-made supplies and do their "own custom pizzas" instead of pre-made ones.  Hmmmmm

As we wandered around, sampling, testing and talking, 
we had a bit of silliness too! 

One especially friendly vendor was selling relishes, condiments and items for bar drinks like in bloody mary's etc.  We told him we were the Pickling Sisters and Pickles Queens of the Iron County Fair!  Haha... so he gave us some of his big dill pickles on a stick to munch on!

Any of you readers from up in Iron River will remember the little unique store called "The Pickle Barrel" and how you got to dip in the big huge barrel and pull out a pickle like this to chomp on.  This sure brought back memories!

The array of dipping and cooking sauces was amazing.. but the BEST booth was the Sweet Baby Ray's for BBQing! Yummm it's our favorite!  They have now come out with Sweet N Sour Baby Rays, and were already all out of the samples in the first hour of the show.  We know it's available in stores, but in much smaller sized bottles.   Even these huge sized bottles don't last long in our family, for all the amount of this we use when cooking while camping!

As the day wore on, we were wearing out!  We took a break for a while, and a nice vendor near the sitting area was giving out bottles of water to drink.  With all of the salty deep fried foods we had sampled so far, we needed it!   I think we were beginning to smell like french fries! 

All throughout the day, they had drawings for door prizes, and we were listening to the announcements as we strolled around through the last two rows of food. Nope, we didn't win anything.  But we were so full to the point of bursting that I was thinking a nice long nap was in order.  Haha..... 

Finally about 3:30 we left and went outside. In Wisconsin, today had bitter cold, blasting winds, snow flurries and FREEZING outside.  At first it felt kinda good after the heat and odors of inside.  We noticed as we walked through the cold to the parking lot, we could smell the scents of frying oils, fish, and grilling meats on our clothes, hair and skin!  The cold temp magnifies the odors even more so. Ewwww! 

I consider this day as  
(restaurant meal number TWO)  !!!!

I slugged my way back to my car to drive back down to Chilton.  Steve was going to be home from work soon, so I wanted to get back, get his presents wrapped up and let the dogs out.  The dogs had been locked in the house for 8 hours and that is the longest we have ever left Binney so far since we got her 4 months ago.  Finney is good for that long, but we weren't sure on Binney.  Got home and all was just fine and dandy!  Whew!   

Was the day over yet??? Nope.. we still had to celebrate Steve's birthday!!!!  Plus my sister and her husband have never seen our house yet.  They came down about 5 pm to join up with us.  We gave them grand tour of our home.  Little Binney is not happy with people coming in and disrupting her "routine" and "order" of her home.  I swear she is OCD and doesn't think things should be in different places, or people in her place.  She definitely has PSTD from her previous life, so anything that has changed is bothersome to her.  When people come in, she hides in her "safe spot" on the couch, wedged as tight as she can into the corner cushions. 

My sister is very loving and gentle, and knows dogs.  We placed Binney into her arms... with soothing coos of her voice which is close to mine, Binney relaxed and cuddled in safe and sound. Ahhh her world was okay.  

After seeing our house and putting the dog down, it was time to head out to celebrate Steveio's birthday!  Our favorite mexican restaurant is El Camino in Kiel, WI about 10 miles south.  Soooo this is ---- yup, you got it---- 
(restaurant meal number THREE) 

We do eat here about once a month, and know what we like the best... of course we have to have the margarEEEtas before the meal comes.  Steve had the steak fajitas that come a-sizzling and a-crackling to the table on a cast iron pan. 

I order the same thing EVERY time, and know even if I only eat a little, I can take the rest home with me.  It's a seafood chimichanga without the brown sauce on top.  Also I forgo the beans, which gives me extra rice.  This meal is good for three more lunches at home, each with 1/2 a chimi reheated and some rice too.

Fuzz had a beef burrito and taco
 and sister Schmoo had a taco salad. 
in the middle we had a HUGE mound of guacamole to share! 
 Yup.... Holey Guacamole! 

If that wasn't enough, now it was Steveio's birthday treat!   They bought out a big plate of sopapillas which are deep fried pastry triangles, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They are drizzled with thin lines of honey and chocolate sauce.  In the middle is a big mound of "fried" ice cream!  They roll a ball of vanilla ice cream in cinnamon and sugar and freeze it hard. Then it is taken out and stuck under the broiler quick to caramelize the coating without melting the ice cream. Complete with whipped topping and candle!  They all sang Happy Birthday to my Steveio!

(he shared some of his treat with all of us) 

Okay... we left fully full to the fullest, and carrying our "take out containers" for additional meals for the rest of this week. Whew! 

Shmoo and Fuzz were on their way back to the hotel, and we waddled on home to our doggies.  Little Finnegan was happy to see us, but Binney kept looking around for "those peoplez" who were in her house!  She kept going around from room to room until she was satisfied that they were not in her space.  Once we got ready for bed, her "routine" returned to normal and she came willingly to have her teeth brushed and ready to crawl into her bed alongside of Finnegan.  Her world was "right" again.  

Soooo it's Thursday.  Guess what I had for lunch???  You got it, leftover guacamole, chips, half a seafood chimichanga and some rice! 
(restaurant meal number FOUR) 

Tonight is our oldest granddaughter's dance recital up in Green Bay. We are looking forward to going and see her shine on the stage.  Then... guess what?  We are going going to a RESTAURANT for ice cream after the performance!  LOL   
You got it... 
(restaurant meal number FIVE!!!!!!!!) 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fibery Fun Stuff

Oh my this week flew by fast!

We started out Sunday with Pa Pfundtner treating us to a dinner and concert with the Sweet Adelines group of the Fox Valley.  He was so kind to host us and reserved a table for our family.  The decorations on each table were themes of different holidays and seasons.  Ours was "Snowmen" and each of us received a "party favor" of a chocolate bar wrapped up in white freezer paper, with gathered gloves for the hat.  Adorable! I have to remember these for stocking stuffers next Christmas?

Monday and Tuesday it was time for some Spring Cleaning... 

in My Loom Room!

After vacation, a lot of things had gotten hauled in and "dumped" in the middle of my Loom Room floor.  I had a new student coming on Wednesday to weave, and a new-to-me table loom coming on Friday.  Guess I needed to organize some things and sort out the supplies I needed for the lesson.

It wasn't as bad as I thought I would be, and most of the items were put back into their places in quick order.  I even had some time on hand to work on a new quilt, and finish up a rug for a customer.  Wheee "ahead of schedule"! 

Next, it was up the stairs to 
My Fiber Storage Room

I had another set of metal industrial shelves to assemble for my bins and Steve helped me whip them into shape fast. This is a small room that had originally been the housekeeper's bedroom 100 years ago.  According to the census, the maid's name was Josephine Flemming.  I wonder if she ever thought 100 years later people in this house wouldn't have maids.  They would have Yarn Stash!  LOL

 I love the funky linoleum, perhaps from the 40's or 50's?

Heading down the servants back staircase is a landing about 18 inches wide alongside of the staircase.  I had originally wanted a nice oak bookcase to put here but haven't found anything yet that I like that is in my budget range.  But, a while ago, I bought these wire cubicles from a friend, and the grandkids helped me assemble them.  Now it was time to fill them up!  My books, magazines, quilting fabrics and patterns all reside in these bins.  It worked out rather well, at least until the "right" bookcase comes along....

Wednesday afternoon, my weaving student cancelled 
so I had more time to get a few more sections done 
on the quilt I am working on. 

Wednesday night was my knitting night at the library, and the weather was sooo wonderful that I almost skipped going.  I am itching to get into my flowerbeds and start cleaning out dead leaves and stalks and get ready for SPRING!   But I have not had any time this week. 

Thursday was spent preparing printed material and cooking up some food for a pot luck, (calico beans, little smokies) and a run to Hilde's Bakery and Deli for kaiser rolls.  Steve and I were conducting the training for the upcoming season of camphosts for the park.  We are the Camphost Coordinators and do the training and information distribution to the volunteers.  We have seven couples who each take a one month stint in the park (We are the August couple)  and this year most are returning folks who already know the ropes.  It was a fun meeting and we had a good sense of the upcoming season and how things were going to work around the park.   On our way out of the meeting, I snapped this shot from my cell phone, and it was amazing watching the sun set over Lake Winnebago. 

Steve is so lucky to work in a place like this each day! 

Friday morning I whipped up some of my special Chicken Alfredo Lasagna and salad and fruit sliced for dessert.  My good friend Connie was coming from "across the pond" (Oshkosh) for the afternoon!

We had a great time catching up.... and she also brought along a pile of quilting she has been doing. It is all gorgeous and I learned some new ideas from her creations. We gabbed away for five hours, and it seemed like just a few minutes.

This lovely quilt Connie showed me was a gift she had been given,
with a wonderful story behind it.

A woman in her quilting guild had made it for a benefit function last year,
and Connie had admired it greatly during it's creation before it was donated away. 
Connie's' daughter in law somehow attended this benefit function,
and she bid on it and won it, not ever knowing that Connie even knew the maker.
The daughter in law wrapped it up for Connie for a Christmas Present!!!
Imagine Connie's surprise to get that quilt as a gift!!!

(notice little Binney giving it her "approval")

It is all water looking batik fabrics 
and The Lord's Prayer is delicately embroidered in the middle. 

The other reason Connie trekked around the pond to see me: 
She was delivering a sweet little table loom to me that a friend of hers had for sale.  I agreed to buy it from a photo she mailed to me, and once she got to the house with the loom and supplies, I determined it was well worth it. 

It's a 14" Kessenich 4 harness table loom (all oak) on a folding stand, with all the bells and whistles.  It folds down flat so it can fit into a rolling suitcase.  Perfect for workshops, learning, or even taking along in the motorhome.  Not sure if I am going to keep it, or sell it to a new gal who is learning to weave nearby.  For now, I will weave off the rest of the yarn that is on it, and see how I like it. 

I set it up on the front porch to weave today in peace and quiet....

It sat up a bit higher than I liked, so Steve got out the drill and made two new sets of holes about 3 inches higher on the X of the stand.  This allowed the loom to set down lower, and made it actually more stable and more secure, besides being the better level to weave comfortably.

Using the existing warp that was already on the loom, I decided to work up a wool scarf in alternating bands of color and changing around the twills... It will be all natural sheep wool colors.  Hmmmm

By Saturday afternoon, it was time to get a few things done in the house and yard... plus it's the big city bulk item trash pickup.  Even though we only have lived here 2 years now, we had BIG stuff to put out at the street curb for pickup.  We cleaned out the garage and sorted and hauled and organized stuff.  As we put our things out, folks stopped by and picked some of them up!  It saves the city from having to haul it all away, and it's kinda a traditional event in our town.  Folks roam the streets checking out what others have set out on their curbs.  

We had to run around doing some errands, so we picked up a few things from the curb ourselves!  One is a portable hunting blind in a carrying case, a rolling office chair, a brand new unopened bag of wood pellets for Steves firepit!   One man's trash is another man's treasure!  We stopped at the Chilton Fire Dept. Brat Fry fundraiser, got a quick meal and enjoyed the polka music while we had our ice cream desert.

I wanted to rush quick because there was another event going on... this afternoon was a fiber event around the area, of 10 yarn fiber farms and stores holding special open houses for an artist tour around Lake Winnebago.  I only had time to run to one place, Bleating Heart Studio south of Chilton.  I will post more pics later about the visit, and the shop.  But I will end this blog with my newest TREASURE.....

A retiring rosemaling artist from the next town over is moving into assisted living and is disposing of some of her furniture.  The gal at Bleating Heart Studio had a few of her pieces in the shop to sell during today's event.  I fell in LOVE with this darling table.....   You can't quite read the sign, but it's $35.00..... not $350.00.... it's really only $35.00!   I grabbed the sign and headed to the checkout counter! 

It's perfect for our livingroom as a coffee table in front of our couch.  Our livingroom is kinda small and a traditionally shaped rectangular one would be too big. This one is just PERFECT! 

Finney and Binney approve---

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Poop(yard) Kinda Day!

A beautiful Saturday morning with promise of warm weather, sunshine and not a single thing to go and do today!!!  You know what that means?

Yup... Our Old House Projects!!!

I woke up about 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep.  Dangnabbit, a morning we could sleep in, and here I was, wide awake???  I got up and brewed some coffee, baked up some muffins and whipped up a batch of cookies too while I had the oven going.

Steve wandered on down once he smelled the good stuff baking, and we shared a cup of coffee out on our front porch. The sun was shining in from the east, and our dogs were relaxing by our feet. What a wonderful way to start a day.

First on our list of Our Old House Projects was to get the air compressor pulled around to the front of the house and run the air hose into the foyer.  Steve has a nice air powered finish nailing gun, and I had prepped the quarter round base trim with matching stain.  Before we went on vacation, we yanked out the carpeting in the foyer to discover how nice the hardwood flooring underneath.  All we needed was new quarter round trim to cover the areas where the old base coving and wall-to-carpeting tack strips had been.

Here is Steve, hard at work, making cut and cut again tiny increments to get the wooden strips to fit perfectly.  I was the "gopher" and "keeper of the dogs" who wanted to KILL the air compressor!

The foyer is such a pretty part of Our Old House... 
I love the old cast iron grates, vintage heat registers
 and that little antique table which was left behind by the previous owners.

That little closet door is where we keep all the grandtot toys, and also Steve created a little reading nook with pillows and a pad at the bottom of the stairs deep inside the closet. He put in a light fixture and we have a container of books to read.  The grandkids and the dogs curl up in there and have a secret hiding place inside.

The pocket doors lead into the livingroom, 
but we close them during the winter to keep the heat in the livingroom 
and not let it flow up the open stairwell until right before bedtime.

Okay, it's 9 a.m. and it's time to start our next project. 

Our doggers have a little "poop yard" between our house and garage.  We blocked off an area with pieces of 6 ft tall kennel panels.  It worked great during the frozen winter months.  Part of the area is a cement slab but when covered with snow, the dogs could use the entire space as their poop yard. Now that it's spring, it's pretty muddy and the small surface of available grass is getting down trodden and I don't think the grass will grow well with two dogs using it. 

When we had Duke and Duchess, we could attach either of those dogs to a rope at the back door that was on a runner cable, and they zoomed down past the garage to do their business in the backyard.  They were very confident and outgoing dogs who minded us well with commands and recalls and a real drive to please us.  Well, that was fine.

But with Finney and Binney, they are both quite the scaredy cat type dogs.... and if either one got loose, I am not sure we could ever get them back!  I know for sure that Binney would run wildly in any direction and not ever come back. Each can slip out of their collar in a flash, because their tiny heads are smaller than their thick ruff of fur around their necks. They each need harnesses to go for walks on a leash. Instead of hooking them into a harness each time to get them out to do their duty, we opted to fence in the section of grass between the house and garage to make them a "potty yard" which is now getting kinda small with two of them using it.

This is what we had made last winter:

Like I said, it worked well enough, but there is not enough grassy room for two dogs.

We never leave the dogs out here alone, we are always in the kitchen watching out of the window, making sure they each do their thing before letting them back in the house.  They are monitored to make sure they don't goof off and forget to go.  Nor would I ever want something to happen to them if left outside alone.

But this yard just needed a bit more "poop room" don'tcha think?

So yesterday we bought some new treated lumber planks and some spindles.  I used solid colored stain (white) last night and gave them all a good first coat on sawhorses down in my workroom in the basement.  They dried overnight and we were ready to get to work. We hauled out the sawhorses, drills, level, and screws.  Time to make a new wall of fencing that matched the house better.  We needed a gate too, so that was worked into plan.

We had to disassemble part of our existing porch
 to work in the new planks horizontally.

It went together as we assembled on site in the matter of a few hours... with a lunch break and some time to reconfigure the gate and latch.  It all worked out and we were done!  (I still have to touch up the stain in spots)

It sure looked a lot better than the black kennel panels. 
This is the side of the house we use most often.  
The doggers gave it their seal of approval! 

Once we got the new fence and gate mounted into place, now we could move the two black kennel panels to the other side of the house... This would expand the "poop yard" further into the side yard along the north side of our house.  It worked out perfectly!  We only had to remove one branch of the lilac and one shrub near the diningroom. That part went easy, and we attached it tightly to the house. It doubled the size of their "poop yard" and we can still see them out the window over the kitchen sink. 

 Binney signed the deal with her stamp of approval 
by peeing just on the border between the old "poop yard" and new area!  LOL

We took a break to visit with our neighbors out in the back yard.  We are VERY fortunate to be surround by "dog loving people" and we all gather with our dogs in the back where all of our yards meet.  It's a wonderful time.  Between four households, we have 9 dogs and they all get along great!

Sadly, our neighbors to the west of us had to put down one of their beloved dogs a few months ago, while we were gone on vacation.  RIP sweet Chloe!  Laurie had dogger treats for ALL the dogs today!  It's like our own little Dog Park. We don't care which dog poops in who's yard, because we all pick it up no matter what.  (except R.C who runs over it and blasts it apart with his lawn mower!)

Some of the old dogs, like Cheyenne, relax in the sunshine and ignore the young ones.
Little Binney and Finney are learning their socialization skills. 

 Soon Finney was dashing after silly rambunction Pierre, 
and someone kept throwing balls to keep them all entertained.

Finney and Binney are on long ropes of course, but still can socialize and sniff and play with the other dogs.  What a great community we live in, with such happy neighbors and friendly silly doggers!

Once our tasks were all done, we ran over to Shopko to get Steveio new shoes... New Balance were on sale until tonight, so we rewarded him for his hard work today with a pair of new shoes! LOL

I wonder what projects we will get done tomorrow???  We are going out to a Sweet Adelines Concert with Pa Pfundtner tomorrow evening, but I am sure we can find something during the day to keep ourselves occupied.  Hmmmmm???