Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Beaver Lodge

We live on a marsh or floodway that borders the Fox River.  We never know what nature will bring to us.  Some years we are so flooded that the entire marsh is under water.

We can even see fish through the water from our deck.
These are just Carp.

Some years everything dries up except for a small stream that leads to the river.   You can even see a snapping turtle walking across the grass.

 Usually the animals adapt to whatever conditions they are presented with.  The last time an animal misjudged the situation was during a normal year.  We had a pair of Beaver build a lodge under a fallen tree at the bottom of our hill.  They deepened the channel that lead to their lodge and created an escape route.  We could easily see them as they gathered small willow branches to provide food for themselves for the winter.  We were amazed at the size of their collection of willow branches.  Then the pond froze, but the waterways that the beaver dug out remained open for a long time.  Slowly the willow branches disappeared.  We were sure that we would see beaver babies at some point.  It didn't happen.  The spring floods arrived and flooded the beaver out of their lodge.  For a long time they had to lay on top of the lodge because they were flooded out.  Eventually they just left.  Many people think that we should be glad because beavers are so destructive.  They are in most situations but when we consulted an expert, he said they won't climb our hill because of the large supply of willows, so we wouldn't have to worry about trees around our house. The willow trees they used will grow back quickly.  I can see if you have large beautiful trees, that would be very disturbing but we were sad to see them leave.  They haven't returned.  I guess they learned their lesson.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Antique Coffee Grinders

Recently I blogged about planned obsolescence and the fact that things are not made to last.  I talked about buying a microwave less than two years ago and after the warranty expired, it wouldn't heat anymore.  We bought a new unit because it cost less than having the old one repaired.  I am mentioning this again because I have a friend who is missing her coffee grinder.  I am assuming it is an electric grinder because she tried to use a blender as a substitute but it didn't work very well.  I happened to have a couple very old grinders and these were meant to last.  The green one with the antique dirt left on it also serves as a toy because every kid that comes to our house is compelled to turn the crank and grind a few coffee beans. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another Winter Storm

Say it isn't so...not another snowstorm.  We were so spoiled last winter with hardly any snow and warmer temperatures.  Now don't get me wrong, I like winter.  At least when a person is stuck inside in the winter, it looks cold outside and cozy inside.  When a person is stuck inside in the heat of summer, it looks beautiful outside.   I do not like temperatures in the 90's any better all of these winter storms.  It could be that I'm just hard to please.

The storm we are having in the next day or two is called Winter Storm Q.  I certainly hope we don't get to "Z" before spring arrives.  I just hope everyone stays safe if they are traveling, doesn't overdo the shovelling and stays warm.  If they are confined to the house, I hope they have some beautiful birds to watch.

And not this!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lattice Topped Chicken

Guess what, it's recipe Tuesday again.

We had a busy day so I decided to make something that I could assemble and then bake when we got home.  This is a family favorite.

Lattice Topped Chicken

1 can of Potato Soup
1 can of milk
1/2 teaspoon. Seasoned Salt
2 cups of cooked cubed chicken
1 bag of frozen California blend vegetables
(California Blend is a combination of cauliflower, broccoli and carrots)
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 can (2.8 oz.) French Fried Onions
1 Pkg. Crescent Rolls

Combine the soup, milk, salt, chicken, vegetables, 1/2 cup of the cheese and 1/2 can of onions.

Bake covered at 375 degrees until the veggies are done.  It usually take about 45 minutes depending on how frozen the veggies are.  You could microwave the vegetables ahead of time and that would speed up the process.  I didn't have any frozen vegetables on hand but I had a head of cauliflower which needed to be used up, left over broccoli and carrots.  I just combined them and used them in the recipe.  I usually use the frozen because it is quick and easy.

When baked long enough, open the can of crescent rolls and lay out in a flat sheet.  Cut strips and arrange in a lattice pattern over the baked ingredients.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Then put remaining cheese and onions on top and bake 3-5 more minutes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Egg Cartons and Berry Baskets to Give Away

The Fly Lady ( says that you should set the timer for 15 minutes and declutter.  If you do that everyday, things get organized before you know it.  In an effort to declutter, and start Spring cleaning, I began with cleaning out the extra plastic bags, paper bags and egg cartons. 

Yes, I said egg cartons.  I save them and when I have a big stack, I find someone who has chickens and eggs to take them.  I think the Amish like to get them, and I have also seen them offered on Freecycle.  They are snapped up immediately.

I also have some berry baskets.  I keep them year after year, but I'm getting rid of them once and for all.  Every year we have tons of blackberry bushes with a lot of blossoms and then because of the sandy soil and where they are located, they dry up.  If the berry bushes actually produce some year, I can always use an ice cream bucket.

For those who don't know about Freecycle, it's a non profit group where you can give or get items free.  Many local communities have a yahoo group which is run by a local moderator.  You sign up with your local group and whenever someone has something to give away or if a person is in need of an item, you log in and it is posted.   It is a wonderful way to get rid of things and usually there is someone who wants it.  Believe it or not, almost everything is easy to give away.  To check and see if your area has a group, just go to

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Circus Train Memory

Today I was looking through some old photos.  I came upon one of the Christmas projects my husband Mike made for one of our grandchildren.  Back in the mid to late 1940's,  Mike's Uncle Hank made a circus train.  He cut circus animal shapes out of wood and connected them together to form a train.  That means the train is really old, at least 65 years old (kind of like me).  It's fallen apart a little and some of the wheels have fallen off.  That is also kind of like me, except with me I've lost some of my marbles.  I believe it was a Christmas gift.  We kept it all these years and when our grandson was old enough,  Mike made a pattern from the original train and made one for our grandson Dylan. 

This is the old version made by Henry Depka.  Another grandson has Henry as his middle name in memory of this very special uncle.

This is the new version made by Mike Mullally, a very special grandpa.