About Me

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Within the confines of this blog, you will find bits and pieces of the life and times of myself, my family and friend dear and near., far and wide, few and far between. You will find bits and pieces of my world, tho small to some, but huge to me. You will find everything from 'soup to nuts',; recipes, hobbies,crafts, gardenings,loves of my life, GrandLoves-a-Plenty, and even my pets... Sooo, if you can handle family life, enjoy the tour of my 'Stuffings'.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sugar, All in a Day's Play

My sister Mel has been making gum paste (sugar) flowers. When I saw them, I thought, that doesn't look so hard, so I paid her a visit this morning to give it a try. She showed me her creations of sweet peas, irises, a trillium, mums and calla lilies. They were beautiful, dainty, just lovely. She gave me a dab of the gum paste and challenged me to make something. Well, let me tell you, it was no easy task. I only managed a few leaves before the sugar started to dry in my hands. I quickly lost patience and it's driving me crazy. Surely I can do this, I'm thinking. With Mel still on my mind, I decided to come home and make one of her dessert bars instead. This I knew how to do. These are her Chocolate Oatmeal Bars with a gooey chocolate center. Oh my, I should not have done this. They are a piece of the devil, for sure. Why am I so tempted by the sweets lately? Wait, I made them for Bill, just in case he needs a quick pick-me-up. Of course, I forgot he has a fasting lab in the morning so he wouldn't even try one. I cut a third of it for neighbor Gene and another third for my brother to take home. At least it won't be staring me in the face in the morning. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Hooray for that. ( Mercy, they are good tho. )
Backtrack. Bars are done and cooling, a quick salad and out the door I go. I still had to make 'Project 3'. On my way to the barn for tools, I thought, How Cute! A little fawn laying in front of the rockbed hiding behind the grass.
Another 'tom foolery'? yes. It's only a painted fawn on a rock. I painted him 5-6 years ago and each spring he moves around the yard several times until he's big enough to run and play in the field. His mother is always near by grazing somewhere at the woods edge or in the back of the field, just so she can see her little one is still safe. That part of the short story is true. A pair of fawns are born near our barn every spring. We have seen their mom hide them here and there nearby. Hopefully I will be able to share proof in another month or so.
This is my 'Project 3' of this spring. I had some red dogwood and grapevine left from the wattle projects. The old rose arbor was in need of replacing so this is the new one. I love the way it turned out! The robin was sitting on the top shortly after I finished, checking out the mailbox birdhouse on the woodshed. How exciting if she uses it.
As long as my transplant shovel was handy, I planted a yellow climbing rose at the feet of the arbor. My luck with roses has not been shining, so keep your fingers crossed for me. They sure would dress up the bare twigs.
Look what Bill brought home for me. He says it's a two-seater. He's kidding, of course. Looks like 'break time' to me., but I'm going to use it as a planter for ivy and petunias, I think. Or maybe, Corsican mint and blue lobelia. It needs to be moved to the front yard.
I still had plants to continue to transplant. I found Autumn Joy Sedum in the ditch that transplanted into the rock bed, Dolly Madison Lilies are by the bird feeders, Red Bee Balm found a new home, as well as Woodland violets.
After a cup of Chili, I was too exhausted to putter, but did anyway. I had to beat the pants off my dear hubby and brother at another evening at cards. It was my pleasure boys. Ya see, they always gang up on me but tonight the cards were with me. Hahahahaha. They are so lucky that I am such a good sport.
That's it folks!
For now...
BlessYa'll from Dar

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bartering for Cackle Berries & Wattling

Gene Takes a Bride, and why? To balance out his life., and his tractor. He's missing a tire here and his gal seems to balance things out just fine to get him around until he gets a new one!!!....LOL....
This is NOT Gene, and he did NOT take a Bride! This fella just looks so much like our bachelor neighbor that I could NOT resist...actually this picture came off the net., but it represents our Gene's sense of humor.
We are a community of bartering. Our good neighbor Gene needs help cutting down an iron gate. Bill is going to help him get that done so the good man stopped today with a barter. Not one, but 3 dozen Cackle Berries, as he calls them. The Eggs from his hens are so huge that they do not fit in the carton.
Size, in this case, does Not matter. Farm fresh eggs are always so much richer in flavor and better for you than the commercially raised eggs. I know Gene feeds his chickens the finest grains and takes good care of them. We are always happy to take eggs in trade for whatever he needs done, however, we do NOT need payment. Today its cutting a gate down, next week it may be, 'Just Because'. He's the fella who calls every morning to let me know that his feet have hit the ground and that it's going to be another nice day, whether or not the sun is shining. He always has a smile on his face and always has kind words to say. We still don't know how he does it, but he knows everyones birthday and anniversary, in the neighborhood. Whenever he knows that our GrandLoves are around, he brings them chocolate milk or A&W Root Beer. He sure loves the little kids and there isn't a one of them that doesn't just love the life out of him. Kids know kindness when they see it.
Gene always has a joke or two. Today he tells me as I'm carrying the eggs up the stairs, don't trip or you will have scrambled eggs.
But the joke of the day was about a preacher who was having trouble starting his lawn mower. He is pulling and pulling the pully and it just won't start. He asks ," How do you start this thing ", to the young man standing near him. The lad says, "You swear at it." The preacher says, "It's been so long since I've sworn, I don't think I remember how." The lad says, "You keep pulling, pulling and pulling on that thing, and it'll come back to ya!." LOL That's our Gene. Always a kind word and always a joke in good taste. Of course, always the best eggs.
We rounded out our day with another good meal. This time it was boneless, skinless chicken fixed two different ways. Both were marinated in a citrus lemon pepper marinate for an hour. Then one blackened, the other cornmeal crusted and baked. Both were good but we agreed the blackened was the best. We also had baked sweet potatoes with real butter melted on top, and Mama's lettuce, pea and onion salad with Miracle Whip, salt and pepper. My sisters know which one I mean. Top that plate of goods off with more black pepper and a tall mug of peach iced tea.
We still had work to do. Bill headed to the woods to split another pile of firewood while I finished up the 2nd Wattle on the north end of the deck. Preparation took half the morning and all afternoon just to clean out the bed of quack grass and do edging , but I finally got it respectable enough for another year. Here I always thought a wattle was that loose skin on the neck of a chicken. Who knew it is also such a fine decorative fence. Now I have two of them.
Tomorrow, I tackle 'Project 3', if my bod holds out. Until then,
Have a great one, whatever that will be, and God Bless You, Everyone!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wattle I Do

Do you see what I see? Way out back at the edge of the woods?
The grass is finally greening up in our north central WI., and on occasion, we see a deer or two. It was 7:30 this morning when I spotted these two whitetails in Mom's field.
So I thought I'd share....Here's looking at you Colleen, you little city slicker but oh, so country at heart, gal. We miss you too!
I finally finished a wattle around a small flower bed at the south end of the deck.
A wattle is a fence made with flexible twigs woven in and out of support sticks. It's pretty generic, but pretty to look at too. It also reminds Bill that, should I let him do the lawn mowing, that there is a line where lawn ends and flowers begin. I hope this works at deterring the lawn mower and the weed wacker.
After edging and placing the support sticks, in this case, grapevine sticks, I started to weave more grapevine. I didn't like the way it was working out, the vine being too twisted and not straight enough. I had to come up with another plan, so I took a ride to the cabin driveway.
With my devoted tools, the loppers and the bypass pruners, I went to work cutting and trimming long, straight sticks that were still green and flexible. Most of what I cut was dogwood, alder or yellow birch.

Wattling takes time but is so worth it. I am not pleased with this fence so I can get away with calling it 'practice' for the one I will make tomorrow.
The same fence from the other end of the bed looks a little better. So ends the first part of 'Project 2'. As you can see, I still have debris to clean up. I think you all should go out in the wild, gather some straight, flexible twigs, and create your very own wattle. Have fun!
Bless Every One of You

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jammin' and Woodland Treasures

It's been one busy weekend! Phew! (There are a few pics.)
My brother came over with his jammer to help us get our firewood logs out of the swamp and hemlock grove. That's it, the blue thing I'm following into the woods.
The chains that are hooked one side to the other, are what carry all the weight of the logs as they are loaded, hauled out and unloaded. In this case, the logs will be unloaded at the edge of the turn-around at the cabin.
Hook, drag, rehook, load, unload, a total of 4 times in and out of the woods from a quarter mile in, which is the distance of a standard 40.
To unload, the lock on the chains, is tripped with the tip of a pick, so as NOT to take a hand off in the process. By now it was noon and we were blessed....with
RAIN!!!!!, much needed Rain. Since it rained the rest of the afternoon and half the night, there were always other jobs to do, like....eat homemade tomato soup with thinly sliced pork steak and toasted cheddar cheese sandwiches, washed down with fresh brewed coffee. ( Sorry Jack! I had to do it.) Besides, I'm sure Sherry will make you some. and like.....
Welding a break in the iron on the jammer. The boys had that job finished lickety-split and had time to beat me at a game of golf, (that's a card game).
Next day while the boys were hard at it, I followed again with the box of needs of a logger; like water, apples, chain saw and the parts bucket for Bill. The bucket carries the chainsaw files, oil, a few hand tools, and apples. My man loves his apples.
Anyway, while they were loading again, I moseyed around the grove. The old timers family who owned this woods before us, used to always tell me that there used to be an old 'still' around this area we were logging. I always thought he was just making interesting conversation...telling me that on Sundays, the neighbors would drop by. The womanfolk would go in the house and make dinner while the men would go to the shed and drink hooch that they kept cooled down the well. He always said that someday, I will find signs of 'the time', if I only keep my eyes open. Well, lookie what I found! These old pieces of iron are the legs to an old cook stove of some kind. Hmmmm, I wonder if I will find any hooch. Now I'm looking for copper.
Pretty cool, huh?

By the findings, I also come across this huge hemlock with a nice hiding place at its root system. Cool too!Back to business. This huge yellow birch, cut in the standard 8 ft. lengths, took a couple of loads to get out. Usually a load will carry quite a few logs, if you check back to the first load., you will see what I mean. This load, could only carry 4 logs.
Four of the eight 8 ft. sticks from this massive yellow birch...and we have seen many bigger ones. Compare the size to DH who is a big man. You get the idea.
The burl on this log barely fit in the jammer rack and was a bear to release. The boys said it was a good thing they welded the break before attempting to take it out of the woods. The clamp teeth are spread their distance and still have a long ways to go to hug that burl completely. Oh, a burl, is a 'bump on a log'. Nuff said.
I also was looking for deer sheds, antlers the deer loose in the winter. I did not find any this time but did see some photo worthy things like this peeling yellow birch bark overhanging the edge of the creek., and
rebirth of the forest, a new maple sapling just emerging it's pretty face,
a witches face, the mouth and eye, long bent nose of the right side of the cedar trunk, and her scraggly hair behind her.
Are you still using your imagination? Do you see the green alligator out of his terrain? I love his eyes.
Dead hemlock trees and stumps often have these Hemlock Varnish Shelves from the Polypore family of the mushroom world.
They create their own little community...I suppose I could fence them in....no, they love room to spread 'them-shelves'.
How about this Captain's Chair? I found it in the middle of a cedar swamp that's still so dry even with the rain we finally got. A half-inch just doesn't make the creek rise.
And, who ever would have thought that in the middle of our dense forest, I would find a golf ball, of all things. Now I know what one of the boys does while he is supposedly hunting? It lay within a 1/4 mile of his deer blind.
At the end of the branch lying on the ground, bottom center, is that ball. Forest golf, anyone?
All total, this weekend, nine loads of logs were jammed out, a few more loads of firewood were split, hauled and piled, 2 Cotoneaster and the Mohican Viburnum were planted, and still had time for a Roast Beef Dinner with roasted potatoes, onions, celery and carrots, smothered in homemade beef gravy just like Mama used to make when I was growing up. That meal sure took my brother and I home.
We topped it off with double chocolate brownies and a tall, cold glass of apple juice. When you work hard, you eat good and work it off an hour later. Mmmm
Hope you all had a busy weekend too. It sure makes a body feel good!
God Bless

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

I spent the day away from the home front today.
I got nothing accomplished here. Nothing.
Unless you consider picking up some needed garden items, ergonomic bypass pruners, another 100 ft. of professional water hose, more flower seeds, onion sets, a couple varieties of lilies, a yellow climbing rose, and burgundy dianthus.
Of course we needed
A couple of work shirts,
New pans, the heavy duty, non-stick kind that can withstand up to 500 degrees in my oven, with the heat resistant handles, and
A Microwave. Our old one saw it's last day.
My man needed another pair of work pants, so we are both ready for more work.

After supper with Mom and my brother Eric, we played cards, but only one hand. I won't bore you with the menu of grilled pork steaks, curried rice and peas and sauteed zuchinni, tomatoes, bacon and onions, washed down with lemonade.

Eric wanted to get Mom home in time to call a few turkeys. He called a bit later to tell us that he put a couple of them (turkeys) to bed, so would be over a bit later in the morning. He will be giving a guided turkey hunt in the morning to a young couple as they hope to bag one for their table.

I just had the nicest visit with my Tx. sis, Colleen. She is always good for a lot of laughs and honest chit-chat about everything and nothing. Bless her heart. I would be lost without her. There is not a week goes by without talking sometimes several times but nearly always, ALWAYS, on Friday. We are each others kick-off to a good weekend. Talked to Mel this morning, so I would say I am doubly blessed. Heck, Mom, Linda and Cher got into the conversations too during the past couple of weeks, so I guess that would make me doubly, doubly, and then-some blessed.

To bed early tonight, as tomorrow will be a busy one. Bill and Eric will be using the tractor and jammer tomorrow to load and haul the saw logs out of the woods . Some of these will be cut into lumber at Bill's brothers sawmill down the road.
I will be following on the 4-wheeler with water and camera to give you all a play-by-play of the operation.
After the morning exercise, I will be edging and waddling a flower bed, planting a few things, and trying to think up a disguise for Bill's latest invention. Mercy. He made a garden hose rack. It's HUGE.

It wasn't a wasted day or night afterall....

Bless you all and have a safe weekend.
Until we meet again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The 'Project'

I appologize for all of the delays and the teasing, but, finally, my first of many 'projects', is complete. It would still be laying on the workbench, if it was not for my patient hubby, Bill. Sometimes, it's amazing what you will find 'out back'.
This mailbox was a wreck, but I forgot to take a picture of it before Bill hammered, clamped and hammered some more to straighten it out and fix the latch. We didn't need the latch but I have to agree, Bill thought it should be fixed.
A new bottom needed to be screwed in place for attaching it in place later. Notice a few bullet holes in the top? This old box was laying in the back of the woods and must have been someones target a few times.
Assorted brushes, a little paint, and hopefully a family of robins will take up residence. Bill's help was needed again to help hang the restored quarters.
For those of you who read my last entry, you are aware that I took a tumble yesterday. All is well today, with the exception of a wounded pride. There is a 'however'. Due to a bruised bum, I had to stand while painting the mailbox, so it was a quick job. It is not as accurate as I'd like but no one is perfect., especially me.
I think 'Project 1' looks pretty good on the side of the woodshed. I love watching from my kitchen window to see if it will get any takers. I noticed the robins were chasing each other today so it won't be long and they will be building their nests.
Time will tell. Until then, maybe any first-time father Robins will at least notice that he should never come home without food for the little ones. Phoebes and Barn Swallows also like open nest boxes so maybe one of them will raise their young here.
(Click on any of the pictures to bring them closer.)
We had fun doing this and are looking forward to showing you 'Project 2'.
Until then,
Love Ya for Your Encouragement

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Honey, I'm Home

One way or another, my aim must be to make all of you as patient as I must be.
My day started out fine. Same old, same old. We have been a single vehicle couple for some time now, so, having a 'Honey-Do' list of my own today, I took Bill into work so I could fill up the truck. Not with gas, but with 'things'.
My goals were nearly all accomplished.
By 7:45 a.m., I was at the farm which is only 8 miles from my house, over the river and through the woods, over the river again and through the woods again.
Mom was already outside carrying water to her chicks and feeding them with her usual smile on her face as I drove in. We took the usual tour around the yard to see what perennials were coming and checked the garden to see if any of her asparagus was up yet. The blueberry bushes look good, having survived the winter fine, as well as tons of yellow hollyhocks and bachelor buttons in blue.
I wanted to check to see if she had any willow branches that needed cutting. We cut away the ones that usually slap you in the face while mowing the lawn, and picked up the dead branches that lay all over under the tree and piled them for one of the boys to pick up with the trailer later. I took an armful for another project that I'm doing. There was also grapevine that needed clipping so I started lopping them off too. I have a couple of flower beds to fence so Dear Bill doesn't mow too close so I'm making waddles. I'm hoping the grapevine and the willow will work fine. If not, it will mean a trip to the woods with the trailer in search of straight, flexible sapplings. After I finish them I will take a picture for those of you who have no idea what a waddle looks like.
During the lopping and tugging on the entangled vines, Mom had just warned me not to loose my balance, when, down I went. I got right back up and didn't think anything of it, keeping up the pace of lop, tug and twine, until I had what I needed.
After a couple glasses of water, a short sit-down with Mom, and a visit, I still went to Mel's down the road, and see how she was getting along. We walked her yard too and ate all the 'Mother Earth' eye candy in her flower beds, her waterfall and pond, her lush hypertufas, and clever fencing. I was so happy to see she was feeling and moving so much better.
I still had groceries to get, have I ever mentioned how much I hate grocery shopping? By time they were put away, it was time to go and get Bill. I didn't feel like I had done a thing.
After a grilled steak and zuchinni, I still wanted to finish my 'Project'. I finally sat down for more than 10 minutes when, OUCH. I guess I did hurt myself when I fell. My backside is bruised and NOT making me happy.
I DID nearly finish my project, but not completely. It's not all it's hyped-up to be but, it will do. Here's a hint!!!!!
Until tomorrow evening,
Bless You All for Being Patient
You are all such good sports

Monday, April 19, 2010

Putt-zy Day

Hi to all ! I have been a busy gal today. After making breakfast and filling a lunchpail for My Guy, seeing my sleepy GrandLove off to his mothers, Bill off to work and downing a second cup of coffee while making a quick call to Mom and Mel, my day really began.
Note: I have learned to 'check-in' with Mom each morning or we worry if we cannot reach each other. The ol' bachelor fella, Gene, down the road, calls every morning too, to let me know he's up and moving. He knows I'll be checking on him if he doesn't 'check-in' first. The poor fellas arthritis is getting the best of him. Besides, he always has a " Did you hear?..., (not that we gossip), and he is eager to tell a tasteful joke or two, to start our day.

Back to my day.
I was still catching my breathe from our over-worked firewood weekend, so I thought I would catch another hour of sleep. Well, just when you want sleep, sleep won't come. What else could I do, but
go outside and start to locate and move some Missouri Primrose that were getting choked out last year already, by the Snow On the Mountain. Well, if that don't beat all, NO PRIMROSE. So, no transplants!
What else could I do, but
take a walk. Afterall, I already had my shoes on. I walked a 1/2 mile down the road to my son's warehouse to see the progress. Two of the boys are converting what was a bait and archery shop into an archery range in hopes of eventually catering to archery hunters and their competitive leagues. They will have a nice place to practice all they want. They got my approval and did not really need me to supervise today, so homeward bound.
The walk sure did me good. I need to dedicate myself to making a habit of it for my health-sake. I'm afraid I'm not getting any younger. My goal?--3 miles.
Hmm, what else could I do?
OK, what's for supper? A whole roasted chicken sounds good, so while defrosting it, I baked a pan of Peanut Butter Brownies with a few alterations. Good enough for My Guy's sugar lows, should he have them again today.
My bypass pruners needed a squirt of WD40. Since they also needed to be tested for accuracy, it meant a jaunt to the edge of the woods to clip a few branches. They worked like new again so I cut an armful of long willow and alder brush sticks. These will be used in a couple of days for yet, another project. This brings to mind the 'Project' I've been hinting about the past week or so.
What else could I do, except
To start 'The Project'. The first half of it required the assistance of My Guy and several of his trusty tools. We sure are grateful for his shop to make life just a bit easier. The second half of 'The Project', will be continued tomorrow. All good things come to those who wait., Right?
What else could I do? but
Be patient. So much to do, so little time with our short summers!
I will Get-er-done, with Bill's help, of course. I am so anxious for tomorrow!
Meanwhile, BlessYaEveryOne

Saturday, April 17, 2010

All Work

All to keep our home warm for another winter, there is a lot of work to be done.
There are already 25 firewood cords of wood in our shed, with another 10 to go to fill it. We burn hard maple, some soft maple, and yellow birch, seldom do we have access to oak. The cedar and hemlock is used for kindling to get the fire started or for more intense heat on those minus 40 degrees winter days. The only time we let the fire go out in the cold months, is if we need to give the stovepipe a good cleaning or if the fire gets too hot and cracks the firebrick that lines the woodstove. If properly built and maintained, and using only dry wood, this should never happen. There has been a time or two, tho, when someone's hubby has gotten over zealous with his boyscout training.
In the loggers world, a cord of wood is 4x4x8,-that's 4 ft. high x 4 ft. long x 8 ft. wide., thus a Loggers Cord.
In the average Joe's world, a cord of wood is 4x8x16,-that's 4 ft. high x 8 ft. long x 16 inches deep., thus a firewood cord.
When we make our firewood, we clean up the woods of blowdowns, like this hemlock that got twisted in a windstorm, and by cutting dead wood out. We are fortunate to have enough land and firewood to last us a lifetime. We bought most of our property from a logger who already had logged most of the marketable trees out. We were fortunate again, to talk him into leaving one of the 40's partly alone. That's the piece that the cabin is built on.
We have many trails throughout the woods that make it fairly easy to get at the trees that need culling. I took a walk through this small hemlock grove and was reminded how the temperature drops at least 10-15 degrees because of the canopy above me. It sure is pretty and the smell of the woods after a little rain that makes me want to stay.
Today, we made 3 trips, hauling 5 1/2 firewood cords total. I drove the 4-wheeler pulling the little trailer, and Bill on the tractor with the bucket full, pulled the big trailer that holds twice the firewood.
Split, load, haul, unload and pile, coffee break, move equipment, split, load, haul,
unload and pile, company, lunch, one game of golf cards (9 hands), move equipment, cut, load, unload and pile, QUITTIN' TIME, collapse 1/2 hour . Bill went to the warehouse to help my son lift a wall for the archery range while I quick do this. It's been a long day. Time to make breakfast for supper. Ham and Eggs, Hotcakes with Pure Maple Syrup, Hot Coffee and another shower before bed.
We are totally exhausted but it feels So Good!
BlessYa'll from Up North WI.