Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Pressure's On - - Just Can It

Saved by the Pressure Canner! A deep dive into the freezer produced some pretty darn old chicken, something that might not be so tasty roasted and served up on Sunday. What to do, what to do? I know just what we can do- Can It!

My husband, being the absolutely fantastic cook that he is (I used to be thin) and having a bit of time on his hands (during this slow down in the construction industry), went to our local extension office and had the canner tested. It passed with flying colors!

Into the pot went the chicken, boiling until soft and tender accompanied by celery, onions, bay, salt and pepper. Soon the stock was complete. Next he strained the stock and skimmed any fat off the top.

The chicken was deboned and back into the stock it went with carrots, celery, onion and spices.

Jars were prepared.

The chicken was added.

The Pressure is On!

It's Soup! A basic chicken soup, add noodles, rice, dumplings, you name it, you can add it! As a bonus, he chopped and canned the leftover carrots.

We ended up with 9 pint jars of chicken soup cooked under pressure at around 10 pounds for 75 minutes and 10 pints of carrots canned under 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.

Onto the "grocery" shelves downstairs!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Kitchen Beach

Oh yeah, we're joining the Riviera crowd now! How many of you had a beach in your kitchen? Can you say Hoity-Toity?

Sadly, we did have a sand beach in the kitchen, and not by choice. We get our water from a well, about 400 ft deep, out of the Roubidoux aquifer and pumped right into our home. Wells use a check valve to keep the water from flowing out of the pipe back into the well. When the valve loses pressure, the well pump turns on to pressurize the system. Our valve is having issues and we are experiencing abnormal use of the pump, which uses electricity resulting in higher electric bills. To replace the valve, the well company has to pull the pipe all the way up and replace it. It is expensive.

Now the pump switch is getting "stuck." When it stops working, all the water plummets down the pipe and into the aquifer. We had to smack the switch to unstick it which caused the water to come back into the house.

Unfortunately, this stirred up turbulence so when the pump brought up water, it also brought SAND. The sand went into everything: the bladder (pressure container), the water softener, plus anything we did not have connected to the softener such as the refrigerator water/ice and the kitchen sink lines.

My husband noticed that the cold water was not flowing so assumed there was some type of blockage. He removed the handle of the sink because the cartridge that sits below it was blocked. He turned the shutoff valve back on to break up the silt and then we had a volcano- of Sand. Fine, silica sand, which is similar to the texture of a facial scrub, only softer and smaller.

It was on the floor, in the sink, on the counters, on everything on the counter, on some clean dishes, on my husband, on the cabinets, on the handles-- you get the picture. Remember, this is fine, fine sand- soft and very difficult to clean. And clean we did. Washed and swept, swept and washed. The floor felt as if it were a shuffleboard table, even after vacuuming several times.

well image credit
(Too bad it's not this easy!)

Now it's clean and just about silica free. We will probably have to purchase a new water softener and somehow clean out the pressure bladder- if we can. It will be a couple of thousand dollars to fix the well plus the extra expense of the softener. It's not going to happen soon, not with this economy and a carpenter husband. So, we turn off the water when we leave and at night so we don't lose pressure. We turn it on when we return or get up. We monitor the pressure and make sure the switch is working. I really don't like this, but what are you going to do?

We have an investment account that isn't doing much, in fact with things the way they are in our government, who knows if it will be there tomorrow. I may cash it in and take the hit. At least we'll have a working well.

image credit

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Harvests

We are beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labor as our little garden* veges and potted cherry tomatoes begin to ripen. Taylor, my granddaughter, and Pops will slice up the little cukes to make some quick refrigerator pickles. I'll bet the hot pepper somehow makes its way into the mason jar!
* not the co-op garden.

Our blackberry/black raspberries will be turned into some nice jelly, seedless for my benefit. A few years ago we picked so many pounds of both strawberries and blackberries that not only did we have fresh berries and jelly but also blackberry sorbet which was absolutely wonderful.

We have plans to try some relishes this year so out comes the Ball recipe book to begin the selections. Zucchini is one of my favorites, grilled or sauteed, but I have never canned it so this may be the year.

We're still fighting the Japanese beetles that have infested the roses, grapes, berries and bushes or risk losing everything, very quickly. There are far too many to pick off.

We are going to take Taylor to my brother-in-law's house and let the kids swim while we set up the picnic and BBQ; however, due to impending rain it's been scheduled for tomorrow at either their place or perhaps ours, although without swimming. Taylor's mom, my daughter, will pick her up soon after church so swimming may not work depending on their plans.

We need the rain, sort of a crazy statement considering the overabundance we have had, but the garden is showing signs of drying, some of the leafy vegetables are wilting so this should help. I may have to give it a drink just in case. I have been hesitant to turn on the water due to our well switch conditions. If it turns off I can't possibly get back to the house fast enough to keep the water from draining back down into the well and having to bleed off the water with a hose stretched across the basement so sand doesn't get back into our system again. I'll post on that later! What a mess.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And They Call it Vacation?

And they call it vacation? What have I done this week so far?

Up bright and early.

Cleaned the porch-- but still need to power wash the siding.

Arranged the table--but still need to add the picnic ware.

Washed three basketsfull of laundry and hung them to dry.

Folded, hung, and put away all three full baskets.

Weeded the plants.

Potted some tomatoes and peppers.

Tended the little garden.

Saved more tadpoles.

Planted more in the big co-op garden.

Weeded same garden, twice.

Dusted--and moved furniture to do it

Cleaned bathrooms.

Cleaned ceiling fans.

Cooked, washed dishes.

Took apart the stove- cleaned it.

Baked brownies-and ate some.

Drove to the store to get milk and bread.

Cut fabric for Taylor's scrappy lap quilt & coming up with a design. It still needs borders.

Stopped watering to speak to the Jehovah's witness ladies that stopped by to announce their convention.

Tomorrow I have Taylor for the day, perhaps through the full weekend.

I think I need to get back to work so I get some rest!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letting Go

I'm not a Catholic blogger- I am Catholic but I don't really blog about Catholic subjects; however, I read Mark Mallet's blog today where he makes reference to prophesy. I struggle with being connected to possessions.

Not an expensive car, fancy clothes or extensive travel. In fact, I'd rather be in T-shirts and sweats, I drive an old Jeep, that has 250,000 miles and no a/c, and I would rather stay put than travel. Where I struggle is not the big, beautiful house that we have and love but rather the old, worn furniture, photos and possessions that have been passed down through my family. If I could choose now, I'd move to a homestead. A real one with pasture for animals and be off grid as much as possible. Or, we could live in a barn for all I care as long as I had my family stuff- that's my big downfall.

I see the changes that are taking place in the world and I don't care for them. I see selfish, self centered people with no respect for others, I don't trust our government or anything the news tries to tell us. Things have to change and if we don't do it, it will be done for us. I see how we have to get back to the basics, how to get by without everything we have come to depend on in this modern world, where one day we may wake up to find out our country has changed overnight. That sudden.

This prophesy doesn't seem too out of line- I'm not good at letting go.

Because I love you, I want to show you what I am doing in the world today. I want to prepare you for what is to come. Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation… Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only me and to cleave to me and to have me in a way deeper than ever before. I will lead you into the desert… I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on me. A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my Church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen…. And when you have nothing but me, you will have everything: land, fields, homes, and brothers and sisters and love and joy and peace more than ever before. Be ready, my people, I want to prepare you… —given by Ralph Martin, St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, May, 1975
Mark Mallet Blog Credit

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Birthday: Wool, Quilts and Frogs

I've managed to make it yet another year (Yea! Hooray!) and to top it off it's also Father's Day. While mine is no longer with us, my in-laws live next door so we will definitely be visiting today. While my real birthday is today, we celebrated yesterday. My gift was a day to do what I wanted, with husband as chauffeur. I don't buy much for myself so I've never spent some Christmas money I was given and have had tucked away since December, so I thought a drive up to Florissant, MO, which is way, way far from my house, would be on the docket.

There's an old historic home up there that has both a quilt shop and woolen shop on the various floors. Next to it is another yarn shop with spinners! That's where I headed first and got a private lesson on the spinning wheel. I haven't been able to do anything at all with mine, rather I end up with some strangely shaped yarn that won't serve any purpose. I picked up some sheep wool to try since I have been using llama which is much more silky.

Then it was next door to the fabric shop where I picked up some fat quarters for quilting, a miniature quilt kit, plus a couple of panels for pillows or piecing into a larger quilt. They have an entire Civil War era fabric area, pretty, tiny prints in all the popular colors of the time, nice blocks of the month to make samplers too.

They had a pretty felt kit with applique rabbits running in a circle around an area where a pillar candle would be and so many lovely fabrics that you can't imagine not having a piece of every one in your stash.

On the way home we detoured through old St Charles, MO where I stopped at another quilt shop and picked up a couple of embroidery patterns, one being Old Glory that is embellished with beads as well as floss and the other a collection of various gardening bunnies, the kind that push wheel barrows- nothing cuter, unless the bunny was pushing a wheel barrow with a chicken in it!

Then it was on to Bass Pro, a concession to the patient husband who doted on my every purchase and followed me around shop to shop making conversation with the salespeople and spinners. After checking out a few items there- I wanted the coyote decoy to keep the deer away-we stopped across the parking lot and had dinner at the Chinese buffet- which was amazing. You couldn't have gone to McDonalds for the price plus filled your plate with shrimp!

Today, the real birthday. . . as I was pulling into the drive after church I noticed how much water had collected in our culvert again after last night's big, bad storms. And what was IN the water, which is probably at least mid calf deep???? Frogs- big frogs- or at least I thought they were big. Turns out they were really frog duos- guy and girl- you know. I love frogs. This culvert is going to dry up in a few days and they won't be able to enjoy swimming in my grass. That's not so problematic; however, they were laying strings and strings of frog eggs.

As I mentioned, I love frogs. When they start their nightly chorus I love to sit out in the semi darkness and drink it in. Sort of like embracing the cicada experience- a lovely song albeit LOUD. So I grabbed a couple of Solo plastic cups and started wading in the water, moving the love-frogs aside and grabbing up the sticky eggs that they wind around the twigs and grass.
I sent the first batch into our little pond on the garden wall. The next one was transported by my husband, humoring me of course. Then the last one I place in our fountain since they seem to thrive in it and never get sucked up through the system to erupt out the top in a tadpole shower.

All in all it has been a fine birthday and now we move onto Father's Day!

Helen's Hen House Link

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fishing for Deer

What do you get if you combine fishing line and red hazard tape? An effective deer barrier! Mama and little fawn have been ravaging our gardens snapping off both pole and bush beans, topping tomatoes and enjoying lovely salads at our expense. Short of setting up perimeter guns we searched the homestead blogs to find the best method that was also cost effective. Thank you, homesteaders!

Take a few T posts and set them around the perimeter of your garden beds where you have vegetation likely to become a deer buffet. Then string some old fishing line between each pole, about chest high to a deer. We have only one row but I understand a couple of rows, both low and high, will increase the probability of the deer, or other varmint, running into it.

Now, we have a hard time seeing this fishing line ourselves and there are children involved, so in order to avoid them running into it at neck level, I tied some red/orange hazard tape on each side. It's an eerie effect seeing the little knot with trailing tails levitating between the posts! Once the deer approach the line, that they can't see, they feel pressure across their chest which alarms them and they run off.

Our beds have cattle fencing tied up to T posts as supports for the tomatoes, cucumbers and other clingy vines. We also have a tree branch tepee constructed for the pole beans to climb. Between each cattle fence I strung twine and suspended a pie pan from a string. They are light enough to blow back and forth, spinning at times which creates an odd flashing that will hopefully spook the deer. I have another pie tin dangling from the center of the tepee. This one adds a little banging noise as it hits the tripod posts.

This garden is a large co-op garden with our neighbors that we created on our side lot, but we also have smaller gardens at our own homes. It must have worked because our co-op vegetables are doing well but they got the neighbor's garden so he promptly mimicked the perimeter setup at his place. We're pleased to report they saw the deer approach their garden and leave as soon as they bumped into the fishing wire. We have to protect our small secondary garden against the deer. Now if we can only find something as effective against the newly arrived Japanese beetles.

photo credit

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Garden Quilt

Perhaps someday I shall make a garden quilt-- using all the various hues of my garden. I will have yellows and whites, blues and purples and reds and pinks. I will have every shade of green, beautiful textures and interesting patterns that can only be found in nature.

My quilt would be a comfy, cozy quilt with extra fluffy batting. It would be a quilt to curl up with on cold winter days when blossoms and blooms have long faded away, memories of summers past. Perhaps I will embroider the year on the corner as a little gardening reminder. Maybe I'll even add my name.

It would be a quilt to pass down to children and grandchildren, eventually being patched here and there where there was a little too much cuddling over the years. Then my quilt will be a new creation, a quilt created by both grandmother and granddaughter perhaps? Maybe someone will embellish it with bits of fanciness? Buttons, beads or maybe charms? Perhaps they will add their name and date.

A quilt for the ages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homestead Revival: Your New Future: GMO Plants and Food

I shared this from another blog- it's pretty important. Also don't overlook the e coli factor, I wonder myself if these recent outbreaks could be caused by our meddling with our food sources. Remember, you are eating everything they put into these seeds- Roundup- that is what is in them. Sometimes it is from the food itself, sometimes from eating meat of the animals that ate the modified animal feed. Don't forget the bees, the butterflies, hummingbirds, etc. that rely on nectar.

Homestead Revival: Your New Future: GMO Plants and Food: "Please take a moment and read this post. I know it's kind of a downer, and I apologize for that, but it's so important to understand this i..."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lettuce Give it a Try

It may be a bit atypical, and it may not even work; however, I am going to give it a try! It's much too hot to grow lettuce here for very long with our hot, sticky, humid summers-- something that sometimes surprises folks from out of town. Well, it's really not all that hot inside when either the air conditioning is on or whole house fan is running. And I do have an unused breakfast nook that is essentially surrounded by two walls of glass. So . . . why not try to plant lettuce in a "window box" planter indoors!

I saw a cute planter at one of those big box stores. It was a nice round, about two inch deep clay dish with a variety of lettuces growing in it. Obviously for outdoor use, I thought to myself, "Kath," (yes, I really thought that), "you can do that in your own house!"

Well here it is, the start of my little indoor lettuce garden. I hope it takes off and we can snip a little here and there, mixing it in with traditional head lettuce, putting a few leaves on a nice sandwich or maybe a little garnish for looks.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Never Hire a Butterfly to Protect the Garden

As beautiful as they are, butterflies are just no good at protecting the garden.

See the pretty beans getting ready to climb the tepee poles? Well, today only a few remain standing, cut off as if snipped with scissors. Some say the culprit was a deer, some say a bunny. I'm not certain but very few bunnies survive the stray cats, most deer do.

My husband made a trip to the farm supply store to purchase posts and organic deer deterrent. We strung fishing line between each pole about chest high (to a deer) around each garden bed. Then I placed tomato cages over a couple of the bush beans and hung pie tins from twine between the garden rows. A final tin hangs in the middle of the tepee and give a little added noise protection. The organic deer spray is quite nice smelling, sort of minty/menthol.

Butterflies are also no help whatsoever when it comes to grape blight called black rot, a common fungus in Missouri that lives on the ground rather than on the grapes. Our local extension office provided some direction on how to treat it, annually. The grapes will begin to develop and then start to turn red and then wilt away to blackness. My husband said he has started to see improvement so hopefully this multi-step program will be successful.

They also let in Tent Caterpillars which I promptly removed from the tree before they decide to spread. Isn't it amusing that we plant pretty flowers to attract butterflies and decorative moths and then become upset with the resulting caterpillars? In this case, neither the mom nor her offspring are terribly attractive and the damage far outweighs allowing them to stay.

On the Brighter Side:

We do have some wonderful black raspberries and blackberries.

With many more on the way!

The Stella D'Oro day lilies are doing well and the hostas magnificent, although I saw a few slugs sneaking in

Well, tomorrow is another day. I think I'll hire the assassin bug next time.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

A 150 Years of Photo Memories - Virginia Templeman

Photo Memories- 150 Years of Memories

My husband created a Facebook page, in honor of my grandmother, that contains photographs of life in Bethany, MO which is located in Northwest Missouri not too far from the Iowa border. Many of the photos date back to late 1800s. We some have some darraugotypes and tintypes as well.

My grandmother never threw anything out. She stored it all away in trunks and old dresser drawers, you might find bits and pieces of our family history packaged up as a Christmas gift or tucked into a birthday card.

During town festivals or parades she would loan out items to embellish storefronts with century old furniture, vintage toys, costumes and decorations. She was wardrobe mistress for the local high school plays with her collection of purses, shoes, hats and dresses that spanned decades.

Many in Bethany are viewing the Flickr stream, providing comments and helpful identification for people and places that were not documented on some of the pictures. Who would have believed that these photos could be shared not only with Bethany residents but potentially around the world through the internet.

If you care to take a quick peek, please see this public page at the link below.

If you care to see it on Flickr, please go to this link

Ann Templeman Felsted, Virginia Davis Templeman, Bess Tolliver Davis three generations

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quilt Block #9

This is block #9 of my Block of the Month quilting class. This one made me think for a minute. When you follow the pattern it wasn't really a square! Then you have to attach side triangles with their little dog eared corners overlapping the fabric next to it. Finally you turn the piece and attach the green/red larger triangles, again, overlapping.

Here is what it looked like before the final corner pieces.

Here is the back (I know, it's not the perfect quilter lady seams but it won't fall apart!) You can see the little dog ear pieces here.

Now I need to trim it to the correct size and then create the border, which will be difficult. Really, they told us that it would be difficult which is really convenient because we had our last "class" so we're on our own! I may be bringing it into them for help. It's called a Y seam?

Then I do the borders that connect all the 9 blocks. After that I will have the middle of the bedspread completed. That leaves the sides which are also very interesting. Finally I'll have it quilted (I'm not doing it myself due to time constraints and lack of a long arm quilting machine).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Incredible New Ice Cream Flavor

It's an incredible new ice cream flavor- Crunchy without the nuts! What's the secret ingredient?


The first batch of the ice cream was so popular store employees didn't even have a chance to put the product in a display case before eager customers scooped it up the night before its official on-sale date. Customers hoping for a crunchy taste "bombarded" the store the next morning, only to be disappointed, said employee Christian Losciale, who helped create the concoction.
Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream contacted the health department after it sold out of its only batch of the insect-filled snack within hours of its June 1 debut. Employees collected the bountiful bugs in their backyards and removed most of the dead cicadas' wings but saved some for texture's sake.

The cicadas were fully cooked by boiling then covered in brown sugar and milk chocolate. The base ice cream is a brown sugar and butter flavor. The store was going to make another batch for the weekend, but a sign on the door told customers it won't be back until 2024.

Seems like the City of Columbia/Boone County Departrment of Public Health and Human Services couldn't find the proper cooking temperature guidelines next to its listings for beef, chicken, fish and pork. "The food code doesn't directly address cicadas," environmental health manager Gerry Worley said. "We advised against it."

story credit

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Lunacy !

Lunacy! (click photo to enlarge)
It was a heck of a morning, lunacy at its best. I was tired from a restless night with little sleep, the high heat and humidity was playing havoc with my hair and to top it off, I drove away without my work laptop which we are required to bring home every night to be in compliance with our business continuity plan. I discovered my error after driving almost 8 miles which meant turning around and doing it all over again.

Obviously my mood wasn't as good as it should be, and that had the potential to dictate the rest of the day-it was Monday after all! I pulled into the driveway, jumped out and ran into the house to grab my computer, threw it into the car and then discovered it, or should I say them. Big beautiful luna moths hanging onto the light beside my garage.

It was a moth extravaganza to boot! Three lunas and a whole host of brown and tan moths from big ones with curly tails to tiny, pale ones clinging all over my siding and lamp. I'm going to be late, or almost late, to work anyway so why not grab the camera and take a photo? This must be why the tree frogs are clinging to my siding at night. Ymmm, good eatn' (if you are a frog)!

I love luna moths. They instantly brightened the day a little bit, enough to make Monday tolerable. Thank you, lunas, you saved the day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Knee High?

Knee high by the fourth of July?

I'm not so sure if the corn will be knee high by July 4 due to the colder than normal spring accompanied by buckets of rain. We will have some warm weather this week, in fact, the pole and bush beans surrounding our tree branch tripod finally sprouted.

The peas are also doing well, this variety grows only about a foot tall. Our neighbor planted this variety so we strung up some twine to let the tendrils grab ahold just in case. My onion sets sprouted and the chard might be coming up, either that or a weed is overtaking their hills. Only time will tell.

We found a dead opossum at the edge of the garden. I'd post a photo but it is not terribly attractive although there is not much left of him other than teeth and bones. The kids around here have a pretty good knowledge of what animals are made of as they discover bones laying around the woods, sometimes undisturbed so they can view the animal's skeletal structure.
I'm hoping this will lead to a brilliant career in some field of science!