Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Chickens are Ducks

I had no idea, none whatsoever.   My chickens are ducks.  I'm waiting for them to unzip the chicken suit and pull out their little webbed feet.  Really, these new little Buffs even sound like a duck.  There's no cheep, cheep, no bwak, bwak.  It's somewhere between a quack and a honk.  They're ducks I tell you!

I'll prove it.

See the sprinkler?  It's been over 100 for the past several days so the hubby decided to cool off the chicks by giving them a little shower.  Sure, they are birds and birds like baths- hence the birdbath.  But these guys danced around it in, soaking their wings and then laid in the puddles.  And quacked.  

They are ducks for sure.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dry as Bones

It's dry as bones around here, as dry as it's been since the 80's according to the radio.  We're struggling to keep everything watered, but there are so many areas.  I can't image what the electric bill (for the well pump) will be.  There's no rain in sight and temperatures are predicted to soar.

Thursday 108
Friday 108
Saturday 106

No one will be pushing up daisies in my garden, there won't be a daisy left!

At least I'll be cool driving to and from work.   No?
Oh yeah, I forgot- no airconditioning in the car!
A friend asked me what I will do.  Get hot, what else?  Oh well, it's only an hour drive!
My husband offered to drive me the next couple of days but I'll choose hot.  That's four hours a day in traffic and using (yipes) Diesel Fuel $$$

Please send rain.  
About two or three full days of a light, gentle rain.
Oh, and while you're at it, send a pool too, for when the rain stops.
And a snowcone machine- Oh how I love snow cones, especially those Italian ices.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Swan Boat

Swan Boat

There is a house up the way from us that I fell in love with.  There is a red barn, pasture, in ground pool (I believe) and a charming lake with a gazebo and a SWAN BOAT!  A real swan boat.

I can only imagine loading up the swan with some plump pillows, some ice cold tea and  a good book.  I'd float around and watch the clouds float by or maybe throw bread to schools of fish.  So relaxing. So lovely.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Lurks Beneath?

I was so pleased that my husband brought in the second tomato of the season, until I took a closer look.  There's a hole.  Oh oh.   It was still a bit green so I left it on the counter hoping the hole was nothing more than that, a hole, empty.
The next day there was "stuff" on the cutting board.
What the Heck?!
I assumed it might have been worms crawling out- little tiny ones?

A Big One, merrily munching a tunnel through the tomato. 

So what do we have now?
Japanese Beetles

And guess what?
Little "Mama" our half blind raccoon, is a mom again, and again, and again and again.
I looked out the window and what did I see?
Four  pudgy raccoons staring at me.
sitting in the side garden, smelling the marigolds.
It was a toss up-
An awwww moment
or a 
Arrrrgh moment.

Why Mama?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

River Dogs Love Cookies

Vacation Day 8 
Sand Ford Access - Meramec Caverns
More River Fun

Jetting around, stirring up waves to swamp the kids!

Meeting new friends, even if they do have four legs. . . 

and like cookies.

The poor thing swan across the river, fighting the current and was promptly squirted with a water cannon by some child.  Poor dog.  She made her way over to us and decided she liked us better, or maybe it was the sandwiches and cookies!  After a brief rest in the shade of our canopy (on my cover-up I will add) she once again made her way back home.  She was a sweet one!

Up river, past the put-in, is Meremec Caverns plus a zip line that sends the more adventurous flying over the river, over the boaters and campers.  Pretty cool!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Locker Hook, Codfish and Caves

 Sullivan, MO

I discovered Locker Hook Rug Making today during our visit to Melear Fabrics in Sullivan, MO, about a thirty minute drive from our place- about the same as driving to my quilt shop in town.  I  must have passed this place a dozen times without realizing it was a quilt shop, perhaps a new favorite haunt!

Prices are very reasonable, in fact there was a table full of $1.99 and $2.99 fabric with many of the others in the $6 -$7 range.  It's not unusual to see $8-$11 or better in town.  They also carry Moda, something I have to travel over an hour to get!  Back in the corner is their Grab Bag section, scrappy items and bags full of precut 1 inch strips that can be used for Locker Hooking rugs!  I have never hear of this before, only the woolen latch hooking.  This uses latch hook material and twine to form the grid in which you string folded cotton material through the openings and over the twine (to lock it in place) using what appears to be an darning  needle.  The example above demonstrates a pretty heart scrappy pattern.  I enlarged the portion of the photo with the needle.  You can purchase a book that demos the entire process or look on line.

Here is a YouTube demo  Locker Hook Demo

They also have several quilts hanging on their walls above display cases.  This is one of my husband's favorites, he loves bright colors.  They also had a nice Realtree pattern with a center deer panel that he liked.

I thought their block of the month was outstanding; however, I don't know applique yet.  This is something I would love to do in time.

Hard to believe I'd passed this several times.  I think we normally turn just before this section of the service road (Hwy 44).

Lunch was at the Du Kum Inn, a family place where they have homemade pies that I've never tried.  Not that I wouldn't like to, it's just that the lunches are so huge that you can't eat another bite!  The children's portion of spaghetti was as large as I make for the family plus came with a bread basket and jello.  Too bad we were not going home or Taylor could have taken it with her. Tom chose the daily special, a lemon pepper cod with salad and sides.  They also have fried chicken and ham steaks- all the home cooking favorites.

I have TMJ so sandwiches were out for me so I chose a nice side salad (a good sized side salad with croutons, cheese, tomato and greens) plus a way too large order of toasted ravioli with sauce.  The cracker basket had bread sticks!  I haven't seen packaged bread sticks in ages.  I remember cracker baskets used to always have a large selection of them in many flavors plus my favorite, seasoned Rye Krisps.  

We were just down the way from Meramec State Park so we stopped by the visitor center that has some very nice hands on displays especially kid friendly.  

Tom and Taylor ventured into a small cave near the playground while I chose to relax in the shade.  Then it was home to take a nap! I just couldn't fall asleep last night and, after two hours of laying there, decided to get up and read.  I finally got back to bed by 2 AM and slept unusually late- 7:30!  Strange, I'm usually out like a light.  I guess that's what a week off will get you.  It will sure be hard to get up at 4 AM on Monday! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cordials for Christmas!

Cordial Making

 "What did you do on your vacation, Kathy?" my co-workers might ask. I might reply,  "Why we made liqueurs, doesn't everyone?"  I knew there was a reason to save my Hobby Farm Home article on making cordials.  They take about six months to properly age so that should make a pretty happy Christmas around here!  

I will print their recipe at the bottom of the post but here are the steps we took:

  • We started with twelve cups of fruit, in our case divided between cherries and strawberries.
  • The recipe calls for gallon jars but I could not find any so we went with half gallon.
  • Rinse and remove stems from the fruit, leaving pits in the cherries.  I cut the strawberries in half.
  • Get cheap vodka - 1.75 liters, 80 proof.  I used an entire bottle and part of another for six jars.
  • Place 2 cups of a single fruit in each jar, fill with 1 1/2 cups vodka, just so the fruit is covered.
  • Tighten the lid and store in a dark, cool place.
  • Shake the mixture up every two or three days for four weeks.
  • These are the first steps, read below for the full description.

Recipe to make six cups of cordial. (example using cherries)

  The real recipe is for gallon jars, not my half gallon.  Depending on what you use, you'll  need to divide it accordingly.
4 cups cherries, stems removed
3 cups vodka
3 cups sugar
2 cups water (distilled if you are on well water with iron)
Large jars with lids

Mix cherries and vodka in a sterilized, gallon-sized glass jar with tight fitting lid.  Let stand in a dark, cool place stirring every 2-3 days for about four weeks. 

After the four weeks have passed, bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (This is important- it must cool - Kathy's note) Add to fruit mixture and let stand for four more weeks.

Rack mixture by straining through a fine mesh sieve to remove cherries.  Transfer strained cordial to sterilized glass containers with tight fitting lid.  Cover and let stand a few more months to mellow flavor.

Makes 6 cups.
Hobby Farm Home Nov/Dec 2011 issue

It mentions that you can use grain alcohol (190 proof) but you would need to dilute it with equal parts water. It's more expensive than cheap vodka so we opted for vodka.  We also did not sterilize the jars although they were washed well.  The vodka (alcohol) is a sterilizing agent, as the article mentions, but they said they  sterilized for added precaution. The links provided for additional cordial recipes do not call for sterilization.

The article also provides directions for a maraschino cherry recipe that uses the cherry liquor you make here as the base for "real" maraschino cherries, not the sugary ones you get in kiddie cocktails. That might be in the making too; however, I need to make the liqueur before I can make the maraschino cherries.

 I also saw found a recipe for brandied cherries in Mary Jane's Farm magazine (June/July 2012).  They started with a high quality brandy rather than vodka and heated the sugar and brandy before adding the fruit, plus some other variations.  They had some dipped in chocolate!  Wow! I'll bet it's good too!

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River Rats

River Rats
Meramec River - River Round 

Woo Hoo- The river rats hit the water.  Taylor stayed with us Wednesday while Mommy was at work.  We headed for the river on this 95 degree day.  The water was pleasantly cool, the current running at a good clip but not to worry.  If I stood up it's only waist deep!  We were both squashed down to keep cool while the river is running so low.  We parked our chairs in the shade of  a sycamore while we jumped in.  What a surprise to find myself freezing, yes freezing in 95 degree weather, as the wind kicked up a good breeze.  Step in the sun- boiling.  Step in the shade, freezing until dry!

At one time there were about 20 turkey vultures circling us, dipping down and then riding the thermals to soar higher and higher.  We decided to try and lure them in so . . . .

Taylor played dead.  Some flew over but apparently she wasn't appetizing, even to birds that eat roadkill!  Ohhh, what a dig that was!  I guess she needs to be stinkier.  LOL

After peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a little more swimming we took a trip up river to the bluffs.

Being Wednesday, we had it virtually to ourselves.  Only one other family appeared on our gravel bar but way on the other side, kids and two dogs in tow.

We passed the pretty bluffs and then made our way down river to the put-out.  Ribs and fresh corn were waiting at home!  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vacation Day 4- Birthday!

VACATION DAY 4 - Tuesday

Happy Birthday to Me,
Some fabric I see,
For my Buck a Block quilt squares,
And the best is it's free!

My friend from work gave me a card before I took off for the week.  Inside was a lovely card and cash attached to a print off of my quilt shop's website featuring this Buck a Block pattern.  She didn't have time to drive all the way out to Eureka to get a gift card so she wrapped the cash up so I could purchase some of the coordinating fabric.

This is a tutorial for me so I can practice the different types of blocks.  There were two color choices, this green/light green (very center of the blocks) or an orange/magenta.  I thought the greens would be better, (although I would have loved red and white)!  I didn't want the batik border but I do like the dark blue stars around the center.

I took suggestions from the shop personnel and my husband who accompanied me.  Some of my choices are on the table pictured here.  I don't want the light blue either but the fabric I had in mind was not available.

I finally decided on the two greens, of course.
The blue for the stars,

And this variegated batik that ranges from a yellowish green to mid green/blue to medium blue.  We figure that I would make 1/2 sq triangles from the darker blue and section off the strips of color so I have three main ranges.  I could scatter them or work the spectrum across or down.   I also chose some 1930s reds because my June coupon covered 25% off anything with flowers.

She gave me the pattern early since I purchased some fabric.  I'll still have to get the sashing and cornerstones.  I may have a border fabric here at home, I know I have a backing that will work with these colors.

I quilted the blue/white table topper I made.  Please don't look closely- I don't do this very well but I"m learning.

I mocked up some mug rugs for Taylor to practice on.  I have a green and yellow one to hand finish the binding now.  I'm using an adhesive to place the batting and backing together, then pinning it but find it still pulls a little.  I think I might need to baste in a few places and cut it out later.

Then it was lunch at Applebees- a Club House Grill.  With my TMJ I can't bite it but treated it as if it were a knife and fork sandwich.  Very good after they brought new bacon- well done as I ordered.  I just cannot eat bacon with all that fat on it.

Then it was a quick stop at Schnuck's to pick up essentials.

It's across the street from our old church, the one where my kids attended school until 8th grade.  It sure has changed in the years since we moved away.  The other side of the Schnuck's center borders on our old subdivision, we could have walked had we stayed but the town grew too fast for us.  When we moved out there there wasn't even one electric stop light, now there are banks of them.

Tonight I read up on my next project- I'll share that with you with photos.  Christmas might be pretty tasty if it works as planned.  Then I'll probably sit with the cats on the porch or go up and quilt a little more.  My bobbin thread ran out and I figured that was God's way of saying, "Take a break, enjoy your birthday!"

LOL- Hope your day was pretty darned good too!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Long Arms, Guano and Abominable Pea Biters

Church in the morning.
Movies all afternoon.
Ribs and rice, fresh peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers with Ranch dip.
It was nice but with a sore back, just too much sitting!

Abominable Pea Biter
We had to put up chicken wire to keep the Little Digger out.  Now the deer could see the barrier.  So it was up and over the fishing line, stomp around the garden and bite the peas.  Pie tins and steamer will be going up next.  After that, well . .  When is deer season?

What's done is done.  On with the vacation- Robertsville and Beyond!
We left the house, traveling down Oak Ridge to Calvey Creek road to where it meets the county road.  You can't miss it- Paintball and Horse farms.  Just turn here.

Yes, the paintball field at just a mile or so away from our place.  Here's a funny (sadly funny) story.  One day there were police sirens screaming down the county road.  Helicopters were circling our area, not a normal event.  What's up? The police received a call from the paintball field that basically said,  "My wife just shot me."  Of course she did, it's a Paintball field.   Oops! She shot him SEVERAL times, and not with a paintball gun.  What a way to call 911 -- from a paintball field.

Our produse stand.  Yes, produse.  You can get it next to the cauk which is near the fishin equipment.
(click to enlarge photo)
A couple of years ago there was a terrific produce stand here but the landlord is not very people friendly.  She ended up moving and it was unoccupied last year.  It isn't exactly the sort of place you go in- more like you select and pay outside, parking along the road.  This year a friend of the landlord turned it into Roberts (as in Robertsville) Hardware.  We haven't been yet but I had to take a photo.
It's our town.

Across the street is the only real retail business.  There used to be a liquor store that sold some limited grocery items.  That was it.  The entire business district of Robertsville was destroyed when it burned to the ground.  We're growing though.  We have a couple of  auto repair places, a fire station, ambulance and a post office.  Catawissa, about a mile away has two bars, a gas station, used car lot and two churches.  That's one bar per church.  There used to be three churches but it moved to Robertsville where it's ahead of the bars, at least for now.

Shaw's Nature Reserve is at the top of the cut through between our place and the highway.  It's part of the Missouri Botanical Gardens and has events many times during the year.  See the Welcome Center link for more information on the natural habitat preservation.  We stopped to look at the bookstore but may come back to drive the loop or walk some of the shorter trails.  They have a plant sale each Mothers' Day weekend and there's a festival coming up in September.  One of my daughter's friends from elementary school lived on the grounds in an historic home so she got to go in and visit where the public could not.  There is an admission price for all but the welcome center.

It was on to Jackman's Fabrics, a fantastic fabric shop for quilts, upholstery and clothing.  It has been there forever, over 100 years, and it is huge at 15,000 sq ft.! This is walking just inside the doorway.  There is another room behind this!  I haven't even walked the entire store yet.

Beautiful samples are displayed with hundreds of fabric bolts.
Classrooms are off to the side, upholstery and drapery fabric in the rear plus notions and bargain bins.
The wall are covered with shelves top and bottom that hold bolts of  fabric plus there are perhaps five rows of special displays (as in the first photo), patterns, books and a huge sewing/embroidery machine section.

They have long arm and embroidery machines set up.  

She let me try out the long arm- while this is a test machine that several people had tried, I was working on the flower where the needle is.  Pretty awesome!

It was on to Worm's Way- composting, hydroponics, beer and wine making.  It is just around the corner from Jackman's and while we were all the way in town we decided to see if there was anything there to keep the little pea biters out of the garden. We knew they carried a pulsating sprinker with a motion sensor.  It delivers a four second blast at anything that moves but it's a gamble at $70, so we passed.  They did have an  interesting hydroponic system or florescent light systems with the proper spectrum, not household or office lighting.   I need to think about a seed starting area so we looked around.

Hydroponic herbs

Vines, peppers and exotic plants.
They say many urban apartment dwellers or those with little ground are interested in growing indoors.  It's a pretty expensive start up cost but if you want fresh herbs and vegetables in the winter and have the space, it's available.  

Worms way is known for top notch products, mostly organic.  Seed is non GMO but limited varities.  They have bat guano, all sorts (who would have thought), composting materials, worm farms, lawn and garden plus the beer and wine making supplies.  I was also hoping for soap making supplies but no luck.

The times they are a changing.
This used to be a great Chinese buffet, all the regular offerings, a sushi bar, Mongolian BBQ, an American and Italian section, chocolate fountain and salad bar.  They also had strange and exotic things I'd have to try with my eyes shut.  You could go in and omit all the normal Chinese entres and choose chicken feet or a humongous fish (eyes and all), dumplings that looked exactly like peaches, shrimp, scallops and more. 
Not any longer.  They are obviously feeling the economy and the pressure by the hundred other restaurants that have popped up in this newly expanded flood plain- it was underwater during the last Big flood.  I hope the levy doesn't fail again.  It used to be a small airport and bottom farm land.  Now it's one strip center after another, hotels, fancy restaurants, diversions.   

While we were down in the bottoms it was off to Rombach Farms to see what produce they may have in.  Nothing much local so we just stopped to look.  It's been here forever too, since 1914!  I remember going when I was a kid so we took ours there too.  

They decorate for Halloween.  Pumpkin mountains, forts to climb around, witches, scarecrows, produce and more.  Fond memories for a few generations. 

Pumpkin mountain from their website,

We made a full circle today, coming back through the other side of town. This is a Pacific, Mo home that was salvaged several years ago.  The color is unusual but the view outstanding.  It stands, raised, at the main intersection.   You can watch traffic go by and trains pass.  It's a block or two walk to town, a couple more to the little market.  

Just thought I'd share my day.
Tonight I quilt.