DIY Front Door Awning

An awning was not what I planned to sew this week, but the fabric on the existing one gave out.

The backstory:  Two years ago, my brother helped me enclose my front porch, which I love, but it left no cover for someone standing at my front door.  It also made the front of my house very plain looking.  I went shopping for an awning online.  It looked like I’d be spending $500-$1000 for an awning just for my entry door, and I wasn’t sure the dimensions would be right.  Enter thoughts of a DIY project.

Some quick online research showed that my idea of making an awning frame out of PVC pipe had merit.  I found some great examples and advice, such as this one on the Instructables website.  My brother had mentioned that awnings with a 45° angle seemed to be the sturdiest, so that’s what I started designing.

The frame needed to be secure on the exterior while giving the entry door room to swing open and closed.  It took one do-over to get the frame dimensions right.  When I was installing the frame to the house, a neighbor guy saw me on the ladder wrestling with the frame, and came over to help.  Many thanks to him, for making the job a lot easier with a team of two.

Here is the frame complete and installed over the doorway, attached to the exterior with galvanized pipe strapping and deck screws.

Awning frame1 w

Awning frame2 w

Next step was to design and sew the fabric awning.  I chose a pvc-lined canvas fabric from Walmart.  It was $5/yard.  I don’t have a product link to share, because it doesn’t appear to be offered on their website.  The woven fabric was super easy to cut and sew.  The fabric is more brittle than I wanted, but it is waterproof, and I was willing to give it a try for the first one.  I fastened the fabric awning to the frame with velcro strips.

Amazingly, the first awning withstood every bit of wind and severe weather we had here in south-central Kansas for the past year and a half.  But this month, the fabric failed.  The awning frame is as secure as the day I installed it.  But the fabric now literally tears like paper, and started falling apart.

While I shop for a more durable fabric, I’ve made a quick replacement from more of the Walmart fabric.   It should last another year at least, while I try to perfect the next choice of fabric and tweak the construction.

The process:

This awning takes three pieces of fabric:

  • A 48 x 48 inch square, for the top piece
  • Two triangular pieces, each 30 x 40 x 43 x 4 inches, for the awning sides.  (These two pieces need to be mirror images.)

After cutting out my fabric pieces, I turned under the fabric edges 1/2″ and hemmed it for a finished look.  

Awning fabric PVC side w

Velcro tabs are sewn onto the awning to anchor it to the frame.  

Underneath view w

The top piece is tacked to the side triangles in four places on each side, rather than the sewing the entire sides together.  That is intended to make it less susceptible to wind, by leaving vents for wind to get through.

This picture shows how the top overlaps the side about two inches, hiding the ‘vents’.  

Awning side w

To tack those top edges down so they don’t stick out on the sides so much, I used a Buttoneer.  Remember those TV commercials from the 70s?

Well, the Buttoneer is still sold and mine has been an amazingly useful gadget.  The Amazon reviews give it 2/5 stars, and some reviewers say it’s not the quality of the original ones.  Hmmm.  If so, that’s disappointing indeed.  I’ve had mine for years, and wouldn’t want to be without it.

Buttoneer

Initially, the front awning hem was not hanging quite straight.  Annoying, but a quick fix, again using the Buttoneer.

Awning front before straighten w

Here is the awning after using the Buttoneer to tack down the sides and straighten the front.  

Awning tacked w

Materials used:

  • PVC pipe
  • PVC primer and cement
  • Pipe strapping
  • Deck/siding screws
  • Outdoor waterproof fabric (2.5 yds of 60 inch wide fabric) to make the top and two side triangles.

The total cost of the awning materials was about $25.  Compare that to the purchased awning prices I was seeing, in the $500-$1000 range.

Final thoughts on this awning.

  • The first awning I made was light colored, so the PVC frame was not conspicuous.  From the angle of someone on the street, it still doesn’t show under the new dark green fabric.  But if you are up close enough to see under the awning, it really stands out against the dark fabric.  I’m thinking of painting the PVC a dark color.
  • I’d like to add a more attractive bottom edge to the awning.  I’m plotting and scheming for what that should look like.

In the meantime, anyone who comes to my door (me included) has a bit of shelter.

 

Creamy Wild Rice Soup–what I’ve been making

This is a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) recipe I tried this week after seeing others recommending it.  They were right; it’s simple and scrumptious.

The recipe calls for carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms; all chopped.  My own twist was to use dehydrated ingredients from my pantry.  It worked out great!  Oooh, the possibilities!

Here’s the link to the recipe: Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup

My assembled ingredients:

Wild Rice soup ingredients2 w RSR

(All of my ingredients are dry or dehydrated, except the mushrooms.  I only had canned mushrooms on hand, and didn’t want to postpone making the soup.)

What it looked like in the pot, before adding the water and cooking:

Dried wild rice soup w RSR

A bowl of soup!

Bowl of soup w

My dehydrated carrots were grated, which made them too small for the orange color to stand out.  Next time I dehydrate carrots, I’ll chop some of them instead of grating the whole batch.

This was my first experience ever with actual wild rice.  (The recipe emphasizes to use only wild rice and not a rice blend.)  It turned out perfect; thanks to the recipe and the pressure cooker.

While I savored the delicious soup, someone else chewed an old boot.  We were both happy.  

Myrtle boot w RSR

Gift idea!  Using this recipe, I’ve decided to package the dehydrated and dry ingredients into gift soup mixes for my family members who have pressure cookers.  I’ll be able to give it a label that says, “Just add water and margarine.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving Day tomorrow!  Yes, it is a US holiday, but this is me ignoring countries and borders, and inviting you wherever you are, to share in the gathering of hearts.  And heck, have some people over for a big, delicious meal, too.  🙂

I’ve made pumpkin bread to take to our little gathering…the details of which are still being worked out.  Little details such as at whose house, and who will be attending.  Nothing like last minute planning.  Again.  This is how my family does things.  And I’m deeply thankful for them.

My pumpkin bread recipe:


PUMPKIN BREAD

Bowl #1

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t. salt

Bowl #2

  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable oil (or half unsweetened applesauce)
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • 1/2 c. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or line with parchment paper three medium loaf pans, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans, (the smaller pans work better for me).  Stir together the Bowl #1 ingredients.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl (Bowl #2), beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.  Stir in contents of Bowl #1, adding alternately with water.  (‘Add alternately’ means to add the remaining ingredients in portions a little of each at a time.  For example, add about 1 c. dry with 1 Tbsp water, several times, until there’s nothing left to add.)
  3. Divide batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes (up to 60 or 70 minutes for larger pans).  Use toothpick test for doneness.  For best flavor and slicing, store wrapped overnight before serving.

Does anyone besides me have to wipe away tears at the last scene in Raising Arizona, with the Thanksgiving dinner?

 

Black Friday is for Football!

The morning after Thanksgiving, you’ll find me at the football stadium, shivering in the grey, chilly weather, and cheering the Kansas Jayhawks vs. Texas.  It will be a sort of rematch of the game with the awesome finish two years ago.  Texas has a different coach this time around.  For Kansas, this will be the last game for a beloved, talented, competitive group of seniors, and the farewell game for our hard-working coach of the past four years.  Lots riding on the line for both teams.

There is no cold like stadium cold.  When it is 50 degrees and cloudy, it feels like 20 in the stadium.  We froze at this game two years ago.  That’s why my video was shaky at the start.  I couldn’t stop shivering.  This year, I’m prepared, with a totally awesome ‘Aldi Find’, a wearable sleeping bag!

Sleeping bag onsie RSR

Unfortunately, my family has strongly hinted that they won’t sit with me at the game if I wear this, so … other options are being considered.

After the game I’ll shop some of the best-ever small businesses, that just happen to be less than a mile from the stadium:

Update:  Looks like I’ll do a little online small business shopping, too.  Tilly and the Buttons is having a Black Friday sale on her sewing patterns. ❤  Link: https://shop.tillyandthebuttons.com/collections/all 

One pattern; Two very different sweaters

This is the knitting pattern.  It’s a free download from Lionbrand.  Link: http://www.lionbrand.com/knitting-pattern-sideways-cable-pullover-1.html

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The pattern calls for Vanna’s Choice yarn, which comes in a lot of colors, is economically priced, and easy to find in the required quantities.

The first time I made the pattern, I stuck to the script, using the prescribed yarn and sizing for the cropped waist-length style.  The yarn color was called ‘Goldfish’ (not offered now).  I think it’s a great Autumn color.  The only variation I made was adding the thin pink tips for interest.  I really enjoyed making the sweater.  It has traveled well.  I have loved wearing it; usually paired with black jeans and boots.  The big fold-over neck is a built-in muffler under a coat in cold weather.  IMG_20181026_174022972a

Pumpkin sweater-aw RSR

Its latest wearing was this past week, to a local art gallery where Cartoonist-to-The-Beatles, Ron Campbell was appearing and exhibiting his works.  This was a no-photos event, so I can only show you what he has published on line.  You can check out his webpage, and this very cool 11-second time-lapse video.

I wish I’d had more advance notice; to plan, shop and decide on one of his prints.  The prices were enough that I’d want to plan ahead rather than purchasing on impulse.  Watching these videos, I badly want another chance to shop his prints.

Sweater #2

The second making of this pattern came when I fell in love with a skein of vibrant teal Red Heart Soft yarn in the bin at Joann’s.  The store only had the one skein in that color, but the label said ‘no dye lot’, so all I had to do was wait for the stock to be replenished, right?  Wrong!  When more of the color came in, it had a noticeably greener cast.  Drat.  I had already knitted an entire sleeve with the ‘good’ color skein.

I knitted on, incorporating two other yarns as stripes to keep the different teal colors separated.  One of the yarns is reflective.  I also added two additional cables to the bottom for a less-cropped shape.  I was disappointed even as I continued to knit, because I had initially envisioned a solid colored sweater in that gorgeous teal color of the first skein.  I wasn’t sure I wanted a striped version.

It became a UFO (unfinished object).  When the pieces were all knitted, I left them sitting in a pile for the rest of the winter.  Then, late last Spring, I finally picked them back up and decided it was worth seaming them together to at least see how the sweater would look.  The result was a surprise.  I loved it.  But with warm weather on the doorstep, the sweater was boxed up after just one test-wearing.

Teal sweater2-aw RSR

Lindsey Buckingham!

Fast forward to this Fall, and the newly-finished teal sweater with reflective bits finally got its first full outing–to a concert.  Lindsey Buckingham brought his solo show to our area.  He was witty and had great stories.  His live music was exceptionally good.  His energy never waned.  Neither did the crowd’s, because who can sit still when you’ve got visions of the Family Truckster careening down a Kansas road?

Lindsey Buckingham1 RSR

His band is really superb.

Lindsey Buckingham2 RSR

Wrap-up of the sweater projects:

  • The most basic advice, that you already know:  Buy all of the yarn you need for a project before you start.  ‘No dye lot’ on the label does not mean no variations in color.
  • Here are the yarns used in the blue-teal sweater:
    • Red Heart Soft, color Teal–The gauge was very close to Vanna’s Choice, but this yarn is softer and has less body.  It is comfortable on the skin, but the collar will need some added support to hold its shape.
    • Red Heart Reflective, color: Peacock –Slightly bulkier gauge, but was fine for stripes and cuffs.
    • Big Twist Premium Solids, color:  Peacock–This line has been discontinued per Ravelry.  It’s a medium/4 weight, but slightly more dense than Vanna’s Choice and RedHeart Soft.
  • I recommend the pattern, if you love making cables and bobbles like I do.
  • The sweater is knit all in one piece, so it gets to be a bulky parcel to carry around.  The blue sweater was more ‘portable’, since I broke it into pieces.  But that meant more stitching pieces together at the end.

More of Lindsey….

[When he gets to the last minute or so of Never Going Back Again, I wonder how the Mac ever decided it was a good idea to part ways with this performer.]

A surprise fave from the concert was I Must Go.

He never actually said the name of his former band, but he closed his encore with an inspired version of Treason.

Lindsey’s got a new album coming out early next year, with more touring planned.

Bohemian Rhapsody–what I’ve been watching

The movie theater was drafty and cold, so I kept my coat on while I contemplated leaving before the movie started, as I was being subjected to a continuous stream of ads for pharmaceuticals and other seedy products and services, before the 20 minute barrage of coming attractions.  An attendant pointed me to a warmer part of the theater, the actual movie finally started playing, and I’m glad I stayed.

When I got home, I got out my Live Aid DVD set to watch in the morning.  And I yearned for light blue jeans, white blouses and Reeboks to make a come back.  If you are a music fan, I say listen not to the critics, but to other music fans, and see this movie on the big screen.

For more Queen music…

The One Night of Queen live tribute show came to my town a few years ago.  I enthusiastically recommend it.  You will think you are seeing Freddie on stage:

Queen Gary Mullen tribute

The Ardennes; and the WWII Battle of the Bulge.

My big strong grandpa passed away in 2007.  The WWII stories he told me were about watching porpoises swim alongside the ship that took them over to England, the cool trains that took them from England to the Channel for their sail to Europe, a singer with a beautiful voice at the USO in Liege, and being assigned to build POW camps in the last weeks of the war.  He didn’t say anything about the battles.  He was a Combat Engineer.

Engineers poster

In battle, the engineers would precede the infantry and sweep for mines, clear pathways with explosives, build temporary bridges, repair tanks, and whatever it took to keep their division on the move and the enemy at a distance.  They sometimes blew up bridges and blocked roads so the enemy couldn’t use them.  When battle circumstances called for it, such as in the Battle of the Bulge, the engineers also operated as Infantry.  Below are sample pictures of what combat engineers were doing in the Ardennes.  Notice they are wearing dark colored uniforms.  In December and January 1944-45, the Ardennes had record snowfall and cold.  Their Division was without camouflage against the snow.

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The Battle of the Bulge got its name from the Germans’ surprise attack and advance into Belgium in mid-December 1944, that created a ‘bulge’ outward from the Siegfried Line.  This map from www.army.mil shows the advance and the bulge.

Battle of the Bulge map

After my grandpa was gone, I continued to read published accounts from his unit, and looked up locations on Google Maps, determined to learn what his Division had been through.  Then it occurred to me that I had a little stash of frequent flier miles.  So, I began planning my first trip to Europe, to see these places with my own eyes.  The last week of October 2008, I left for Belgium.

The Ardennes in Person.

I stayed in the town of St. Vith, which was central to the start of the Battle of the Bulge.  The town was virtually destroyed in the battle, but its Büchel Tower from the 1300s mostly survived, and was repaired.  It had been damaged in fires and battle in prior centuries.

St Vith bomb damage

The town has erected a memorial to the US soldiers of 1944-45.

St Vith 106th memorial aSt Vith 106th memorial placque a

The owner of the inn where I stayed had her own personal story from the battle.  She was 9 years old in 1944, and with her parents had to hide out in the woods for the month from late December to late January.  Our GIs gave them food and helped them survive.  As an inn owner, she has hosted many returning GIs and their families, and proudly showed me this certificate hanging on the wall in the inn’s restaurant.

Certificate for St Vith Inn Owners

In my rental car, I covered as much ground as daylight would allow for three days.  The fall colors were stunning, as opposed to the bitter cold and snow the soldiers endured that winter.

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St Vith to Houffalize routeJanuary 13 1945 BelgiumTree lined road 2 a

This 20 km stretch of road from St. Vith to Malmedy is still there.

Kaiserbaraque-1944-01

Malmedy-St Vith Route signs aMalmedy road

The field where the Malmedy Massacre took place on December 17, 1944, is preserved.

Malmedy

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Another massacre also took place that day in Ligneuville, between Malmedy and St Vith.

Ligneuville-1944-01

Ligneuville1 a

Ligneuville monument2 a

The owners of this Ligneuville inn were able to distract German officers and save the lives of several captured GIs, who would have been executed in the massacre otherwise.  Ligneuville hotel a

The village of Poteau, 10 km from St Vith, was the site of the longest US tank battle.

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Poteau

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My grandpa was not at Bastogne, but I did visit there, as it was significant to the last part of the battle, and only 50 km from my St Vith base.

Taking a break from the seriousness of the battle for a moment:  One of my fave movies, ‘If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium‘ (1969), has a light-hearted scene of an American and a German visiting the Bastogne Mardasson Memorial, telling their battle memories.

For some views inside the Bastogne War Museum at the Mardasson, check out this informative post by the Diverting Journeys blogger, on her recent visit there.

On my last afternoon, I visited the American military cemetery, at Henri Chapelle, Belgium, where nearly 8,000 of our GIs are buried on 57 acres overlooking a beautiful Ardennes valley.  Another 450 names of missing GIs are listed on a marble tablet under the entrance canopy.  The cemetery attendant printed me the names and locations of the six members of my grandpa’s battalion who are buried there, so I could visit each one.

Henri Chappelle aHenri Chappelle2 a

Henri Chapelle Flag a

The closest simulations in movies to what I learned on my visit, and what my grandpa described, are probably Fury and Saving Private Ryan.

The Wereth Eleven documentary (available on Amazon Prime and Netflix) tells about yet another particularly brutal massacre that happened at the same time as the Malmedy and Ligneuville massacres.  Wereth is 13 km from St Vith.

 

The day after returning home to Kansas, I voted in the 2008 Presidential Election.  Then a few days after that, it was Veterans Day with my own new realization of what that means.

About planning a trip to the Ardennes:  There are quite a few people in the area who will assist and advise someone planning a personalized visit to the battlefields and related sites.  They were truly kind and helpful to me.

About that singer with the beautiful voice at the USO in Liege.  This was her song.

 


Poppies

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen anyone selling poppies here for Veterans Day, so I’ve now bought myself a jewelry poppy brooch to wear each year.  It came from the UK Poppy Shop, which has a great, ever-growing selection of affordable poppy jewelry, with proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.

Poppy Broach

DIY Poppies:

Sticky Fingers–what I’ve been reading

Though I’m only halfway through this book, I’m ready to write my thoughts.  Maybe I’ll finish the book, and maybe there will be a ‘Part 2’ of my review.  But it’s just as likely that I won’t have anything further to say about it.

Sticky fingers cover

Great job by the writer, Joe Hagan, on detailing the life of Jann Wenner, the long-time head of Rolling Stone magazine.  Hagan held his nose and dug deep, aired out the smoke and weeded through the hype and delusions to reveal the actual person.  How the book came to be is almost a part of the story now:  Hagan was selected by Wenner to do his biography.  Hagan was given access to Wenner’s lifetime of files and writings, and had Wenner’s blessing to talk to anyone in Wenner’s past.  (Well, except the things I found out when reading that he didn’t consent to.)  Then, when Wenner didn’t like the book because it made him look bad, he withdrew his support for the book…which no doubt has added to the book’s intrigue.  “Well played,” I say as I roll my eyes.

Wenner comes across from his earliest years, as a cheater, user, backstabber and bully; and at the same time impulsive and pitiful.  I don’t want to retell stories that you can read in the book, so here is my general characterization of Wenner:

Think of a person who doesn’t bring a dish to a potluck dinner, then goes through the line first, and takes big helpings of the best food, and then doesn’t eat it all, criticizes the cooks, and knows no one will call him out for any of it.  Then he’ll do the same thing at the next potluck dinner, and the next.  While those around him graciously refrain from confronting him about his unacceptable behavior, he has moved on and is pronouncing himself to be a food critic, and invites the biggest names in gourmet cooking to cook for him in return for feedback and ‘promotion’.  Hungry for publicity, the cooks play along with him, when the whole time he’s driven not by the professional he’s held himself out to be, but by his fan boy desires for selfies with celebrities.  It’s pure absurdity.

We needed something better than what Rolling Stone magazine was from the start.  It was a publication that filled a void and for that reason, couldn’t fail.  Willing investors could always be found when Wenner’s reckless spending caused instability; which was a continuous state of affairs.  It didn’t hurt the bottom line that the writers and staff often weren’t paid as promised.  Wenner hired many people who were beginners, or were down and out, and not in a position to hold him accountable when he failed to make good on promises,…like pay for work done.  The magazine’s identity and credibility were doomed from the start, in the hands of an impulsive druggie fan boy.  From the start, he doctored articles and reviews to suit his desire to hurt or help friends and associates.  By maintaining its place in that generation’s music culture, the magazine occupied turf that could have otherwise been held by a legitimate publication that observes certain standards of journalism.

Music fans and music artists also should have something more legitimate than what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was when he controlled it.  Here I’m resisting the urge to rant further about the damage done to this institution, because honestly, rock and roll at its most basic is anti-institutionalization and anti-establishment.  Just because someone latched onto a tourism business opportunity and borrowed the rock and roll label, doesn’t make it rock and roll, or a hall of fame.

By the way, ‘Jann’ isn’t his real name.  His parents named him Jan.  He added the extra ‘n’ to appear cool.

I appreciated reading the professional critics’ reviews of the book on the Amazon page, almost as much as the book itself.  And there are a lot of reviews quoted there.  Lots of critics wanted their say about this book, or the subject.  For some reason, the book empowered journalists and critics to come out and say what they really think about the guy.  I guess I’d ask each of them why they felt the need to wait until now.  This biographer did excellent work; with a pitiful subject.

Where to find the book:

Things look brighter from here:  I’ve just been notified by the library that my reserved copy of “Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story” by Roger Daltrey is now available for checkout.

Thanks a Lot Mr Kibblewhite

So that is my incentive to finish up with Sticky Fingers.  

This is your brain on spicy food

Shun anything spicy, is what I did until I was well into my 30s.  Even the ‘mild’ sauce option was a no-go for me at restaurants.  Then came a New Mexico bus tour guide.  His explanation to us of why people get hooked on spicy food changed my food life, literally.  It’s because spicy foods make you feel good!  It’s an endorphin release.  So, the me who has always believed in the power of endorphins when it came to exercise and chocolate, resolved to test out the effect of spicy foods.

First, the important thing:  How do you get relief from the burning sensation when the heat gets to be too much?

  • Take another bite.  This will only cool things off for a brief moment, because eventually you run out of the food you are eating.
  • Drink milk.  This will soften the burn.  Other dairy works too, such as sour cream or cream cheese.  Milk had always been my go-to relief, and the tour guide confirmed it is the best relief.
  • Water and soda pop don’t work.  The soda actually magnifies the sensation.  The tour guide confirmed this, too.

milk carton sm x2

Ways to start adapting your palate to spicy foods:

  • Picante sauce.  If you usually get mild, try medium by using less sauce and keeping milk or sour cream at hand for a quick cool down.
  • Rotel tomatoes and melted cheese dip.  Aka, ‘Queso’.  Who doesn’t know how to make this tailgating staple?  It’s got your spicy hot flavor and dairy combined in one scrumptious dip.  Rotel makes several options for how hot you want it.

Rotel page2

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  • Hot Italian sausage.
    • Make it your go-to pizza topping.
    • Substitute it for ground beef in homemade Spaghetti and Lasagna.
  • BBQ Hot Links.  Almost every barbecue restaurant around here offers hot links on their menu.  It’s my standing order.  For home cooking, I like to buy my spicy hot links here.  https://www.yodermeatsks.com
  • Spicy jams and jellies.  If you don’t see them on your grocery shelf, try the nearest farmer’s market, or order it online.  I order from Simply Homemade, a maker in Minnesota.  She and I have been friends for several years, because of her hot pepper jellies, and our shared love of ’60s music.  (Scroll down on her page for the hot pepper jellies.)  The jellies are great on buttered toast or Ritz crackers.  To control the heat, first spread a layer of cream cheese, then dab the jelly on top of the cheese.

Grow your own?  For the first time, I’m trying to grow peppers.  Apparently, I got them planted too late in the season, so I haven’t been able to pick any yet.  There are a bunch of little growing peppers and blossoms on the plant, so I’m trying to keep the plant from freezing.  I badly want my first-ever harvest of Poblanos.

Run


More from the web on spicy foods and their mood-elevating effects:

1.  From Northwestern University.  “Now that we know why peppers are hot, you might be asking yourself, “Why exactly would anyone seek out this burning sensation?” The answer to this question can be found in the way our brains are wired. Capsaicinoids trick the brain into thinking it is being burned, which is a painful experience, through the transmission of neurotransmitters. Remember, earlier when I said your neurons play telephone. Well, when your body senses pain somewhere like the tongue that message has to make it to the brain. The message is sent from the location it is initially generated to the brain through a network of neurons by talking to each other via neurotransmitters, which are essentially chemical messages. One such message produced by capsaicinoids is substance P, which transmits pain signals. The brain responds by releasing another type of neurotransmitter known as endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural way of relieving pain by blocking the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals. Additionally, the neurotransmitter dopamine, responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure, is also released. In essence, for some people eating large amounts of spicy food triggers a sense of euphoria similar to a “runner’s high”.  Source:  http://helix.northwestern.edu/blog/2014/07/your-brain-capsaicin

2.  From MedicalDaily.com. “If you haven’t jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon yet, maybe you’ll want to after reading this. Spicy food, that oh-so-tingling, burning, get-it-out-of-my-mouth food, actually induces a natural high minutes after eating it. And hey, the spicier the better.

Chili peppers in particular contain high levels of the substance capsaicin, which causes the burning sensation in spicy food. The chemical has been proven before to work as a topical painkiller for arthritis, and also forces the brain to release endorphins. “The endorphins work to block the heat,” Paul Bosland, cofounder and director of New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, told ABC News in 2012. “The body produces them in response to the heat, which it senses as pain.” The result: a strong head buzz and numbness.

Some research even suggests capsaicin in higher levels can have mildly hallucinogenic effects. According to History, Mayans used them over 9,000 years ago as stimulants, while today’s chili eaters have reported seeing objects that weren’t even in the room and losing feelings in body parts.”  Source:  https://www.medicaldaily.com/pass-spicy-food-4-ways-get-high-without-any-drugs-whatsoever-323588

3.  Chile Facts‘ is a useful information page on the various hot peppers.  http://chilefacts.nmsu.edu/


So there you go.  If you’ve always shunned spicy foods, you may be denying yourself a great dose of endorphins.  Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and try to expand the limits of your taste buds.

And yes, the title of this post comes from the 1980s commercial.  It’s still true.

 

Tomatoes–what I’ve been growing

This is my one tomato plant I grew this season.  It was supposed to hide in the middle of the 10-foot planter, surrounded by marigolds, vincas, petunias and alyssum.  Instead, the tomato plant went all ‘Little Shop of Horrors‘, and took over the planter and pushed the marigolds out of the box, and choked off most everything else.  It has grown out of the planter on all sides.  The plant is about 15 feet wide.  There is a wire tomato cage buried somewhere in the middle.

Tomato plant 2018

In mid-October, we had a surprise early freeze, with snow, so I bundled up the plant with a series of blankets and tarps, two nights in a row.  (No homeowners association rules here, thankfully.)Tomato plant 2018 covered RSR

The snow covered the ground and the tarps all night.  The windchill was in the 20s Fahrenheit.  The snow and freeze broke four very old weather records.

Now we are back to sunny warm afternoons and chilly but not freezing nights.  The plant came through the freeze mostly okay, and has a boatload of green tomatoes currently ripening on the vines.

Some of the tomatoes got scarred from the freeze, but continued to ripen.

Freeze scars aw RSR

The scars have so far been confined to the surface.  The inside growth pattern is odd, but the taste is normal.

Freeze scars sliced aw RSR

The planter faces south and gets a full day of sun.  With luck, I’ll get another dozen or so tomatoes before I have to give up on the growing season.

My foster garden helper got adopted by her forever parents this past week.  The little digger was with me for almost 6 weeks, and gained 12 pounds during that time.

Butterscotch dirt2