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The sticks up…it’s going to be a nice day  

From the days of the Abenaki Indians, even before there was such a thing as New England, weather forecasting was a science. The Abenaki invented what is now called the weather stick, a slender piece of balsam fir wood, about 15-16″ long, that was affixed to a vertical surface.

If the stick bent upward, fair weather was in store; downward meant inclement weather was near.

In Vermont it’s called a Vermont weather stick. In Maine, they call it… surprise, the Maine weather stick. But by whatever name, it is a remarkably effective barometer. It fascinates my husband who plans his day around the weather. 

How could something so simple work?  

I don’t have a clue. But it is fun to watch it moving. Fair weather approaches and the weather stick reaches toward the sky. When the weather begins to turn, the stick points to the ground.

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Bad weather’s coming. We’ve got to hurry to get our outside stuff done.

Weather sticks can be ordered from old-time country stores in the northeast…just google Vermont Weather Sticks. Or if you or your significant other likes working with wood, try making your own.

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The People’s Exchange is an “advertising paper” serving the Amish communities in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan. It has a circulation of 10,500. It’s printed every two weeks. And, it is FREE. 

In The People’s Exchange you can find a “Charming Spinner” to get your clothes “50 to 90% dry” or a “woman safe” driving horse. There are ads for “certified organic” Jersey cattle, for race ponies and for farms. Every issue also contains a “favorite” sent-in-by-reader recipe.

Last week they had  the best tasting cake recipe ever. It came out light, fluffy and moist with a wonderful sugary crust. Yummmmmmm…

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Last week, The Peoples Exchange had 136 pages.

AMISH POUND CAKE

1 box yellow cake mix (2 layer box)

4 eggs

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 cup milk

1 pkg.instant vanilla pudding (The recipe didn’t say which size. I used the small box)

brown sugar

cinnamon

Mix together the cake mix, eggs, cream cheese milk and pudding. Pour batter into 2 loaf pans and top with brown sugar and cinnamon. (I was pretty generous.)

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Yes, the recipe does use mixes. But, you end up with a cake, fresh from your oven, that TASTES made-from-scratch.dsc01927.JPG
I wish I had some just “picked-from-the-garden” strawberries.

SUBSCRIPTION FORM FOR

    THE PEOPLE’S EXCHANGE

(courtesy of The People’s Exchange)

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This is my husband’s favorite dinner. Absolutely. No question about it.

The recipe is from Betty Crocker’s 1973 “Dinner for Two”, which was one of my first cookbooks. I own a LOT of cookbooks, but this is the one I’ve used the most.

Over the years, I’ve doubled the chicken recipe many times. It is foolproof.

 OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

1/4 cup shortening or salad oil (part butter)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp paprika (I use more)

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces or 2-pound broiler-fryer chicken cut into quarters

 DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 425 degrees. In oven, melt shortening in baking pan. Mix flour, salt, paprika and pepper in plastic or paper bag; shake chicken 2 or 3 pieces at a time, in bag until coated.

Place chicken skin side down in pan. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Turn chicken; bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

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1973 Betty Crocker “Cooking for Two Cookbook”

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They trimmed the trees every day it didn’t rain while we were in Fort Lauderdale. The hood of the poor little silver car under the tree took a battering.

We are staying in a five-star resort.

That is a good thing, right?

Well… 

Our room is gorgeous. It’s beautifully decorated. The layout is cute and trendy. There is a whirlpool bathtub I love. However, the widescreen television has a grainy picture. And worse yet…

We don’t have internet in our rooms.

Everyone has internet! Everyone! The resort management assured us we WILL be able to go online. They tell us how to get to the internet room for guests which is conveniently located blocks away in the resort office.

DH and I check it out.

The room is not large. Jam-packed, with 6 computers on desks pushed end-to-end and people waiting, it is a little crowded. We are told to be considerate of other guests and not to take up more than 15 minutes of time. YIKES!

The resort does offer classes. I can learn to make a vacation scrapbook. I can do morning stretches in the pool at 6 a.m. I can play bingo or take the shuttle bus to tourist attractions.

But, I want to read books outside…preferably on a beach with warm breezes.  Unfortunately, the company that booked our vacation didn’t book a resort on the beach for our time in Fort Lauderdale. We are in a building six stories high that is one of over a hundred. People are everywhere. There is a pool. But you have to get up early to snag a lounge chair. You also have to be able to ignore the tree trimming going on by the pool.  (See the youtube video at the top of this post.)

It didn’t help that we had days of rain in Fort Lauderdale accompanied by tornado watches and warnings.

We also had some excitement when an ambulance was called to our building in the early hours of the morning.  Just like with Britney Spears there were cops and a young woman that was eventually strapped down to a stretcher and taken away.

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An ambulance was called to the room below ours.

But, the worst trouble in our Fort Lauderdale paradise happened at a convenience store/gas station.

My husband got gas, ordered a “drive-through” carwash and paid for both at the gas pump. 

Only there was no carwash code on his receipt. My husband tried to go in the store to get either a code or refund. The door was locked.

It was noon.

My husband and another customer (who’d also ordered a carwash) could  see a cashier at the register inside the store. They knocked on the window. The cashier ignored them. 

My husband called the cashier on his cell phone.

 “We’re closed.” said the cashier.

“We need either a carwash code or our money back,” said my husband.

The door stayed shut.

I know a good story for my blog when I see one. I started taking pictures of the gas station. And…the cashier opened the door and gave my husband and the other customer carwash codes.

We’d won.

Sort of…

The other customer who’d ordered a carwash was a lady. So my husband let her go first.

Which was lucky for us.

Halfway through washing the lady’s SUV, the “drive-through” carwash broke down. The lady’s SUV was covered with soap and green chemicals. And, while the clerk had left the door to the store unlocked, she refused to do more. She didn’t  offer the lady with the SUV a hose or bucket of water to rinse her vehicle. I didn’t see her give the lady a refund.

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This poor SUV is covered with soap and green chemicals.

We left. We didn’t get our Jeep washed that day. I don’t know what happened to the lady with soap all over her SUV.

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This is “the” gas station.

But, in my opinion, this gas station earned its place on my blog.

Fortunately, rainbows often follow rain. After Fort Lauderdale we headed for Ft. Myers Beach

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Fort Myers beach.

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A WORLD WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE.

Our day in paradise…

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This picture is for my sister-in-law who loves parrots. The parrot is wishing her a happy belated-birthday!!!!!

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Two very noisy lorikeets.

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The first of MANY butterfly pictures…we LOVED the butterflys.

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I wish this was in my back yard.

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A parrot displays his wings.

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These shaftail finches groomed each other and cuddled like true “lovebirds”

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A Blue Cheeked Cordon Bleu takes a drink.

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Look at the colors…SOOOOOOOOOOOO beautiful!!!!

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From the insect museum…yes  he’s alive.

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The tarantula is alive, too.

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DH’s new friend wants to get friendlier.

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DH was VERY popular with the lorikeets.

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“Hmmmm….I’ve had enough to eat. Think I’ll climb up an arm.”

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The first of many flower pictures…

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We saw these signs but never saw dogs. We didn’t climb the fence to try to get them to come out for pictures though.

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A starling outside the exit…”goodbye…we’ll be back!”

A butterfly spreads his wings:

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DH’s grandmother’s apple tapioca pudding is perfect comfort food.

APPLE TAPIOCA PUDDING

3/4 cup pearl or 1/2 cup minute tapioca 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cold water 7 sour apples
21/2 cups boiling water 1/2 cup sugar

Soak tapioca one hour in cold water to cover, drain, add boiling water and salt; cook in double boiler until transparent. Core and pare apples, arrange in buttered pudding-dish, fill cavities with sugar, pour over tapioca, and bake in moderate oven until apples are soft. Serve with sugar and cream or whipped cream. Minute Tapioca requires no soaking.

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“It’s called muffin-top” says my daughter who keeps up with all the latest terminology and gives great graphic descriptions.

My mother is more reassuring. “You look fine.” But, I remember a story she used to tell about ladies from her square dancing class who bought stretch shorts and had to wear them backwards As they got older the lady’s fannies had flattened and shrank. Their weight had gone to their middles forcing tummies to pooch out the front.

I used to find that story cute. But, I’ve been going through clothes and not liking anything.

Soon, I’m going on vacation. We will be away from the horrible snow and cold. We’re heading for sunshine. Which I love. But it’s also the land of swimsuits and short shorts and college girls in string bikinis.

Everything I own has been thrown to the bottom of my closet floor in disgust.

I’ve been wearing big comfy overalls around the house this winter and the goldfish has expanded to fill the bowl. I refuse to buy bigger sizes. But, I dig through my husband’s t-shirts and his shorts. The look is casual & faded…perfect…maybe.

“Why aren’t you eating?” my husband asks watching me pick at my food. He worries I’ll make myself sick. Later he sits beside me on the couch with a snicker’s bar.

I can smell the chocolate and the nuts.

“Would you like a bite?” he offers.

“Ummmm…well, yeah, just a bite….”

He’s going to be sorry when he sees the granny pants I bought. Those are pants made to accommodate eating Snicker’s bars. Lots of them…

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My new sexy “granny pants” undies.

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There are many ways to say, “I love you.”

DH puts a dollop of whipped cream with cinnamon sprinkles on my coffee every morning when I get up. He also brings it to me after dinner. The cats get whipped cream on saucers. The dogs take their whipped cream straight.

It makes us feel spoiled, pampered and loved. See how the dogs are smiling…

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This is a to-die-for recipe. It is rich but worth every calorie, in my opinion.

This gooey pumpkin butter cake is outstanding. It is based on a recipe from Paula Deen.

Cake: 

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Gooey Topping:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

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Cake mixture has been patted into bottom of pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

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Mixing the pumpkin and cream cheese.

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Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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A walk in the woods and a mystery…what kind of bird left these tracks?

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The tracks are 5″ long and are on the trail leading past the horse pasture. So this would be a meadow bird?

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You can see the length of the bird’s tread and his gait in this picture.

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Another picture accenting the size of this bird’s feet.

We have been watching but have YET to see the bird making the tracks. In the meantime, does anyone know what kind of bird is walking through our field? We don’t have even an idea…

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