Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We're in a Pickle

Oh boy, do we ever have a lot of pickles!  
We have been canning pint jars every few days
before the cukes get too big.
Some of them are hotter than others, 
my husband adds hot peppers or hot pepper
flakes to his, but mine are just garlic dills.

The first batch were not very crispy,
normally we add Pickle Crisp to it but 
it must have been too old.

He did a batch or two of pickled sweet onions too
for burgers and anything else you want to top 
with onions.  If we get enough squash this year
I'll make some relish out with it like we did last year.

I grew dill to add as well but we're almost out!
We have lots of cucumbers to go through.
Now if the tomatoes would only get red!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Little Rain Must Fall

I had a wonderful break in the weather a couple of days ago, 
clear skies and beautiful blooms on the garden wall.
The cone flowers stand out right now, typically 
covered with bumbles that flit from cone to cone.

I noticed only one of these little guys and found the other
when I moved the photo to my computer.
Click to enlarge.
They are sitting on one of the flowering weeds that
are very invasive and try to take over the garden.
Some get to stay because they are pretty.

My rose, which seems to be a hedge type, blooms 
furiously in the spring and then not much happens
but I do see some new growth now.

There are some peaches remaining that the squirrels
and deer didn't get; however, I don't spray them so
they end up all buggy.  Funny, one side looks ripe
and the other is just as green as it can be.

Even weeds are interesting if caught at the right moment.

As I was finishing up some photos of flowers and bees
I heard what appeared to be heavy traffic traveling at 
 a high rate of speed on the county road down the way.
Then I realized I should not hear THAT MUCH traffic out here.
Then it dawned on me . . .
That's Rain!!

I scampered to the porch just in the nick of time.
It came down in buckets, for all of about 15 minutes
and then it was sunny once more.

Those poor bees drinking on the fountain edge.
I hope they flew away in time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

They Bee Thirsty

All lined up at the Bee Bar!
My fountain has become the bees' favorite drinking spot,
so much so that it's hard to turn it on unless we make
certain all the bees are out of harm's way.

They prefer this warmer water, rich with algae over
their clean tub with nice stepping rocks so they have
a better footing,

I saw an unofficial survey of beekeepers that came to 
the conclusion that they really don't care for the cleaner water.

There are frequently 10-20 bees drinking at the various levels.
It has three bowls plus the deeper bottom section.
The wasps prefer the bird bath, of course there are 
bees in it too but more so the fountain.

The bumbles are thick this year.
Really, they are probably carpenter bees but 
they are great to watch and are good pollinators.
We live in the woods so there is plenty of wood for them.

They don't seem to care how close I get, in fact,
they sometimes hover right at your face level
to see what you're up to.  I just talk to them and 
they buzz back a bit before flying off.
Sometimes I think they get so much pollen they get drunk.
I find them almost listless, hanging onto the flower center
but very much alive!  They like my tomatillos and squash too.

I try to keep a good collection of flowers for them.
It's been a crazy year though.  Cool and wet in the early Spring,
almost swamping everything and then suddenly changing to hot
and dry. (And me without a drip system!)
It's cooler and we're getting more rain now so things are looking up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Friday Afternoon at the River

We left work an hour early on Friday, a little perk we usually get
before a holiday, which gave me time to stop at the store and 
pick up a picnic dinner before jumping into the boat on the 
only dry day of the long weekend.  

I tucked my hair up in a cap and packed my towel
and some necessities that I might need.  You never
know how wet you might get or how cool the breeze
may be, even if your own backyard is pretty hot.

My husband is the boat driver.
I hate the ride, just hate it, because we travel through
water that is only inches deep and we're going pretty fast to do it.
When the river's deep, I love it.  I can face forward, 
uncover my eyes and enjoy the view!

We traveled light this time, knowing we would be there only
a few hours in the late afternoon when the sun would start
to go behind the hills and shade the beaches.  The water was cold,
too cold to take a swim that day, so we sat on the beach,
opened the cooler and dined on hard salami, crackers,
cheese, fruit and a selection of olives from Dierberg's olive bar.
(a very nice grocery store in St Louis)
There were green ones, giant green ones stuffed with blue cheese,
kalamata olives, feta cheese crumbles, marinated peppers and 
small chunks of hard parmesean, all in wonderful olive oil.

Even though it was a holiday weekend, we had the place to ourselves.
Hardly any boaters were on the river that early.  There were a few
jet skis and a boat here and there but for the most part it was quiet.

After a bit we knew we had to head back so we could
wait our turn to put out.  We could take a slower ride home
and look at all the vines and wildlife, in fact an eagle flew over
with another bird chasing it!  We talked to a guy setting
out jugs for fishing and watched people setting up 
their camping spots on the gravel bars with car access.

It's almost always pretty there, really pretty in the snow
but I have been on the river in snow maybe once or twice before.

We caught the sun at just perfectly to capture the reflection
of the bank on the glassy water.  

The next few days were almost completely rainy, a continuous,
steady rain that we needed.  It must have soaked in well since
we didn't see any flooding but our culvert filled up and that is a 
sure sign that we have had a lot of rain!

I hope your holiday weekend was very nice if you celebrate the 4th of July 
from wherever you are reading.  Sometimes I forget that I work for an 
international company and would return to e-mails from other countries
where they were not off work Monday but take a holiday that corresponds
to their country.  I'm thinking we need to be diverse and celebrate everyone's 
holidays (with a day off work!).  I'll even write a paper on their holiday.
So far the company hasn't taken me up on it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vacation: Seeds, Theme Parks, Battlefields and a Quilty Shop Hop

My husband and I have not had a vacation together for 
10 years!  Sure, we have had some time off but we
either stayed home, visited relatives or watched our 
granddaughter for the last 10 years.  

Not this year.  We took TWO WHOLE DAYS off work
and went to Branson, MO because I missed  Silver Dollar City.
Along the way there and back we stopped for other
attractions, one being Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in
Mansfield, MO which is just outside of Springfield.
The seed room was huge with every cubby holding 
packets of seeds, arranged in sections for vegetables,
flowers and herbs.  We were there on a Thursday
morning so really the only ones there which was perfect.
I hear when they have their festivals it is filled to the brim.

Here are some of the seeds I selected for the garden.
As a hint, if you have cucumbers that are getting eaten
by bugs, plant amaranth.  I discovered it accidentally 
when I had it growing wild and neglected to pull it out.
Then I found that all the bugs were eating it rather than 
my cucumbers- Perfect!!

In the second section of the building there are rooms devoted
to fabric, stitchery, candles, soaps and other crafts and hobbies.
You can see  the bee hive sign at the lower right.
They also have a library of various helpful books.

I picked up these Aunt Martha's hot iron transfers.

Next stop Springfield, MO

This is Bass Pro Shop's magnificent entrance,
it is stunning when you are actually there.
Any time we are in Springfield, MO we stop in.
My husband enjoys looking at the equipment
and I love the decor, just amazing.

This statue is made out of bronze, 
huge and incredibly beautiful.

There is a quilt Shop Hop going on right now, not just
in Missouri, not just in the U.S., but everywhere.
There is an embroidery pattern which is bordered by
this pretty bee fabric called Bee Creative by Deb Strain
through Moda.  It is difficult to find the fabrics since so many
have signed up to make the quilt (free on line) so I thought it 
was a perfect time to check out the shops in Missouri during our
trip.  As it turned out I found everything I need.
Now to start the embroidery, and catch up with my other
quilt along where we make a sampler out of six inch blocks.

We visited several quilt shops and a few were stunning,
amazingly stocked and everyone was so nice.

Each shop created a pattern called Row By Row with the 
theme of Home.  When you visit you can get the free pattern
or purchase a kit the contains the pattern plus material.
I purchased several kits so I would have the right material
and just took the free pattern in some cases.  Hopefully
I will find time for that when all the summer chores are complete.

We tried to find a little cabin where we could cook but 
last minute reservations were tough so we settled on a motel.
This was Ozark Valley Inn in Branson, MO and it was very nice.
It was not perfect but it reminded me of going to motels when
I was young and I love parking by the room- ours was the first 
floor which actually was the middle level here due to the slope
of the ground.  There were chairs in the covered hallway too
so you could pull then up to a table and stay out of the sun.

The hallway led to the pool and over to the office and 
breakfast room where they served a complimentary meal; 
however, due to my dietary needs we chose to go out
instead.  My husband is not thrilled with Cracker Barrel 
where we ate the first day but I liked it, also 
Stavin' Marvin's breakfast buffet the second day.

Branson is still Branson only much more crowded.
We drove the strip and to the old downtown where 
we went into the old five and dime.  They have built up 
the old section of town, I would not have recognized it 
once you got to the river!!

Sorry that you got the back half of King Kong but
it was my only shot.  This is on the strip across from
the big Ferris wheel.  I think it was Ripley's Believe it or Not.

This is inside one of the restaurants.
It's all glitz and Hollywood like sets
but not all the food is good.  My husband thinks
it is because we are used to St Louis restaurants
where the food is fantastic and well prepared.
I had to send back the calamari, it was so tough.
Here it is delightful, breaded with a tempura coating
and fried until tender, not chewy.

We did have a good dinner at Red Lobster, something I have
not had in years and years!  I had a lobster tail and grilled shrimp
and my husband lobster and steak . This was on their special 
menu for the season.  He thought his steak too well done, preferring
it red and cold in the center.  I think many restaurants are afraid to 
cook it that way or just don't know how to cook it that way.  To 
me it's raw so I can't really critique it.

Silver Dollar City was not as much fun this time.
As soon as we arrived we had a torrential storm with 
lightning, thunder and buckets of rain causing them to 
close down the rides and outdoor events.  I think they 
must have sold every poncho in their stores!

We were able to see some of the indoor artisans,
the Saloon show and ride Fire in the Hole plus
go through Grandpa's Mansion which is the fun house
sort of attraction.  Nothing scary, just off center so things
look like they are downhill but you are going up.  That sort of thing.
The atmosphere would have been better if it had been nice
but since we had a package deal we had to go or lose the 
admission price.  It was still good and maybe we will try again sometime.

Photo credit 

Just outside of Springfield is Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
where we stopped for a few minutes. My husband picked up
some books and I purchased a little hankie doll kit.  He and
his brother are going to go back down and spend the day there
sometime.  They should have a nice time.

plus a bonnet
to put my hair up in while I am gardening.  The bees seem to 
like my hair a lot, a whole lot, so I may see if it helps to 
cover it when I am up in their area, but not in a bee veil
which is too difficult to garden in.

We also stopped at Shepherd of the Hills Outlet where I 
found this perfect bee jewelry.  I don't wear much jewelry
but when I saw these bees I had to have them.  The best part
is that they must be on closeout because they were $2.99 each!!

We arrived home Saturday afternoon, tired and ready to be home.
I still have not caught up with cleaning the house.  I hope no one
comes over unexpectedly that we are not close friends with,
they might see what really happens here in the summer when
we work all day at our jobs and then back home to work for
hours in the garden, with chicks, bees and canning!

Day 1 vacation Saturday:  Chicken butchering/pickling
Day 2 vacation:  Breakfast at Denny's and trip to the river 
Day 3 vacation:  laundry, thrift shopping, gardening
Day 4 vacation:  Quilt Shop Hop for the Row by Row patterns
Jackman's Fabrics (Creve Coeur MO)
The Quilted Fox quilt shop (Frontenac, MO)
Merrily We Sew Along quilt shop (Valley Park, MO)
All are the St Louis County area
Yard Work: weed whipping, gardening 
Shopping:  Supplies at Wal-Mart 
Canning:  making pickles
Day 5 vacation:  Preparing for our Branson trip
Day 6 vacation:  Up at dawn, in the car and on the road!
Stopped in Mansfield, MO at Baker's Creek
Stopped in Springfield MO for quilt shop hopping
A trip into Bass Pro Shop
On to Branson MO for quilt shop hopping
Trip to the Branson strip and old downtown
Dinner at Red Lobster
Day 7 vacation:  Silver Dollar City
Torrential rain, lightning, thunder.  Rides closed, outdoor activities
delayed.  We saw some craftsmen, the saloon show and road
Fire in the Hole (indoor roller coaster with a mine theme)
Day 8 vacation:  Pack up for home, stopped by Ozark MO quilt shop,
visit to Wilson's Creek national battlefield outside of Springfield,
Shepherd of the Hills Outlet mall in Lebanon MO and back home
Day 9 vacation:  church, pickling, unpacking

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kathy's Pickles

This is my first batch of pickled cucumbers that I picked from 
our garden along with the home grown dill for flavoring.

We planted pickling cucumbers and trying to pick
them small so we have a lot of pint jars.
I washed and cut up the cucumbers, some were
small spears and some were crinkle cut

I added pickle crisp, spices, my dill, 
garlic and the cucumbers, filled it with 
brine and let the pickling begin.

This is our small hot water bath canner.

They will sit for a week and then I'll get to see if 
they taste as good as I hope!

Day 1 vacation Saturday:  Chicken butchering/pickling
Day 2 vacation:  Breakfast at Denny's and trip to the river 
Day 3 vacation:  laundry, thrift shopping, gardening
Day 4 vacation:  Quilt Shop Hop for the Row by Row patterns
Jackman's Fabrics (Creve Coeur MO)
The Quilted Fox quilt shop (Frontenac, MO)
Merrily We Sew Along quilt shop (Valley Park, MO)
All are the St Louis County area
Yard Work: weed whipping, gardening 
Shopping:  Supplies at Wal-Mart 
Canning:  making pickles

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

River Day

It was a river sort of day, a combination of my birthday and
Father's Day both on Sunday during a week when I am on 
vacation and had nothing more than relaxing on my mind.

I am not a huge fan of the boat ride.  It is not like on a nice,
calm and deep lake, not here.  The river will suddenly drop to
a few inches of water where you can see each and every river
rock, including the gravel, as you are flying over them at a
really fast speed.  You can't use a prop, rather a jet is required
to get you up on plane and skip over rocks and hopefully the
semi-submerged logs from trees downed by storms or as 
the bank gave way.  Some of the root wads are huge, and
some you can't imagine how the tree is still standing, most of the
root hanging over the bank in a tangled mass.

You can see how they lean, farther and farther over.
Some are small like these, but others are massive and you hope
your boat isn't in their way if they fall.

On this stretch of river it is more quiet.
The canoes and kayaks haven't taken over the river, 
full of people that have not educated themselves on the
rules of the road as it were.  I think the canoe outfitters
should give them a course on river safety to keep them
and the power boaters happy and safe.  They need to be 
accountable to some degree, not just send people out 
who have no clue about boats.  That is when they tip 
and get themselves in dangerous places or do things
that are unsafe.  They also don't understand they need to 
share with the power boats that can't just stop like a car
so if they tie themselves together and take up the entire
river-especially around a blind bend, there's trouble.

It was only a couple of years ago a landowner got tired of 
the teams of people stopping on his land, leaving trash and partying.
(legally they have the right to be there if it is 
below the high water mark).  A confrontation occurred
and the owner killed him.   This was in the high canoe-kayak
area that has been inundated with drinkers, drugs, nudity, etc.
Not the family friendly canoe trip.

With a little respect that could have been avoided.

Our beaches are nice, some gravel and some sand.
Generally everyone gets along.
Hopefully it stays that way.

It's really pretty and relaxing (except for the ride).
There are eagles, sea looking birds, turtles, herons
and lots and lots of pretty shells to collect.

All this to see and yet I saw a boat go past where 
the driver was the only one looking at the water.
Everyone else in the boat had eyes on their phones 
where there was so much to see if they just looked 
around.  Sad really.  I think riots would break out if
we lost cell communications and all internet.
How would they survive?

This is one of the results of our recent floods.
The bank has all but gone and this house is doomed to 
fall into the river.  Some did and some are being 
renovated.  You can still see debris high in the tree tops
where bits of dock, houses and junk still dangles since
the water receded.  

If you can see the blue awning to the left on the beach, 
this is also a place where people camp.  Either day camping
or for the weekend.  If we plan to be there for the day we bring
the collapsible awnings, chairs, side tables, bbq, coolers, etc.

The kids float on rafts, watch the minnows try to nibble on their toes
and see who can get more dragon flies to land on their fingers.
I plop my chair about waist deep, just enough to keep my drink out of
the water, and attach a small umbrella to the back of my chair to 
avoid the sunburn.  We cook or bring a picnic lunch, arriving early
to stake out our claim. 

I hate the ride but love the beach!

Day 1 vacation Saturday:  Chicken butchering/pickling
Day 2 vacation:  Breakfast at Denny's and trip to the river 
Day 3 vacation:  laundry, thrift shopping, gardening
Day 4 vacation:  Quilt Shop Hop for the Row by Row patterns