Friday, December 1, 2017

A Resolution Before The New Year

Bad habits are hard to break and all changes, even good ones, don't come easily.  I'm finding my "down time," my long, slow winter zooming past me with alarming speed.  'Tis time that I find time to be "in the moment," breathe deeply and possibly even figure out what in my life needs to be omitted, added, rearranged, moved to a higher priority, or simply changed.

No, I'm not going to stop blogging or give up reading blogs and staying in touch with all of you.  That's a good thing and not one I want to change.  However, I do need a hiatus of sorts to detach myself from this computer on my desk.  My plan is to "disappear" for the month of December which will, hopefully, give me some extra time to revamp, reorganize, take the time to find out what's really important to me and boot out the door some habits (the bad ones, of course) I've fallen into without even realizing it. 

Yeah, I know, the weeks before the holidays might not be the best time for me to spend hours each day (ha!) in a meditative position on the floor (which I actually won't be doing as I've never been able to sit cross-legged), but I've been yammering about needing these winter months for myself for a while now.  (Look out, Papa Pea, your "keep-plodding-along-in-her-same-old-rut" wife may actually be making some changes!)

No sense getting stuck in the past:  "But I've always done it this way."  Or living in the future:  "I'll make the changes when I have time."  I'm gonna do what I need to do now, busy holiday season looming on the horizon or not.

Life is short.  We only have so many hours in a day.  (No surprise there, eh?)  I am blessed with so many advantages in my life, excellent health, a loving family, friends and an enticing list of "wanna-dos."

Bottom line, I'm going to carve out time to take an objective look (wish me the strength and fortitude to do so) at my daily routines and habits with the thought of making some changes. 

We all know how quickly these weeks of December before the holidays go by.  There may be a silence (((crickets))) on my blog, but I'll be back before you know it.

May your holidays be filled with
the joy of living and the
love of giving! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Winner of "Ugly" Table Runners!

I really appreciate all of you who entered the drawing for my I'm not so happy with holiday table runners and the very kind things you said about them!

All of your names went into a bowl on my (very messy) desk top, I closed my eyes (which wasn't hard as I wasn't quite awake then anyway), scuffled and shuffled the paper tags around and picked out . . . 

. . . Rain's name!

I'll get the two runners packaged and off to you, Rain, although it may not be until the first of next, after our Thanksgiving Day Weekend.

A couple of you have asked to see the replacement runners I made, and which I am very happy with as they turned out to be more of what I wanted.

I made two of the full-sized runners (one is shown on the bottom of the picture), a candle mat for the table and a small runner for the shelf on the back of our kitchen island.

There were machine quilted and I used the red, green and ecru pine bough fabric I ordered specifically for this project.

Gotta get myself in gear now.  A busy day ahead.  I'm roasting the Thanksgiving turkey today because if I wait until tomorrow, I won't be able to fit any of the other side dishes in  the oven along with the turkey.  And who likes cold, raw, unbaked dinner rolls or crunchy squash?  So hard to chew.  And really bad for the digestion.

Cleaning my desk top (now that you all know how bad it is) and the refrigerator (I can attest to the fact that's really needed) and taking Papa Pea to pick up our Suburban which has had some "electrical issues" but is now back in good working order . . . these are all on the agenda for the day.  And, oh yeah, house cleaning.

Hope all of you in the States are gearing up for a happy up-coming Thanksgiving Day Weekend spent with friends and family.  If you're driving, I wish you clear roads and a safe trip.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wanted: New Home for Two Table Runners

Frugality sometimes fails.  And as a result, I'm offering these two holiday table runners as a giveaway.  That is assuming anyone wants them.  If you don't, I understand as I don't want them either.

A little back story.  Two years ago, I wanted a holiday table runner for the top of my coffee table in our living room.  I'd been on a serious kick of not buying any new fabric, but rather trying to use up what I had in my stash.  My box of Christmas/holiday fabrics was not large, but I used what I had.

Did not like the results, but used the runner during that holiday season anyway.

And then last year, because I wanted to continue my stupidity, I used many of the same fabrics to make one more holiday runner to use in another area.  Funny thing, I didn't like that one any better than the first.

A month or so ago, I saw some holiday-ish fabric advertised online on one of my favorite quilting sites . . . and bought it.  The results were two table runners that I REALLY LIKE and know I'll use for years to come.

That brings us right back to this giveaway.

These two (smallish) runners seeking a new home are pieced and machine quilted, the backs of them are a simple muslin fabric so they're not reversible.

The smaller one measures 12" x 27" . . . 

 (The above three pictures all came out a smidge "darker" than the actual fabric.  The neutral background pieces don't "stand out" quite as much as shown.)

. . . and the larger is 14-1/2" x 31-1/2".  They both go together to one name drawn.  If anyone wants to enter this giveaway.  If not, they'll be donated to our local second-hand resale store. 

Soooo, if you do want to be in the drawing for these, please say so in the comments section of this post.

I'll close down comments around 9 p.m. on this coming Tuesday night (November 21st) and draw a name Wednesday morning.

Yoo-hoo!  Anyone out there interested?  You could put one under the hamster cage and the other on a high shelf where no one will see it.  Just kidding, they're not that bad, I know.  They just didn't turn out to be what I was hoping for.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Projects from My Quilt Room

Thanksgiving decorations are out and placed around the house.

Last year I made this table runner for the coffee table in our living room.

What?  You can't see any table runner?  Understandable, as this is what the top of our coffee table normally looks like.

See?  There really was a runner under there.

I really like this turkey themed fabric and have used it to make several fun things.

Today I finished another small one using the same fabric.

It's now on the top of a small bookcase in the kitchen holding (some of) my cook books.

Last year I made an almost identical one (but a little longer in length) that goes on the shelf of our kitchen island.  (You can see this one is about as visible as the one on the coffee table.)

Fall decorations and those at Thanksgiving time are my very favorite of the year.  Yep, I enjoy them even more than the Christmas decorations.

In anticipation of the days and days (I can only hope) I'll be spending in my quilt room this winter, I made these new mug rugs to place strategically around the room to hold the mug containing my morning Hot Buttered Rum latte when I start my day happily quilting.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Shutting Down in November? Ha!

I'm not sure where our plans went awry, but so far this month has been busier than ever.

This past Tuesday, we finally made a trip to the Big City.  We hadn't been since last June!  Needless to say, it didn't take us long to fill the back of the Suburban with all the miscellaneous supplies needed.  Our list was long but we made our stops efficiently and were home before dark which takes a bit of planning since the time change this past weekend!

It's deer season here and early Wednesday our good neighbors' son shot a deer with what should have been a quick, efficient kill.  Unfortunately, the deer got up and ran across their property and headed for our woods.  We joined the search party (there were seven of us) and tromped the woods for hours, but sadly, were never able to find the buck.  The son is a very conscientious hunter and was quite upset.  Not because he didn't "get his deer" but because he had caused suffering to the animal.  He had to leave for his home near the Twin Cities that same day to be at work the next morning.

Wednesday afternoon Chicken Mama, Gilligan, Papa Pea and I loaded up our truck and flatbed trailer to go get some birch wood we were offered that was piled on a building site that had been cleared this fall.  The wood had been limbed but was still in tree lengths.  We cut and loaded long lengths of the smaller trees taking close to a third of the pile.

 Do you know how heavy that chunk of wood
 is that Chicken Mama's carrying?
We raised one strong girl!

Back home we unloaded the wood in our back yard wood working area.

Yesterday, we had company in the morning from out of the area.  We visited and had lunch before he left to go hunting at other friends' house several miles from here.

The afternoon found us back at the birch wood site to bring home another load.  This time Papa Pea cut the bigger trees up into chunks which Gilligan and I loaded onto the trailer.  Chicken Mama was unavailable as she was cleaning the rental cabin she manages.  

We think we can finish up the wood cutting and hauling in two more loads, one of which is scheduled for this afternoon.

This morning I'm getting ready to head into town to make a pick-up at the library and make a stop at our food co-op to collect a few supplies and a special order I have waiting there.

Perhaps Saturday (which seems free and clear so far) we can finish hauling the last of the wood from the building site.

Sunday we're doing our last (hallelujah!) chicken/duck butchering of the season.  Never, ever will we let the birds hatch out so many eggs again!  Granted, this year was a trial period to see which of the birds would be good setters and mothers, but now that we know that, we'll definitely limit the number of eggs we let them hatch out next year.

After that, let's hope the activity around here does slow and we can begin our winter down time.  I'm ready.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What We Do For Fun

Papa Pea and Gilligan went to pick up 30 bales of hay this morning with the truck and high-sided trailer.

When they returned home, the bales needed to go into the hay loft, which with the help of our tractor with the big bucket, was no big problem.

Chicken Mama was stationed up in the loft, Papa Pea ran the tractor, and Gilligan stacked five of the square bales in the bucket leaving just enough room for him to ride in the bucket with the bales.

The bucket was raised to just outside the hay loft door where Gilligan hefted them to Chicken Mama who took and stacked them.

After the last load, Chicken Mama hopped in the empty bucket with Gilligan and they got to go for a ride down to ground level.  (Bad picture, I know, but I had to snap it while I could.)

"Okay, kiddies, the ride's over.  Everybody out."

No, I wasn't in my quilt room (darn!) while this work was going on.  But I was finishing laundry and baking bread.  I hope I get some (a little?) credit for that.  (Although I think it would have been more fun to get a ride in the bucket!)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Quick Post

I have been bad.

Now that the weather (very damp, wet [either rain or snow] and nasty outside) has brought an abrupt halt to all but daily outside chores, I'm finding time to spend in my quilt room.

And I'm not sure it's a good thing.  I don't want to do anything else!  Who cares about washing, eating, sleeping?  I'm definitely into the swing of things feeding my creative side, and that's all I want to do!

Well, maybe my life isn't quite that lopsided, but I sure can lose myself in there only to be roused by an occasional plea from  my husband such as, "Are we going to have any dinner tonight?"

More news and pictures about all that later.

* * * * * * * *

One of the (much appreciated) readers of my blog asked a question about my purple carrots in the comment section of my last blog post.  She was wondering if they kept their purple color after being cooked. 

I made some as a veggie side dish for our noon meal today.

Some three and a half hours later, my hands are still stained from prepping the carrots.  And, yes, they definitely do keep their color after being cooked.  When I served them (buttered, salt and peppered) on the plates today, they looked for all the world like beets.  I'm sure no one would see them and say they were anything else. 

* * * * * * * *

Now back to my quilt room.   See ya later.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Storing Carrots

One of the comments on my last post was from tpals.  She asked if I would explain  more about how I store my carrots.

So here goes.  I hope the pictures make the method clearer.

I take regular gallon-size twist and tie plastic storage bags and with my husband's help as he holds the bags taut, I use scissors (blades closed) to randomly poke 6 holes in each bag.

Then the carrots are stacked in the bag and the bag is closed with a twist tie.

I'll readily admit I don't feel great about the use of the plastic bags for this method of storage but it truly does provide better keeping quality for the carrots than any other method we've tried over the years.

The same method is used for all the carrots, the orange and the purple ones I've been growing.  The purple carrots looks almost black, don't they?

About half of the purple variety grew so big this year that they won't fit in a gallon size bag, so they went into a plastic bucket and will be covered with a damp towel to help hold the moisture in.  (I'm calling them prehistoric black carrots as they look a little scary to me.)

The bagged carrots were stacked in an open, shallow tote box and are now happily (I hope) relaxing in the root cellar.

I know pictures do help almost any explanation so here's hoping you have a better idea of the way I do it, tpals!


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Carrots and Cabbages Harvested

Given the weather forecast for the next week (rain/snow/cold/frost), we knew we'd better harvest cabbages and dig carrots today.

Remaining in the garden were 21 heads of cabbage, some red and some green.  The red cabbages didn't get as big as the green ones this year, but that's fine with me.  I've been planting both varieties that don't get as big as Rhode Island because 1) they're easier to work with, and 2) unless I'm making sauerkraut, a giant head is sometimes hard to use up before it goes bad.

This year we're going to try hanging the cabbages by their roots in the root cellar.  I'm also going to cover the heads with a perforated plastic bag.  We'll see how this method works to keep them fresh for an extended period.

Our main crop of carrots is always Scarlet Nantes which did much better (hooray!) than the pencil-thin roots I got last year.  Last year and this year, I also planted a 4' row of the Deep Purple variety and a 4' row of the Dragon variety.  They are both "purple" carrots, but the Dragon is dark only on the outside with a more regular orange color underneath the skin.  The Deep Purple is a dark color all the way through.  Looks great on a relish tray, but I've learned not to put them in a soup or stew because they "bleed" and turn most everything an unappetizing gray.  Yuck.

Those few in the wheelbarrow above are in the process of getting the tops cut off leaving about an inch of stem.

Then we hose them off before storage.  Don't these look almost glow-in-the-dark?  (Anybody have an idea what that renegade light colored one is?)

Here's about half of the purple carrot harvest in a five gallon pail.  They are HUGE this year.  Or as Papa Peas says, "Almost scary."  Many of them are a full 12" long.  I'm eager to taste test them and hope they didn't get too big and are woody or have a bitter flavor.

After experimenting with storing our carrots in all kinds of ways (in sand, in sawdust, in a pail with a moist towel on top), we've found what works best for us is to package them in perforated plastic bags and stack the bags in a container in the root cellar.  I know some people say washing the dirt off them before storage shortens their keeping quality, but we haven't found that to be so.

As of this moment, the cabbages, carrots, beets, potatoes and apples are all resting in the very cool feed room so next on the list is to carefully sort through them, toss (to the poultry) any with outstanding bad spots and then get them down to the root cellar.  We were going to get that all done today (hahahaha!), but after working outside in the 32 degree weather (with water) for a few hours, we decided to stagger inside and call it a day.  At least it's all harvested now which is more than half the battle.

I tell ya, this gardening fun stuff just never ends, does it?

Friday, October 27, 2017

First Snow Cover - October 27, 2017

Leaving the feed room, going out for morning chores.

Sleep tight, little honey bees.

Still open water.

"I told you we should have put
the deck furniture away."

Frost snow on the pumpkins.

Our remaining six geese.   Three females, three males.
Now if they would just show signs
of choosing their
life-long partners . . . 
(A round or two of The Dating Game,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fall Must Be Over, Eh?

We knew it would happen.  Our long, lovely fall just may be coming to an end.  We've had rain all day today and the forecast is for 1-3" of snow overnight and into Friday.  At first we were being told to expect 5-8" but that's now been downgraded significantly.  Currently at 5 p.m. the temperature is holding at 41 degrees so we'll have to wait to see if it gets cold enough to allow snowflakes to fall and stay on the ground.

Continuing the completion of fall chores was thrown into high gear yesterday.

I planted the first of two beds of garlic on the 21st and finally got the second one in just yesterday, the 25th.  I'm not sure what happened this year as I try to have it all planted by Columbus Day, the 12th.  Did not make it this year.

With the threat of wet weather, we dug our potatoes on the 21st.  Not a good crop this year.  I'm not sure we got much more than a hundred pounds.  In our best years the taters have weighed in at over two hundred and fifty pounds all told.  As we said over and over as we were gathering up the scant quantity of spuds, "Well, we like rice."

In the flurry of oncoming bad weather, yesterday we harvested all our apples.  Again, a sparse year compared to usual. 

I finally, at long last, harvested the beets.  Got a very nice quantity of them and this coming week I'll be prepping most of them for the freezer with some stored "fresh" in the root cellar.

Chicken Mama and Gilligan got busy right after our duck and geese harvesting day, ground up a little over four pounds of duck meat, divided it in half and each made a batch of duck jerky using their own mixture of seasonings.  Both turned out very good, although Gilligan thought he might have put too much ground black pepper in his.  He thought of labeling it "Pepper Duck," but I suggested "Ducky Pepper."  (Get it?  Ducky Pepper . . . Dr. Pepper?  Huhn.  Well, I thought it was clever.)

'Tis time for me to think about baking our first batch of holiday fruitcake.  Maybe tomorrow when we're experiencing our first snow cover of the season (I'll believe it when I see it) will be the perfect time to do that.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fall Butchering Day II

If a butchering day can ever be a great day, yesterday was one.  Great fun, camaraderie, friendship and wonderful helping hands for which Papa Pea and I were very grateful.

Chicken Mama, Gilligan, and good neighbors D and M joined us in our second butchering of the season which included 14 ducks and 3 geese.

The day was gray, chilly and overcast with a bit of wind, but at least no rain.

We started the actual butchering a little after 9 a.m. and broke shortly after noon for a lunch of soup, garlic cheese bread and pie.  Except we voted to save the pie and coffee for when we were all done.

Over the delayed dessert 'round about 3 p.m., D regaled us (he's an excellent story teller) with tales of growing up on a farm in western Minnesota with his brother and three sisters.  As soon as they were each old enough, they were expected to "work" right alongside their mother and father, but as D said, they didn't feel they were abused in any way.  It was just the way his family functioned.  And, of course, the kids all had time to have fun while partaking of all the mischievousness they could experience being healthy kids raised in that environment.  Made a couple of us adults around the table feel we'd missed something in our own "townie" upbringing. 

I'll not post any of the pictures I took to commemorate the day except for one of the ones taken by our photographer-with-the-artistic-eye daughter.

At clean-up time, we raked, gathered and chased one heckuva lot of feathers, but I'm sure some of them blew all the way up to the Canadian border.  Or if not actually that far, at least folks a few acres away may be wondering what's all that white, gray and black fluffy stuff skittering across their yards and through the woods.  As Chicken Mama said, she can picture some cozy, comfy, down and feather lined nests this winter for the small forest critters.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Gaining on Garden Clean-Up and the First Apple Pie of the Season

I'm finally making enough progress on getting the garden ready for winter that I can start to feel good about it.  (Whew!)

This is a shot of a partial row of raised beds I completed today.  You can see the bed closest in the picture still has parsley on either end of it.  Lush, beautiful, succulent parsley that I don't have the heart to yank out.  Yet.  I've never been successful at wintering over my parsley plants.  Anyone have any suggestions as to how I might do it up here in da nort country?

Yesterday Papa Pea tilled up the field garden for me.  At the far end of it, which you can just barely see in this picture, are the rows of potatoes that we have yet to harvest.  The three long rows of strawberries are to the right, and if I can remain inspired, I could/should do a little weeding in them before a hard frost hits.

Four of the raised beds still have cabbages, red and green, carrots and beets in them.  We had so much moisture this past spring, summer and into fall that the slug population was doing real damage.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try stripping off all of the bottom and side leaves of the cabbages, and I do believe it's helped.  Those ugly, slimy little creatures don't have nearly as much habitat in which to live, love and lunch now.

I'm shamefully admitting I still haven't harvested and processed my beets.  I've been talking about doing it for a month (or more) but they've been silently waiting in their raised bed without yelling at me . . . so they keep getting pushed to the bottom of The List. But soon.  I must get at them soon.

I made our first apple pie of the season today . . . with apples from our own trees.

Ooops.  I may have been a smidge bit over zealous in the amount of apples I prepared.  (Although I do dislike a skimpy apple pie, don't you?)

I predict the distinct possibility of serious burbling over in the oven.

Baked and cooling on the counter.  Good smells in the kitchen!

And it didn't even boil over much at all.

A rainy day predicted for tomorrow, but if by chance that doesn't happen, I'll be back out in the garden.  The end is in sight now. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More Garden Clean-Up

I picked the last of the slicing cukes today.  Then yoinked out the vines and cleaned the raised bed.

There were a surprising number of them hiding under the wilted and sad looking leaves.

Then I harvested the last of the green peppers.  Pulled out those plants, too.  What am I going to do with all these peppers?  I have ample stuffed green peppers for a year and more chopped and frozen for recipes than I need.  I've foisted as many as I can on others.  A bountiful harvest is a drag blessing.

Yesterday I dug the first of the red potatoes to make a big pot of mashed potatoes.  As large as the white potatoes have been, disappointment reigned supreme when digging under three plants to find only these which are mostly piddling little in size.  Also, they have some kind of a scab on the skins which I'm not happy about.

We're waiting for our root cellar to cool down in temp before digging all the potatoes. Same with the carrots although I've been stealing some of them regularly for about a month now.  So happy to see that this year the carrots are back up to normal, big size compared to the pencil thin carrots I got last year.  Still can't figure out why that happened.  Never saw anything like it before.

I did my last cutting and dehydration of mint for the year today.  The pantry now has one gallon of dried mint for Papa Pea's tea supply.  It will be interesting to see just how long it lasts.

This is my pumpkin harvest.  Despite some of them that are still green, we have plenty of nice jack o' lantern sized ones with which to decorate.  I took this pic after I had taken away the small ones that I use in our window boxes.

I hated to pull the summer begonias out as they were still looking good, but figured I'd have to go right to Christmas decorations in the boxes if I didn't get the fall ones in there soon.

Another big butchering day is set for this Sunday.  Twenty-two ducks and three geese.  I'm thinking seriously of running away from home before then.