Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Believe It, Spring Has Arrived!

Yesterday was our first really wonderful spring-like day.  The beautiful sunshine and warmth could hardly be believed, but was welcomed by all in these here parts.

I took this picture of the pond opening up first thing in the morning.

In the morning the broken up pieces of ice seemed to be floating just under the surface.  By afternoon, we had all kinds of icebergs raised up out of the water.  (Can anybody explain this phenomenon to me?)

Our little pond is filled by the drainage of water from the hills in back of us.  It collects in the ditch by the side of our driveway and then flows through a culvert under the driveway into the pond.  Yesterday it was gushing in.  (Not the best picture of the gush, but the electric fence was in my way and I try not to touch that too often.)

My strawberry patch covered with pine boughs for the winter is totally free of snow and I'm thinking I should get it uncovered fairly soon now.

The blueberry bushes (with raspberry patch behind them) are down near the bottom of the garden (who was the resident dummy who chose to plant them there where they get less sun?) and still have some snow cover.  (Some snow cover?  Ha!  The snow to the right out of this picture is still two feet deep.)

The chives have been cleaned of their winter mulch protection and are enjoying the warmth.  I planted my Sweet Peas on either side of this trellis a couple of days ago.  (Go, little Sweet Peas, go!)

This is snow still piled at the back (north side) of the house.  There's lots of snow in piles made by the snowplowing still to melt, but it's definitely on its way out now.

This morning (Tuesday) we had heavy, heavy rain with thunder for a few hours, but now at mid-afternoon the sun has come out and our temp in the shade is 59°.  Spring has taken a long time to come to the north woods, but I do believe it finally made it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Give Me Six Months or So

Oh, my.  The learning curve for me figuring out how to use this new computer is so steep I've suffered several nose bleeds.

My dear daughter has been patiently helping me whenever she has the time, but I suspect she goes home and has a strong drink or two immediately after trying to teach this old dog old mama new tricks.

I think I must have a strong aptitude for something, but it is positively for nothing having to do with computers.  I am totally inept at understanding the jargon and/or operation.  Strange warnings keep popping up on the screen threatening dire consequences if I fail to click the proper command.  I have this vivid picture in my mind of making the wrong choice which will trigger a very loud explosion in the new computer accompanied by smoke leaking out of all sides of the monitor.

I finally learned tonight (well, maybe) how to download (or is it upload . . . see what I mean?) pictures from my camera into the computer.  If I can successfully manage it, I'll post them tomorrow morning.

I truly am grateful that we were able to swing getting a new computer for both Papa Pea and me, but so far I'm not lovin' this new one.  However, nobody ever said I wasn't stubborn so give me six months or so and I may feel comfortable with it.  

Or not. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What A Difference A Year Makes

My first garden harvest every year is a cutting of both my big chive plants.  I harvest, chop, and store them in containers to put in the freezer to use as "fresh" chives in our food all winter.

I wait until the first growth is big and healthy.

Then they get lopped off, brought into the kitchen . . . 

. . . and prepped for the freezer.

I'm currently using my last container from last year.  I don't know if you can read the label but it says 4-25-12.  That's exactly one year ago today that I put up my chive stash.

The above picture shows what one of my clumps of chives looks like this morning.  Yup, that's it just to the left of the trellis.  You may not be able to see them in the picture but there are tiny little shoots of green chives (bless their hearts) poking up through the soil . . . and under the snow.

Now granted, last year we had an extremely early spring.  I'm sure the harvest date of April 25th was the earliest I've ever had for the chives.

Mother Nature seems to still have control over the situation so we never know what we're going to get, do we?  But what a difference between last year and this!

* * * * * * * *

Our new computers arrived two days ago and dear daughter has offered to start installing them today.  I don't know if Papa Pea's computer is slated to be installed first or if she'll be working on mine.  At any rate, I have no idea how much time the switcherooney will take, so if I seem unusually quiet in Blogdom for a period, you'll know it's just because I have a few loose wires.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Nothing Lasts Forever

I probably have about ten pounds of onions left from last season's crop . . . but to say they are no longer keeping well is an understatement.

A few of them are still good so technically I'm not out of onions yet.  Not quite.

But most of them are not lookin' very good when I cut into them.

Some are REALLY bad.  Eeeuuuuw!

Neither the white nor the red ones are keeping any better than the other.

I suppose if I had idyllic storage conditions in which to keep them, they would have fared better.

Still, all in all, having made it this far into the year with our own onions is not too shabby.

However . . . 

. . . this may be the way to go for reliable long-term preservation!  (Sue, please note peek of scallopy edges just for you.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not As Bad As It Might Seem

There are two things I want to blog about today that are really not as bad as they could be.

First of all, we only got 2" of snow over night rather than the 4-8" predicted.  Hardly worth shoveling off more than the deck and entries to outside doors.  The temperature now at mid-afternoon is up to 41 degrees and we've had a bit of melting again with on and off sunshine.  This time of year, as long as it stays above freezing, the snow will continue to disappear into the ground rather quickly.

The other thing that isn't bad at all . . . 

A few of you have expressed concern that with our recent snows and still cold weather, I might not be able to garden this year because of the late start.

I know it seems strange to those of you living in what are more hospitable climates, but the start of my gardening season will probably begin very close to the same time as usual.

Even with the use of cold frames, I don't plant any of my cool weather crops until sometime in May.  Even potatoes and peas don't go in until the merry month of May.  We've had a couple of years when the snow has been long gone early in April (like the past two years), but our temperatures are still quite cold for any kind of garden work.

My seedlings started inside, especially the more tender ones such as tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, don't get transplanted into the garden until the first week of June.  Even then because the month of June is frequently on the cool side, they often need some protection.  (For those of you who have green tomatoes the size of tennis balls on your plants at that time, please be kind and don't send pictures.  ;o] )

Forty-some years ago when we first started coming to this area looking for land to buy, we camped in our tent the majority of the time.  I can vividly remember one morning waking up and finding the water frozen in our water buckets. The date?  August 7th.

Snowflakes have fallen in every single month of the year in our part of Minnesota.  My mom had a friend whose husband's job transferred them up here in the 1950s.  The wife was not fond of cold weather and the year it snowed on the Fourth of July was the straw that broke the camel's back.  He quit his job and they moved back to Illinois.

I've said before that it's not unusual for us to skip the season of spring.  We have winter, winter, winter . . . and then one day the temp tops out at 70 degrees and summer has arrived.

I do believe in the past 10-15 years we have been experiencing milder winters and warmer summers, but perhaps this year is the beginning of another cycle returning to weather as it has more traditionally been.  Old-timers up here often speak of years when the ground received a covering of snow in October which didn't disappear until the first part of May.  Still, there is documentation that early homesteaders were able to raise gardens and feed for their livestock in that short season.  With all the helps and tehnology we have available today, we should be able to do as well.

So I'm still planning on gardening as I always do this year.  Unless, of course, these crazy snows continue on through the month of May.  If that happens, I'll be writing a post refuting all I've just said.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Checking In Before We Go Under . . . Again

Yep, thought I'd better check in before we get this next batch of snow.

Can you believe it?  I know most of us in Minnie-soda are having a little difficulty (cough, cough) keeping our sense of humor through these heavy April snows.

Our days have continually been getting above freezing so each day there is a certain amount of melting.  Geesh, this is April, fer Pete's sake.  We should be having some warm days.  (And at this point, any mark on the thermometer above freezing is WARM.)

Our weather forecast for tonight through noon tomorrow is for 4 to 8" of new snow.  Okay, we'll be big and brave and handle that (with what dignity we can muster) IF the forecast for the end of the week comes true.  Temperatures in the 50s and 60s . . . WA-Hoo!  Those would be our warmest temps since last fall and should do a good job of taking care of any snow left hanging around.

If we do get this predicted snow in the next twelve or so hours, I'm certain it will be the last of the season.  Yep.  Oh, ya.  For sure.  Uh-huh, that's a definite.


Friday, April 19, 2013

The Pictures Say It All

Looking out our living room windows this morning.

Going out the garage people door.  Or not.

Drift up against the door out to the deck.  That measuring stick is metric on the opposite side and 39-1/2" on the side showing.

Chicken Mama, after delivering Tucker, trying to plow enough to turn around and head back out our driveway.

Here she's on the level showing the depth of the snow on her pants.  Keep in mind she's just under 5'9" and has her father's loooong legs.

Tucker trying to navigate through the snow.  He strongly resembled a very furry weasel not so gracefully bounding from one spot to another.  Poor little guy could have used a pair of snow goggles.

How much snow did we get?  Dunno.  Haven't heard any "official" stats and there is so much drifting, we may never know!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nearing the Bottom of the Barrel

Not really.  Don't worry about us, it's not like we're running out of food or anything close to that.  But these days I do find myself grabbing the last bag of one thing or another out of the freezer.  (Like the frozen peas I blogged about a couple of days ago.)

Or tonight when I opened the very last jar of canned raspberries to dribble over a small dish of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  The Very. Last. Jar!  Waaah.

However, I do have a couple/three gallons of frozen raspberries lurking in the freezer, and I think I'm going to can them.  This winter we ate more canned raspberries (think about having them on oatmeal in the morning . . . oh, so good!) than frozen ones.

* * * * * * * *

I worked in my pantry for a few hours this afternoon.  It seemed like a good time for spring cleaning in there.  It wasn't too much of a mess, but as in so many instances, once I cleaned, sorted and organized I found I had a lot more room than I thought!  Plus, a bonus was that I got ideas for many menus while going through all the goodies in there.  (It also made me really hungry!)

* * * * * * * *

We got about 2" of new snow last night with 8" more forecast for tonight.  It's been snowing quite hard for a couple of hours now and we have about 2" already.  These April snows have been very wet and heavy.  They coat every twig and branch turning the landscape into an awesome picture.  That is until it all starts to melt and turn everything into slushy mud.  (Now, I ask.  Who in the world likes slushy mud?)  Watching the snow come down so steadily (almost hypnotically) before dinner lulled me into a trance-like state so I thought I might have to take a nap before cooking.

Now dinner is over and I must go tackle those dishes waiting for me.  Then . . . well, it seems like a perfect night to curl up on the couch with a book or Netflix DVD.  Papa Pea is happily into his latest research project on the computer so if you want, you're welcome to join me. 


Shot of nannyberry tree off the side of our deck.  Taken at 8:45 p.m. -- a few minutes ago.  

Finished Spring Wall Hangings

With all the snow and winter-like weather we've been experiencing, I feel very out-of-sync putting up my spring decorations.

I finished the two new wall hangings for the living room.   They are hung and hopefully encouraging spring-like weather.  (If this strategy fails, I'm getting my snowmen back out from storage.)

This small piece is only 15" x 9".

I've had this iris material for a couple of years with the intent of using it to make a new spring/summer shower curtain.  Now that I've used a bit of it for this quilted piece, I'm not sure I have enough left for the originally intended purpose.  (I'll bet I can find something else in my [ample] stash if necessary.)

A close-up of some of the quilting on it.

A view of the two pieces from across the room.

I know my pictures aren't great, and I get all kinds of flack from my daughter regarding the poor quality of my photos.  I tell her she's the photographer in the family . . . and I don't have the patience (or talent) she does!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Recipe

We're thinking we really should retire.  At this point in time, our lives shouldn't be complicated or too busy.  However, each day comes and goes with rapid speed and we hardly ever manage to get even halfway through our lists.  We both know we have too many interests, too many things we want to do.  This is not a bad thing as we're always involved in one project or another and it's all (well, maybe 95% of it anyway) what we want to do involving the good life we live.

I was going to have this recipe for Creamed Eggs posted by 7 a.m. this morning.  I was awakened a little before 6 to relieve an over-full bladder, noticed how heavy, gray and overcast the weather was . . . and crawled back into bed and cuddled up to that big, heat-generating body of the person I live with.  Next thing I knew, the clock showed 8:15 and we both let out long groans feeling as if we'd missed part of a good day.  (Guess we must have needed the sleep, huh?)

Anyway, on with important things now . . . 

* * * * * * * *

Here's the simple recipe for the CREAMED EGGS ON TOAST pictured in yesterday's post.

Make a medium cream sauce with:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk

In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Blend in flour and seasonings.  Cook over low heat stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Slowly stir in milk and heat thoroughly, but don't boil.  Mixture will thicken as you continue cooking.  Stir frequently.

Then add four chopped hard-boiled eggs and some peas (or other veggie of your choice).  Heat through and serve over buttered toast with a little paprika sprinkled on top.

* * * * * * * *

I make this same recipe leaving out the eggs and adding leftover cooked chicken.

We're fortunate to have fresh, raw milk available and lots of eggs right now so Creamed Eggs is an easy, economical, nutritious, very tasty meal served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Time for me to sign off here and go see if I can find something to do that will fill the rest of my day.  (Cough-choke-sputter-chortle!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Last of the Last

The good thing (for the cook) was that we had a very simple dinner last night of creamed eggs with peas over toast.

The bad thing was that I (the cook) used the very l-a-s-t package of fresh frozen peas from last summer's garden.

Dang and drat.  Sigh.

Peas are our very favorite veggie from the garden.  Yet I've never managed to grow and put up enough of 'em to last us harvest to harvest.

Wonder how many acres of shell peas I would need to plant to accomplish that little feat?

Monday, April 15, 2013

This Should Be Our Last Snowfall . . . Right?

Mother Nature gave us this overnight.

Then she remembered it's supposed to be spring.

So she bumped the temperature up to 32.0 degrees.

Now it's raining.

And the wind is gusting up to 40 mph.

This may be an interesting day.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Two New Wall Hangings

I've been working on two new spring/summer season wall hangings to use in our living room.  (Although with the weather we've been having, there may not be any rush to get them done!)

This one is about half quilted and should be finished within the next couple of days.  If nothing unforeseen comes up, I plan on spending a bit of time this weekend quilting.

This one is all set with the backing and batting, but I haven't gotten the three layers sandwiched yet.

When I do a scalloped edging, I normally don't cut the scallops until I've gotten all the quilting done on the piece.  But I wasn't feeling really confident that I could get the scallops to come out satisfactorily so I decided to cut them before I did all the hand quilting and then ruined the piece by botching the scallops.  (No, no, not that I've ever done anything like that.  Nuh-uh, not me.)

Papa Pea and I were getting close to attacking the wood pile in the back as it was just about free of snow . . . and then our April showers in the form of snowflakes came.  I may squeak in more quilting time than I thought I'd be able to because more snow (oh yes, 'tis true) is forecast for us over the weekend and through Monday.

Rather than being concerned with getting new spring decorations out and about through the house . . . 

. . . perhaps I should just pull out this five foot long quilted piece I made for Papa Pea's classroom years ago and hang it for the indefinite future.  (Or maybe that would be tempting fate and just encourage more snow?)

But the snow is a good thing.  We need the moisture in any form . . . and it gives me more quilting time.  Hooray! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yup . . . More Snow

Talk about a tenacious winter!  I wonder if all this white stuff so late in the season will put a crimp on the breeding plan of mosquitoes and biting flies?  If so, that might make all this worth it.

Farther south of us (yes, south of us as that's where most of the snow has fallen this year), about ten inches of snow came down yesterday.  Our snow didn't start until the wee hours this morning and (so far) our accumulation is only about 3".

And wouldn't ya know, we saw our first robin of the season out on the bird feeder while we were eating breakfast this morning.  The same robin is no doubt contacting his travel agent right now trying to book a flight to an area with green grass and worms.

I just hate it when I get ice balls between my toes, don't you?  (You can see by this picture that the flakes are still coming down.)

Good day to bake bread.  Or quilt.  Good day to clean my closet and under the bed.  Or quilt.  Good day to wash the kitchen floor.  Or quilt.  Good day to get caught up on desk work.  Or quilt.  Okay, I'll quilt.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Most Delightful Surprise!

A couple of months ago I asked our good friend, B, if she would be willing to build a coffee table for me in her shop to go in our newly remodeled living room.  When she said she would, I drew up some rough plans with dimensions of one I had seen and liked and gave the plans to her.

Fast forward several weeks.  I asked B if she'd had time to work on the coffee table.  She replied that she'd had a little time but had been really, really busy with outside/away from home jobs.  Being the much sought after carpenter and craftsperson she is this didn't surprise me.

A week or so ago, I'll admit I got a little whiny to my husband saying I was surprised it was taking B so long to get the coffee table finished.

Unbeknownst to me, he and B had talked and she told him she was saving it as a birthday present for me!  Since my birthday, at that time, was a full month away, he told B I might get so cranky by then that he wouldn't be able to continue living with me.  So she decided to bring the coffee table over this morning as an early gift.

Besides the fact that it was an incredibly generous gift from a wonderful person, and I was so touched I really had to hold back from bursting into tears, the coffee table turned out better than I could have imagined.

It was designed to hold my quilts and has glass on three sides so they are protected and yet can be seen.

We decided not to put glass on the back side which faces the couch for fear of it getting kicked into (you know, during one of our wild parties) and possibly breaking.  (I don't know why, but this picture makes the wood on the back look much darker than it actually is.)

My dear husband insisted on paying for the glass and some trim molding, but the rest of the materials came from B's  shop.  She won't tell me how many hours of labor went into it, but I know it must have taken a LOT of her valuable time.

I'll never be able to thank her enough for this lovely gift.  Needless to say, I didn't expect it and it was a complete surprise as a birthday present.  (I also appreciate my dear hubby for his contribution to the project!)  I will treasure this piece of furniture FOREVER.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

We ended up with about 6" of heavy, wet snow on Saturday.  Yesterday temps were above freezing most of the day so we got some melting.

This morning we woke to 1-1/2" or 2" of new snow and it's still coming down lightly.

If this were November, we snow lovers who choose to live up here near the tundra would be dancing naked adorned with a wreath of pine boughs on our head reveling in what would be looking like a wonderful winter season ahead.

On April 8th, not so much.

But as I often say, we need moisture for the upcoming growing season and we are, indeed, getting a lovely dose of "poor man's fertilizer."

For all of you working in your gardens today, planting those cooler weather crops and perhaps even setting out started plants, I'm with you in spirit.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Anybody Wanna Build a Snowman?

Thought you'd all like an update on our lovely spring weather.

It's now 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and it's snowing like gangbusters.  The temp is 32.9 degrees so you can imagine how wet the snow is.  Great for making a snowman . . . or maybe a whole snowman family.

My little camera refuses to capture just how heavily the snow is falling, but you can see it's mounting up.

I think we have a total of about four or five inches now, but it's not over yet.

My raised garden beds and the paths between that were completely free of snow yesterday . . . ?  They're going under again!

It sure is pretty though.

P.S.  Sweezie, did you send all this our way??

Spring Time in the North Woods

Winter's back.

We got about 2" of new snow over night and early this morning.  More is forecast for today possibly with freezing rain.  Ish.

The temperature now at 10 o'clock is 33 degrees.  That looks more like rain (okay, freezing rain) than snow to me.

Our solar panels were covered until about an hour ago when the snow started to melt and slide off.  Even in the deep winter, if any snow sticks it does fairly easily slide/fall off the panels which is a good thing as they're far too high up to have to clean them manually.

I wonder if I ticked off Mother Nature in some way when she had more winter yet to show us.  Yesterday I took down (finally) all the Easter decorations and the remaining winter ones.  This morning I went ahead and put up spring things.  Maybe that will make her feel better . . . or not. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh, How I Wish I Had Ten Sets of Potholders!

Wow, who knew so many of you would throw your name in the hat for the drawing for the two potholders?!  I feel badly that I don't have more of that great fabric.  I would really love to pick a couple more of you as winners.

But one set is all we have to offer, so here we go.

The name drawn was . . . 

::  LEIGH of 5 Acres and A Dream  ::

Leigh, if you will go over to my right hand side bar and send me an e-mail via my Contact button letting me know your mailing address, I'll get the potholders in the mail to you asap.

And a big thanks to everyone who played along with this little give-a-way.  I enjoyed it a big bunch.

* * * * * * * *

I have a feeling this great feed sack reproduction fabric is not one currently on the shelves in fabric stores but if any of you have seen it for sale or have some you'd be willing to sell me, I'd love to get more of it.  Thanks!