Saturday, April 25, 2009

January 17, 2009 ~ Readying for Another Party

After a day of designing and printing up our own dance cards for the coming ball, a task that I once again under estimated the time involved, we had a party to get ready for. Our church was gathering for a game and potluck night at the home of some friends of ours.

Michael was in charge of making a pound cake. It was delicious! We do not use shortening unless absolutely necessary, so it was substituted with additional butter.

Try out this simple recipe, it's good!

January 16, 2009 ~ Icy Days

It got down to about 5 degrees for several nights in a row and did not rise above 20 on those days. For many of you, that may be normal, but not for me!

Our main concern was the pool pump and filter system. Because we had not taken the time yet to learn how to winterize the pump, we managed the freezing weather by running the pump. However, it was so cold that the top of the pool froze even while moving.

I got to thinking about it and worried that the spinning ice would tear our pool liner which was already filled with many patches and was likely not going to last another season unless we babied it carefully.

So we broke up all the ice and tossed it out. It took quite a long time and our hands were hurting a lot by the time we were done.

The sad part about it was that after all was said and done, the liner tore anyhow. We will either have to spend the money for a replacement, or lose a really important part of our summer cooling off, relaxation, and fun time together. We work very hard during the day and look forward to a half hour playing in the cool water and watching the clouds.

Waiting to see what comes,

January 13, 2009 ~ A Very Civil Sewing Class

Our home school group planned a Civil War Spring Ball. Most of us could not afford to buy costumes, so we doubled the fun by learning to sew at weekly meetings as well! Amazing how cheaply you can do stuff with thrift store shopping. Curtain fabrics work very well for the thick material you need for much of these clothes.

Some of the patterns we share.

Corsets are the new "cool".

January 8, 2009 ~ The Dark of Night....

.... brought a giant who swooped in and violently tossed the cute little gingerbread house people into oblivion!

Horses don't seem to care for the gingerbread, but Seth, our dog, chases them off and grabs the broken pieces, running off to bury them.

Documenting the Annual Toss Out the Gingerbread House Before I Eat It ceremony,

January 5, 2009 ~ Mayan?


Working on his face a lot now. Went from looking African to looking Mayan. He keeps changing on me.

Top view...

Maybe Heinz 57 lineage?

January 1, 2009 ~ Happy New Year!

Nobody ever said life was easy. We are still trying to figure this truck out. Actually, it may very well be the gas that has been sitting too long in the tank. Thing is, it acts differently every time we try to start it, so it's hard figure out. Could be a sign that there is more than one thing wrong with it.

We are also doing our once monthly charge on the electric fence car battery. Have to haul it up, charge it, and haul it back down to the main unit. But it is working better for us than the solar charger. Those are nice, but tend to be less reliable and weaker. Our more curious and stubborn horse, Ginny, tends to pay more attention to the shock from this one. Safer for her, so she doesn't end up on the road. All children need and want boundaries, and little fillies are no exception.

Michael, tightening up the battery cable clamp.

This is going to be a great year in many ways. We are looking forward to what life brings and how we will grow and learn!

December 30, 2008 ~ Fishing!

Buying salad greens is really expensive. I often get the bagged ones because I"m so pressed for time. So if they spoil, it's a really horrible expense. I find they last many time longer if I let them air dry, spread out on paper towels before I store them.

Then I put them into containers that are lined with paper towels. Makes a huge difference. I tried the special bags, but I'm just not into washing bags out. LOL

The neighbor stopped by and picked up Michael to go to a local fishing hole. Here they are cleaning their catch.

Catfish and bluegill.

Thinking I'm not a huge catfish fan...

December 29, 2008 ~ Beautiful Day

The law of entropy keeps us busy. Our air compressor died a few months previously, so with some scraping of spare money and a little gritting of teeth, we went ahead and bought this little one that we could afford. We have to keep up on airing up tires and we use it a lot for blowing off equipment. It was 75 dollars, and still not very powerful. It takes a long time to air up the tires on the car. But it's ours and it does the job. Sort of.... Definitely better than the one that gasped it's last with a plume of smoke could now.

The day before, Michael and I had enjoyed a 75 degree Saturday out on our back porch target shooting with BB guns, reading, eating salads and drinking OJ. This day was considerably cooler, but we had a gate to put in the pasture fencing to make it easier for the neighbor to access the pasture with his tractor. Through this beautiful meadow next door!

So here is our bucket of tools we bring out to work on the electric fencing. We've got a spool of wire, some clips to fasten the wired to posts. Wire cutters...

Michael, preparing to make a cut in the wire so we can splice in gate handles.

Actually, I took that meadow picture AFTER the handles were put in, so check them out above. Here we are testing to make sure the electricity from the car battery down by the barn is making it all the way up through the handles we just spliced in.

Here's a closeup of the garden plot.
The reason for ripping the sod up into high piles before the freezing season is that the clods of dirt are difficult to garden in. Lifting the dirt up while wet causes the earth to break loose from itself as it repeatedly freezes and thaws all winter. Then tilling it in the spring gives a beautiful soft earth to plant in. On a smaller scale you can simply turn your little garden plot over with a shovel, then use a rotor tiller or hand cultivator to break it up in the spring.

We could not afford to buy alfalfa bales for the horses this winter. I tried to sell them, but with the economy so bad and the hay yields no better, no one wanted to buy them but for very cheap prices. You have to be careful. Cheap horses can end up at the butcher and shipped out of the country. I don't consider it worse to eat a horse than a cow, but when you have horses, you just think of them differently than food. So we didn't sell. We did get a wonderful deal on rolls of pasture hay, and the neighbor loaned us his broken hay ring feeder. Very nice!

Here we are taking about 1/2 an hour to air up the tires on the minivan.

Target shooting at old leaves.

This is the old pickup that I am trying to get running. We really need it as we haul a lot of stuff. But having a bit of trouble. We are trying several things.

Making sure we keep up on the pool so it's not a nightmare when warmer weather hits. So much easier to take care of jobs when they are not overwhelming. Our first year after my husband left us, the place was a disaster from him not wanting to do anything here. So we had an incredible amount of catch-up work to do. I'd like to work on new things this year, rather than repairing too many old things.

Have a great day!

December 24, 2008 ~ Christmas Eve Gift

Our neighbor knew of our being abandoned by my husband. He also knew of our battle with the hard red clay ground that we worked so hard in for last year's garden. He graciously came over the day before Christmas and ripped the sod down in an area that had some good soil in it.

This is also a place that the horses have been using to relieve themselves, but not eat from. Animals 'usually' will avoid doing that as it reduces the chance of ingesting parasites. So the pasture there was not being used for grazing, and the pasture biscuits make great fertilizer as well.

This ended up being only half of the finished size. I later decided to add in a Three Sisters section as well. More on that later!

Always waiting for spring,

December 23, 2008 ~ A Work in Progress.

I'm still working on this when I have time. Here is my progress so far.

Still playing with some expensive playdough,

December 17, 2008 ~ More holiday baking!

One of the things I love about the Christmas season is all the great excuses to cook and bake.

Getting together with friends and family are terrific reasons to spend lots of time in your cozy kitchen.

Caramel-Chocolate-Butter-Brickle Squares! YUM!

And my traditional Candy Cane coffee cake. I have made these almost every Christmas without fail for about 20 years now.

And a stocking stuffer of multiple Chinese finger traps keeps Michael busy for a little while.

Many blessings to you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

December 15, 2008 ~ Giving to Those Who Gave

I know this picture doesn't look like much. Every year our home schooling group goes caroling at a retirement home for the elderly who need assisted living. It is pretty crowded there, and 5 floors of cramped, overly warm corridors while 75 of us make our way through them.

Many cannot even come to their doors, so try to go slowly. It means so much to them when we stop, give them hugs, kiss their cheeks, hold their hands, look straight into their eyes and wish them a sincere "Merry Christmas!"

So here is a part of our group, in the small lobby, organizing to begin spreading Christmas cheer to those who have often given their lives to others, and are left alone, here in this assisted living tower.

Simple singing for people at Christmas. It can really mean a whole lot to them!

December 11, 208 ~ Gingerbread House Building Party

We had some friends over and built gingerbread houses for the day. We played music, knitted, played games and just enjoyed one another. We also enjoyed a lot of candy and treats along with dinner.

Loving the Christmas season,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

December 10, 2008 ~ Candied Apples

I'm going to share with you one of my most luscious recipes.

Faith's Caramel Candied Apples.

You will need 6 apples or so.
6 sticks
Caramel recipe
white chocolate
Heath bars

Get small to medium granny smith apples. You can use large, but these end up being quite big, so a large is not necessary, but often needs to be cut and stored.

Wash them, put sticks into them by setting your apple on the counter and driving a stick straight down through the middle so they stand up how you want them to. Refrigerate the apples over night.


You'll need to make up some caramel.

Faith's Chewy Caramel

1 cup butter
1 pound brown sugar
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine first 5 ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees, and keep there for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

If you need to store this or want to make it into squares for wrapped candy, butter your dish. But for our apples, you'll want to keep it warm in the pan.

I've made this and had it turn out too soft. Trust me, it doesn't make ANY difference in how much people are willing to grab a slab and take it home. Just makes it fun to play with as you eat. LOL This is the best caramel I've eaten.


Dunk, coat, drizzle, or otherwise get the caramel all over those apples. Try to work quickly on each one, as the chilled apple will help solidify the caramel and keep it from running off. It's a slightly tricky procedure, you want it the caramel warm enough to cover, but not too warm to run off. Just keep at it and you'll get enough on there. After each apple is covered, set it on a buttered sheet of waxed paper to set. When done, replace into refrigerator.


Next you will need to melt white chocolate into a double boiler.

When your apples are chilled enough again, an hour or so, cover them with white chocolate just as you did the caramel. Replaced in the fridge again.


Lastly you will need to crush up some Heath bars, or some sort of toffee candy. Get it ready for sprinkling. You can use other toppings, but I've found this to be the best.

Then melt either milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler.

Again, coat each apple, but immediately sprinkle with your Heath bar crumbles before the chocolate hardens. Set on waxed paper. You can leave these out for the day you are serving, otherwise keep chilled until ready.


Keepin' it yummy!

December 9, 2008 ~ In the Kitchen Again

Ever wish you could get produce at the price of old produce, but know you could never eat it all before it spoiled?

Bring home the old produce from the store and dry it. Dried fruits are really tasty, and dried veggies can go into soups later on.

I got this dehydrator some years ago. It's a really nice one and if you can afford it, it's worth it. But a smaller, cheap one will work, as well as the oven. In the summer, you can do what people used to do, lay your produce in the sun, covered from bugs, and save some electricity.

We were having company come over for a gingerbread house building day, so I made up some dough ahead of time, and also baked up little squares for cobble stones and such.

Sugar and spice makes everything nice,

December 7, 2008 ~ Christmas Parade

Michael's BSA troop marched in our local Christmas parade. It was a beautiful, clear, but cold day. They look great in their classic BSA hats!

Loving classic Americana,

December 6, 2008 ~ Organized Knitting and Art

As we got into colder weather and I continued my healing, there was not a lot of things to accomplish other than daily household things. We had Thanksgiving. We had our first snow.

While decorating for Christmas I decided I'd had enough of using my laundry basket for holding my knitting supplies. So I picked up a basket from town and began hot gluing some spare fabric into it for a knitting basket that I could keep on the hearth.

This photo shows the basket upside down after I hot glued the fabric to the bottom of the basket and then began tacking the folded edge around the top. Upside-down helped me to gather the fabric more evenly.


This looks way better than my laundry basket!

I decided to use my down time a little more constructively and try out something that would help give some therapy to my hand. I bought some clay, put some on a plate and began shaping it.

This is what it turned into by the end of the first day.

Being shaped and molded myself,

Monday, April 20, 2009

November 23, 2008 ~ A Day at the Range

A friend's home shooting range, that is. I've grown up around guns and have a few of my own, but don't shoot all that often. It was fun to get together with a large group of friends from church for a pot luck and target shooting.

I'd never tried shooting clay pigeons, or skeet shooting, before. I did well, and Michael did even better than I did, without having much practice with guns at all! As a matter of fact, all the young boys of my friends were revealed to be remarkable marksmen.

I divided my time between chatting inside where most of the ladies were and heading back out to the barn for practice.

A woman needs to know how to defend herself. If you don't already, consider taking a gun course and arm yourself.

Exercise your 2nd Amendment rights to protect yourself from those who would harm you.

November 22, 2008 ~ Learning to Knit

A group of ladies from church decided to learn to knit. I was one of them. So we trooped over to someone's home for brunch and a knitting lesson. With my hand, I did not do so well, though I had great fun visiting and getting to know some of them better.

I went home and made good use of YouTube the next day. By being able to see many videos over and over, I actually figured out how to knit, if a little clumsily.

I still only know one stitch, but I had fun with it, nonetheless, as I used up a beautiful cranberry chenille yarn.

Just FYI, even IF you want a nice thick and wide scarf, 40 stitches is still too wide. LOL

So I took it apart, more than once, and now have a longer narrower scarf.

Still knitting,

November 13, 2008 ~ Some Things Sound Better...

... than they turn out to be in real life.

Shaving a cat would fall under that category.

Why did I undertake this with a post-surgery recovery hand and wrist you might ask? I am asking the same thing. All I can say is that I was likely going stir crazy.

I had recently heard that some people were shaving their long-haired cats. At first, what had sounded incredibly strange made me laugh. But as time passed and more cat hair became visible in my home....

We did not get very far and, if you undertake this monumentous endeavor... good luck to you!

Temporarily Insane,