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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Having Fun With This One


Here is another sneak peek of my day dream scrap project.
I try every evening to do some work on it. I want to do a tutorial after it is completed, not because it complicated (it definitely isn't) but because there are some time saving tips.


This is the start of another part to my puzzle.


Just to give you an idea of how small the scraps are, here is a Stirilite plastic shoe container (I love these containers) that I filled with snippets of left over yarns that date back to the creation of dirt. I have put one of my crochet hooks in among the tiny wads of  yarn just to give you an idea of how small they actually are. Each bit of my yarn measures in length about 12 -16 inches long. Anything shorter went into a zip-loc bag to use for tacking quilts or for other simply smart ideas. Anything larger went into the granny square bag. Of course you can use whatever length you want. 
It becomes a personal choice, there are by no means any rules to this project.
 I also want to thank everyone who left a comment on my last post. There was some great ideas for using scraps and one suggestion was to use them to stuff toys and hearts. I liked those clever ideas. I thought of another which was stuffing pin cushions. I love the comments, so no one needs to be shy around my blog. I did try to leave a reply on those comments. I need to be more faithful to do that.


Now for a couple fun family photos of our little guy Holden enjoying himself when he and his parents went camping on July 4th.


I think this picture says it all. He is definitely having fun. He is a precious gift and we all LOVE him.
 Thank you God for happy little smiles to brighten our days and the innocence of a small child to show us just what is important ♥

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Loving Those Scraps, Waste Not, Want Not


Forgive my ramblings.........


Waste not, want not. We have all heard that little saying sometime in our lifetime. It is crystal clear, we all know what it means. I think everyone of us can agree that there is way too much wasted in this day and age, especially by the younger generation who was brought up to think of everything as "disposable". Myself, I was brought up by a mother who grew up in Germany during WWII. Her father died in a concentration camp in Russia. There were 6 of us kids and we were made to clean our plates at meal time, often being reminded that mom, her mother and sister walked down the streets of Berlin while it was ablaze with only the clothes on their backs. They boiled grass to eat. There was no food. Then I married a man whose parents were raised during the Depression. Between the two families I learned about not wasting anything.

 Now to get down to brass tacks. This post today is about my obsession with yarn and the left over scraps. I don't think I have ever thrown a scrap of it away in my lifetime. I am a firm believer that even so much as an inch of yarn can be used for something. The next 2 photos are living proof of this. One day while scrounging around in my craft hoard I came across a large Joanne Fabric bag of left over yarn scraps in various colors and lengths. I discovered another bag, not nearly as full, but a large mess for sure. When I say "mess" I am not exaggerating. It was all a pretty nicely tangled monster wad of yarn scraps long and short.
 

I dumped them all in one big tote bag and tonight I started to try and tame the nightmare. What follows is my start of what promises to be a long process. I am sure some of you would throw the whole tangled blob on the trash and not waste your time fooling with it. But not me. I see value here and let me explain......


The above bunch is ideal for the first and second rounds when making grannies, or other motifs.


This next bunch is smaller amounts, too short for even the center of a granny, but useful for something else I have been dreaming up.


The above pieces are way too short for my recent project, but ideal for hanging Christmas ornaments, or for tacking the layers of a quilt together. They work well on colorful baby quilts if you don't have time to hand or machine quilt. 


These small 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces are definitely way too short for anything but the birds will love them for building their nests. I will save them in a baggie until next spring. I'll put them in the grape vine ball I hang out for them.


Now remember I mentioned the recent project where I was using the pieces too short for grannies? I started the post with this picture and I am giving you a sneak peek and hope that by my next post I will have something more concrete to share with you. I have laid in bed at night thinking about it, trying to come up with something different. In the meantime my thoughts are jumping all over the place. Yes, you see an African Flower in the upper left of the photo (just experimenting here with the color combo), and yes, there are a bunch of grannies started in the upper right hand. When I get bored I hop from one project to the other. And so I say to you keep the scraps. You never know what you might come up with ♥

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crochet and Keeping Busy



Hello my dear friends. Once again, sorry for the absence. I remain very busy. I figured I'd better make an appearance or all of you will be wondering what is going on. I have had time to crochet a bit. This is my current WIP. Again I am making a scrappy 3 round granny and using the join-as-you-go method. I am tucking tails with each block. There is no written pattern, just any old granny will do. I could kick myself for making it so long. Now I will have to make it wide enough to make it balanced. As usual I am trying to bust the yarn stash. I am crocheting right now because it isn't demanding and I can relax and watch a bit of tv and the end of my busy days. I would like to finish this project in the next few weeks and then dust off my sewing machine.


During the scrappy granny I got bored. I needed a couple fast, easy and small things to do to break the monotony. I dug around in my baby yarn stash and came up with another simple ripple pattern. The photo looks as though the rows are wider in some places....nope, the wind was blowing and made it look distorted.


I had plenty of that yarn and did this pattern again. It is the same one I used for my mom's blanket. Once again, windy day photo.
 

My tiny garden. I started out with 6 tomato plants and lost 2 during a frost. I had them covered too, but for some reason they took it hard and never recovered. I am pretty pleased with the 4 plants that did make it. My favorite thing out of the garden is tomatoes. Hard to believe that a few years ago we had around 83 plants. I got down on my knees and did some weeding. I still need to get the hoe and get the weeds that were hard to reach.


The biggest tomato. I have been watching it patiently. I have several more scattered about on the plants. I have been catching rain water and using that to water them. I have a new rain barrel but have yet to find the time to get that all set up.


More of my lovely produce. I love the smell of the tomato plant. It is a shame that here in Ohio we only have a short time to harvest them. Hot house tomatoes just don't cut it with me. They are tasteless in comparison.


Okay, it has been awhile since I filled this one bird feeder my hubby made. He used an old license plate for part of it. I go to fill it with bird seed and low and behold it is just about filled with small sticks. I am thinking a small wren has done this and how on earth am I gonna get all that stuff out of there! I don't see any eggs or baby birds. The nest builder had to fly up under the over hang of the roof to get in there with the twigs.


On Saturday a friend came and we set the brush pile on fire. It was pretty good sized and I wanted another person around to help keep an eye on it. Last thing I needed was to catch the meadow behind my property on fire or the row of pines next to the property line. I had the hose handy. I sure didn't want to catch either of my buildings ablaze either. We babysat it together for about 3 hours. I raked up the cones that had fallen under the pine trees and burned them too. My friend left after 3 hours and I puttered around the yard with the weed eater.


Can you see where we filled in the places where my brother removed the ash tree stumps? Boy, was that a job! I am so glad to be done with that. I did plant grass seed on the soil but maybe I should have waited till this fall. I am just so wanting to be done with this for once and for all. It has taken over a year to remove the trees, then grind the stumps, fill over the ground up wood chips cause grass will not grow in that stuff. I took a garden rake and worked the seed in the ground and it has rained a couple of times but still no sprouts. Grrrrr!!!


My cone flowers are in bloom. They are a little worse for wear since I am kinda late in catching them in picture perfect condition. No one would ever guess I love flowers and how years ago I dreamed of having something similar to an English flower garden. My small pittance is sad to look at. At times I think it just a frivolous dream. I have not been able to plant pots on my deck in a couple of years. This year my brother has trapped for me 2 ground hogs, 3 raccoons, and one stray sickly cat. The raccoons climb the fence and tear up my flower pots. I guess I have mentioned that in past posts. 


I happened to be out in the old garden area (where I now have the brush pile) and when I looked down this is what I saw. I think we could all use a little luck. What do you think? ♥

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Wish I Could Clone Myself



The title to my post about says it all. Along with the warmer weather has come the added work outside that never seems to end and never gets completed. I have so many irons in the fire. A lot has been going on but exhaustion takes over and at night my bed becomes my refuge. I cover the face of my alarm clock because I find myself constantly looking at the time throughout the night. I guess that tells you I do not sleep well. I go to bed at night with a hundred things buzzing through my head. I wake up early and my day begins. No matter where I look, there is something needing done. As throughout all of my life I try to prioritize. There aren't enough hours in the day, nor days in the week.

Since I last posted, we (meaning my brother Mike) got the 25 or so tree stumps grounded up. We (once again Mike) has managed to trap 2 pesky raccoons and 2 ground hogs this year. They tear up and destroy everything. I didn't waste my time, money or effort planting flower pots on my deck. The raccoons used my bird bath as a wash basin and it was a muddy mess. There were paw prints on the wood shop that I just had sided, on my lawn chair on the back porch and the driveway. They have made their nightly rounds looking to get into mischief and causing me added grief. I had the hornets nest the size of an apple that Terminex wanted $199 to remove. Heck with that, once again Mike took it down, even though his fearlessness left me worried that the hoe he was using would end up crashing into my living room window and he would get himself chased and stung. I, on the other hand stood safely on the far side of his truck as he laughed through the whole process. He stepped on it and then proceeded to pick it up to examine it. It left me full aware that he has not changed one bit from the brother who use to bring snakes and all sorts of creepy things home as a kid. He is now in his 50's.

10 of us celebrated my youngest daughter Meghan's 35th birthday on Saturday at Nagoya Japanese Steak House in Port Clinton on Catawba. Her birthday is actually today. I had to wrestle with 2 boxes of custom made cupcakes and my purse so I left the camera at home. Of course there were pictures taken and so the one I have posted was stolen from a Facebook post by my oldest daughter Rachael. I don't know if anyone got a pic of the cupcakes, but they were cute and from what I was told they were pretty tasty. I passed on them because I am trying to cut back on sweets and watching my blood sugar.

I haven't spent much time with needles or hook. I sat and watched a bit of tv last evening and occasionally glanced at the plastic totes of yarn by my chair.

One of my little dogs got sick yesterday. She ate about a third of her dry food and later I discovered she has a swollen area in her neck. She didn't drink much and just wasn't her perky self. Of course they always get sick over the weekend when the vet is closed. She didn't seem to have any trouble breathing. I called this morning for an appointment and will take her later this afternoon. I went on the internet to investigate, and as usual, it could be one of a half dozen things. I will leave the diagnosing to the one who knows far more than me.

Well my friends, I am sorry this post isn't much to read. I haven't had time to visit any of you and I miss that. The hours in my day are pretty much spent doing all those mundane and boring chores. My life is boring to the point of tears and believe me, I don't know if I should be thankful or sit and weep. Still, I feel blessed ♥



Monday, June 2, 2014

Busy As A Bee, Watermelon Pickles, Weed Killer, Sheryl's Scarf

Dear lovely and faithful followers, it is high time that I make time to write a bit to stop myself from feeling guilty of neglect. With the warmer weather comes more work and I am just barely keeping my head above water. I know you all understand. I know this for the simple reason that so many of you are also feeling the work load in your own little corner of the world.


I start first by sharing a recipe for Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles that I found here on Pinterest. Betty Souders shared this sweet recipe. You can also google for other varieties or go to Pinterest like I did. There are plenty recipes to chose from but Betty's just struck me right off the bat. Now as a girl growing up in a family of 6 children (me the only girl, and 5 younger brothers) there was only one bread winner. There was no waste, no turning up noses. My step-grandmother had a recipe for pickled watermelon rinds and I recall a big Dutch oven pot simmering on the stove during the summer months. I have that recipe that mom used, but it makes the pickles so spicy and dark. Maybe that is because there is no exact measurement for the spices. I am sure mom dumped in a whole box of whole allspice and the entire box of whole cloves into the pot. Sometimes it was a box of mixed pickling spices. I am sure she used whatever was on hand back in the day. My brothers didn't care, they emptied the pot and I'm sure they would have licked it clean in the process. But look how pretty my jars of pickles are. Just 2 cinnamon stick, 6 allspice and 6 whole cloves per jar of pickles. I made 5 pints and opened the first jar when my brother John came to help put my new composter together. He said they tasted great and I sent an unopened jar home with him. My opened jar went into the fridge.

 

Here is what the rinds look like when you are cooking them to get tender. If you are interested click on the above link for Betty's recipe.


I mentioned my new composter Well, here it is in all it's glory. I do not know what possessed me to buy this giant, only that my other one had seen better days and the make shift lid Rog had made for the old one was falling apart. I thought it was neat that the bin can be turned to help the breaking down process go faster. It sat in the box unopened since last summer. I about flipped out when I opened it all up and there seemed to be hundreds of screws and instructions on drilling the holes. I have composted for years. I still have to figure out where to put it permanently. It is too wide for the spot the old one sits in unless I transplant the peony bushes that have been there for ages


As you can see the old bin is about done for and it is full. I will need to get the wheel barrel out and the shovel to empty it and transfer the stuff to the new bin, but I can't do that till I figure out where to put the new one.


Remember those hostas I worried myself over, the ones I thought would possibly not come up where the contractors had trampled the ground, oh look at them now, how pretty, full and green they are. They look so nice on this side of the building and I know they can be separated and thinned out some day soon as the timing is right. I like the ferns, but not so sure I want them spreading into the hostas.


The ferns have thrived well beneath the downspout. We use to have a real wooden barrel there to catch the rain water, and I have a new one (yes, still in the box in the garage). Right now I am catching rain waterin an old bucket. From this angle you can't see the hostas.


 The Day Lilies are starting to bloom. I guess I love them because they will bloom all summer and they are such an easy plant as far as maintenance goes. I would really like to have some more in different colors.


I got back to my weed ridden chain link fence. Those of you who follow me may recall that I started this job last summer. My husband always managed this job and he kept it pretty tidy. It just got way out of control for me with all that was going on. I got the entire front section on the right side of the house and the entire right side going way to the back of the property completed last year. Now I have started on the entire back length. I have posted some pictures as you can see my progress.



It may not look so bad from where you are sitting, but believe me it was a mess. We have always tried hard to keep our property neat. It involved my husband doing the weed control with the sprayer and Roundup Weed Control Solution, like what you buy at the garden centers. If you have ever bought the stuff you know how terribly expensive it is. It has a list of Precautions on the label to choke a horse....poison, harmful to humans, animals which means pets too of course. You can't get it in your face, have to apply it when the wind is calm. You gotta wash your hands before you drink, eat, smoke or use the bathroom. I am sure it tells you to wear long sleeves, long pants and maybe protective glasses. The list goes on, you have to take special care when rinsing out the sprayer or the receptacle. NO MORE OF THAT!!!!!!!!!! Have I told you I love Pinterest, sure I have and look at that above picture. That wasn't Roundup that I sprayed where I started to clean out the weeds in the fence. It was a home made solution for a weed killer that is NOT TOXIC and so very cheap. My daughter Rachael made some and showed me where she had sprayed it. On Saturday after I had enough of the pulling, and clipping down the growth beneath the fence, I made up a batch and put it in the garden sprayer. I did this at about 4:30pm and when I went back out at noon the next day this is what it looked like, DEAD, DEAD, DEAD! I was thrilled. No more handling poison and using harmful stuff.

WEED BE GONE

1 gallon of white vinegar (my daughter used cider vinegar, you can buy the cheaper store brand of these vinegars)
2 cups of Epsom Salts (I used canning/pickling salt)
1/4 cup Original Dawn Dish Soap (the Ultra Dawn worked okay for me)

Mix them all together and put in a spray bottle to do small areas or a garden sprayer for larger spaces.

Now I do not know how long before you need to reapply this stuff, but I do know that there was not a green speck on any of the vegetation I sprayed. I will keep an eye on it every week when I mow. I know that the stuff cost me way under $5, and Roundup usually runs about $30+ a container. My only sad moment was when spraying I accidentally sprayed a toad, and I felt so bad. The poor thing kept blinking his eyes and I knew the solution had to be hurting him, so I had a half bottle of water in my pocket and I went as fast as I could around the fence and when I found him I poured the water over him. Maybe I should have caught him and given him a good washing with the hose. It is so rare any more to see a frog or a toad in the yard. I have a huge yard, and see maybe 2 a summer. When I was a kid we always found them almost daily. Things have changed, kids don't know what they are missing.


I have to show you Ella, she is dressed like she is packed for a short trip to some cold climates, lol.


She is loaded down with 4 winter scarves. Now forgive me if I have shown her to you before with the 3 on the bottom, but the magenta, furry one is a new addition, finished last evening. It is for a friend Sheryl. Sheryl brought me the yarn last week, said there was no hurry.....ahhh, she does not know how crazy we get when there is new yarn within reach. There were 3 skeins that she had picked up at a store in Sandusky. The yarn is RH Boutique Fun Sure. The color is 9226 Magenta. It is a size 6 super bulky and nothing that you can crochet unless you want to go nuts and rip your hair out. Nope, ya gotta make sure you can see the stitches and so knitting needles are a must. I used a size 8 circular needle. For some reason I am not fond of straight knitting needles and find the circular needle more to my liking. I started by casting on 18 stitches and was that ever NOT going to work. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough yarn to get a good length on the scarf, so I frogged it all and started again this time casting on 13 stitches and that worked out fine. It took me bout 2 and a half days to get this done. I could have gotten it done sooner but there is always something else needing attention when you would rather be working the needles.


This scarf is not your whimpy, skimpy scarf. It is soft and thick, and heavy, but oh you will have the warmest neck in the state if we have another winter like the last one. If you are a good friend of mine you buy the yarn and I make your first scarf for free, no ifs, ands or buts. Not everything has to have a dollar attached to it, sometimes you need to have the feel good feeling of random acts of kindness. People deserve a break once in awhile and hopefully as time goes by they will pay it forward.

Well, it is late and I need to get to bed. I babysit for my little guy tomorrow and 6am rolls around pretty fast. Love you all, until next time, take care, keep the faith. Love God for all He has done for you. We are blessed in so many ways. You are all a blessing to me ♥

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Morels, Freeze Dried Chives, Crochet

 I am sure many of you have heard the saying, "She is like a hen on a hot rock!" And so, it is true with me. I just do not know where the times goes. It is like I am set on a "fast forward" mode. There is always so much to do, and I am over-whelmed. I get tired just thinking about it all. Some days I spend more time just thinking about what needs to be done than actually doing anything. I spend a lot of time complaining to myself about it all, then feel guilty for complaining, especially since so many people are worse off than me. Then I humble myself and thank God for my blessings.


Forgive me, I am kinda all over the place when it comes to any sort of timeline for today's post. I am more concerned with just getting the happenings documented than when this or that happened. Just know that everything has been recently in the past several weeks. We have had warmer weather with some cold snaps here and there. The farmers have been out plowing and planting, a good sign. There have been rainy days. Birds are chirping and singing. I love that. With the warmer weather and the spring rains comes the mushroom hunters and the prized morel. I have been mushroom hunting once in my life and that was with a friend. She literally ran me to death and it was a wonder I did not get lost from her because she managed to stay a good distance ahead of me. I guess it served her right that she never found one, but I found about three. This year my next door neighbor's son brought me a Ziploc bag with 4 very large ones that he had found minutes before he landed at my front door. How sweet of him to share with me. All week his family had been out hunting and found quite a few. His father told me they went with his mother and his son found one the size of a Coke can. WOW to that!

You have to soak them for a few hours in salt water to remove any insects that might have taken up residence. It will surprise you when you see what comes out of there. They can be on the inside and outer portions of the fungi. There are a lot of places for them to hide and that is why it is important to give them a good soaking in the brine water.


After that is complete I rinse them well under running cold tap water. I take a knife and split them down the center from top to bottom. I do inspect them just to make sure there aren't any stragglers lurking. I then let them drain a bit on paper towels. While they are doing that I put some flour in a bowl and about 1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter in a skillet to melt on medium heat.


I  dredge the mushroom in the flour and coat it on both sides, making sure the flour is in the small pour-like surfaces of the mushroom top.     


Then fry them in the skillet with the hot butter. Oh they smell so good!              

 





After frying, drain them a bit on a paper towel. This is what they look like when they are golden brown and ready to eat. Some people like to eat them plain on bread and myself, I prefer to just eat them just like this. If you have never eaten them before you are missing out on something wonderful. After you eat just one you will understand why mushroom hunters guard their hunting grounds with sealed lips. It is such a short window of opportunity when they are available to be found, usually about a week and then it is all over till the next year. If you are fortunate enough to find many then you can clean them and then freeze them on a cookie sheet, then put them in a container in the freezer.


I went out to my herb garden and the chives had gone wild. I chopped them down and decided to freeze dry them.


I went on the internet of course for instructions. I have always dried mine in the dehydrator before. I washed them in 3 separated washings of cold water, then allowed them to dry on paper towels. They tell you not to rub them dry because chives are delicate and it will crush them. It took them about an hour or so to air dry. I did kinda fuss with them a bit so the air could circulate around the stems better. Then I got out my kitchen shears and some Ziploc snack bags.



Those bags are just the right size for the amounts I will be using at one time. I like to snip the chives in small bits and add them to sour cream for on baked potatoes. They can also be added to garnish soups such as  potato and cheese-based ones. Another little hint, if you don't care for the thinness of sour cream and like something a bit more firmer on your baked potatoes, I discovered years ago if you take 1 pint of sour cream and dump it in a bowl and then add 1 package of Philly Cream Cheese to that, you beat with an electric mixer and then fold in the chives. It makes a firmer topping for potatoes much like you will get in a little side paper cup they bring with your meal in a restaurant.


I find the best way to gather the stems is to put the larger root ends all together and kinda tapping them all to compact them. Then I take the shears and cut the stems into thirds.


They fit well into the snack bags at that length.

 
Use your own judgement on filling the bags. I try to poof as much of the air out of them as I can.


Then I take several of those filled snack bags and place them in a quart freezer bag. When I need some chives I just pull out one of the smaller bags.  


Into the freezer they go. It takes very little time for them to freeze fast and mind you they also thaw out fairly fast so when getting out the amount you need from the bigger bag make sure you put the portion you plan to use at a later date back in the freezer as soon as possible. 


In an earlier post I expressed some concern over my hostas, and if they would come up this year after the all the stomping around on top of them by the guys doing the renovations to my out buildings. Well, I guess my worries were for nothing because awhile back they started to show themselves even though the ground was packed down like concrete. I guess if a weed can grow up through concrete then these determined plants can make it through packed soil. They look a lot better now and I need to get a more recent picture of how good they are looking.      

 
I also got busy and filled my twig ball with left over bits and pieces of yarn, twine and string for the birds to use as nesting material. I know I have birds nesting and one day soon I will show you the beautiful blue bird that has taken up house keeping in a box my brother Michael insisted we cut down last fall. I was not happy with his suggestion and so glad I vetoed that crazy idea.


No matter what, I always find time to work with the hook, needles and yarn. It is one passion that soothes my mind and comforts my soul. Without it I would be lost. I have made this pattern design before and because I am swamped once again with so many colorful skeins of yarn I decided to do another blanket. I have also done another knitted moss stitch scarf with some Hobby Lobby yarn and working on a small baby ripple pattern for a blanket. I will share photos on my next post. I also got busy today and started to de-clutter my sewing/craft room. What a mess! I am way too ashamed to even post a picture, but I made a nice dent in the work only because it rained today and I told myself that I had procrastinated way too long. I have many irons in the fire right now but to post more would bore you all to tears and that is the last thing I want to do to you dear friends. Until next time, take care. Love you all ♥
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