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'.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Can't Wait

They say, "Patience is a virtue," but come on. It's been so humid with this heat.
So, I'm getting impatient. This ol' gal just can't take the heat anymore. I'm not asking for winter to arrive. I'm just wanting cooler days. Yesterday, we had one but only if you stayed in the shade. The sun was a scorcher again. The storms cooled the air 'some', but the humidity was still hanging in the air. Late in the evening it finally started to cool off. Trying to enjoy it, I was surrounded by mosquitoes the size of quarters. I sprayed myself down, refusing to be defeated.
I'm normally quite content. Something in the air is making me cranky. Time for a boat ride, like a glide down the river in Dad's riverboat.
This is just the 'tip' of another story that I have been promising my followers for a yr. now. I have all the pictures ready to tell you about how this riverboat was built, just not the heart yet.
I'm also very ready for a climb up this ladder again. At it's top is a very special place that takes me to another home away from home. I hear another story coming on, but not yet.
Have a ' cool ' weekend everyone. Splash in some water somewhere, climb to your highest dream. Just ' be.'

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orange ya Comin?

Come along and see what I found...I could not remember planting these beautiful double daylilies but there they were, showing off in the corner like garden fairies in their flirty little skirts. On looking back in my garden journals, I see they were planted way back in 2002. My only guess as to their not flowering before now, was either lack of water or sunshine, or both, tucked away in the NW corner of the house, shaded by the west trees. They are gorgeous and deserve a more stately place...I think. I have always wanted to start a bed Just for the Lilies, instead of spread all over kingdom-come. Sometimes having lots of ground to play with is a vise because I want flowers everywhere but not the funds to see that happen. Maybe when I get to heaven, so I better be good.
Check out the pollen on this lil' bees behind. If you click on the picture you will get a closer look at the way he scoops up the pollen with his legs. He is one busy little bee pollinating neighboring hollyhocks. Maybe That's how I'm getting unusual colors.
I also see a few paper thin orange poppies this year where red ones once were. These are tiny, only being about a foot tall but very vibrant in color. I'm finding I have more orange flowers than I realized. I'm also finding that I like them again.
Life is sure full of changes of mind, body and soul.

We had a dandy storm blow through last night with strong winds, powerful rains and hail. I got caught in it, just getting the groceries in the truck when the turning clouds and green sky, ended up touching a tornado down 20 miles north of town. The rain and hail came down so hard, I had to pull to the side of the road awhile. When I finally got home, only a few miles out of town, I parked as close as I could to the back door. I only had a few steps into the house but you would have sworn I was just in a wet T-shirt contest. The storm carried on for a couple more hours, but not taking our power out like most towns to our east. My son, the certified storm watchman, was on the computer, watching it toss and turn. He pointed out the areas that were watch areas for more tornadoes, when the lights flickered just enough to shut the computer and TV down. That was my cue to crack open a few windows and go to bed. I love, Love, LOVE to listen to the rain...lightening I can do without but the thunder and rain is ok with me.

Hope you all were safe

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rhubarb Birdbath

The Rhubarb leaf has been useless other than to admire it's size, and to hold the stalk that makes those beautiful tortes and pies....
until now. My sister made a birdbath using the rhubarb leaf and of course, I couldn't stand not having one so, after 2 years, I finally made a couple of them.
First, pile sand, it doesn't have to be perfect sand, this came from the back of the garage, make it into a form that will fit the rhubarb leaf of your choice. I put mine at table level to save my back. It easily could have been made right on the ground if you want. If you do make it outside, make sure to cover your project until it is dry in case of rain.
Once the form is made, lay the leaf on top of the formed sand.
Mix equal parts Portland Cement, sand, and enough water to make a mix the consistency of thick frosting or mashed potatoes.
You want to be able to form it so don't add too much water. You don't want it to be runny.
Remember to glove your hands before forming the cement around your leaf. The cement can irritate your hands. Push the cement around the leaf until you are satisfied with the shape and thickness. Remember you are making a birdbath and you will want it to be at least an inch or more in thickness, especially where the veins are. You will see why, later.
Due to our extreme heat that we had (high 90's when I was making these), I put a damp cloth over the leaves during the drying process. It took a couple of days for them to dry enough to be lifted off the forms without breaking them.
At this point, the process has gone from a fresh rhubarb leaf, to a sand form, to cement leaf that still has the green leaf attached to the inside of the birdbath.
Some of the veins were thick and peeled off nicely. The thinner parts of the leaf brushed off easily with a wire brush after drying thoroughly once turned.
As you can see, the sand forms are still around. I plan to make more.
The wire brushing worked great, making sure to get all of the rhubarb leaf and veins out of the cement.
At this point, you can leave your leaf as is or paint it. I chose to have mine painted. My Grandson is my budding artist this time. He loved getting involved in the project, putting the first coat of paint on one leaf, before he says, " Grandma, you will find me on the tire swing. "
Here we are again, from leaf to mold to birdbath....

The final step was to cover the painted leaf with a clear coat of a sealant. I LOVE the way these turned out. I think I remember why I like to create once in awhile. It has something to do with finding myself. In this case, I found myself relaxing while working with family, making something useful. It will bring a few curious birds around to splash and drink, and we get to enjoy them at the same time. Nothing's wrong with that kind of gratification, is there?
Now, get creative. It's fun and it's healthy.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Canning and Jamming

Glorious Peaches, do you remember these? They needed a couple more days to mature to perfection before canning and jamming. That's exactly what consumed my day. There was a beautiful cool breeze, so I threw open the windows and got to work. First thing, we had to have some for fresh eating so I choose some perfect ones for snacks, Peach Upside-Down Cake, and topping cereal or ice cream.
Then I got busy with the first step of canning. After getting a kettle of water boiling, the remaining peaches needed to be scalded only a couple minutes....
then cooled enough to handle so they could be....
peeled, pitted, sliced, jarred, syruped with a light syrup. I used a 1 to 4 mix of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, ( 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. )
Lid with a canning lid and ring, just hand tightened. Next place in a hot water bath for 20 minutes once the water comes back to a boil. Make sure to put your jars on a rack in the canner, something to space the canning jars from the bottom or they will crack. Always turn your boil down to a gentle one.
A bit of prep work, but the rewards are these amazing canned peaches with less sugar than the store bought ones, and the flavor is like biting into a fresh picked tree ripened peach. 2die4!
I also made Peach Jam. I forgot to take step by step pictures for you but the recipe is really so simple.
With any number of prepared peaches, blanched, peeled and pitted, cut into bite size chunks, put in bottom of large kettle, and cook until heated, mash, but leaving chunky as you like.
Measure the amount.
Add the same amount of sugar as peaches. Bring back to a slow boil, stirring in sugar, cooking another 20 minutes.
A foam will form at the top. Spoon the foam off before jarring, for a sweet taste of your hard work.
Proceed to ladle into prepared jars, ( I prefer 1/2 pint jars ), clean the rim, cap and hot water bath for another 10 minutes once the water starts to boil. Make sure to turn your boil down 1/2 way to a slow boil to avoid cracking and bad seals.

There you have it. Beautiful Peach Jam. Every jar sealed, I'm a happy canner.
I had 8 cups of pulp, so used 8 cups of sugar, I know, SWEET, but so good. The end result was 14 half pints of awesome jam for our winter toast and ice cream.
Onto the next project....Here's a hint. All you need is any old sand from the back yard, mine coming from the bottom of the hill that the garage sits on....and.....
that's it for today....gotta finish that project.

Have a GREAT Weekend

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spit Shining

Some serious ' spit shining ' needed to be done at the cabin and Wed. was the day to ' giter done.' Most of it, anyway.The cabin doors are always open to family and friends who don't mind roughing it, as there is no running water, BYOB, and no electricity, just the noisy generator.

Company is coming for the next month of weekends with festivities in our town and neighboring towns, my nieces wedding and a surprise birthday party. Lots of fun will be had but first, I needed to turn the cabin upside down with deep cleaning. I put in 10 hrs. yesterday, and am paying dearly this morning.
There was window washing, screen cleaning, walls were wiped clean of dust bunnies, even under the beds, furniture was moved around to make room for another double bed downstairs for we 'old folks,' all bedding was changed, blankets and couch cushions were aired in the hot sun for hours, carpets were done, floors were mopped, counters and tables, everything got the spit shine., all with the doors and windows wide open letting the summer breezes flow through. Then, guess who I see racing through the door. Thank God I saw him or he would have been quite the surprise for some first timers this weekend.
Mr. Wood Spider met his demise. He ' was ' about 3" with his legs stretched out.

The hot sun did a great job airing the bedding, and no, there were no spiders that came inside again, with them. Not even teeny ones.
Look who is back on American soil. Andy got in late last night and is thrilled to be home after his 2 1/2 weeks in China. OK, yes, I'm relieved to have him back to our same old-same old, at home. His boys will be here sometime today to welcome Daddy home.
This was the beautiful sunrise I woke up to this morning at 5:28. A minute later and the sky was grey again. It looks like rain today. I'm sending it your way, Betsy, and to anyone else that may need a bucket or two. Our rain table is now back to where it should be after an 8 yr. drought and we are grateful. However, we now could use a reprieve from the saturation. It has no where else to go and we are now hearing reports of flood warnings closer and closer to home. The area gardens are already suffering root rot and loosing much of our produce. We are challenged at every turn. The main thing is to 'smile' and accept what we cannot change.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Morning Torte and Peaches

What a great way to start my day.

Good Morning Sunshine.....well, maybe. Before I turned around from snapping this shot, it was drizzling again. Not to worry...I already had my Butter and Eggs, not this flower, so named, but the real thing.
Also, I couldn't resist a sliver of Rhubarb Torte with some of Mom's fresh picked raspberries and, of course, a dollop of cream.
I took a short drive to town to get in on the truckload peach sale. Oh Mercy, they are dripping delicious, sold only by 1/2 bushel. Of course, I had to have some.
Wouldn't you?
Now I really must go and can some tree ripened Georgia Peaches before I am tempted to turn all of them into delectable desserts instead. Better to be like a little mouse and start putting produce up for the winter, don't you think?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Join Me at the Cabin

We have a retreat! A simple retreat that we built from scratch.
For you faithful followers who have not become bored to death of my entries, and have been with me for awhile, some of this may be repeated, so bear with me as I share with newcomers. Every time we go to the cabin, I want to move there.
Our little cabin in the woods is not far from our home. When asked why we built it so close, we always answer with, " So we can use it often." We visit in one capacity or another weekly, and it's always hard to walk away. We could R&R forever.
As we walk past the welcome signs, of which there are 3, we usually go directly to the south glass door, open it wide, to listen to and smell our piece of Murray Creek. It runs all the way through our property, being most beautiful just below where the cabin sits. We sit on the deck or by the campfire for hours, watching the deer , birds, rabbits, partridge come and go while the rush of water soothes our souls.
We do have some issues to resolve, however. Most important are the stairs to the loft, which are a bit too steep and narrow-footed. These are the steps that took me out when we first built. Bill's line has always been, " Don't rush me." " Hmmm, it's been years, Babe."
I thought I'd share another glimpse of the creek looking to the west, as it meanders it's way around an island when the water is high, like now.
I've added some interest around each of the windows, rather than curtains. Mr. Moose just happens to be my favorite with his knobby knees. The bottom of each window also has their footprints. Other woodburnings include the Black Bear, Whitetail Deer, Chickadees, a Mouse and a Chipmunk, all with their tracks to follow.
There are several European Mounts that have paintings on them, also done by myself.
The cabin and the creek mean finding yourself again. One way to do that besides sitting in the Adorandack chairs with a good book, or making S'Mores by the fire, is to Wet a Line and catch a trout or two for breakfast. I really need to change that sign tho, and put a trout on the end of a cane pole on the shoreline instead of a boat with a bass. Oh well, I'll put it on my TaDo list. Good R&R project, eh?
The dinner bell gets rung when the card playing gets too intense and no one hears the " Supper's On" call. I haven't had to ring that thing for quite some time. Usually the smell of fresh bread brings them to their feet to dish up buffet style.
The picture under the Gruber sign is of my 6'6" son still thinking he can sit on Mom's lap. LOL.
Things are going to change this fall. The guys have taken over my domain with all of their mounts on the walls. A few, maybe, but good grief, they are everywhere.
I love the loft, but only go there to clean once in awhile. The boys own that space with their hunting stuff during season, and their bedding is not my department. I'm grateful for that. Ewww! Each of them takes care of their own. There are 6 beds in the loft, as well as two chairs and two coffee tables. They usually leave their clothes in their duffles.
The full log and ship-lapped ceiling is well insulated and covered with metal roofing. Once warmed with the pot-bellied stove, fan going, the cabin stays warm enough to keep us cozy til morning on chilly fall and winter nights without firing up more than once. The window in the loft stays open a couple inches, even in winter, to keep the loft from getting too warm to sleep. It works well for heating with wood, electrical needs provided by the generator, but the water gets hauled in. Bill keeps saying he's going to drill a point for water. That hasn't happened yet. Remember his saying? " Don't rush me."
Lighting is selective. If the generator is going, it's electric, otherwise, there are gas lights, or battery operated lights , lit with a marine battery.
I won't retire back here without electric and water, however, no matter how much I love this place. Until then, I will just have to be happy to visit.
We have a little kitchen with a counter that doubles as a buffet center or a bar. Two tables provide plenty of room for our large family gatherings, and card games, checkers, backgammon, puzzles, coloring, of course.
That was last winter when we spent a weekend. It was cold out, snowy, but the fire kept us very comfortable once the logs warmed and we were able to shed the layers of winter clothing.
Resting and relaxing here has become a part of our lives. We don't get here as often as we'd like, but those days are coming soon. Until then, we will appreciate every second we get. These logs already have stories to tell, of many good times by family and friends. Many times, the boys and their friends have used the cabin as a retreat during their 4-wheeling, snowmobiling, fishing, kayaking, camping, hunting weeks and weekends. Many family outings and even several Thanksgivings and a Christmas have taken place here. Memories have been made.
With all of the summer heat we have been having, my Modified Bearpaws hang waiting for me to strap them on at the first measurable snowfall. I'm not wanting the snow to fall just yet, but early this fall, I will soften the leather, hang my gaiters, and wait. For now, maybe the mention of snow, has cooled you down.
Oh, there is so much more to show you. Maybe this winter, with a hot cocoa in one hand and a photo book in the other, I will show you how we built our Creekside Retreat. Until then...

Have a most memorable week.