Monday, January 28, 2013

Woodland Finds

Whatever could have caused this?

Hop over and see what you think!

Sorry for the short cuts this week.  
I thought I'd put up some woodland posts with our short stretch of good weather.
Tornado threats the next two days as a result of our 76 degree temps today,
a far cry from the ice we had on Sunday!

We battened down the greenhouse so we'll see how it does, hopefully well,
unless a tree comes down on it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ham Fest ?

My husband asked me if I wanted to go to Ham Fest with him.
I thought I'd see a lot of this.

But what I got was . . .

this  (no, not my car)

It was Winterfest, for ham radio operators,
at the Gateway Convention Center 
in Collinsville, IL which is 
just over the river from St. Louis.

There were lots of tables full of gear,
lots of meters

and tube testers

and radios, new and vintage.

There were shirts (crazy hams!)

I LOVED this- 
too bad it didn't fit.
I wanted a "Frank" shirt for my gardening chores.
How cool is that!  LOL
(really, I wanted this, they were auto shop extras)

After an exhilarating morning, we made our way back home,
across the river,
through the city,
and into town so we could pick up a few things. 

On the way I saw the sort of ham fest
 I was thought we were attending.
Lucky dogs!

photo credit of hams

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Girls and Bonfires

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
The sun was shining and warmth blanketed the ridge
as the girls ran back and forth between each other's homes.

"Where are the girls?" I asked my husband.
"They're up near the garden playing bonfire," replied my husband.
They were gathering sticks and twigs and placing them in the fire pit.
Soon, my granddaughter ran down to the house completely out of breath.
"Where are the matches?"
"GIRLS, get down here," said my husband,
"If you want a fire we'll make one in the pit on the courtyard.
Go get sticks!"

Soon they gathered sticks, twigs and logs, 
and we had the start of a fire.
People began pulling up lawn chairs, 
kids played flashlight tag but sadly, 
I was out of marshmallows!

I picked some dead flower foliage from the garden wall
thinking that I'd just burn them while we had the fire going.

Granddaughter, Taylor, took advantage of the situation,
her impression of a zombie bride!

The next morning, this was all that was left.
A solitary log.

Here is a photo of the dressing table we refinished for her.
I still have to make the dresser scarf and a cushion for her chair.
The dresser is also in place and she's pretty excited about her new arrangement. 
Now we've got to figure out what to do with her little girl stuff, 
which is up to her mother, but it will be leaving my place!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our New House - Greenhouse That Is

I inherited a greenhouse.
My brother & sister-in-law decided to set sail
and move onto a yacht down in Daytona Beach FL
which, although very large, really doesn't lend 
itself to a greenhouse, 
especially when there is fresh crab to be eaten on demand. 

We selected a site by the garden for now.

Erected the sturdy frame.

Added the plastic covering
and rolled up the doors and windows
to let the air through until we are ready to use it.

It will get very good morning sun and then 
hopefully protect the plants from the stronger
afternoon sun once the temperatures warm up.

They had it for several years so there are some
repairs to be made around the zippered doors.
I think I'll get velcro and go around the entire opening, 
then put new plastic on the ends.  I believe JoAnn's 
has material suitable for this. 

Tom is going to make whatever shelving I need
and is even thinking about using the frame
to build something more permanent
once we determine where the best location is.

Now I'll need to read up on what to do and when to start 
planting for zone 5/6  (St Louis outskirts).
Suggestions are welcome!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winging It - Grab and Go Meal Deals

A blogger posed a question on Facebook-
Do you plan your meals
or Wing it?
My response- Wing it-
But let me qualify that statement.
(photo above, pork butts after the smoker)

(After slow cooking all night preparing it for pulling)

We look for really good deals on meat.
Not only do we purchase a hog and process it ourselves,
we watch for grocery specials such as these pork butts.
Yes, we like pork a lot.
At $1.00 per pound, we purchased two good sized butts.
Then my husband smoked them,
we pulled them and vacuum sealed in 1.5 lb packets
so we can just pull out what we need for one meal.
Add some BBQ sauce and sides for a quick meal
or plop it on a bun  and have with your favorite chips.
We do the same with deer, chicken
and a smaller amount of beef.
So, not quite planned, 
but not quite Winging It!
Definitely Grab and Go.

Today's purchase
Chicken Breast $0.99 per pound, purchased 2 packages (limit)
Pork butt $0.99 per pound, one additional package for the freezer.
Muffin mixes $1.00 each
Three frozen  (specialty) pizzas $4.00 each**
Large loaf of white bread $0.99
As a treat- ice cream bars.
Total cents off savings (no coupons)  $36.26

Our freezer with the 1.5 lb packets.

** we make our own pizza very similar to this specialty pizza, 
cracker thin crust with provel cheese (a St Louis creation).  The cost per pizza is about $8-10 for us to make it. Expensive but our pizza is pizza parlor quality.  When we find a similar quality pizza on sale at $4, we can't  pass it up!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cheesy Basil Fritatta Recipe

Another absolutely fantastic, delicious recipe, one  full of 
eggs, potatoes, cheese and herbs, 
compliments of my husband- the cook at our place.

Having too many eggs recently?
Not only are we freezing them for future use, 
but also searching out high egg content recipes.
And why not take advantage of all those freshly laid eggs
since raising those chickens is costing a pretty penny these days?

As a side note- see the celery floating in the canning jar?
It's growing! It's about 1 1/2 inches high now.
And the eggs- lots of them every day, 
even with temperatures in the low teens!

Well- back to the recipe.

12 eggs- lightly whisked but not beaten
Yellow potatoes, sliced- enough to cover the bottom of a 10 inch oven safe skillet
    (we use All Clad)
2 TBL dried onions (or chopped fresh)
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 C milk
1 TBL basil
1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese- use your judgement for amt.
1/2 C cheddar cheese- sliced or shredded- use your judgement for amt.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

On Stove Top
Fry sliced potatoes in butter using the 10 inch oven safe skillet.
Salt and pepper to taste as cooking.
Line bottom of skillet with potatoes.

Prepare Egg Mixture
Whisk eggs in bowl until mixed but not beaten
Add mozzerella
Add milk, onions and basil
(If using fresh onions, cook until tender and add to egg mixture)
Set aside until potatoes are done

Add egg mixture on top of the fried potatoes in skillet.
Cook over medium heat until the bottom of the mixture seems firm.

In Oven (for this recipe we used the regular oven, not convection)
Add cheddar cheese to top of egg and potato mixture
Transfer skillet to preheated oven.
Cook for 20-25 minutes- checking progress occasionally
Once the mixture has puffed up, remove from oven

The only thing that could have made it better was adding bacon- but that goes without saying, doesn't it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Free Reading Material

Here is my super frugal post of the month-
Free Reading Material

In one day I collected 9 free publications.  Actually there were more but these were the ones I was interested in.  You can see some gardening magazines, some municipality news, restaurant reviews, recipes, society news, things to do and "green" magazines.  

Since we don't get into town very often, these magazines give us a little peek into what's going on 
or where we can find products not available in our area. 

All Free.
All can be either recycled, repurposed or composted.
And I didn't even buy a thing.
Except for some garden seeds- how could I pass those up?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pfaff in for Servicing

I have thread wrapped around my take up lever!
Maroon thread, something that I haven't used for a year
and now the poor baby won't sew.
It will be two weeks until I get it back.
What do I do about my block of the month?!
Oh oh.

We purchased this years ago for $500
including the sewing table
and the embroidery attachments.
You can program your own designs but it's 
old school, not the fancy new stuff.
It also has pre-programmed settings.
Someone traded it in and the dealer didn't carry Pfaffs.
They just wanted it out of the showroom
and we arrived at the right time.

I went up to the attic and retrieved my mom's old machine.
Except mom says it wasn't hers ?????
It may be one of my grandmothers, but it looks a lot like Mom's.

It's a Singer 413 zig zag, pretty old but not sure what year.
It might be from the 70s?
I found the manual on line and downloaded it.
I was a little fuzzy on how to thread it.

Now I'm not complaining. . .
Really?  Who do I think I'm kidding-
I'm complaining, although I should not be, 
this is a blessing.

But apparently I've been sewing on a Cadillac.
This is just not the same.
I'm sure it's a matter of getting used to it.
But for my more complicated BOM, I think I'll wait the two weeks.
The Amish quilt uses thicker matial so it may work better.

I am trying to get tensions set and stitch length right.
The knob, which is also reverse, was stuck 
but I have it moving now, which helps.

I will say bobbin threading and insertion is easier on the Singer!
Another plus, my husband dropped my Pfaff off for me 
and spent some time with the repairman.
He showed him how I need to set the machine 
to free motion quilt!

Now I just have wait the two weeks.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Garden Seeds and Catalogues

It's that time!  Seed catalogs and garden planning, 
rearranging where everything will be placed
and for me- setting up our inherited green house!

My brother and sister-in-law have moved onto a boat.
Yep, a boat.
A really, really big boat down in Florida.
I got the greenhouse because it was just not practical
to have it on the back deck of the boat.
So, now it's a matter of where to put it 
and getting it set up and making growing areas in it.

As you can see, I have some seeds already, 
plus some seeds I saved from last season's blooms.
Now I'm starting to collect the seed catalogs.

I really like paper copies. 
I may order on-line, or buy the same seed locally, or both.
Mainly heirloom, in fact always where an heirloom variety is available.
Sometimes I start with plants if I see something special at the garden center
but again, I try to select heirlooms where an heirloom variety exists.

But I love having the copies to carry around or pick up again and again.
I'm still waiting for Baker's Creek but I have looked on-line.  
We're actually close enough to get there and back in a day
if we start early, get back late and don't dilly-dally.

It's so nice planning the garden when all around you is cold and frozen.

Linking to the Country Homemaker Hop

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Likkered Up At Work?

Drinking at Work?
Well . . . . .almost.
It was a mistake --- really!

OK- two things:
1) I wear distance and computer glasses but not to read up close
2) Sometimes--sometimes--I don't read labels

Over the Christmas break my Mom, who was visiting from Arkansas, and I went shopping at a local grocery store as we always do when she visits.  She likes to pick up some products that she can't get at home.  As we walked up and down the aisles there were special displays featuring value priced items and I thought it might be fun to try some of those iced coffee drinks.

I am a regular (hot with sugar and creamer) coffee drinker.  
I've never had one of those packaged coffee drinks before.
And there was a whole display of them, really cheap.
We'll try them!
But we never got around to it.
So I decided to take mine to work.

I got it nice and chilled in the fridge.
I drove to work and put my lunch away, pulled out the coffee drink,
and began walking to my desk.

Now, I had my distance glasses on since I had been driving.
I can't read close up with those glasses but I did notice something strange.
Why can't pregnant women drink this coffee?
Boy, they sure are getting strict with what pregnant women can have.

I looked a little closer at the warning.
WHAT alcoholic beverages?
Oh . . . .MY!
I am walking to my desk at 6:45 AM with a drink in my hand!

I start laughing and can't stop  
(Fortunately, I had not even opened it )
My co-workers are looking at me and I can barely speak.
When I explain what I just did, they told me 
there's probably just a drop of alcohol in the flavoring.
So one of the girls looks.
5% alcohol.
I'm drinking "a beer"
At 6:45 AM, and I'm not even fishing!

I had NO idea.
I thought it was Kahlua FLAVORED!

The manager (not mine) comes over to see the drink.
He's laughing.
He said- Did I over look Coffee Liqueur on the label?
Or perhaps 5% alcohol content?
No, I just couldn't read it.
I can't read anything close with my distance glasses!
And it was in the COFFEE AISLE, not the liquor aisle.
Right there next to the Maxwell House and Folgers.
Who would have guessed?

I tell him- What if I would have brought this for a food day?
Everyone would have wondered why our department was so Happy!

You know what's worse?
I sent Mom's home with her- 
she was driving.
I hope she reads labels! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another Pinky Scrappy Mat

A Scrappy Mat
It even comes with directions- 
Place object HERE --><--
I had fun with this one, placing the lines next to the quarter square triangles.
Then I had this green spotty strip that I thought might look interesting with the other colors.

I'm backing it with a variegated orange,

I'm not sure what to do with the quilting,
at least I can play around with it on my machine since it's small.
I'd like to do something that would keep the direction going in the pattern
but I don't have a machine that will allow me to completely 
free motion quilt.  And I'm not experienced at all in the quilting part.

Suggestions are welcomed!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Corner Blocks- Stretching Problem

I am still working on my original Block of the Month,
this one is Tonga Back to Nature
with fabrics from Timeless Treasures.
I am struggling with the smaller blocks stretching,
even though I am Best Pressing
the heck out of them.
Any suggestions?

This is one of the corner blocks.
(there will be 1/4 inch seams around the edge to eliminate
the hanging green parts)
The entire quilt is pictured below.

This is the center block,  I have since added the border to it.
I've completed all the other blocks 
so after I finish the other three corners
I'll be ready to work on the log cabin pieces next to them
which scares me even more.
They recommend some sort of fabric tape so it won't stretch.
Then there are the hundreds of flying geese.

Linking to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday
and My Simple Country Living Country Homemaker Hop

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Turkeys In the Garden

We had visitors today in our little side garden.
They are huge!
This is where we grow the lettuce and radishes.
My husband quickly took this photo out our window.
Turkeys have exceptional hearing and vision so
it's very difficult to get a good shot when you have to open the door.

Some of you may have read about them visiting our chickens.
This photo was from the other day and posted at this blog

I ran upstairs to the top porch, hoping to sneak up on them, but no luck. 
 As soon as I unlatched and pushed open the screen door,
they heard the "pop" and saw me, even on the second floor.
Then they scattered:
Into the woods and over the brush pile.

They will be back,
every day the make the same journey,
scavenging in the garden areas and visiting chicks
who just may have kicked some grain outside of their fencing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Girl Makes the Soup

A little chicken soup is a good thing,
made by an 8 yr old is even better!
Especially if it's full of dumplings in the end.

She hates regular canned chicken soup,
and hates onions
and peas.
But loves them in the chicken and dumplings
because it's homemade
and tastes like real food.

Pops is the cook around here
and Taylor had her first lesson:
 proper knife handling,
onion peeling and slicing
chopping the celery
and putting them in the pot properly
so they don't splash hot water all over the place.

In the pot they went with the chicken, 
cooking for hours until it was time to
strain everything out.
It was a family affair
I picked the meat off the chicken bones,
and Pops added fresh vegetables
and made the dumplings.

For a girl that doesn't like canned chicken soup, she had two helpings!
By summer he'll be teaching her the art of Bar-b-Que.
It's a good thing, I never learned to cook when I was young
and while I might be able to cook basic things now, 
I'm terrible at meal planning (so it all is done at the same time)
In fact, you'd better like to eat in courses with me at the helm.

How old were you when you were taught to cook?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Keeping the Fire Burning

The fire has been burning since Christmas Eve
keeping the first floor about 70 degrees.
Upstairs is considerably cooler
but only the bedrooms and Girl Cave are upstairs.
It's OK to be a little cold upstairs,
it is better sleeping temperatures 
and you get to have lots and lots of covers!

Today it reached all the way up to 39 degrees,
a veritable heat wave, 
people were walking around without coats!
We may have some rain tomorrow
and I hope it washes away the ice on the road
rather than give it another frozen layer!

Keep Warm!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I'm A Chicken On the Road

I'm a chicken when it comes to driving on snow and ice.
I've taken back my Jeep these past two days  because,
 while in town the roadways are beautiful and clear, 
they sure aren't here!
My husband can get my Focus up and down the hill.
But not me.
I'm a chicken.

Any plowing is done by the people who live here
and we only salt the steep hill which leads to the county road.
But the salt didn't do so well this year and the hill was icy.
After a couple of days, it's now pretty clear going down
until you get to the end where there are icy patches.
Up here it's still snow/ice packed.
And  my driveway is on a  pretty good slope-
we're at the top of the ridge.

I back down our long drive- over culverts and around trees,
 because there's nowhere to turn around in the morning, 
in the dark.
 I know I'll slide and end up tumbling down the back side of the drive,
down the slope and crashing into trees.
No doubt about it.

So, being the chicken that I am, I have taken the Jeep to work
because I don't want to go up and down in my car.
The husband says, " Don't worry, you'll only slide at the very bottom of the hill."
(Right, don't worry)
"The county road is clear, you'll come to a stop when you slide onto it."
(Great, how comforting)

Maybe tomorrow I'll take the car.
Maybe not.
I love my Jeep.