Country Living Series

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mr. Darcy visits the fair

The one last huzzah we did before Younger Daughter went off to boot camp was to take Mr. Darcy to the fair. A small town about a half-hour's drive from us hosts a little fair every September complete with modest parade, a dozen or so vendor booths (maybe two dozen), a small livestock exhibit, display halls for 4-H and art entries, and (our favorite part) a library book sale.

We all went and took the puppy, knowing full well we would not be able to take him into the exhibit buildings. It was more of an excuse to take an outing as a family, and to socialize the dog by exposing him to a wide variety of stimuli.


As you can imagine, it took no time at all for a wide variety of stimuli to descend on such an adorable animal, to coo and fuss over him. I don't think we got more than ten feet at a time before another stimulus materialized. You'll notice the vast majority of the stimuli, whatever the age, are of the female persuasion.



















And that was pretty much all we did at the fair: walk around and let people pet Mr. Darcy.


By the end of it, he was pretty wiped...



...with predictable results when we got home.


There is sound logic behind Don's universal advice for young men who want to meet women: Get a puppy. Clearly it works.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Godspeed, Younger Daughter

You might remember a couple days ago, when I made lemon meringue pie for the neighborhood potluck, I noted the treat was a special request from Younger Daughter. That's because it's one of her favorite pies; and it was also the last potluck she'll be attending for a while. As I type this, she's on her way to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, to become a sailor.

Originally she was supposed to ship out November 28, but some time ago she had put in a request for an earlier ship date should one come available. She found out about two weeks ago there was an opening, and she gladly took it. She is, in her own words, "stoked" to be on her way (even if she has to endure boot camp first).

So the last couple of weeks have been frantic on her part, tying up loose ends, making her goodbyes to friends and neighbors, cleaning her bedroom, sorting through clothes and personal effects. Yep, it's been crazy.

One of the things she did was have us cut her hair. It was far too long, and she risked just having it hacked off by boot camp barbers. At first she was going to go to a proper salon and get a professionally done short haircut, but there wasn't quite enough time to mentally psych herself up for that step. So Don cut it for her.



(She'll learn the proper method to confine her hair in the next day or two.)

She is allowed very, very few personal possessions at boot camp: A tiny address book, a small Bible, a religious medallion, identification (driver's license and military ID), a small watch, and a bank direct-deposit sheet (the white paper at bottom). No personal clothing, no electronics, nothing else. Zip, zilch, nada, nothing.


Because these possessions are still questionable (the watch and the Bible may be too big or not permitted after all), she didn't want to get anything expensive. The watch is a cheapo WalMart special for $7. The address book measures about 2x3 inches.


She found a Bible at a thrift store for $2. It's actually a lovely little volume in excellent shape, so I hope she's allowed to keep it.


Recruits are allowed one religious medallion of their choice, as long as it's smaller than their dog tags. This miniature sterling silver Celtic cross is a gift from Older Daughter to her sister, purchased in Ireland. Younger Daughter is confident she'll be permitted to keep it.


Yesterday morning I drove her to the recruiter's office in Coeur d'Alene, and asked for a photo with two of the three recruiters. Ahem. Notice the height difference. That's a constant joke.


I said my goodbyes and left her. The recruiters drove her to MEPS (the Military Entrance Processing Station) in Spokane that afternoon, and she spent the night in a hotel.

Early this morning, Don and I left the house and drove to MEPS to watch her swearing-in ceremony.


We went through airport-style security inside the building.



A funny thing happened while we were waiting with Younger Daughter for the ceremony. There is a tall burly black man named Mike whom Younger Daughter met last May at MEPS. She didn't catch his last name, but she called him her guardian angel. He helped her through the sometimes-confusing procedures, and when she "walked" out from unacceptable job offers, he was there to guide her. She believes it may have been due to his influence that she was offered the Advanced Electronics Computer Field position she accepted. She was pleased to see him again so she could thank him. Interestingly, out of countless faces he's seen since last May, he remembered her clearly and referenced her experience.

Well, Don and I had the opportunity to shake his hand and thank him for his help during her bewildering and exciting experience last May. He was kindness itself and expressed great confidence that Younger Daughter will go far in her military career. It's people like Mike that make us glad YD chose the Navy.

We had about an hour to wait before her swearing-in ceremony, during which time we watched lots of young people get processed in various capacities. "Is it my imagination, or is everyone here over six feet tall?" I joked to Younger Daughter. "Yep, they are," she replied. Her diminutive size has been an ongoing jest ever since she enlisted.

Then came the ceremony itself. Four recruits (from various branches, not just the Navy) stood in "parade rest" position in the solemn room where they were sworn in. It was at this juncture that family members were invited in to watch.


When the Army Ranger Captain administering the oath walked into the room, the recruits all snapped to attention.


The Captain asked all the recruits whether they were there of their own free will, and other questions of similar magnitude.


Then they all swore the military oath.


After this, the recruits filed into another room where, one by one, they signed their contracts. Younger Daughter is now irrevocably in the Navy.


She told us later, while she was being driven to MEPS by the Coeur d'Alene recruiters, they told her she was one of their favorite recruits they'd come across, and echoed Mike's confidence she'll do well. This wasn't inappropriate banter; I believe they meant it. YD is small, but she's sharp-witted, intelligent, gives as good as she gets, quick at catching on and learning new things, and doesn't cow easily.


So we said goodbye to our youngest daughter -- now a grown woman -- and left her to her career choice. She called from Salt Lake City this afternoon, on a layover before arriving in Chicago late tonight. She's well braced for the hell of "processing week" and knows what to expect.

Godspeed, dear daughter.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Flash sale final notice

Obligatory final notice: It's the last day to grab the Prepper Bundle, which ends tonight at 11:59pm CST.


This bundle has over 30 resources:
  • Learn how to protect yourself in emergency situations
  • Create a wholesome healthy food storage
  • Pack 72 hour kits and bug-out-bags so you know the basics are covered
  • Learn how to save seeds and the basics of homesteading
  • Learn how to live a more frugal live, do more things yourself, manage on your own in an grid down urban environment
To grab yours, click here before midnight. The price is $29.97 for online access, $64.97 for USB drive, and $69.97 for online access + USB drive.



Don’t wait until tomorrow because the bundle will be gone.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Flash sale

Self-Reliance School is having a Prepper bundle flash sale from now through 11:59pm CST on Monday Sept 25.

The price will be $29.97 for online access, $64.97 for USB drive, and $69.97 for online access + USB drive.


Subjects in the bundle include:
  • Aftermath: A Story of Survival by LeAnn Edmondson
  • A Prepper’s Anthology of the Collapse of Venezuela by Daisy Luther
  • The Bohemian Lady’s Journal of Wild Edibles by Lindy Sellers
  • Your Family Matters by Todd Sepulveda
  • Your Shelf Stable Pantry by Misty Marsh
  • Wonder Oven Recipes by Megan Smith
  • Prepper’s Guide To Disaster Water Security by Steven Chabotte
  • The Guide to Primitive Survival Traps by Blake Alma
  • Simple 72 Hour Kits by Misty Marsh
  • Prepper Supplies Checklist by Nettie David
  • Preparedness Planner Firearm Edition by Jennifer Osuch
  • Organization Your First Step To Getting Prepped by Lisa Bedford
  • Prepared Kids by Angela Paskett
  • Seed Saving Course by Melissa K Norris
  • Meal Planning for Long Term Food Storage by Charisse Merrill
  • Kitchens Prepper Style by Constance Beck
  • Living Off The Grid by Sheri Ann Richerson
  • Survival Secrets Stop Burglars by Damian Brindle
  • Keys To Successful Homesteading by Scott Terry
  • How To Embrace An Off-Grid Lifestyle by Tammy Trayer
  • How To Bake Without Baking Powder by Leigh Tate
  • Food Storage Made Easy by Jodi Moore + Julie Weiss
  • Homemade First Aid Kit And What To Include by Sheri Ann Richerson
  • Family Preparation In The City And Suburbia by Susan K Stewart
  • Fifty Ways To Make Survival Tools From Trash And Household Items by Ken Youngquist
  • Rocket Mass Heater Video by Paul Wheaton
  • Build Your Own Emergency Off-Grid Power System by Joan Crain
  • Canning 101 A Primer by Lisa Barthuly
  • 6 Steps To Your Quick Win Emergency Kit by Shelle Wells

In light of the horrific natural disasters plaguing the world in the last few months, I think everyone would agree preparedness is a wise course of action. Please consider getting started -- you won't regret it.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Lemon meringue pie-making tutorial

It was my turn to make dessert for this week's potluck, and Younger Daughter had a special request: lemon meringue pie. I thought I'd document the process for those of you who like pie-making tutorials.

I use the recipe from my faithful Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.


Lemon-meringue is a single-crust pie (as opposed to a double-crust pie). I doubled the recipe since I was making two pies.


I started with flour, salt, and lard.


I find it's easiest to measure hydrophobic ingredients such as lard using displacement (remember your legend of Archimedes?). To one cup of water, I add enough lard to displace the water by 2/3 cup. Much less messy than trying to pack 2/3 of a cup of lard into a measuring cup.


Ready to mix.


Once mixed...


...it's time to add cold water. The recipe has a measurement for the water, but I usually just wing this part.


Mixed dough.


Getting ready to roll it flat. Flour is your friend during rolling.



Because I'm making two pies, I divided the dough in half.


Make sure the surface is well-floured...


...and roll out the dough generously larger than the diameter of the pie dish.


To transfer the dough to the pie dish, I loosely roll the dough over the rolling pin, and "unroll" it over the pie dish.


Trim and/or crimp the edges as needed.


In the case of lemon meringue pies, the pie crust must be baked first.


I make sure the bottom is pricked...


...then I drop in a cheap metal pie pan to prevent the crust from forming big honkin' bubbles during the baking process.


About halfway through the baking process, I remove the metal pie pans so the bottom of the crust can brown. By this point the crust rarely bubbles.


Crusts, finished. You can see a small bubble in the right-hand crust.


While the crusts are baking, I start on the filling. To a pot I add sugar, flour, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt.


With the heat on, I gradually stir in water, stirring constantly. (Stirring is necessary during the entire process so the filling doesn't lump or stick.)



Keep stirring until the mixture thickens, about ten minutes or so.


Then keep stirring some more until it bubbles. Turn off the heat and stir for another two minutes.


At this point I pause and separate some eggs whites from yolks (the eggs should be room temperature). The yolks get added to the filling; the whites are put aside for the meringue topping.



Beat the yolks just a bit, enough to smooth them out.


Then take a bit of the hot filling...


...and gradually add it to the yolks, stirring. It's necessary to do this gradually so the heat from the filling can denature the egg proteins without "cooking" the yolks. (After all, you don't want to add scrambled eggs to the filling.)



At this point I add butter to the filling...


...and measure out the lemon juice.


Now it's time to add the egg yolk mixture to the filling. Again this is done slowly while constantly stirring.


Then slowly stir in the lemon juice.


By the way, the heat is off during all this process. Just keep it stirred.


That finishes the filling. Now's the time to make the meringue, which requires vanilla, sugar, and cream of tarter in addition to the egg whites.



Add the vanilla and cream of tarter to the whites, and start whipping. Only add the sugar about one teaspoon at a time (one time I added all the sugar at once and the whites never whipped -- they just stayed liquid).


Keep whipping until the meringue is white and forms peaks -- it shouldn't take long.



Then it's time to assemble everything. I usually re-heat the filling to the boiling point, since it's cooled down a bit while I made the meringue. I've found slightly cooled filling doesn't seem to "harden up" while baking (there's nothing more humiliating than a runny lemon meringue pie).


Then it was time to put on the meringue. I start by making a circle around the edge, since the edge is supposed to be "sealed."


Then the center is filled in.


It's traditional to make peaks in the meringue, which is simply done by pulling a spoon back upward.



Before baking:


After baking:


After the pie cools, there are often these little golden dots of liquid. It's like a symbol of success or something.


So that's your pie-making tutorial du jour. Happy baking!