Author Archive

Black Cherry Brandy, a holiday favorite!

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

I make black cherry brandy every holiday season.  It’s best after about 6 weeks of soaking, so I like to start it about mid-November.  It’s great, and even non-drinkers like to use the soaked fruit in cakes and pies, so it makes a nice gift for everybody!

2 pkgs of frozen sweet black cherries, dump the cherries in a large pot, cover them with water, add some sugar to taste, juice from one large, or two small lemons (about 1/4 cup) and bring to a boil.  Boil gently about 5 minutes.  Let this cool thoroughly.  Pour it into a large mason jar, and add alcohol (* either everclear or vodka) to taste.  Some like it strong, some like it weak.  It doesn’t really matter.

Seal it up and let it sit for about 6 weeks.  Shake it once-in-awhile to stir up the alcohol and the fruit that will both float to the top.  Around week 2 open the jar and taste – you’ll probably add either sugar or alcohol as the fruit will soak up a lot.  If it’s too strong add bottled water to taste.  Do this again at week 4 and on week 6 it’s ready!!

You can strain out the fruit if you wish and use them in something else, but I like to leave it in for people to drink around it, and then see them eat the fruit with their fingers – as they definitely will, and maybe try to steal their neighbor’s cherries as well!


*to taste:  remember this is to be real brandy.  It isn’t very nice if it tastes like cough syrup, or bitter either – use your own best judgement – this is hard to mess up, as it can be corrected later by adding stuff.

*don’t leave out the lemon juice, or the brandy will definitely be very FLAT!

*alcohol:  Everclear is pure alcohol for making drinks, and not intended to use to drink alone.  It has no particular flavor, but it is STRONG.  We keep it around just to make our own brandy for the holidays.

Vodka is also the next choice as it is also strong, but it does have some taste.

Whiskey has even more taste, and could be nasty in the brandy.  Not advised.

And so on.

*Spices are nice to add to this – use your creativity.  A little vanilla maybe, or some cinnamon?

*My cousin, Dan Lee, calls this hooch from his college days.  Rather vulgar in my opinion, but I guess the method is the same.

Chicken Soup

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Jerry has been fighting off a bad cold, and I’ve had a virus.  It’s time for CHICKEN SOUP!

Roast fowl soup:

Any roasted bird makes great soup!  I often have leftover turkeys during the holiday season, as Jerry is famous for his smoked turkey, and when asked, that is often the request for holiday dinners.   You can do the same with any chicken or duck, though.

1 leftover roasted fowl:  Save all bones, skin, neck, tail, and pieces of giblets.  Toss in any pieces of the bird leftover.  I ask my guests not to throw away any of this, as I save it all to make the soup stock.  Sounds gross?  Hang on.  It will all be boiled for 1 hour afterward.

Cover the leftover fowl carcass with water in a large pot, including the inedible parts such as the bones and skin and boil it slowly for an hour.  Reason – nutrients and flavor are all there.  Let it cool, then store it in the frig overnight.  Sometime that week when you get the time scrape off the fat that congealed on top.  (I feed this to the dogs, nothing at all goes wasted.)

Slightly warm the congealed stock on the stove top until it is tepid.  This shows you how rich the stock is – it will look like congealed jello.  Wash your hands thoroughly then set the pot in the kitchen sink.  Begin to separate the meat scraps from the rest.  Fish out all the bones, ligaments, and skin and save it for the dogs also.  The bones will be so soft that you can nearly eat them yourself, as they have been cooked twice – once roasted, and then boiled.

The rest is easy – add chicken base dry bouillon to taste, your own favorite spices and herbs to taste, and bring the stock to a gentle boil.  Add frozen, fresh, or canned veggies – whatever you like – bring to a boil again.  Turn it down to simmer and add your favorite kind of pasta or perhaps rice.  I love to use homemade egg noodles bought locally.

The soup is ready to eat whenever the pasta is done.  This soup is so nutritious and easy, and cheap!  When it is chilled it turns into jello because of the amount of aspic in it.  The seasoning is mostly from when it was roasted the first time, and so you don’t really have to season it much except add a little fresh ground pepper, or if you like it a little spicy, a few hot peppers really make it good for your cold.

This will help your immune system kill any ugly cold or virus dead in it’s tracks!!

Seniors teach us how

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Monday, 10/25/10
Even at 102, my Grandmother is confident she will live a long life. Recently, I bought her a brand new (although off-brand) sewing machine. She asked me, “Where is the warranty?” I replied, “What do you care Grandma… It has a 25-year warranty!” My Grandma replied, “How do I know the company will be in business that long?”

Lessons in life presented by a 90 year old!
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are 
sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to 
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying 
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first 
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up 
the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no 
idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you 
shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. 
But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful
 or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you 
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. 
But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in 
life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the 
fancy lingerie.Don't save it for a special occasion.
 Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to 
wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words,
 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your 
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will 
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else 
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not 
because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of 
it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you 
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting 
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw 
everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all 
you need.
42. The best is yet to come...
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and 
show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a 

Making a Happy House: A clean house is a cooler house, and soap is cheap.

Friday, November 12th, 2010

  This is what my Grandma Williams always told my mother, and she told me.  I don’t know why, but a clean house does seem to be cooler when the weather is humid and hot.  This is important information for making a happy house.  Hot people are irritable people, and when they come home from work and school, they immediately feel relief when they come into a quiet, clean, peaceful house.  Of course the house won’t stay that way because people make dirt!  Physical dirt and otherwise comes in when they bring all their hot irritable problems home with them.  But regardless, the first impression is of peace, and that will always stay in their memories to make them love home.

The problem is, how do you keep your house clean when you work, go to school, run errands, cook, and bathe people and dogs, have pets, and generally run around like crazy?  Well, you might not be able to afford a maid, a cook, yardman, babysitter, and a taxi, so what do you do?  Scream at people for making the house a disorganized, sticky, dirty, grubby, ugly, broken mess, and making your difficult life more difficult?

Well, no.  A happy house certainly isn’t an all the time screaming, yelling house, either.   Remember the quiet, peaceful part that goes with clean?  A happy house is first off a quiet, peaceful house.  It’s a little oasis in a screaming, yelling world.  I want my kids to learn that it’s better to be somewhat dirty and loving, than clean and mean.  When the kids get bigger they can learn to help clean.  It’s good for them, because they might need to know how someday.

So, if you have little ones, they’ll grow, and you’ll survive, and then your house will be more organized than before.  They need enough cleanliness to be healthy, so chose your priorities.  Clean the bathrooms before you make the bed.  Just shut the bedroom door if you must.  Keep the floors clean.  Little kids live on the floor.  Take off your shoes at the door is the easiest way to do that, and put a sign on the door to remind others to do the same.  Make your house as dust-free as possible.  This means take up the carpets, and give away the drapes.  You can have all that later.  It’s not a good time to have pets.  The kids can have pets when they get older, and can help clean up.  Actually, I believe pets are really good for kids.  It teaches them many lessons on life, such as how to love and take care of somebody else.  Meanwhile, it might not be wise to get a Great Dane puppy when you get pregnant with your first baby.  Duh, but some people do just that.  Wash the dishes and take out the trash, but other than that, enjoy your little ones.  They’ll grow fast.

They make a lot of dirt, but you can’t measure the hugs in gold!

Some of my Aunt Christine’s great-grandchildren!

Some people seem to always have a clean house.  They can invite people over anytime, and their guests will always have a nice clean place to rest, clean dishes to eat upon, and a sweet smelling bathroom to visit.  They don’t act stressed about it, and they lead very full busy lives at the same time.  How do they do this?  Well, it isn’t magic, and if you know somebody like this it might be useful to ask them what how they do it.

Personally, I’m not a neat nick.  Everybody has their limit on dirt.  Mine is somewhere in the middle.  My measurement is by smell.  I have a decently good nose and I hate dirty smells.  I dislike the smell of dirty cat litter, dirty dishes, dirty socks, dirty bathrooms, and stinky trashcans.  I like the smell of clean.  Clean pets smell good, so do clean babies.  I like bathrooms that smell like soap, closets that smell like lavender, kitchens that smell like bread, sheets that smell like sunshine on cotton, and living rooms that smell like fresh air.  I really hate to use fragrances in the house to cover up bad smells, because the smell of clean is much nicer, and if I smell bad smells I’m quickly motivated to go find the source.

Some of my stinkers:

Pumpkin Patch is the big one:  He’s my buddy.  The other black one is Lucky.  He’s still a teenager, and acts like it.  BeBu is the black & white female.  She needs a good home.

Note:  I have indoor cats and outdoor large dogs.  This is my choice, but may not be yours, so do what makes you happy.  My dogs do get stinky when the weather is cold because I let them grow lots of hair to keep them warm.  Lots of hair on an outdoor dog means that when it gets wet, it takes it longer to dry off.  A wet dog is a stinky dog.  Sorry, but that’s the way it is.  I trim off most of the hair in the summer time just to keep the dogs cooler and happier.   My dogs smell better in the summer than they do in the winter, but they are happy healthy dogs, and they don’t seem to mind.

This is Lady.  She is my stinky dog, but she’s a real lady, and always is mannerly.

I can take her anywhere.


This is Caluah, but we call her Lulu because she is one.  She belongs to the neighbors, but she stays with us most of the time.


Simple Pleasures

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

     I was thinking today about some helpful housekeeping hints to pass on to my kids (biological and others who call me Granny).  I thought I should write them down.  Then I began thinking about some other things I could share that I’ve learned from my friends and family, or came upon by accident, or by making lots of mistakes first.  So I decided to create this blog about it.  I thought it would be fun to create a public blog about life’s simple pleasures that people have discovered to make life fun, interesting, and comforting, and then allow them to write about their own experiences and discoveries.  A blog like this is a super-organism.  It allows all of us to empower and affirm one another.