Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hi-Tech Applesauce

Cooking with a microwave is probably nothing new to most people. I, however, only use a microwave to melt chocolate and butter or to heat up leftovers.

The few attempts I've made over the years to actually cook in a microwave never turned out very well. But right now living in a 16 ft by 10 ft cabin all I have to cook with are a microwave, electric skillet, crock pot, and gas barbecue grill.

Over the years I've made large batches of applesauce because my hubby eats it on food like most people use gravy or ketchup. Those batches were always boiled in a large kettle and canned or frozen. Then as the kids left I learned to cook smaller batches on the top of the stove for fresh applesauce.

While visiting my good friend Danita Cahill this week, we visited a small produce stand and I couldn't pass up the price of their apples. They looked fresh and better than any I'd found in stores lately. On the drive home I contemplated the best way to make applesauce and decided to try my luck with the microwave.

Not wanting to ruin all the apples, I peeled and cut up only two and placed them in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring pitcher. I added about a 1/2 inch water and cooked them for 3 minutes. I pulled it out, stirred and added a little sugar. Another 3 minutes and I had cooked apples that mushed when I stirred them! And hubby ate it up with his barbecued short ribs and baked potatoes.

Now that I know I can make applesauce in the microwave I'll be making it more often. The next thing to tackle is seeing if I can cook brown rice in either the microwave or the crock pot. Anyone know?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

New Release!!!

Staking Claim is now available from most ebook venues. I'm still working on the print book. I know, moving, grandkids, and building a house have gotten in the way.

This book is more a historical romance than a western. The story takes place on a clipper ship from Liverpool to New York, then by train to Chicago, and on to Oregon.

Here is the blurb for the second book in the Halsey Homecoming trilogy. 

Deceit, contradictions, and lies.
On a ship bound for America, Colin Healy encounters a contradictory woman, whose beauty and grace intrigues him.

Livie Leatherby boards the ship as an imposter to get the information she needs to save her family. Befriending Sir Colin Healy is easy with his chivalrous tendencies. But she soon realizes discovering his past marks him for death.

Forced together to stay one step ahead of the Lord set on killing Colin for his estate, can these two get past the lies and deceit that has brought them together before one or the other meets their demise?

Back up on deck, Colin stood at the ship’s railing watching the dock workers load the cargo destined for New York. A glimpse of bright blue in the periphery of his vision, turned his attention to a small entourage headed to the ship’s gang plank.

There was no mistaking the long, bright blue coat and large, overly-flowered hat.

Where were the people now following her when he came to her aid earlier?

A servant girl followed the young woman. She carried what looked like a hat box and two men followed her carrying two large trunks on their shoulders. While the woman’s stride was self-assured, her head pivoted back and forth, her gaze taking in everything.

Why would someone clearly of gentry, use a sailing ship to travel when not one hundred feet away the Campania, a steamship in the Cunard line, was getting ready to set sail for America as well?

Before he registered his own movements, Colin discovered himself standing beside Captain Whiteside at the gangplank. The jovial captain enjoyed welcoming the passengers.

One of the reasons Colin picked going home by sailing ship rather than the faster steamship was to have fewer passengers to deal with, or in his case, hide from. He wasn’t a socializer like his sister, Shayla. He tended to have his mother’s trait of enjoying themselves just fine when alone or with family. Taking the slower sailing vessel gave him the option of never setting foot in a proper dining room or having to sit through conversations with strangers.

“Welcome!” boomed Captain Whiteside as the young woman stepped from the gangplank onto the vessel.

“Thank you, Captain.” She touched a gloved hand to her hat, then touched her earlobe showing beneath upswept copper-colored hair.

Colin didn’t want to think he was partial to red hair due to his mother’s fiery locks. This woman’s upswept hair was a more subtle hue. He found the shiny copper color mesmerizing.

“Your name?” Captain Whiteside inquired, holding a script with names and cabin numbers.

“Miss Olivia Leatherby.” The woman’s green gaze drifted from the captain to Colin. Her eyes widened, showing she recognized him from earlier. She made no move to thank or acknowledge him, and her gaze quickly returned to the captain.

Why didn’t she at least acknowledge my presence? Colin continued to study the young woman. The more he saw, the more he was intrigued. She was a good head shorter than he, but her curves and the way she set her feet to take the sway of the ship proved she wouldn’t float away in a good breeze.
“Miss Leatherby, you will be staying in first cabin twelve.” Captain Whiteside tooted on his whistle and the cabin boy hurried forward.  “Jack, take Miss Olivia Leatherby to first cabin twelve.”

“Aye, Captain.” The young boy waved his hand for the woman and her belongings to follow.
Cabin twelve. That was two cabins down from Colin. Being practically neighbors, bumping into one another would be unavoidable.

He’d moved back to his spot at the railing when his gaze landed on another passenger whose fashionable attire and haughty manner didn’t fit with the usual sailing passenger. He’d come across a few men like this one since his return to England and taking charge of his estate. Why would a man of this class take a clipper rather than a steamship? He was the type who would think the accommodations on a clipper ship beneath him.

The wind didn’t carry the man’s name to him by the railing as Captain Whiteside greeted the stranger. It didn’t matter. He could always ask the cabin boy or the captain the gentleman’s name.

He turned his attention to the smoke puffing out of the Compania. A dark gray cloud puffed out adding more somber gray to the day. Passengers lined the deck of the steamship, waving at the people on the docks.

He could have been on that ship, surrounded by all the people and traveling in luxury, but he preferred the slower pace of the sailing vessel. He’d used his newly acquired connections in the shipping world to obtain a first cabin on the Americana. While he didn’t need the luxuries one had while on a steam ship, he did prefer traveling on a sailing ship in first class. The rooms were slightly larger, giving enough room to not feel as if he slept in a coffin, and the food, while not being served as elegantly, was filling and tasty.

The quiet, solitude, and time would allow him to go over the ideas his cousin Denis had handed him as he left Meath Hall. Even though he was excited to return to his family in Sumpter, he had become accustomed to riding about the thousand-acre estate talking to the tenants and discussing the best ways for them to grow better crops and livestock. Growing up, all he knew was mining, but living here, overseeing the land, he felt a kinship to both the people and the land.

“I guess you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” He grinned and headed to the first-class section of the ship. There would be a few more hours of spring sunlight streaming through his port hole. He’d best take advantage of the light to read the ideas Denis submitted.
He entered the covered stairwell and stopped. Angry words flowed up the opening.

“I heard you were late.” The steely deep tone sounded like a threat.

“Ah had to say good-bye…”

He knew that soft wispy voice. Colin hurried down the stairs.

Buy Links:  Amazon /  Kobo / Apple / Windtree Press

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Fun has Begun!

We broke ground for our new house.  The man we contracted to do the foundation is giving us sweat equity. In other words, my hubby has been working side-by-side with the man as the concrete forms were built. Hubby also dug the hole for the foundation. Yesterday and today we (hubby and I) filled in and leveled the area so the rebar can be set in the forms tomorrow.

Tuesday the forms will be inspected and Wednesday we'll be pouring concrete.

All but one section leveled and ready.
The other fun I'm having is deciding on doors and flooring. We already planned to make all the inside doors. We had steel doors in our last house and I didn't like them. The paint had to be redone too often. The lumber company where we're getting our lumber suggested fiberglass, but hubby wants the outside doors to be 42 inches and there are only a few styles that are made that wide. So I've been going back and forth between a fiberglass door with an oval window but is solid without a wood-grain look, or a knotty alder wood door without a window but looks rustic. Decisions!

While the grandkids were here, I picked out three floor colors I like and had them walk across the samples with dusty feet to see which one hid the dust. We called it an experiment.  The lightest color we couldn't
see the footprints, the medium colored on we could barely see the footprints and the darkest the prints showed up. Then hubby sprinkled dirt over the samples. The dirt showed up on the light and dark but blended with the medium colored sample. I'm now trying to decided between the light or medium colored and how it will blend with the other fun I've been having...

The cabinets! I've picked the style, again, kind of rustic looking. I'm sure I'm going with knotty alder because I love the knots. The next question is what color do I want on them? I have to get the samples of the flooring again and take them to the store with the cabinets and see what will work best.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Contrary Mares

We had the horses in the arena that had belly high grass growing in it. My husband believes every square inch of dirt should be growing something useful. The four horses mowed it down, and we decided if the water tank was by the gate to the hill with 200 acres they could roam, they wouldn't wander far.

The first week, they were down at the water tank every morning. We caught them and rode. Then one morning only Jammer was at the water tank. The other three were high on the hill. Then for two days we didn't see the other three at all, and this morning, I only saw two.

Bud, my gelding wasn't with the two mares.
Jammer at the gate

We knew the neighbors also had horses on our hill, per our agreement, and they had water for them down at their corrals. But when I saw the mares and no Bud, I was sure something had happened to him. He always hangs with the herd. I began to have visions of him laying in a ravine with a broken leg or a snake bite and decided I needed to go find him.

Knowing if I carried a lead rope or halter Annie, the oldest mare, would lead Lily away from me, I trudged up the hill and over the other side without a lead rope. At the top, I spotted the neighbor horses at the bottom of the hill headed for their corrals and water.

At the back was Bud, plodding along in his usual shuffling walk.

I hollered, "Buuud!" His head came up and he stopped. I hollered again, and he started looking around. Another holler, and he turned his body and looked up the hill at me. A couple more hollers and he was walking back to the gate towards me.

He walked through the gate and I hollered again. I was about half way down the hill. He started running up the hill then stopped and nickered. Annie and Lily topped the hill behind me and started walking south- the opposite direction I wanted Bud to come.

I hollered a few more times but he headed south and soon caught up to them and ignored me. So after hiking up the hill staring down into all the gullet's believing Bud was hurt because he wasn't with the mares, he left me for the contrary mare that avoids being caught at all costs.

I didn't get a ride, only a hike up and back down the hill.

I think we're going to have to lock up Bud and Lily (when I catch them) so I have them available to ride!