Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring Is Around The Corner (Hopefully)

The snow is melting today and we have seen a few migratory birds return, we have smelled the odor of the farmers getting out onto the fields with scrapings from the barnyard, we have heard the robins and other birds singing and the crows cawing, but we haven't seen the Sandhill Cranes yet.  We heard they are are south of here, so I imagine they will be here soon.

They usually arrive about this time in March.  Usually they arrive on the 9th which is tomorrow.  Last year I wrote about them on the 14th of March.

To help me get through the winter, my daughter bought me this yard ornament of a crane.  I keep it in the house.  It is too nice to put outside and is a reminder of days to come. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Frosty Morning

This time of year the weather is so unpredictable.  We have set off in the morning and a couple hours later while returning home, we can hardly see the road because of a snow squall coming through with a vengeance.  It's like a quick summer rain shower that only occurs in a small area.  Today we woke up to above zero temperatures but it broke records for low temperatures in other places not that far away.  My daughter took these pictures this morning while taking her son to school.  This beautiful sight was less than 20 miles away from us.  We didn't have anything like this at our house and by the time she returned home, the frost had disappeared.  The contrast between the brilliant blue sky and the white frost is amazing.  Enjoy the beauty!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Talking Watch

It is March 5, 2014 and it is a beautiful sunny day but so deceiving.  The icicles are being formed from the snow melting off the roof and from the inside of the house it looks like a lovely Spring day.   It isn't though, it is cold and windy.

The sun must have some heat in it even with the temp below freezing.

Icicle is even dripping off the birdhouse roof.

Waiting for the real Spring to arrive, I have very little to write about.  Recently I noticed my dad, who is 89 years old, was never quite sure of the time.  He has macular degeneration and has trouble seeing his watch or a clock.  He has a clock which strikes the hour but that doesn't help much.  Sometimes he starts getting ready for bed at 8:00 PM because he thinks it's 10:00.  I got the bright idea to get him a talking clock.  I went to every store I could think of and couldn't find one.  So I went to the go to online store,  I found a watch that had pretty good reviews and spoke the time.

Notice it says Talking Alarm Watch.  He had a little trouble hearing it at first because of the robotic sound to the woman's voice, but eventually learned to understand her.  During the first day, he did fine and took it to his room when he went to bed.  Some time during the night he got it turned upside down and pushed the button to turn on the alarm.  At 2:00 AM the alarm went off, and it went off every 5 minutes until 2:30.  Then it either stopped or he stuck it under a pillow so he couldn't hear it any longer.  Somehow he kept it close so I wouldn't hear it.  I'm a very light sleeper, but I didn't hear it.

My solution was the very versatile Duct Tape.  I covered all the buttons except for the one to push for the time.  It has worked well.  I will have to remove it this weekend to Spring Forward, but that won't be a problem. 

So until I have new bird sightings and pictures of plants peeking through the earth to share, you will have to hear my boring stories of our everyday life. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don't Bake A Paczki

It's Fat Tuesday.  The day for fattening up before the fasting days of Lent.  Not only is it Fat Tuesday, it's Paczki Day.  Paczki (pronounced Poonch-key) is a traditional Polish doughnut type bakery item.  My husband is half Polish, my mother in law was full Polish and no one in my family has even tasted one.  There is a bakery in the Green Bay area that sells over 20,000 of them on this day.  I thought they must be wonderful and so I would try to make them.  Traditionally they are deep fried, but I found a recipe where they are baked.  I don't like many things deep fried so I thought this would be a better option, and it would have a lot less than the 400 calories in a fried one.  They turned out looking like a sweet dinner roll with more sugar on top and jelly in the middle.  I think deep frying them would be better for taste and maybe a little crispiness.  It would also make the sugar on top stick better. 

Baked Paczki 


  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk (no warmer than 110 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) room-temperature butter
  • 1 large room-temperature egg
  • 3 large room-temperature egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or rum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar (optional)
Add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside.  In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, brandy and salt until well incorporated.

Still using the paddle attachment, add 4 1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for 5 or more minutes.  Dough will be very slack.  If it's too soft, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour.

Place dough in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.  It should take from 1 to 2 hours.  Punch down and let it rise again.

After it has risen, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.  Pat or roll to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.

Cut rounds with a 3 inch biscuit cutter.  Remove scraps and re-roll and re-cut.  Transfer rounds to parchment lined baking sheets, cover and let rounds rise until doubled in size.  It takes about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the Paczki's in the oven and bake 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.  Remove from oven and roll in sugar.   Put jelly in the center when cooled.

For those of you who are true bakers, you are probably laughing at me right now.  I am willing to try anything, but it doesn't always turn out.  I have never tasted the real Paczki, so maybe they did turn out and I don't know it.  Some day I will have to travel to the Polish bakery and see for myself.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ribbed Knit Skull Cap

This past weekend we had three of our grandchildren stay with us.  The 5 year old, who I made playdough with in the previous post, is always asking me to make him something.  He thinks I can just wiggle my nose and items appear.  He asked me for a hat, fingerless mittens like his mother has and a stuffed animal.  I sat down and made this hat.

He tried it on and it was too big.  Because it was a little big,  I gave it to my dad.  Dad wears a hat to keep his sinuses warm at night.  This one is perfect for that.  It is very stretchy so it isn't too tight, but it is just warm enough.  Dad also wears some fingerless gloves I made for him.  He says it has almost cured his carpal tunnel symptoms by keeping his wrists warm.  It is quite a sight to see him get ready for bed.

Fingerless Gloves

Ribbed Adult Hat (Charcoal Gray shown above)

Cast 120 stitches on a size 6 knitting needle.  I use a twelve inch circular needle, but three double pointed needles would work as well.   Be careful not to twist the cast on stitches.  Begin knitting Knit 2, Purl 2 around and around until the piece is 7 1/2 inches.

Then begin decreases.

Round 1:   Knit 2, purl the two purl stitches together,  for entire first round. (90 stitches remaining)
Round 2:   Knit 2, purl 1,  around.
Round 3:   Knit 1, knit 2 together around (60 stitches remaining)
Round 4:   Knit around.
Round 5:   Knit 2 together around (30 stitches remaining)
Round 6:   Knit around.
Round 7:   Knit 2 together around (15 stitches remaining)
Weave yarn through remaining stitches, pull tight and tie off.

You may have to switch to double pointed needles for the decrease rounds when there are not enough stitches on the circular needles.

For the young child's version just cast on 100 stitches and knit around to 6 or 6 1/2 inches.
Decrease in the same manner except you will have 75 stitches after 1st decrease round, 50 stitches after 3rd round, 25 after round 5 and finish with 12 stitches.

Kid's version of Hat

He insisted on rainbow colors and was too busy playing a videos game to pose.