Cydira's Country Corner.

A potpourri of country wisdom, kitchen witchery, and random thoughts from yours truly. Take a gander, you may find a new interesting recipe or a funny little tidbit to bring a smile to your day.
Hi folks!

We woke up this morning to find that the heater quit working. Thankfully, my little betta fish is not dead right now. But the whole place is a chilly 50 something degrees. Put that together with a terrible wind blowing out there that is around 20 degrees cooler than the inside temperature and we're on the windward side of the building, it's a little cold and getting more so. I will not be taking calls for a little bit as I wait for the guy who works on the heating system to get here and fix stuff. In the meantime, I have made muffins. I'm probably going to bake something else in an effort to warm things up a tiny bit. But, honestly, this was not what I wanted this morning. I'm sure you know the feeling.

Hi everyone!

I'm stepping out to run a few errands. I'll be back after about 1:30 eastern time. Have a great afternoon! ♥
Hi everybody!

I hope you're having a great morning. I just wanted to share with you something pretty cool that I have gotten involved in. I may have mentioned a little while back that I have gotten on to the Bullet Journal bandwagon. They're pretty cool. All in all, I think it is the simplest paper organization system and the most customizable I have seen so far. I started out trying to do the Bullet Journal thing like how others do it. I discovered pretty quickly that all of those tags and bullets got out of hand for me. I also discovered that as neat as my handwriting is, it is still pretty hard to tell which section is which.

So, I picked up a miniature binder and some filler paper. I also got a bunch of tab dividers and a few of those pages you can slip a picture or something into. It helps me to figure out what section is what and I don't have to worry if I have enough pages for a given section if I make a mistake in another one. I set up the first section to have my daily schedule. The next section has a bulleted list of my daily tasks. The section after that is a thing directly inspired by FLYLady. (You may remember my mentioning how awesome FLYLady is a while back. She is something of a life coach that helps you get your home less cluttered and your life more organized. It is a really flexible system. And, best of all, it is FREE!)

That section I just mentioned has the list of chores for the household zone I am working in. FLYLady divides the home up into 5 zones. Most weeks, you are working in just one zone. But if you have a week like this one where you transition between the end of one month and the beginning of the other, you will do some work in two zones. But, I have a list of chores that I check off. I only work for 15 minutes on the chores for that given zone. Aside from that, once a week, I spend an hour doing a quick general household cleaning. It sounded really weird to me at first, but then I realized if I do a little bit everyday in this fashion, I can stay on top of everything and not wind up sacrificing a full day (and a great deal of sanity) trying to clean all the things.

But, I adapted it to the Bullet Journal idea by making a list with check boxes. As I get things done, I check them off. It helps me feel more accomplished and I can see visible progress on things that I may not every day. (Dusting never ends and it seems like no matter how much you dust there is going to be more 5 minutes later. If not faster with small children in the house.) I am seriously considering adding another section that tracks how much progress I am making on some other stuff as well. I'm not fully decided. But the small notebook that I carry around to keep my schedule and notes on the day has really become super helpful. I just had to share it with you all. :)

Hi everybody!

It's burger night at my house. I went to get my pork roast to toss in the oven and discovered I forgot to get it out of the freezer. (That pulled pork bbq recipe I posted earlier works with a roast in the oven as well, as long as it is in a covered pan with a well fitting lid.) So, we're having burgers with the works on sourdough bread and apple salad. I'll be around for readings after dinner time is done and the kids have homework taken care of.

Hi everybody!

If you're like my family, you are probably getting impatient for the nice weather of Summer. The tail end of Winter is so frustrating sometimes. Something I like to do is make one of my summer recipes so that we can for a moment fool ourselves into saying it is sunny and warm. The recipe today is actually very easy. The hardest part is waiting when the whole house smells just delicious. I like to serve this with hamburger rolls. It is also really good on macaroni and cheese. (Even the inexpensive stuff out of the box is made better with this piled on top of it. Forget ketchup, you've got fresh made bbq!). The leftovers freeze well. They also are amazing on pizza. (I'll give you that recipe next week!)

I use a small loin roast for this. If you have a large group to feed, though, it also works really well for a picnic shoulder roast as well. It doesn't matter how fatty the roast is flavor wise. But, if you go with a roast that is on the lower side of fat content, your end result is less greasy. Also, as odd as this may sound, if you use the cheapest bbq sauce you can find, it actually works out really well. I think it has something to do with the long, slow cooking time over low heat helping the flavors melt together.

A 3 lb loin roast can be popped into your slow cooker in the morning and ready come dinner time when you get home from work. It usually turns out to be enough for my family of 4 and still have a good amount left over for other stuff. I like to use those slow cooker bags that you can get in the section of the store where they sell aluminum foil. My slow cooker is somewhat scratched up on the inside and those slow cooker bags work really well to keep things from getting stuck to the crock. It also makes clean up SO much easier. If you are putting your roast in in the morning, cook it on low to medium heat for 6 - 8 hours. If you are doing it on high heat, cut your cook time down to 4 - 5 hours. Like with any slow cooker recipe, keep the lid on the whole time unless otherwise noted.

A larger roast is going to be best cooked on medium heat for 6 - 8 hours. On high heat, you'll want to cook it for closer to 5 hours. The bbq sauce, if you are using one from a bottle or a jar, needs to cover the whole roast when you put it in. I like to just dump it on top and then turn the roast over to coat all sides before I put the lid on and start it cooking. If you are using a homemade bbq sauce, you may want to make it a little thicker than usual. As the roast cooks, the moisture is going to get trapped int the slow cooker and it will thin it out as it cooks. Before you serve the roast, regardless of size or how you seasoned it, you are going to want to shred it with a pair of forks. I find it easiest to shred it in the cooker. If you are using one of those slow cooker bags, you may want to be careful not to prick the bag. You may want to transfer it to a plate.

Here's my homemade bbq sauce. I got this from my Mom and then I added to it. It was one of the first things I made on my own. So, if you have a child interested in helping you cook, this is a great way to introduce them to it.

Quick BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced and roasted until golden and fragrant
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/8th teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Combine all ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep in a jar. Lasts for about 1 week refrigerated. If you want to speed things up a bit, combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cover it with something to prevent splatters. Cook 3 minutes on high, stir completely, and then cook again for 3 minutes on high. Stir completely, cool, and then use as you wish.

I hope you have a lovely Tuesday evening.

I just had to step away from the phone for a moment. I will be sending you free minutes as soon as I am available. Sorry for the inconveience.
Hi folks!

I sat down and started looking through my customer list, to make sure I didn't miss anyone. Lo and behold, there are a LOT more folks than I thought to begin with. Who knew that there were multiple pages on those lists! (Technology, you are amazing. Don't stop being your wonderful self!)

So, what does my silliness mean for you? It means that are quite a few people who will be getting their 'Happy New Year! Here's your Free General Reading!' email over the course of next month. Because I recognize that even if I spent all my waking time on it, there is no way short of violating the laws of physics (and some how breaking the space-time continuum) that i am going to get all 70 of these readings done by midnight tonight. So, if you get a email from me that has that subject line, it is your free reading. It is going to cover from this March through the next year to next March. There are more details about it in the reading.

I am humbled and deeply thankful that so many of you had chosen me to help you in the past. Thank YOU for having faith in me. Words can not express my gratitude!

PS: Readers who may be in my list, if I am causing a problem with my email, please let me know. I will add you to my list of only readers so I don't do so in the future.
Hi everybody!

I had completely forgotten that my youngest child has a dentist appointment this morning. If everything goes well, I will be available around 1pm. In the meantime, I hope that you are all having a great day so far and that it just gets better as it goes along. Thank you so much for your patience!

Hi everyone!

Chores done along with everything charged up now, I'm ready to take calls and be on chat. The boys are happily reading books right now, so all is quiet. This may be the best time to call all day! I will keep my status as available until 3:30. (It may be until 4 pm, that depends on if the boys get their chores done and we go outside to play or not.)

Side note: I am amazed by this weather. It is the 24th of February. I'm in western New York state in the Finger Lakes region. There is supposed to be snow on the ground right now, or at least cold, wet mud. But, according to the Weather Channel, it is right now almost 70 degrees F. This is astounding. I honestly have no idea what to expect from the weather now. We are still at drought status (D0 to be precise, that would be listed as 'unusually dry'.) hopefully we will get some rain to make up for the fact that we haven't had nearly enough snow. This is just amazing and plain weird.

Enough nattering about the weather, or not. If you want to call and talk weather or anything else, I'm here!

Hi everybody!

Everything is almost charged (and lunch time with all of the chores that go along is almost done). I'll be around in a half hour. The kids have been busy talking about their great ideas for spring instead of eating their lunch. I have to say, the ideas are awesome but they really have to finish those sandwiches and the glasses of milk. LOL Talk to everyone real soon.

Hi everybody!

I have to charge my laptop a little bit and apparently also my phone. (This is what happens when I forget to check things in the morning because the kids distracted me. I'll be back after lunch! Thanks for your patience.

Hi everybody!

My chat times today are a little bit delayed. I have a few chores that are going to take me away from the computer for little over an hour. I will be available on chat readings at 11:00 am Eastern time. I will be available for phone readings, however, as per the times listed on my schedule.

Talk to you soon!

Hi everybody!

I hope that you are all having a wonderful Friday. I am getting ready to start posting recipes up for you again. I, however, need a little bit of help. There are a LOT of recipes in my notes. I am talking about so many that I am having a hard time picking what sort of things to start posting up here. This is where you all come in.

I'm conducting a little informal poll. What sort of recipes would you like me to share with you?

1. Appetizers

2. Salads & Side dishes

3. Breads & baked goods

4. Main dishes

5. Desserts

Please, comment on this post with the number of your choice. When this afternoon comes, I will look over the comments and pick the one with the highest number of votes to post this week's recipe.

Thank you so much for your help. I hope that you are all having a fantastic day so far!

Hi folks!

I am a spinner, knitter, and crocheter. If it is something to do with the fiber arts, I have dabbled in it at some point in time or am presently engaged in it. As of right now, I have a really cool knitting pattern that I am working on. It is illusion knitting with a rubber duckie pattern that shows up when you hold it at an angle. Viewing it straight on, you just see black and yellow lines. I also am working on creating my own shawl pattern via crochet (which I have a little more experience in). It is done up in shades of purple. I was inspired by a chunk of amythest that I have in my rock collection. This then brings me to my current spinning project. I have this wonderful fiber that my Mother in Law bought me for Yule about two years ago. It is all pastel shades of a rainbow gradient. I think my favorite color in this stuff is the blue.

One may ask why do I do all of this? After all, it is a fair amount of work to make just about everything handmade. Sweaters take an impressive amount of work. Knitting with double pointed needles is about as easy as wrestling with a hedgehog. And spinning can be finicky work when you start using mixed fibers or things with a wide range of staple length. (Super short fiber like cotton or camel down still eludes me. I just make a mess out of it when I try. Really long fibers like silk are starting to look proper when I am spinning. It has only taken me a year of trial and error.) So, just why do I put myself through all of that hard work?

The answer is actually really simple. The fiber arts help me manage anxiety and stress. Because I get bored easily, I usually have a minimum of three different projects going on at the same time. Some of my projects travel well. My spinning is done on a spindle and I don't need my big distaff at the moment, so I can just toss it into a little wrist bag and go. That duckie scarf, however, has it a length that it is not as travel friendly. Having projects I can just sit and work on while I'm waiting for the boys to get off the bus from school helps me not worry about if they had a good day at school or question if I have forgotten something super important (like those pesky bills). Having a project I can carry with me when I am out and about helps make time pass by a bit faster when I am walking for exercise or if I have to wait for an appointment. So, I play with and make yarn to keep myself from worrying about everything.

Little hobbies like this are generally healthy for us in times of stress. A dear friend of mine has taken up cross stitch. Her latest sampler was just adorable. It helped her through some frustration regarding car issues. (Small needle point projects are great for when you are just sitting waiting for them to finish fixing the brakes on your car, by the way. And, I've noticed, people tend not to interrupt you because they see you are busy. Much better for the times where you don't want conversation and are forced to look at a magazine that is almost as old as your car while you wait.) Another friend has taken up coloring. They keep a miniature coloring book and a few of those pens that have four colors in them in their car. So, when they have to go and deal with the questionable fun of parent-teacher conferences next month, they have something to do as they wait for their turn. The fiber arts may not be your thing. You may be the sort of person who can get lost in a great book. Either way, taking time to do something that soothes you when life gets hectic is always a great idea. And you can do this stuff when you feel like just because it makes you feel good too!

Have a fantastic day! Go out and do something that makes you smile, you've earned it! ♥
Hi Everybody!

We just had something come up over here. I'll be back to take calls and chat around 2pm. Nothing but excitement today with the kids! Surprise visits are always fun!