Monday, December 31, 2007

Out With The Old....

Just a few more hours, and 2007 will just be a memory. This week has been a time for reflection and the excitement of new hopes and dreams. I didn't get as much stitching done as I wanted, but did succeed to have a good garden and was happy with all we put up for this winter.

My stitching "dream" list for 2007 looked like this at the beginning of the year:

1. Bent Creek - Monthly Snappers - January - nope
2. Kats by Kelly Monthy Minis - February - finished
3. HoHRH - House #7 - nope
4. Pam Kellogg - Winterlude - finished
5. Marquoir Story - Part 4 - added to
6. Pam Kellogg - Cinnamon Bear - added to
7. Wizzers - Birdhouse Windchime - finished
8. Breast Cancer fund – From the Heart Needle Roll - added to and almost finished!
9. Diane Arthurs – Happy Everything - added to
10. House Mouse – Apple Seeds - finished
11. Pat Rogers – Hearts & Lace Sampler - nope
12. SanMan Originals - Blooms - added to
13. Sweetheart Tree – Jan. Needle Roll (needs some frogging) - nope
14. Sweetheart Tree – Teenie Tweenies – Spring Has Sprung - nope
15. Teresa Wentzler – Stretch - nope
16. HIH Monthly Mania - February - finished
17. The Drawn Thread - Winter Spot - added to
18. Mirabilia - 1996 Holiday Cherub - finished

(colored comments are what I ended up doing to the list)

My Finished list for the year ended up looking like this:

1. PK - Winterlude..W
2. tss - Sunflower Welcome..W
3. Mirabilia - 1996 Cherub freebie..W
4. SMO - Sunflower Blackwork..N
5. House Mouse - Appleseeds..W
6. 2 Dishcloths
.....Grammy's Favorite..W
.....DW Darrell Waltrip..N
7. 2 Dishcloths
.....Piece of My Heart..N
8. Iowa Cruise Socks for DH..W
9. 2 Dishcloths & Scrubbie
.....Feb. KAL..N
.....4-Corners Dishcloth..N
.....Circular Scrubbie..N
10. Kool-Aid Socks..W
11. UGLY Opal Socks for DS..N
12. Felted Bag..N
13. Trekking 104 Socks..N
14. Hot Socks..N
15. Eleanor Socks..N
16. DOW Dishtowel..W
17. Fair Isle Socks..N
18. 2 Dishcloths
.....Hummingbird Dishcloth..N
.....Garterlace Dishcloth..N
19. Fanny Socks..N
20. Trekking Socks 128..N
21. LHN Season of Hope..N
22. PS Spring Ornament..N
23. DGB Confetti Socks..N
24. Hot Socks #923..N
25. CC KBK - I Love Mew..N
26. Spring Tulip Card..N
27. Wizzers Birdhouse Windchime..W
28. DD's Footies..N
29. DS's Hunting Socks..N
30. 2 Test cloths - DBE..N
31. 2 Dishcloths
.....Test Cloth DBE..N
.....Multi Diagonal..N
32. Dishcloth set finished..N
.....Woozy cloth scrubbie
33. PK Fluffy Puppy..N
34. SH Flurries.....N
35. PS Summer Ornament..N
36. HS Letter Snow!..W
37. HM A Mother's Work..N
38. HIH Monthly Mania February..W

All in all, I'm pleased to have taken some of my WIPs off the list. I started with 47 XS WIPs at the beginning of the year. I had 16 finishes - 9 of them new. I had 8 WIP finishes. This year, I was close to killing off the same amount of WIPs as new starts. This is definitely an improvement from my past. I'm looking forward to a better record next year :)

Now, for my last finishes of the year....

A Mother's Work by House-Mouse Designs. All I need to do is wash and sew up the banner.

And my last finish of 2007 is Heart-In-Hand's Monthly Mania - February. I had started this a couple of years ago, and then put it aside to stitch a model. I never got back to it until just a couple of days ago. It's stitched on 32 count mystery evenweave (purchased in a small cuts grab bag).

Wishing everyone a happy and safe end to 2007. Cheers!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Holidays!

The past few days were busy but filled with wonderful things: family, friends, great food, and much love and laughter. As much as I love the holidays, I am always glad when things come to a close so I can get back to a nice normal and boring life. A party person I am not.

Can you believe it? Not one piece of new XS stash for Mom for Christmas this year. Do you think that's a hint that I need to stitch some of what I have? LOL No complaints, though, as I got a lot of lovely and well thought out presents. One of the nicest things I got was some hand-made stitch markers for my knitting. DD made them all herself.

Actually, DD made all her presents this year. She miscalculated her time though, and didn't get all her knitting projects done, so she gave the WIPs with the promise of finishing them. She said as soon as they are done, she's starting her projects for next Christmas. Hmmmm - sounds like something I suggested she do this past year, but she was sure she had enough time. :)

I gave DS the Gettysburg kit from Dimensions that he really wanted. I thought that I would be stitching it, but he totally blew me away by telling me he wanted to do it himself. It's not a small piece by any means 12" x 14" on 18 ct. It really is a neat piece.

I got lucky, and found the CrossStitcher issue 194 at Borders. It has a sepia tone pattern of Captain Jack Sparrow in it, so I had to get it to stitch for DD. (That is, unless she, too, wants to stitch it herself.)

I did get a bit of time to stitch, even with all the activities, and am thrilled to post this WIP. A Mother's Work is almost finished. All that needs done is back stitching and some lettering - plus a few half stitches to do the bubbles. I'm hoping to be able to post a finish tomorrow.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the fold in the banding (where momma mouse is) will come out when it's washed and pressed. Folds and hoop marks are one of my biggest gripes about aida.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

House-Mouse Progress

I had some time to stitch this morning while the kids slept in. It was wonderful - quiet and relaxing. What a way to start the day! I'm not used to stitching long periods of time any more, and I have some sore fingers to prove it. That, and the needle I'm using isn't my favorite. I need to get to the shop and pick up some more Piecemakers. I use size 28's and this one is bigger and really makes a difference.

The toothbrush and part of the towel on the mice have made an appearance. I'm having a great time working on this piece.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shopping is Finished

Christmas is almost here, and all my shopping is finished. All gifts have arrived safely and with lots of time to spare. Yes, internet shopping is definately the way to go in my book. The kids are finishing up on their homemade gifts, and we have started baking the cookies. The house smells sooooo good these days.


From the Heart Needle Roll is so close to being done. I've only one band and part of one to go. DD used all the fiberfill up, so I won't be able to finish the roll until after we get more. That's ok though.

New Project Start

DH bought me a couple of House-Mouse Designs kits for Christmas last year, and I never started any of them. I overheard him talking one day about them and wondering if I liked them because I didn't do any of them. So, on Saturday, I pulled one out and started. He saw me stitching it, and said he was just thinking about them the other day. Oh really? What a coincidence! LOL!! This is a Banner kit put out by Dimensions called "A Mother's Work".

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Shopping, Finishes and a "New" WIP

This year, I've been challenged with a hurt foot, so Christmas shopping had to be done from my computer desk. It was just awful... sitting in a comfortable chair, sipping coffee and in my favorite warm clothes and slippers. Dang - it was so awful missing all the crowds and not being able to go from store to store just to find everything I want is either gone or the retailer doesn't carry what I want. I did all my shopping, finding everything I wanted, and I now have almost everything in hand. Only one more package to arrive. Next year, I'll be doing all my shopping online again. No more crazy crowds for me.


After all that web surfing for the correct gifts, I took some down time to stitch. There's nothing as relaxing as working on a piece that you really enjoy stitching. So, after all that exhausting shopping, I have 2 finishes to report.

First is Prairie Schooler's "Summer Ornament". I originally was going to stitch these as separate ornaments, and change them out every season. After working on the first one, and then finding that the rest were the exact same size, I changed my mind. I'm now stitching all the ornaments together to make a bell pull. They are being stitched on 18 count off-white aida. Since the ornaments are solid stitching, most of the aida won't be visible, so I decided to save my linen for something that would show it off more.

My next finish was a very old WIP. I don't even remember when I started it, but I finally put the finishing stitches in this week. I had put it away because the lighting and my eyesight didn't get along well with the fabric. Since then, I've gotten an Ott light and magnifier, so I'm back in business and pulling out all my old WIP's.

So, here it is..... Introducing my very old project... Hillside Sampling's "Letter Snow! Letter Snow! Letter Snow!" It was stitched on 28 count Blue Wing linen. I love snowmen and cardinals, so this design really appealed to me. The play on the song was another draw to it. I thought the whole "package" was cute. I just wish I could have gotten it finished a lot sooner now. Just think, I could have enjoyed it all this time, instead if it sitting in a box waiting for me to finally start working on it again.

"New" Old WIP

While I was rummaging through the WIP box, I came across another piece that I had put away because of my light and sight issue. The only time I was able to work on my stitching (at that time) was at night after the kids went off to bed, so some of the finer fabrics didn't show up well under the lights we had. I had to put those things off until daytime, and with 2 young'uns home all the time being home schooled, daytime usually wasn't an option to stitch. This project was started in 2000, and with the specialty stitches and over ones, I really had some issues. It seemed like I was frogging as much as I was gaining, so I put it aside for when I could sit in daylight and do it. It appears that day was forgotten about - until I came across it in the bottom of the box.

This is the second in the Breast Cancer Needle roll series that Lois M. Bear designed. It's called "From the Heart" and is being stitched on 30 count off white Northern Cross linen. When I pulled it out of the box 2 days ago, it looked like this:

This morning, it now looks like this:

It is amazing how much difference a light and magnifying glass can make! I'm now starting the last band at the bottom, and will start the top. I'm excited to think that in a couple of days, it will be done and stuffed. I love needle rolls, and I really need to get back into making them. They are just so pretty and look gorgeous when displayed.

One Last Note

I have been lurking on a few cross stitch boards every now and then, and one thing I find fascinating, is the opinion about what makes someone a "real" cross stitcher. My Step-MIL stitches on printed pillow cases and blankets, etc. According to the boards, she is not a real cross stitcher. Her X's are even and the piece is always beautiful when finished. If I work on a printed piece, my stitches are not nice or the same size. On this note, I think she is better than I am.

Another opinion is that those that stitch on aida are less experienced and are considered beginners. I'm sorry, but some of those pieces that are stitched on aida are difficult pieces like HAED's and other computer generated patterns that cover the whole piece of aida. I'm sorry - those patterns that are listed in the expert level won't be any better on linen.

Then there are those that make fun of the gals that stitch the primitives. I'm sorry, but I just don't understand it all. We all love to craft. We all love to create things. We all know how heart and soul is poured into a piece of our work, so why the criticisms and snobbery? We all have different tastes and preferences, so why is everyone expected to like and work on the same things?

Thursday, December 06, 2007


With snow here at the beginning of the week, it put me in the mood to want to stitch something to celebrate the change in seasons. I pulled out this cute and quick design by Sue Hillis called "Flurries..."

DD liked the tan snowflake charm better than the one that was included with the chart, so I swapped them. She says it's "cuter" :)

I also finished the first of EZ's "Thick Woodsmen's Socks" for DS. Unfortunately, I won't be starting the second until he comes home because I want to test fit it just to make sure it's OK. That's alright though, as I have more time to XS. I started Prairie Schooler's "Summer Ornament, and am almost 1/4th of the way done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Pam Kellogg's "Fluffy Puppy" is finished and ready for a bath and framing. He was a fun stitch and I'm glad that I started with him to get back into XS'ing. Certainly a cute and quick finish.

Now, to figure out what the next project will be. I'm in the mood for stitching something wintery looking, since it is getting to be that time of the year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today was basically a catch-up day. I spent the day catching up little things that needed done, but don't seem to amount to anything. It looks like a wasted day, but really it wasn't. Then, for my short break, I put some stitches in on Fluffy Puppy. You know, no matter how long you have to stitch, it never seems long enough, does it? Puppy seems to be looking more like a Pom all the time. He should be done and framed in a couple of days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fluffy Puppy

I didn't get much time to work on "Fluffy Puppy", since today was Cyber Monday. I spent most of my free time online looking for bargains and wish list items. I really thought it was great, sitting here on a rainy Monday, sipping coffee and jumping from store to store comparing prices with only the click of my mouse. It sure beats running from store to store.

Now without further adieu, here's my sweet little Fluffy Puppy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Hang My Head in Shame

Yes, I hang my head in shame seeing how long it has been since my last posting. I've been tied to the kitchen and garden these past few months - which hasn't been a bad thing. The shelves are stocked with canned, frozen, and dried foods. Most have come from the garden or from our friends.

I have knitted a little during the past few months, but most of the time has gone into getting food put away and getting all set for winter. Finally, that is almost done, and now it's time to clean house and get things in order. I'm also finally getting a bit of time to work on cross stitch again, and it all feels so good. :) I feel like I'm finally accomplishing things in all areas of my life.

At my daughter's request, I made her another pair of footies, using Lynne H's "Mom's Fast Florida Footies" pattern. I modified it a bit by changing the purl stitches to knit on the bottom of the foot. I also modified the cuff some, making it a bit longer.

I made another pair of socks from Carole Anderson's "Iowa Crews/Cruise Socks" pattern for my DS. He likes a nice thick pair of socks for hunting..

I've also done a few dishcloths including a few that are test knit for Designs by Emily.

Currently on the needles, I'm working on a pair of Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Thick Woodsmen's Socks" using White Buffalo yarn. The yarn is quite amazing, and I so wish that it hadn't been discontinued. This is a yarn I'm sure I would have used a lot. (no pic yet)

Next, I have one of the socks done from Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend by Judy Alexander. It's from a past SOTM kit from The Knitter:

I also received some Regia yarn in Red White and Blue. It was another SOTM kit from the knitter. I didn't care for the pattern - so just knit it using my basic formula for socks. This one is for my DS. I'll soon be casting on the second sock.

For cross stitch - I'm making a lovely little Pomeranian for my DMIL. It's a cute design by Pam Kellogg called "Fluffy Puppy" and it came in a Bucilla kit that I won in a drawing. I'll post a pic of that soon.

Now that all the garden has been caught up, I should have enough time to both stitch and be able to update this blog on a more regular schedule. I certainly have missed doing both!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Warm Things

Since we just found out that heating oil prices are about $3 a gallon, I'm going to be looking at other ways to keep the family warm. I so wish we would have had the boiler fixed this summer, but hopefully it can and will be done soon. Then we'll just get wood each weekend until we have enough. At around $750 for a tank of oil, we really have to think of other alternatives! So, this entry will be dealing with warm things or things that make me toasty :)

I've been making many oven meals for the duel purpose of warming us both inside and out. :) Monday, I got out some chicken breasts that weren't skinned or deboned, so I defrosted them and then did the deed myself. By buying my breasts this way, we end up with 2 meals, one of a nice oven roasted breast dinner, and the other, I take the bones and little meat I cut off and make a broth out of.

I tried a new recipe with the breasts - so simple and soooo good.

Crunchy Onion Chicken
2/3rd's can French's Original Fried Onions
4 boneless and skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (not really necessary, but makes easy clean-up!)Crush fried onions in a sandwich or similar sized plastic bag. Pour into a bowl or pie plate. Set aside. In another bowl or pie plate, beat egg - set aside. Take chicken breasts and dip in egg then in crushed onions - coating both sides. Place on cookie sheet. Press on any left over onions if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until no longer pink. Makes 5 servings.

I found that there was enough egg to dip a total of 6 breast halves, and if you are going to do six, you might want to crush the whole can or close to it. I baked these for 30 minutes because the breasts were nice and large.

While the breasts were baking, I put the bones in a pot and covered with water. I brought them to a boil, and them simmered for a good hour or so. I cooled and strained the bones from the liquid, then put in the fridge overnight.

About an hour and a half before I wanted to serve dinner on Tuesday, I took out the broth, skimmed off any fat, and poured in a pot. I had about 6 cups of broth. I then added a few fresh carrots (sliced), a diced onion, 3 cloves garlic, and 2 small leafy stalks of celery along with about a cup of diced cooked chicken. This simmered for about a half hour after coming to a boil. Then I brought a pot of water to a boil and and cooked some wide egg noodles until almost done. While the noodles were cooking, I added some leftover lima beans to the soup, as well as some salt, pepper, one "ice cube" of frozen chopped parsley, and one chicken bullion cube. When the noodles were done, I strained and added them to the soup. I cooked more than I needed, for those of us that like a more "noodle-y" soup. They were kept to the side. YUMMY!!

I finally finished my DS's pair of hunting socks. He has size 13 feet, so the photo of these covered almost my whole coffee table! I hope his feet have finally stopped growing :) I still need to make him another pair or two of heavy wool socks, and one more for DH, but the way things are going, I'm not going to get them all done before hunting season this year. Then, after I need to do some for DD as well as myself, but that will certainly be down the road.

My quilt needs to be brought out and sewn. I am looking forward to working on that. I found a couple of pillow cases that I put away of the children's from when they were little. DD's is an Little Mermaid case and DS's is a Barney pillow case. I have decided to pull them apart and integrate them in the quilt along with a few other scraps from things they wore when they were young. It will probably look weird, but hey - I've decided to make it even more warming with thoughts of the children every time I use it. I offered to put them in each of the children's quilts that I am going to do for them, but neither wants them - so... It'll be my memory type quilt. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Preparing for Cold Weather

The weather report is calling for chance of flurries tomorrow and possibility of snow on Tuesday. Chance of snow is not unusual for this time of year, but I'm somewhat concerned with all the leaves on the trees. Tonight, we are getting rain, and the temps are at 42°F. They can drop quickly. Those cold temps can cause ice to form on the leaves which can really do some damage. Those trees will snap and pull power lines down and cause life to come to a standstill. Well, at least a for most people. We are prepared. DH has the generator out and ready, plus we've got the oil lamps ready and even one burning right now. I love the glow of an oil lamp, so I had just had to keep one burning.

I honestly love it when the power goes out. The town grows so quiet and still. There are no hums of motors or outdoor lights blocking the gorgeous night sky. It's the sights and sounds I long for, but never get to experience unless we are out of power. The longest we've been without power has been a week, and we really didn't miss it. Now all we need is a wood cookstove and we'll be all set :)

With all the colder temps, I'm getting in the mood for the holiday season. I've been trying out new recipes, and have been looking for a recipe for cranberry sauce. Everyone loves it, but DH and the kids don't like the whole berry kind. They want something that is similar to the gel we get in the store. Today, my hunt has finally ended. I received "Home Cooking with Dave's Mom" by Dave's Mom, Dorothy from PaperBack Swap and in it was the recipe I have been searching for! It's so simple and tastes very, very good! I halved the recipe for trying. We are having this for dinner tonight with our macaroni and cheese.

Cranberry Gel
Source: Home Cooking With Dave's Mom page 106

4 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, add berries and water. Cook until berries pop, then pus through a Foley food mill. Add sugar and bring to a boil. Put in a glass jar with straight sides. (I used a pint wide mouth canning jar). When chilled, it will slide out of the jar and can be sliced for serving. Keeps well in the refrigerator. Makes 4 cups.

I still have not turned the heat on, however, DH did yesterday, to make sure it was running correctly. We are staying at about 60° overnight and it creeps up in the daytime. I have been using the oven for meals, so it usually peaks at about 67-68° in the evenings. The children don't seem to mind or notice it as much as I do, but clothing layers take care of that. I still need to go out and buy some plastic for the picture window. That thing lets so much cold air in - it's like sitting next to a fridge - even with the insulated drapes drawn!

Each year we try to improve our home a little. Each year it becomes just a bit more efficient. I'd love to go solar and use a cook stove for both heat and cooking. Sadly, our kitchen is not laid out so that we can put a stove in yet. Yes, I did say yet. We are planning on some reconstruction a bit down the road to fit our needs. I'm so looking forward to that.

It's funny. I remember when I was so heartbroken when I found out we couldn't move from here. My brother got the family farm, and we ended up with my parents home in town. It's the home they left to move to my grandparents farm. At the time we got this house, it was supposed to be a stepping stone to something larger - a little farm of our own. Life happened and we didn't move and every time we thought we'd have enough money and income for something, the land prices would go up out of reach, yet again. After 16 years of hoping and dreaming, the harsh reality set in that things wouldn't be as we dreamed about. Well, not yet, anyhow. So we decided to stay here a few more years as the economy becomes more and more questionable, and we'll thank the Lord we have a place to call home. Now, we've settled in nicely, and we are welcoming each new change and appreciating it all.

Bloom where you are planted. I finally know what that means!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Girls' Night Out

Yesterday was our annual girls "night" out. (Actually it was more like an afternoon & evening.) Each year, my DD, SIL and I make a trip to see the Taste of Home Cooking School. We always have a good time, come back with a few new tips, and some samples and freebies. We wanted to take a picture for our scrap books, but this year they would not allow any photos, not even before the show - so we came home photo-less. :(

We were especially treated with our show being hosted by Taste of Home's own Patricia Wade Powell who was a real delight to watch and listen to. She has such a great sense of humor and gave so many suggestions for other ingredients that would go well in the recipe she was demonstrating. I loved her many comments that "cooking from scratch is wonderful" and "make this recipe your own". Too many times I've come across people who cook strictly by the book. I will the first time to get a feel for the flavors - but after that - it's fair game to get creative with it.

So now, I need to sit down with my nice package of goodies from the show, and go through everything to see what all we really did receive. There were cookbooks, catalogs, coupons, samples, little gifts and recipes that I saw in the tote last night. We were just too tired to go through them all after we came home. I'm really looking to take some quite time today to sort through it all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stocking Up

First, I would like to thank GG and JD for such lovely comments. They were very appreciated. You are both much too kind!

My pantry is very full, and keeps getting fuller with every load that comes out of the canner. We also shop sales and stock up on items we use when the sales are good. I couldn't get the full shelf in from where I stood, so you are missing the bottom shelf - where all the maple syrup, juices and other beverages are stored. I am slowly replacing store bought items with home canned. I want to limit my dependence on store items as much as possible.

This morning was another cold morning, and the house boasted a chilly 61°F. As tempting as it was to turn the heat on, we didn't. Instead, I made a double batch of granola which warmed the house up some. Pulling up the blinds on the south side of the house helped with the rest. The sun felt so nice and the dog appreciated it as well. He followed the sun spot on the floor all across the living room. It's going to just about kill me to turn on the furnace this year. With the prices the way they are, I so wish our outdoor boiler was in working order. DH says he thinks he can fix it - but then we need to still get wood. It'll be fun getting wood in the snow :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it can be fixed.


3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
5 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried milk
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins
Other on-hand ingredients ie: nuts, dried fruits, coconut, seeds, etc.

Place oatmeal in a 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle evenly with dried milk, then salt. At this point, I usually will sprinkle 2 Tbs. flax seed meal, an even coating of each: coconut, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans.** Leave the raisins out until later.

After you are satisfied with with the ingredients in your cake pan, set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the oil, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan and heat until the ingredients combine. It will seem like the oil and sugar won't mix, but once it starts boiling, you will see a change - everything combines. Take off heat and pour over ingredients in cake pan. Mix well. Bake for 7 minutes, stir, then bake for another five, stir, then put back in for another 5 minutes. By now, the ingredients should be a bit browned and the syrup has been incorporated evenly.

Take from the oven and cool - mixing while cooling to prevent items from staying in one huge clump.

**Note: If I'm putting in raisins, I usually add about an equal amount of dates. If I'm using another dried fruit or berry, I'll leave out the raisins sometimes. There really is no recipe of what to add after the first four cereal ingredients - it's usually whatever I have on hand and what I think may taste good together. I like to put in as many seeds as possible, because the seeds have a powerhouse of good vitamins and minerals in them.

We have been making this granola for a good year now, tweaking it as we go - experimenting with different combinations and ingredients. Today I made our normal raisin, date and pecan granola and in the second pan I made a cherry granola which used our own dehydrated sweet cherries. The cherries were a bit of a disappointment, as they didn't have the flavor we get from dehydrating sour cherries. It was still good, but not as good as it could be. I will be making note of this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

We Have Carrots!

Free Photo of a Carrot Picker During Harvest, 1935, in the Gorki Region, USSR. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart

I can't even remember how many years it's been that I've tried to grow carrots. I've followed directions to the "T" and every year I've had no luck. I've tried floating row covers, sand, peat... you name it. Then I read that one needs to sprinkle the seed on top of freshly worked damp dirt, cover with a thin layer of sand, and then cover with a board. I tried it, and had it raised just a tiny bit for a little air circulation. IT WORKED! I had a 5 foot row of carrots that sprouted and matured! Tonight we will be eating the fruits of that row. I know - five feet isn't much, but I was so tired of wasting seed and garden space. Finally - I know how to get those little buggers to grow. Life is good!

Seven more trays of mint now dehydrates on the counter. I'm hoping we'll have enough for tea this winter. I've never tried putting up a year's worth of tea before. I've been counting things by trays for my notes. I could put down gallons or quarts of dried apple slices, but if I post trays, I have more of an idea how much needs dehydrated instead of the end product.

I still have to go to the garden today and pull in the green tomatoes I want for jam. Then the garden is finished. Then all we'll need to do is put it to bed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Early Bird

Early this morning, DD and I left our nice warm home to brave the rainy and foggy weather to get to JCPenney's to hit the early bird sale. She needed a new winter coat, and although we looked at yard sales and the thrift stores, we didn't find one in her size. We found a nice feather down coat in her size plus we also found a bra on sale that she liked. If we had purchased them at regular price, we would have spent $194.99. Instead, we bought both for $63.49!! It certainly was worth taking the time to go!!

We were out of Penney's before the mall even opened (another big plus!) and made a quick stop at the health food store to pick up some echinacea purpurea root, elder flowers, cardamom, and wheat germ. I buy all these in bulk and it saves a lot of money. The girl at the register asked me why I'm buying elder flowers, because they are so easy to harvest. I told her I know, but sadly missed them this year. She said she did, too. I did go for elder berries, but the birds had hit them hard, and were eating them even before they really turned ripe, so I just let them go this time. Next year...

I think I have pretty much everything we'll need for cold and flu season now. DH won't drink the elder tea - says it's TERRIBLE, but to the rest of us, it just tastes like any other herb tea. He says he'd rather die of the flu than drink it. I just roll my eyes, because we all took it as soon as we started showing signs of a cold week before last, and we did get the cold, but it passed by so quickly. DH on the other hand was miserable and ended up missing a couple of days of hunting and a couple of days of work. Sigh...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting Fall Plantings In

We were lucky to get the garlic in today before the rain. We allowed things to try as much as possible, but the ground was still wetter than we'd have liked it. It now is snuggly nestled under composted manure, straw and leaves - all ready to set roots and quietly hang out until spring. We also moved all the winter onions and replanted them, as well as a couple of horseradish plants. Not much left to do in the garden, except to put it to bed. I still have a few tomatoes to pick before the killing frost they are calling for this weekend, and a couple of carrots to still harvest, but that's it.

As you can see, the trees here are still green. This was taken from our backyard through the lilacs...

What is even more amazing is the peppers - here they are STILL producing.....

The milkweed pods are opening and they are drawing in some new friends - can you see one here? You have to look closely.

If not, maybe this picture will show them off better....

Every other Thursday is interrupted with a trip to take the kids to their biology lab, so I can't get involved with anything time consuming. It's about a 40 minute round trip, so I decided to put some bagels in the bread maker to try. I found a recipe on RecipeZarr that sounded quite good. I was quite surprised how easy they were. To think all this time I've been putting them off because they appeared to be more difficult than they actually are. They turned out nicely - and everyone here is insisting that we don't buy them from the store any more. (Note - if you see marks under the bagels - please ignore. I cooled them over the parchment paper I baked them on so I could catch all the wandering poppy seeds.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dried Apples

We ended getting rain - and quite a bit of rain to boot, so the garlic still sits here waiting to go in. Well, at least have of it made it in before the rain, so that will have a good watering to give it a start.

I decided to take it a little slower yesterday, so I only did 5 loads of laundry, put 10 more trays of apples in to dry, and researched some on soap making. I'm about ready to begin, but I don't have a sensitive digital scale, so I need to find out if my postal scale will work for now. The last thing I want to end up with is a lye-heavy soap.

This morning, the day started with a few surprises. First, I awoke at 6:55 am and tried to figure out why I was still in bed at such a late time. Then I heard DH - he was sleeping in the tub and snoring away...and very late for work!

After we scooted him off, I was telling DS about a dream I had about my brother. I called my brother (who is now in England), and he answered his home phone - so I didn't believe that he was really out of the country. That was about the gist of the dream. DS laughed at how weird my dreams were and then I went out to take the compost out. When I came back in, the phone was ringing, and it was my brother in England! How weird is that!???

After our nice little talk, I tested the apples and found they were ready to come out. They are now packed and vacuumed sealed and ready to go on the pantry shelves. I did do a Food Saver canister full that will be left up here for the kids to snack on. They are so easy to seal - so they'll open it and then seal it back up in just a few seconds. I like the canisters, but they are quite expensive.

When I put the apples in yesterday, I decided to experiment with a couple of the trays. Every year I make the dried apple snack in the Ball Blue Book, but it aways makes such a mess out of my drier. Even when I line the trays with waxed paper. So, this time, I just sprinkled them with a little organic sugar mixed with cinnamon. They dried nicely and didn't weep. They aren't as sweet as the others, but I didn't use near the amount of sugar. I think these have a nice flavor, and the kids like them, but have asked that I continue to make some of the others as well.

One of my most favorite places to stop by every morning is Garden Gnome's blog. She is one of the biggest inspirations to me. That woman is wonderful! She has inspired me to try new things to can - and I love how she's always looking for a better way to do things. She's sort of like having a virtual mom - telling and explaining how to can and cook. It's been a real blessing with my own mom gone. I've been teaching myself how to do the canning, and when I'm not sure, I've had to read or search on the net. Now, with the discovery of Garden Gnome's blog, I can pretty much search her blog, get answers and have photos as well as great instructions. Not only that, but since she answers comments on her blog, I'm sure if I have a problem, she would be there to help. She hits me as a wonderful person that loves to share her loves and talents. If you ever read this, GG - you are a true blessing to me - THANKS!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bread Baking

There is nothing like a homemade loaf of bread, and to have it warm with butter, is like having a slice of heaven on your plate. Besides the wonderful taste, baking your own bread is so much cheaper - easily getting 3 loaves of home made for the cost of one loaf of store bought. If you usually purchase the expensive whole grain breads, you will save even more to make your own.

I prefer the flavor and texture of kneading and baking the bread in the oven, however, there are times that I'm so busy or the kitchen work area is taken up with other things, that I can't easily make it like my grandma used to. A bread maker has been a great blessing on those days. I never realized that, until this past summer, our bread maker died and I was determined to do everything else and on top of getting the bread baking done. Canning jars were all over cooling or set to be filled, washed, etc. and every work space was loaded with something. Our kitchen is small and with no work area to knead, I really had to put things off. The freezer was full, so I couldn't bake bread and freeze it, so, we ended up buying bread. Yes, I hang my head in shame, because the stuff my dear husband brought home from the store was very expensive, and certainly didn't even resemble bread. It was awful - and a premium price.

My husband decided that enough was enough and surprised me with a very nice bread machine! So we are now back to home made and healthier bread - all the time. Everyone is truly thankful :)

This morning, I decided to get up extra early and start a loaf of raisin bread so when everyone got up they could have a nice hot piece before going about their daily duties. Usually, I will just set the timer so that the bread is done when we need it, but this recipe has milk in it, and the raisins are to be added at the second kneading. Yes, you can put them in at the beginning, but they get chopped up more, and just aren't as pretty to look at. Everyone was thrilled with waking up to the wonderful smells of cinnamon through the house.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons organic sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Put all ingredients in pan in order listed or according to your maker's manufacturer's directions. Select the white bread setting and bake on light to medium color crust. Use the 1 1/2 to 2 pound loaf setting.

At the beginning of the second kneading (or at the beep) add:
2/3 cup raisins

When the bread has finished baking, I will take it out of the pan and put in on a cooling rack, and brush with butter, then allow to cool. By brushing the finished loaf with butter, you will end up with a nice soft crust.

After the raisin bread came out, I put in a loaf of my husband's favorite bread, Drew's Famous Onion Dill Bread. This recipe came from the DAK Turbo Baker IV recipe book. The DAK (which we fondly called R2D2) was our first bread machine, and that machine lasted over 10 years. It would have kept going, but the pan inside broke, and it cost much more to replace the pan than to just purchase a new bread maker. We then bought a Toastmaster that did well, but didn't last nearly as long - two if I remember correctly. We are now on our 3rd machine - a Sunbeam and it is working well and makes larger loaves.

Drew's Famous Onion Dill Bread

Mix together and warm until lukewarm:
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons organic sugar
3 Tablespoons minced onion
2 Tablespoons whole dill seed
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter

Pour the above mixture in your bread maker pan. Add:
1 unbeaten egg (room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Bake on the white bread cycle using the light setting. Use 2 pound loaf setting. Remove from pan, place on wire rack and brush with butter.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Garlic Planting Time

Free Picture of a Head of Garlic. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart

We spent the day finishing up the garlic bed. DS turned it all by hand and spent a lot of time making sure it was ready. Then we raked and marked it out and put one of the two wide rows of garlic in today. Our garlic plot is only 6 1/2 feet by 8 1/2 feet. We planted a 26" x 8 1/2' row today. After we put them all in, we sprinkled toe row with composted manure and then some straw. I still need to add more mulch - probably leaves and more straw before the freeze. The row now is home to 85 very large cloves of garlic. Tomorrow, we'll put the rest in.

Our friend, Paul, is an heirloom garlic "collector" (and I say that very fondly!) and he was sweet enough to share some of his garlic with us. We planted 35 cloves of Georgian Crystal, 25 cloves of Siberian, and 25 cloves of Bavarian Purple. We still have Chesnok Red, Transylvanian, Polish Softneck and California White to plant tomorrow. I'll have to separate the cloves and see how many we will have to plant. He sent us so many beautiful bulbs, and if I have a lot left over, I'll see if there's another small place we can plant more. Our garden isn't very large, so space is an issue - right now. I'll have to do some figuring, to see where and how we can make more room if need be.

I ordered the book, The Healing Power of Garlic by Paul Bergner from PaperBackSwap. With all the garlic we should have next year, we'll need a book on how to use it other than cooking with it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Putting Up Food

We've put a bit of food up in the pantry this year. What we didn't grow came mostly from friends and some from the local growers market. When we can't grow it, we make sure to purchase locally.

Here's a peek at what was put up on the pantry shelves or in the freezer this year:


1 quart garlic cloves in oil (actually these are in the refrigerator)
1 batch Sweet Cherry Jam
1 batch canned peaches
1 batch peach pie filling
1 batch Peach Brandy Jam
1 1/2 batches Peach Jam
1 1/2 batches Spiced Peach Jam
1 batch Spicy Habanero pepper Jelly
1 batch Habanero Pepper Sauce
2 batches Barbecued Hot Peppers
1 batch Jim's Salsa (from Countryside Magazine)
1/2 batch Pickled Peppers
13 quarts and 5 pints tomatoes
4 quarts pears
1 batch Spiced Pear Jam
1 1/2 batches Pear Jam
1/2 batch Squash Relish from Heinz pickling booklet(DD made these!)
1 batch Tomato & Corn Relish from "The Joy of Pickling"
7 quarts and 1 pint Apple Sauce
2 batches Caramel Apple Butter
1 batch Apple Butter
10 pints meatballs
3 pints browned hamburger
6 pints hamburger with onions and peppers in tomato juice
7 pints hamburger with onions and peppers in water
1 batch Pineapple Sauce/Topping
3 batches Pickled Peppers


5 batches Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
4 packages sliced onions for French Onion Soup (6 generous cups each)
26 cups chopped onions for cooking
3 packages chopped chives
3 pints peaches - sweetened
1/2 gallon bag flash frozen peach slices
7 quarts (generous) green beans
8 packages grated zucchini
1 quart flash frozen green bell peppers
3 generous quarts chopped green bell peppers
1 quart flash frozen Cubanelle peppers
4 generous quarts Cubanelle peppers
1 pint flash frozen red cherry peppers
1 batch Vera's Apricot-Zucchini Jam
6 pie crusts from "30 Day Gourmet"
9 generous quarts corn


2 trays sweet cherries
5 trays onions
2 trays zucchini slices
3 trays peach fruit leather
3 trays hot peppers
15 trays apple slices
6 trays apple snacks


Dried mint for tea
Echinacea tincture
2 quarts frozen chopped parsley
28 cubes frozen chopped parsley in water

Homestead Dreams

We have dreamed about buying lots of land and becoming self-sufficient since before we were married many many moons ago. Every time our income went up so we could almost afford land, so did the land prices. We decided to keep going and honing our skills here, until we go move on to our dream place. So far, the dream place is still a dream, but we are doing pretty well here on just 7 tenths of an acre.

With the economy not looking very promising, we've decided to stop looking for now and just be thankful that we are out of debt and everything is paid for - our home, our cars, our credit cards... everything. If the economy spirals down like they claim it will, I know we will be better off than some of our friends and family members. I'm thankful we didn't listen to all the times they told us to just take a chance and go deep into debt. I think the best thing I've heard from them is, "You can only live once". Well, now they are panicking for "living once", and we are saying "phew!" knowing where we could be standing now.

This blog is for our explorations and trials - our successes and failures...And how we are doing it all here, in the middle of town, on 7/10ths of an acre.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Photo Catch-up

Time seems to just whiz on by me. In the past month, we've been gardening, putting up the spring harvest, preparing for and having home school evaluations done, celebrating another anniversary and birthday, and surviving the spring flu. Oh yes, we can't forget Mother's Day :)

I actually had a bit a time to get a few projects completed. AND I have now gone past my half way point on my 50 project challenge!! YAY!! So today I'll be posting those pictures.

Trekking Socks #128. This makes pair #5 of 7 for DS.

Trekking XXL #128

To celebrate spring, I decided to treat myself and bought this Little House Needleworks pattern called "Season of Hope". It's stitched on 28 count cream pastel linen.

Season of Hope

I stitched this card for someone special. It was a kit from the UK CrossStitcher magazine.

Spring Tulip

Keeping with the theme of spring, here's The Prairie Schooler's "Spring Ornament". I'm planning on stitching all the seasons together and making a bell pull.

Spring Ornament

DGB Confetti #100 Socks for DS. This make the sixth pair of the seven he wanted for camp.

DGB Confetti 100

Hot Socks #923. The last of the requested socks. DS was so thrilled that I made it in time. Now he has the coolest socks to wear for camp! :) And my first pair of socks for June.

Hot Socks #923

Calico Crossroads Kats by Kelly "I Love Mew". This is from the new monthly series. I started with the first series, but really didn't like the one for Feb., so I put it aside for a while. I'm so glad I did, because I think this one is so much cuter.

I Love Mew

And now.... My latest finish.....
A Wizzers kit from Dimensions. This one is called "Birdhouse Windchimes" and has been a WIP for quite a long time. I really didn't care at all for working on the plastic canvas. However, now that it's finished, I'm glad I kept going.

Birdhouse Windchime

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The weather has been so nice these past few days. Temps in the high 70's to low 80's have made the flowers bloom and the grass green. We planted a few things in the garden and now patiently wait for the first of the fresh veggies.

In the Socktopia group, we were given a sock pattern to make to inspire us to "Get off our Fannies". The are an athletic type sock with an arch support. The assignment was to knit them and then go out and do something - taking photos of them being worn during your chosen activity. So for your viewing pleasure....

Here's Fanny!!!!

First thing in the morning - a picture in the rising sun light....

Fanny for April

Here's a better picture of the more true colors of Fanny. They were knitted in Knit Pick's Dancing (now discontinued). Posing with the sock is our dog - enjoying the foot rub he was receiving...


Here we go - off for a lovely hike. The weather was perfect!!


Now on the needles are a pair of socks for my DS. He wants 7 pairs of "cool" socks for camp. These will make pair number 5. Pics to come shortly.

On Friday, we went to JoAnn's Fabric. What I assumed would be a 1 hour trip at the most, ended up being more than double. We went in with lists, knowing exactly what we would be buying. Ummmmm - until we tried matching up colors for DD's placemats and napkin set that she needs to do for home ec. What fun trying to pick 6 coordinating fabrics. I didn't realize quilting could be so exhausting!

After coming home more than $125 poorer, we had all the materials we needed to do her placemat/napkin set, her oven mitt, her dress for the summer camp party, 29 patterns, my Sunbonnet Girl potholder, muslin for redwork, gingham for the kitchen curtains, large check/gingham for a new tablecloth, and some miscellaneous items. Everything was at least 30% off. Most were 50% off except for patterns. They were 99 cents each.

I found a lovely McCall's pattern for a vintage embroidery set. It contains directions for a dresser scarf, two sizes of keepsake pouches, and two sizes of pillows with scarfs. I was a little disappointed as the embroidery didn't come as a transfer - but one that you need to transfer yourself. Maybe there will be less room for mistake this way, as I won't get the pattern crooked :)

I finally bought my Clover thread cutter. I wanted it to use for a closure for my felted bag, but it's just so pretty... I am now debating if I want to use it for that, or make it into a necklace that is actually useful. :) I found it in the quilting notions at JoAnn's at 50% off. Q-Snaps were there as well, and it was difficult to pass them up, but I need another set like I need a hole in the head.