Monday, November 17, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Since I am known at the Farmers Market for my jams and preserves, I get alot of questions about them. So I thought I should show some of my techniques. This is more for the newbie but you never know when an idea might work out for the best; even for us old-timers. Case in point. I have always made my butters on the stove. Cutting the apples and pears up and simmering with apple juice in stock pots till they are tender. Running them thru the Foley mill and then adding sugar and spices and either canning as applesauce or continuing to cook down into butters. Well, this time I decided to try it another way. I was pressed for time as I am racing against the weather to get all my plants inside and the decks cleaned off before the hard frosts that are on their way. I couldn't be inside stirring pots of apples and be outside hauling carts of plants and planters. So I went downstairs to the canning room and looked around. I couldn't put it in the electric roaster to cook down because I was using that for some butters already cooking. The crock pots weren't big enough to handle all the fruit. But I did have several turkey roasters that go in the oven. And I thought. If I could cook on top of the stove, why not in the oven? I put the oven to about 200 degrees F. and put the roasters in. I also added some cranberries to one of the batches. Then I went outside and got to work. When I got back inside after several hours of work, the house smelled yummy! Like a crisp Fall afternoon. I put those batches thru the Foley and into crockpots to begin the cooking down operation. And started the process in the oven all over again. If anyone is wondering, I use a mix of apples for my butters. I grow Delicious, Fuji, Gala, and Braeburns here. The lady down the road had a huge box of Granny Smiths she was giving away and I bought some Pippins, Cameos, and Honey Crisps from the orchard down the street. You can also add pears and as I mentioned earlier, I added cranberries to a batch. I make cranberry apple pie, so why not butter? Anyway, I digress. So apples bake quite well in the oven. In fact, I turned the oven down a smidge more and baked some thru the night. So to make apple butter, which is really what I started out to talk about. Take a mix of apples, cut them in quarters, leaving the peel, core and seeds in and add them to a pot, crockpot, roaster with apple juice, cider, or even water if that's all you have on hand. Just enough liquid to keep it from sticking and burning. Cook until very soft. Now I should again go back and say if you don't have a Foley or jelly strainer, you can peel and core and cook the apples that way. Then mash or use a blender. I like the extra nutrients and flavor you get with all the other stuff, plus it's alot easier. So keep an eye out at yard sales and invest in a Foley mill. Once you have the fruit cooked and smashed into pulp, you have some options. You can eat it that way, or you can add some ingredients to it. If I am making it for my family, I just add some cinnamon red hot candies to it for color and flavor. Then I can it or freeze it. Mom left me wonderful memories of frozen applesauce with ice crystals throughout. Nothing better! Or the kids eat it straight from the pot so you don't have to worry about any further steps! When I am making it to sell, I add white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, or Splenda, depending what kind I am making. I use cinnamon, cloves, even some nutmeg and cardamon, again depending on what I am making. This is now applesauce. If you want butter, begin the cooking down process. Depending on the size of the batch and what and where you are cooking it, this will take from an hour to several hours. When I do my electric roasters, they can simmer for days. The juicier the fruit and the amount of liquids you use all determine the length of time to cook down. For a butter, you want it thick. Thick enough to stay on the spoon. It will darken and smell heavenly! I usually reduce it by at least half. Stir it to make sure it doesn't burn. Trust me, if you scorch it, you will taste it! And that's alot of time and effort to have ruined. I hope thru all my wandering off subject, you decided to try your hand at this. It really is fun and there's no better aroma to scent a home. And think of the compliments you'll get when you offer someone some warm applesauce or butter from the pot! Or give as a gift. We are having our annual pumpkin carving party tomorrow and you better believe I'll have some in a crockpot for the kiddos! Have fun and Happy Fall Y'all!
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I am certainly in a mood. I watched the last episode of Outlander night and I'm very upset. I can't wait until April for the new season. I just can't! They can't pull me into their story and then take it away like that! I belong in that story. I have never felt that strongly not even with Downtown Abbey. I should be living in that time, that moment. It takes me back to my younger years at boarding school where I immersed myself in historical romances. I could not get enough of them and indeed like the story behind Outlander, I was literally transported back to those times and places. It was such a rude awakening to have to come back to the present. Life was so much better in those stories. I never wanted to be the 'lady of the manor', but living the simple life of the village,in a simple cottage with gardens,meadows,and animals. Loving strongly with no pretense. Being myself and not living up to others expectations. Enjoying the simple things, working hard but proud of of what came of that hard work. I would be a healer, someone that people and animals came to for help. Perhaps a witch, wandering in the woods for herbs and weeds to distill into potions and poultices. A gypsy soul that could pick up and travel the lands. Wandering the moors, waysides, and beaches. I always loved to read. I would come alive in the pages of a book. I would feel the emotions of a well-written word. I would sigh, scream, sob. I could spend days reading and hate when it was finished. I devoured books. When I went to the library, I would typically bring back a bagful. Eagerly read them and go back for more. Reading came so easily. I would know how a sentence ended before I had read it. I could read almost as fast as I could turn the pages. It came easily to me. I gave up all that when I turned 40. I developed presbyopia, a disease that usually occurs beginning at around age 40, when people experience blurred near vision when reading, sewing or working at the computer. I strained to see the words and put complete sentences together. What had come so naturally to me, like breathing was now forced and uncomfortable. I got headaches as I squinted to see. Other hobbies I loved like sewing, cross stitch became unbearable. I struggled to use 'readers'. They were a necessary evil. I couldn't even see the computer at work or at home. And I was bitterly aware of giving up things I loved to do just because of aging. Nothing like reality bursting the bubbles of daydreams. Waking to a windy stormy morning. Even the chickens are reluctant to leave their cozy perches. But curiosity brings them out to see what goodies I have brought them this morning. Smokey, the coop kitty waits on the roof overhang for his plate of food. The dogs are lined up at the gate, barking excitedly to see him. Hoppy, the bunny happily scratches in the dirt and rubs his chin on branches and nestles the hens, looking for his favorites. I need to get busy. I have a vintage sale this weekend while Betsy does market for me. Last minute projects to complete. If the wind dies down and it gets drier, I have painting to do. A vanity needs a fresh look, table tops need their coats of urethane, and magnets need their topcoats. The canning ring pumpkins are strung and waiting for their paint or decoupage. I think I will bake some bread. While I wait for the storms to abate. While I dream of Outlander.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Well, we've been busy working in the greenhouse. I don't know if I mentioned but we woke up one morning several weeks ago to it on fire! Damaged the front wall and side and burned tables and plants down that side. Melted lots of exhaust fans (we think this is what started it) and wiring, a huge shelf melted with all my fertilizers on it, pots, etc. The saving grace was after it burned thru the gas line, it also burned thru the water line so it was spraying water as it burned. Still haven't got the gas bill! I found it about 5 am when I went out to open the chickens so it must have been dark when it was going for no one called the fire dept. and there must have been alot of dark smelly smoke. So we are going thru all the plants, digging the soil out off the floor, replacing benches, plastic, mechanics, etc. Lots of extra work at a busy time of year anyway. And alot of expense right now isn't welcome with all my medical bills and the fact I can't work right now. But still very fortunate that no one was hurt and the fire was contained in a small area and was able to be put out quickly. Farmers Market is still going and busy with jam making. Tomatoes and peppers are really coming on in the garden as are cukes and squash. Really a bumper crop of everything this year! I've done a couple of vintage shows and have a couple more this fall before the Christmas craft shows start. I think I've found my niche in these shows. I love the people, the 'junk' and everything about it. And just the creative process in making something out of old, found objects. I love it! Got in a camping trip over Labor Day weekend. That was alot of fun and glad the whole family was there. And everything worked in the RV which was a plus! I realized how much I miss the sounds and smells of campfires and how more relaxed everyone is. I even enjoy washing dishes outside in a dishpan with water heated on the cook-stove. trying to get together an end of the year plant sale. Need to reduce the inventory just in case we don't get plastic on the greenhouse this winter. Plus with my feet, I don't know about keeping the nursery business going like it is. I can't keep up with all the work that goes into it and Hubby is slowing down quickly with his own health problems. Lots of ideas to mull over this winter. Our granddaughter Jessica turned 20 years old on Saturday. That really makes me feel old! And another school year has started. And Christmas just around the corner! Where has the time gone? I'm still trying to spring clean and haven't got all the summer projects completed. My computer is still acting up and haven't budgeted for a new one. Hard to use Pinterest because of it and I am going thru withdrawals! And trying to keep my laser printer in toner for my crafts is a nightmare. So I am way behind on posting pictures of the shows, etc. I've been told Etsy will be going thru some major changes so trying to get more 'face' time on Facebook. But I get stalled when I check in on all my fun auction groups and go shopping instead of advertising my wares! I guess if I could post pics better I could sell some of my stuff on them. Just can't take all the time sitting here when I should be canning or in the garden or getting more stuff made for Market on Saturday. If only I could clone myself! Speaking of sitting here; my canner load is just about done so will sign off for now. Hope everyone is having a great summer and got to relax with family and friends this year. And be prepared. We have a frost warning coming down for tonight and tomorrow night. Get the covers out!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I've been watching the celebration of Hoda (Today Show)turning 50 last week. She has been through and done so much! It made me think back on my own life. Have I done all I set out to accomplish? Am I better now for everything I've lived thru? What more do I need to do and get done? What direction am I heading towards? My career. Because of injuries and surgeries, I can no longer work in the field I have always worked in. Not really a career, more of a job to help support the family. My home business. I suddenly have a lot more time to invest in it. Need it more than ever now but not able to do as much physically as I need to help it thrive. And it's at the turning point of staying the same size or gearing up to the next level which means acquiring more land, opening a shop and hiring employees. I dreamed as a young married girl of writing. Books, poems,songs. It didn't matter. I guess I started by writing this blog. And I've posted some poems. Maybe I'll try e-books. I have children's stories squirreled away somewhere. I wanted a family of my own. As an adopted child, I always felt left out, sitting on the sidelines. The best moments of my life were holding my children and grandchildren for the first time. They were truly mine. From me, of me. They complete me. I want my children happy. I want everyone healthy. I want to spend more time with family. I want to enjoy the simple things. I want to make my life more simple. Things I never had enough time to savor; or forgot how to take time. Sunrises and sunsets. Lying in bed and listening to the birds singing in the garden. Dusk in a hammock after a hot summer day hearing the frogs and crickets and gazing at the stars. Holding hands after dinner with hubby. Rising early and taking an impromptu drive to the mountains or woods. I want to be a hippie again. Bake the bread, make soap and candles and cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Things I did newly married when money was scarce and I had all day in front of me. Get back to simpler times. I have wander lust for the first time since in 40 years. I want to devour the roadways and visit new places and old ones, forgotten. I want to wade in creeks meandering down mountainsides. I want to smell dark forests after a rainstorm. I want to hear the roar of the ocean and taste the salt on my skin. I can stop and put up my canopy along the road and sell my crafts. I can hunt for treasures. I can expand my horizons. Most importantly I want to feel I accomplished. I want inner peace. I don't want to look back and regret. Go forward! And here's to another fulfilling 50 years! Happy Birthday Hoda! Patti I just want to add that I am so saddened by the suicide of Robin Williams. He did not take the easy way out. The easy way is to take a pill, take a drink, cry yourself to sleep. Until the pain goes away. His pain never went away. Thank you Mr. Williams for helping us forget that pain, if just for a moment. If only we could have done the same for you.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Let me start off by saying my Adobe Flash plugin keeps crashing so no posting pictures. I have been taking progress pics of the 1989 Leisurecraft RV we purchased recently. We knew going in it needed a little work but man were we in for a surprise when we started tearing it apart! A leak up at the cab-over window had been disclosed but it actually entailed more repair then they told us. There was no structure left in that area so that meant adding metal and wood and redoing the whole edge cap on the outside and all the wood walls and ceiling inside. Then we noticed the outside vinyl on that side of the RV rippled so we peeled that back after taking out all the windows and found the wood was literally dripping wet! So we tore out all that wood and then re-laminated the vinyl back to the new walls, scraped and re-caulked and butyl-puttied the windows back in and sealed the whole roof edge with new metal and vinyl stripping. In the back master bedroom we started replacing the inside walls and ceiling. We then discovered the wood in there sopping wet so we are in the process of taking out the closets and cupboards and replacing all that wood. We have heaters going to help dry it out as we are having cool weather with showers. The one good thing we found was the nest of termites in the wall had been drowned bu all the water! We have the roof tarped till it stops raining so we can put the roof sealant on and the new various vents that we replaced up there. Lots of visits to the local RV parts store plus we are keeping FedEx and UPS in business! We joke that once we get all the repairs done we will have a brand new RV. At least we will know that everything is done right. And I haven't even got to go in and start the decorating! And I haven't got to camp in it yet! I would really love to take it to some vintage shows around the area plus maybe Roundtop Texas in September for the big antiques flea market? We are figuring it gets about fifty cents a mile so.... Will post pictures as soon as possible and let you see the progress. Wish me luck that we don't find more problems! Well. I spoke too soon. Just after I posted this Dan came in and said "guess what?" The vinyl roof is sopping wet and he can see daylight thru it in spots. So now we might have to replace the roof instead of just putting new sealant down. How long has this been leaking and why didn't the former owners (you know who you are) just be honest and do a full disclosure? I am very frustrated right now. I am just grateful that Dan is able to do the work but he should be out enjoying it instead of working on it!
Thursday, June 19, 2014
I'm humming that old Alice Cooper song. We have one of our grandchildren staying with us for a couple of weeks. It has become a tradition for one of them to stay with us when school first lets out. We have 'adventures'. Most likely it is Grandpas way of getting to be a kid again and thinking I won't notice who's instigating who! We did plan to go camping but the weather put a kibosh in that. So we are working on the RV and getting it shipshape for next week hopefully. Two of our grandchildren go to all year school which means they are still in school. We watch them in the morning before they catch the bus. We have already warned their parents that they might be 'home-schooled' for the week if we kidnap them and take off in the RV! I'm also preparing for a vintage/junk show at Foxwood near Newport this Saturday. Talk about getting in under the wire. The topcoat is drying as we speak on the headboard garden bench, chicken wire is awaiting another coat of paint for the picture frames, and the chicken feeder pendant lights haven't even been wired. But I work best under pressure it seems so all is on schedule! I am writing this listening to snoring going on in the front room and nearby bed. I made the family those chocolate chip cookie in a coffee mug thingys and I think I od'd them 'cause they are passed out! Chalk up another success to Pinterest! I might of mentioned that when Patty and I escaped to Long Beach Wa for a peninsula yard sale, we met Montana Dan, a junk seller from, you guessed it, Montana. Well he called me this morning and said he would be down my way next week with a load of junk for me to go thru! Yea me! Can't wait to see what he has found! Hope its more butter churns, enamel pans, and rusty stuff! Well, morning is coming early and I need my beauty sleep. Talk to you soon! Patti
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Lost thoughts -- at night -- sleep evades me---- Memories drift back and forth-- long thought lost but resurfacing-- the rain hits the roof and rolls down off the edge-- onto moist tall grass-- the smell of damp dark earth and crispness of spring air--- fragrance of flowers blooming stark white against black night--- I calm my steps in the quiet stillness --- slight rustling ---- I am not alone---- I feel fingers move my hair--- trace a line from neck down spine-- my hair lies limp -- my head bent down-- eyes closed-- warm breath-- caresses----- captures----- kisses rain down - gentle like a breeze --- fingers play at my skin---- teasing----- flirting----- brushing back clothing--- searching for bare flesh---- --------- I am young again---- before age has done its savage work---- before weights of responsibility have worn down--- back to a time of careless freedom--- love is there --- no constraints no consequence ---- my lover and I----- and the moon dancing past clouds----- no words needed----- talking with hands--- melting down into wet grass and soft earth--- enveloping us like natures quilt---- sleep comes later----- soft and deep---- innocent --- memories fade...................
Monday, June 16, 2014
Figured I better catch everyone up to speed on how my Springs been going. I've been on Facebook more than usual and so posting and catching up with everyone there. Adding new friends and business acquaintances and following events. My foot is still healing. well, the bones have all set but having a hard time walking. Taking a hiatus from physical therapy which I'm supposed to be doing four times a week. Got a $1000 bill after insurance so trying to absorb that before going back. I can't walk at all barefoot and thank God for my Birkenstock sandals or I would be walking around in hiking boots. I have no balance and can't move the foot sideways or flex it over uneven ground so it's really thrown me for a curve. I stumble all the time and I'm just waiting to fall and break a hip. Still not driving and that is a major bummer. Hubby not so gung-ho about jumping in the car and cruising thru the aisles of the local junk stores. Besides that, not able to walk that much without pain. But he's been a real trooper about getting me to appointments and grocery shopping, etc. We purchased an older RV for an astounding price. Needs some work and I am excited about decorating it in the vintage style. Dan is redoing the roof and windows and siding plus interior wood. We will be ripping the carpeting out and replacing it with vinyl or laminate. I am redoing the soffits, valances and curtains. I want to replace the light fixtures,upholstery, countertops, sinks and cupboard fronts. Tearing out the old wallpaper for new paint and redoing the back master bedroom. I want to name it the Gypsy Rose and do it in a gypsy, bohemian, shabby chic style. With a mix of 1950's. Looking for a wall mount jukebox like you saw in the booths at an old soda fountain that we can convert to play cds or tie into an MP3 player. Dan actually took it on our annual Memorial weekend camping trip. I however went with my friend Patti in her vintage "canned ham" trailer to Long Beach WA for the 28 mile yard sale on the peninsula. We filled up Patti's van and the trailer by the first day but it was so much fun and we met so many great people. The weather was typical damp coastal weather but we had fun despite it. I couldn't walk on the beach but we watched the sunsets from the van. And no razor clams 'cause there was a red tide but I got my oyster shooters! I really think everyone should try to get there next year! And while I was there, I found the beach cabin that my Godmother owns and took us to all the time when we were small. Her relatives have built a new bigger cabin with an RV pad next to it but the old cabin is still standing and brought back so many memories! She taught me how to dig the clams and we would fry them up right on the beach with butter and crackers. Yummy! We also collected glass floats that washed up and she had a pretty impressive collection. I wonder where they all went? It was a very emotional moment when we found and drove up to the cabin and in fact talked to several of her neighbors that were friends of theirs. And all it took was stopping at the City Hall and getting the address! It was a beautiful Spring here. I have never seen so many blooms and new growth on the trees and shrubs. Everything was a bit late but should be a spectacular yield of flowers and fruit. The lilacs were heavenly and the peonies are magnificent. And speaking of magnificent, I helped Mike, a friend from farmers market harvest his peony flowers last week. He has several acres of them and he sells them to the local wholesaler plus for privately for weddings. So chances are if you buy them at the store or florist,they came from him. He also has them for sale every Saturday at market while in season. Jessica my granddaughter has been getting me to market and then Betsy picks me up. They load and unload the truck and do the driving so very appreciative of them. We are trying to downsize our stock of plants as I can't do that much yet and it is getting too much for Dan to keep up with. The greenhouse needs a new cover and benches rebuilt and we desperately need to install a automatic watering system. Plus we need to build a bigger shade house for the plants in summer. It gets way too hot in the greenhouse even with the shade cloth on for the plants to stay in there. Plus Dan has to water three or more times a day. Betsy took me to the Farm Chicks show at the fairgrounds last Sunday. It was amazing as usual and I am even more determined to get a booth there next year. However it was way too much walking even with intervals and could not get out of bed on Monday because of it. Saw lots of Facebook friends and beautiful booth displays and amazing items. That show definitely doesn't disappoint. Trying my hand at some vintage shows this year. Have lots of inventory and making new repurposed items all the time. I have one this coming weekend so will see how it goes. Haven't told Betsy yet she has to drive me! Time to stop and post some pictures and go make dinner. I can't believe the computer has actually stayed going this long. I'm needing a new one. Okay, I jinxed myself! Can't get any photos to upload so I give up. Will try again later. Patti
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Gettin' Creative (or dreamin' about it) and envying people who walk upright and can see above counter height!
Spring has sprung and the creative juices are flowing from every pore. Trouble is, I'm in a wheelchair after foot surgery in December. So my downstairs craft room might as well be on the moon. But that's not keeping me from getting on the computer (finally able to!)and looking at all the ideas, photos, and recipes that are leaping out at me. I mean seriously, you should see my desk. It has scribbled notes all over it 'cause my idea boards are full. I have been sending ideas via e-mails to Hubby and Daughter so much they are going to change their address and not tell me! Every time I say "Hey I have an idea" suddenly they have something to do in the garage or greenhouse! But they are very good sports and I would not have survived this ordeal without them. They saw me thru two bile duct surgeries earlier in the year,knee surgery, then an infection in that same knee, full reconstruction of my right foot, a tooth infection which turned into getting two wisdom teeth removed (at my advanced age!)all the time by my side, helping me in and out of the bed and wheelchair, getting me to the bathroom, bringing me pain pills (thank God for them)and nerve blockers (best thing ever!) feeding me, carrying me up and down the stairs and driving me to doctor appointments, and most of all not giving up on me when I was in horrible pain, or having a pity party. I absolutely HATE having to ask someone for help! I am supposed to be the caregiver, not the other way around! I have a new respect for chair-bound people. It's a whole other world down at this level. Everything is just out of your reach. Doorways suddenly seem too narrow. Throw rugs fold up under your wheels. Dogs are always sleeping around and under you or their tails are sticking out right where you want to go. Everything you want or need is in the basement. Spring is happening outside where you can't get to. Try brushing your teeth and rinsing form a sitting down position. Or getting a teacup from the upper cupboard, stretching over the sink to turn on the tap, reaching into the microwave and getting it back to your desk. And I have become famous for the Austin Powers move of getting stuck turning around. One day I decided to be 'helpful' and mop the floors. I was really proud of myself until I realized I had left muddy tire tracks over everything I had just washed! I also thought I had pretty good 'padding' down there till staying sitting for eighteen hours a day proved me wrong. And you wouldn't believe the muscle mass I have lost. My physical therapeutics, Kyle has his work cut out for him! I've had to cancel several craft shows and flea market events that I would normally have participated in and have had to bribe my darling Granddaughter to do Farmers Market this year. I did finally get out into the yard this week, and it felt so good to plant my peas, beets, and chard in the whiskey barrels. I loved the feel of plunging my hands in the dirt, and to be out in the fresh air! Tried dragging a rake around the lawn and picking up the yard prunings, but it's quite an ordeal to push yourself with one foot thru the soft lawn. I even coerced someone to haul me out to and into the greenhouse so I could do some trimming and cleanup of the hanging baskets. I divided and repotted some aloes, started some cuttings of pussy willow and boxwood, and cleaned up and repotted some of the tropicals. The kids got the pallets drug out from behind the chicken coop, taken apart and stacked; waiting for me to start my projects. I need to get my sander out and mix up some chalk paints. I'm itching to get to the metal recyclers to find those hidden gems that we can weld into garden art. Speaking of the chicken coop; it needs its spring cleaning.I really miss going out to see those gals and letting them out to forage every morning. Smokey the wild kitty who lives with them has probably forgotten who I am. And I'm itching to get in the kitchen! To start baking and canning and just cooking meals again! I've managed a few crock pot meals over the last couple of weeks, but I want to be chopping and mixing and stirring! I am so thankful to my family of helpers. For strong backs that carried me, attentive nurses, laundry maids, bathing attendants,correspondence gatherers, garbage persons, shoppers, chauffeurs, groundskeepers, housekeepers, and maids all. Am I living at Downtown Abbey? So on to more lists of ideas and honey-do's and being grateful for each small success as they come!