Sunday, April 30, 2017

Almost Summer...Ugh...

Wow... tomorrow is May 1st.

Some people reckon the start of summer by the calendar and say it will happen on 20 June.  Those people don't live in the South.  Here in the South we reckon the start of summer by the thermometer.  Which means summer is almost upon us.  You see, in the South summer comes in May.  Late May if we are blessed.  So there is a very limited time to finish outside projects before it becomes hot.

Hot means I don't go outside unless it is dark or raining.  Or I'm stepping into an air conditioned car.

We have a lot to do before summer hits here in The Sticks.  To make myself accountable, I'm going to list out what needs to get done by the end of May.  I do this because as it heads towards hot I start getting lazier and lazier.

So barring illness or injury here is what I want done when we hit June:

KonMari the shed.
Clean up behind the shed.
Makeover mailbox area
Set up fire pit
Makeover deck
Plant annual herbs, cherry tomato, and cucumbers

I've got some indoor things to do too.  Those will be done on too hot afternoons and rainy days.

Phew!  I'm tired already...

Edit: Yesterday the temperature hit 89 F.  It might be summer already...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Late Azalea, Timely Lilac, and Early Iris

Strange weather this spring.  

Middle of last week it was in the mid 80s, then over the weekend it was mid 50s (lows in the mid 40s).  This week...back up in the 80s.  Air conditioner on... heater on... AC on.

The flowers are confused too.  The azalea are blooming; which is a bit late.  My iris are starting to bloom - which is weeks too soon.

Early strawberries are already ripe.

And it was snowing a few days ago at Himself's family farm in North Dakota.

I'm worried about summer...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Big Pot of Potatoes

In line with my March homestead skills challenge of "garden, soil, & seeds" I decided to try planting a potato tower.

We started with some potatoes that sprouted in our potato bin.  I set them aside and they really put on some long leggy sprouts.

On 18 March Himself planted them in this container which is 'half whiskey barrel' size.

They are VERY enthusiastic potatoes... this is on 25 March!  I added more dirt about half way up the remaining space.

About a week later they were well over the top of the planter.

I topped off the dirt and added a wire cage that Himself made.  The pool noodle around the top keeps me from getting scratched up by the sharp edges.

I added straw about 1/3 up the wire cage.  At first I completely covered the potato plants but then I thought better of it.  Straw is used to mulch kill weeds...right?  So why wouldn't do the same to the potatoes?

So I pulled the straw out of the middle and indeed, the potatoes were looking a bit pitiful.  So I did a straw donut instead.  Straw on the sides and dirt in the middle.

When we got back from Missouri on 15 April, I put in another 1/3 height of straw as that is how far they had grown up.  Just their crowns were above the dirt/straw.  I decided this would be my last layer as I wanted some portion of the cage to support the plants.

And here they are on the 24th!

They seem quite happy with their container.

Do you think I'll get baby potatoes??

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Get Free Money

Every week I am handed free money and I keep it in this file.

Where does it come from?


They come to me through the mail... in my magazines... on my computer.

I get coupons from stores I regularly shop at like Michaels and Kohls and Harbor Freight.

We rarely eat a meal at a restaurant chain without using a coupon.

My file fits easily in my purse so I am always ready to use them.  This case has 13 slots with 12 tabs.  I keep the coupons behind their tab which leaves the first slot open.  This area I use to keep the soon to be expired coupons.

It takes me about 10 minutes a week to clip the coupons (I ONLY clip ones for products we use) and to go through each slot to pull out the expiring coupons.  And each week I will use about $8 of coupons.  On a good week I can save $25 or more on my purchases.

This little 'home kit' is a real money maker!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April Food In Jars Challenge: Quick Pickles

The Food In Jars challenge for April was to make a "quick" pickle (AKA refrigerator pickle).

Hmmm.  There are no pickling cucumbers to be found around here this time of the year.  So what other veggies could I pickle?  Carrots?  Nope, already have a jar of them in the fridge.  Cauliflower?  Not at $5.79 a head...for a little head!   Asparagus?  It is just coming into season, so not yet.

Then I found the recipe...

Pickled cherry tomatoes!

Easy to get.  Inexpensive.  And you want them firm so they don't mush up on you.

I found the recipe at:

We have done a bit of early tasting and they are getting better as they mellow.  The 24 hour test was a bit puckery...

I wasn't done playing though and I found an even easier quick pickle recipe...

Pickled eggs!

We went a bit fancy with the first batch ~ turmeric pickled eggs.  Then more simple for the second batch ~ dilly pickled eggs.

Aren't they pretty?

You have to let them soak for at least 3 days, which we impatiently did.  And we had another winner!  Two actually...

Turmeric Pickled Eggs

For 8 eggs in a quart jar I used this spice mix that I made up:
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 t turmeric
1 t peppercorns
1 t salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1 t juniper berries
2 t coriander seeds
2 bay leaf

Dilly of a Pickled Egg

For a pint jar I used these spices (I had extra brine for this one):

1 1/2 cup ACV
1/2 cup water
1 t peppercorns
pinch red pepper flakes
3 t dill seed

1 bay leaf

Success all the way around!  I'll be revisiting quick pickling when produce comes into season.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Swapping a Cuppa

March was time for the spring tea swap at The Enchanting Rose blog . 

Here is the swap I sent out to Jill in NC.

It started with the antique tea cup with a dogwood pattern that I found at an estate sale.  There were two and I kept the other for myself.  And to go with it, I put in this dogwood iron piece that was made by a blacksmith friend.  

I enclosed a box of my favorite chai and a cinnamon candle.  Finally I put in a note pad with ladybugs... as what is more spring than the annual spring ladybug invasion?  LOL 

And I am so happy to see that Jill enjoyed her parcel... 

And here is the package I received from Anne in CO.

I absolutely love the beautiful tea cup.  It's my favorite shade of teal.  The box of tea she enclosed is a new one for and lemon verbena.  It's very good; so relaxing to sip.  All the goodies she sent were so nice... in fact, there are a couple missing from the photo.  A square of dark chocolate disappeared very quickly and a lip balm from Celestial Seasonings is in my purse.

Thank you so much Anne!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

An Elephant (Rock) Safari

We've just returned home from 10 days in Missouri.  It was a pretty busy visit but we did manage one day with the kids.

The weather was beautiful so we decided to head south to Elephant Rocks State Park ( )

We took the left trail which is known as the "Braille Trail" because of the braille markers along a paved pathway.

Climbing up the granite boulders burned off a lot of young energy!

Some energy took longer to burn off than others...

The back part of this section is an old quarry with the blasted out stone and chips leftover when it closed.

It was a perfect day for finding wildflowers to photograph.

An oak tree with new leaves and sneezy-wheezy pollen filled flowers

Little Bird and some tree fungus.

There are many types of lichen growing on the granite stones.

The kids loved them.

We had them bring their iPads to take photos and videos of what they saw.

This fence lizard was a rock star with his paparazzi.

What an interesting trunk on this oak tree!

The quarry pond.

A budding Spielberg working on his video.

Photo op!

We all had a great time and will come back to do the right trail this fall (when the weather isn't melting).

Monday, April 17, 2017

I Will NOT Go To The Vet!!

This is too funny!  Someone definitely has an opinion about getting a pedicure and threw a hissy fit.  Watch it all the way through... it gets funnier.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Hot Biscuits and Strawberries

Another reason to freeze fresh picked strawberries...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Heroes All Around

In April 1942, American and Filipino allies were captured by the Japanese following the Battle of Bataan.  They were forced to march over 60 miles to the prisioner of war camp they would be kept.  Of the estimated 80,000 POWs at the march, only 54,000 made it to Camp O'Donnell.

This came to be known as The Bataan Death March.

The Bataan Death March had a large impact on the U.S. state of New Mexico, given that many of the U.S. soldiers in Bataan were from New Mexico, specifically from the 200th/515th Coast Artillery of the National Guard. The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum is located in the Armory where the soldiers of the 200th and 515th were processed before their deployment to the Philippines in 1941. (Wiki) 

Every year, in early spring, the Bataan Memorial Death March, a 26.2-mile march/run (marathon) is conducted at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. On March 19th 2017, over 6,300 participants queued up at the starting line for the 28th annual event, breaking not only all previous records of attendance but also the amount of non-perishable food collected for local food pantries and overall charitable goods donated.

The above are runners from this year's marathon.

And these two ladies in red are my friends from Team Red, White, and Blue.  They ran the marathon this year.  I am so proud of them I could pop.

But that is not the only awesomeness of the day.

Survivors of the Bataan Death March were there to cheer the runners on!  Seven came this year.

Here's a group photo of these heroes.

Did I hear you say, "That is only six men."?

You'd would be right.

Where is the 7th man?

99 year old survivor Ben Skardon was WALKING the first 8.5 miles of the course!!!  He did the route in 4 hours and 2 seconds... his personal best.  (He's done this for the last 10 years).

Skardon says that as long as he’s able, he will keep making his pilgrimage to the desert each year. It’s his sacred responsibility. 

“I get focused. I even think of things I haven’t thought about in years, [but] it’s not a time for meditation. I don’t try to think of all the ramifications,” he explained. “My debt to Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan is heavy. It cannot be repaid. People ask me, ‘How can you account for being alive when your best friends are dead?’  I say, ‘I can’t.’”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Plucked From The Flames

The other day we had a nice cool but not too cool evening, so we decided to get a little yard clean-up done.  Himself went around gathering up the winter dropped branches from all over the yard (it will be mowing season before we are ready!).

After piling everything up, he started a burn in our fire pit.  The warmth against the cooling evening was so relaxing...

... until Himself leaped out of his chair over to the blazing fire.

He had rescued this fellow off of one of the burning branches!

Cool scales, eh?

Then Himself noticed something was 'wrong'...

In his fright, the lizard (aka Stumpy) had thrown his tail.

Well, we will know THAT lizard through the year!

(FYI, Stumpy is a Western Fence Lizard).

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Before & After: Attic Makeover Present

Himself gave me quite a gift last month.

He took this ugly cruddy "finished" portion of attic and fixed it up so I could store my creative stash.  I just had too much bulky stuff to keep it all in my studio.

He used a bunch of my leftover boards from other projects, plus what I call my 'scrippy-scrap' pieces to put in a new floor.  It was a whole lot of hours wearing a respirator while bent over on padded knees to get the job done.

Might I had it was usually pretty warm up there too.

This is the side we keep the 'quick grab' stuff that we need to get to quickly...when we need it.  Things like the extra coffee pots when we have a bunch of people over and so on.
(The upside down tub means it is empty)

Here's the other side with general storage.  I added the pool noodles to the rafter braces to keep from knocking our heads off when we forget to duck.  They work great!

I love having the space to store things out of my office!

Thanks Hubby!  What an awesome Valentines gift!