Thursday, August 25

Mama Kat Thursday: My Childhood Neighborhood

The Mama Kat prompt for today is, "share a post inspired by your childhood neighborhood."

I grew up in Indiana, way out in the country. This forest photo is what my back yard looked like. And across the road. And pretty much my whole neighborhood. 

Our house sat off a State Road in a cleared top corner of 22 acres of heavily forested valley with a creek. That road ran past our house, down a moderately steep hill into a valley, across the bottom, then up the other side. If you kept going west, the land gradually flattened out into cornfields and cattle farms, but where we lived and east, was nothing but rolling hills.

The area was sparsely settled with either people already retired or by families with Dad's willing to make the 88 mile round-trip commute to Indianapolis to work.
Aside from a small corner grocery that had a cafe and a volunteer fire station, there just was very little around.

For years and years, the only thing across the road from my house was heavy woods and a interesting old-fashioned, hand-hewn, split-log cabin set far back in the trees. It was a hunters cabin, I think.  It had cement filling the chinks between logs and two long, narrow, tall plate glass windows. I saw the inside once. It was just a single room with a fire place one on end and an open loft above for a bedroom on the other. A deer rack was mounted up high on the thick log beam the supported the loft.
I don't recall now who showed us the inside, but I remember that cabin was always a great curiosity to me.

Gradually, more people started moving into the area, seeking the
"good country life," and willing to commute to have it. One family bought the property with the old cabin across the road and built a large, single-story orange brick house. They didn' t do anything with the old cabin. 
That's when we met their daughter, Berrita.
 Ever know one of those families where neighborhood kids seem to prefer hanging out at their house rather then their own homes?
My family was that family other kids liked to adopt.
 Berrita was very freckled, had brown hair, a distinct over-bite and always seemed to be walking up our driveway to see what we were doing. It might've been because all her older siblings were grown and gone, and her folks were more focused on building their dream "country home" for retirement then her.
As I last recall, Berrita met a boy employed as a carnival worker , and went off with him to live the carnie life.
I guess her folks retirement dream didn't quite work out, since they sold the orange brick house to a family with young kids before I finished high school.
 They didn't do anything with the cabin, either.

Then there was Judy, another neighborhood kid who spent more time at our house then her own.
Her parents bought some land in the valley below us, then built a house far from the road, up on a tall hill with a wicked steep gravel driveway.
 Judy had an older sister, who was a grade ahead of me, I think. and I believe Judy was a grade behind my middle sister. Judy was also the youngest child, with two way older brothers already grown and gone. Then her older sister also graduated and left, her parents abruptly divorced and her Dad was working long shifts, leaving Judy home alone most of the time. So she found company and solace with us.
A blonde and bubbly, talkative social personality, we had many growing-up adventures with Judy and she was a regular part of our family.  Still is, in many ways. We invited her to come to a family reunion one time, a few years ago she met all of us Olive Garden in Terre Haute while Hubby and I were home visiting and she recently connected with Hubby on Facebook.
So, what was your neighborhood like growing up?

Thanks for Visiting!
(Someone asked what happened to the old log cabin.  So, let me put question that to my sisters: do either one of you know what happened to that old log cabin in the woods across the road?)

Wednesday, August 24

Garden Pic Wednesday: Beautiful Echeveria & Sunlit Pampas

I was going to do some mowing today---but when I was ready to do so after lunch, it rained.
Instead, I worked on some beading projects. I have several necklaces which have broken and needed repairing. (a total of 4)
 I also made an entirely new necklace of in shades of teal, blue & lavender stones.

Today's Garden Pics:
First, my gorgeous Echeveria/Hen & Chicks Succulents in front my bed that are blooming right now. That big one on the side of the strawberry pot is at least 6 inches!
It's funny how I came to have them. Many years ago, my neighbor next door decided to "dispose" of a couple of her rosettes by randomly tossing them over the fence into my yard and I found them on the ground. Needless to say, I planted them and here we are today. Weird, but true.

A nice shot of my White Pampas Grass blooms captured in late day sun! This particular one against the neighbors fence in my back yard. All my Pampas has bloomed beautifully this year! So tall & showy!

That's it for today! 
Stop back tomorrow to see what's up for Mama Kat!

Monday, August 22

Good Eating Monday: Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake

Home made Chocolate Lava Cake! What could better? And in a slow-cooker, too!
I tried this recipe on Sunday. It's a Pinterest recipe that easy and yummy. The original link goes to a Buzzfeed Tasty video on how to make it here, if you'd like to watch it.
The recipe is okay as is, but I think it could greatly benefit form some slight improvements: 
I'd like a bit more juiciness in the chocolate "Lava," so I recommend adding a bit more milk to the instant pudding mix--1/4 cup at least, as a start. Maybe as much as 1/2 cup, but I'd try the lesser amount first.
I say it needs a bit more saucy "Lava" because "baking" in a slow-cooker makes for a drier cake texture and it really needs plenty of chocolate lava sauce!
Also, I think the over-all flavor of the chocolate cake could be greatly enriched by the addition of 1 teaspoon of instant coffee and
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon added to the cake. Even if you don't want the coffee, Cinnamon enriches the flavor of chocolate!
So I'm going to note these additions as optional in the ingredients & directions for you.

 Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake
1 box Chocolate cake mix 
(plus 3 eggs, 1 cup water & 1/3 cup oil to make it with)
1 small box of Instant Chocolate Pudding
(plus 2 1/4 cups milk to make it with)
1 to 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: 1 teaspoon instant coffee stirred into the 1 cup water needed for the cake mix plus 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon.

Prep your slow-cooker by spraying with oil cook spray and turn on high to start warming up.

In medium bowl combine cake mix, Cinnamon, eggs, oil, water with instant coffee added, if desired, then mix with electric mixer per box directions. Then pour cake batter into slow-cooker.

In medium bowl again, whisk Instant Pudding together with 2 1/4 cups milk  until it starts to  thicken slightly. Pour on top of cake batter in slow-cooker.

Finally, sprinkle choc chips all over the top, put lid on slow-cooker and cook on high exactly 2.5 hours (2 hours and 30 minutes).
Turn off slow-cooker and serve warm with ice-cream! Serves at least 8 and can be stretched to 10.
A fantastic easy recipe!
The recipe would be also be good with nuts, raisins, cherries or anything other touches you'd like to experiment with!
Eat up, me hearties, yo-ho!

Thursday, August 18

Mama Kat Thursday: Odd, Yet Memorable Dreams

The challenge today was to, "share a memorable dream."
The challenge with dreams is remembering them. They are like wisps of fairy feathers in fog that slip away in the light of morning. Even so, I've had a couple memorable dreams this week that I recall well enough to share:
In one I was responsible for getting 4 children costumed and prepared for some kind of stage presentation. I only had a couple hours to do it in. I drew out a rough sketch of the 4 kids as I pictured they should be costumed with what might be found at like a Goodwill store. Then I sent them off, with  parents I suppose, to acquire such clothing. Then when they came back I was going to give them pink index cards with whatever they were going to need to say written out. The kids were all boys I think. One was short & small, one was round & plump, one was tall & skinny and one average. 
The funny thing is, it's not like that sort of situation has anything to do with my real life. I'm not any sort of teacher and I'm not around kids at all.

Jeremy Renner
I had another dream with Jeremy Renner in it. (The guy who played Hawkeye in the Avengers movies.)  Why, I have no idea. But in this dream he was a ordinary guy named, "Uncle Buddy," and the dream seemed to be about a family that was going someplace and "Uncle Buddy" wasn't supposed to go with them, but then he showed up wherever they were, because he didn't want to be left behind. So his arrival was surprise to everyone, but a happy surprise. I remember "Uncle Buddy" seemed a happy fellow. 
The whole thing had the quality of watching a movie.

Yup, my dreams for the most part are fanciful, nonsensical fluff such as this.
So, what was the last dream you remember about?

Thanks for Visiting!

Wednesday, August 17

Garden Pic Wednesday: Fresh Basil For A Table Arrangement!

Did you know you can make a lovely vased table arrangement just with pretty fresh Basil stems?
Yes! Basil has purple flowers, so it looks lovely in a vase! It also fills the house with it's spicy fragrance!  If you have several varieties growing in pots or garden, like I do, you can mix them.
This vase has a mix of Purple, Thai & Cinnamon Basil plus an interesting Greek Oregano seed stalk!  Plus snipping the Basil helps promote more fresh growth! And if I need a few leaves, I just snip a few right from the vase!

My table arrangement of fresh Basil

I also today photographed a strikingly lovely Female Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly!
She posed on a Day Lily leaf in my rain garden. She is not a mature size yet. Males are powder blue in color, so easy to tell apart. Dragonflies are garden-friends as they eat other insects, including mosquitoes & flies.

That's it for today! Stop back to see what's up for Mama Kat tomorrow!