Lunch with Micah

On October 27th I had a very special lunch date with a very special guy in my life and he’s not my husband!!!  This lunch date was to celebrate his 5th birthday!

Micah and me at Bibo’s in New Castle for his birthday lunch!

Micah didn’t know I was joining him and his Mom, Nikki!

You can see the love in his eyes for his mama!

Micah is a very sweet little man.

Giving Mom a big kiss to thank her for bringing him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE YOU, MICAH!!

Cacti Bloom A Little Early

I brought all of my flowering Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti in the first week of October and now my upstairs foyer is full of color!   Everything outside has lost its beauty since the leaves are gone and we’ve had so many frosts and freezes!  The beauty inside is grand!

CASS Railroad Trip

Hubby and I have had more dates this year than we have had since we moved on this farm.  I’m not sure why but don’t question it because I love every minute we’re together whether it’s here or away from the farm.

On September 26th we went to Cass, West Virginia, and took a rail ride that was awe-inspiring and I would recommend the trip to everyone.  I’m going to leave you with a little snippet from their website and then a pictorial or our wonderful day trip.

Cass Scenic Railroad, an 11-mile (18 km) long heritage railroad that is owned by the West Virginia State Rail Authority and operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

Founded in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (now WestRock), Cass was built as a company town to serve the needs of the men who worked in the nearby mountains cutting spruce and hemlock for the West Virginia Spruce Lumber Company, a subsidiary of WVP&P. At one time, the sawmill at Cass was the largest double-band sawmill in the world. It processed an estimated 1.25 billion board feet (104,000,000 cu ft; 2,950,000 m3) of lumber during its lifetime.

In 1901 work started on the railroad, which climbs Back Allegheny Mountain. The railroad eventually reached a meadow area, now known as Whitaker Station, where a logging camp was established for the immigrants who were building the railroad. The railroad soon reached to the top of Gobblers Knob, and then to a location on top of the mountain known as ‘Spruce’. The railroad built a small town at this location, complete with a company store, houses, a hotel, and a doctor’s office. Work soon commenced on logging out the Red Spruce trees, which grew in the higher elevations.

Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed our day.  It was our first ride on a train and I would go again in a heartbeat.  For more information, here’s the link to their website,  http://mountainrailwv.com/tour/cass-scenic-railroad-bald-knob-trip/ .  They provided us a lunch and when we returned from the ride we took in the sites around the depot.

The depot, a souvenir shop and a restaurant are on site at the entrance of Cass Railroad.

Snack shop where the train reloads water for the engine.

Kitchen Redo

This summer our home has been a work in progress project for me.  I’ve wanted my living room and kitchen painted for two or three years but haven’t had the courage to start the painting myself like I used to.  I just didn’t have the energy!  When hubby asked last December what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas I told him I wanted professionals to paint the living room for me.  The darling man told me to find who I wanted to paint and to get a quote for doing our master bedroom ceiling (I painted the walls last year), living room and the kitchen!  I was so excited so I called my favorite painter in the county in May and Eddie approved the quote he gave us!!  Pallette Painting started the job on September 29th and finished the following weekend!  It looked fabulous, clean and bright!  It took another week to get everything put back together and I’m one happy camper!!!  Here are before and after pictures:

Dingy white walls and ceiling in the living room.

I covered the walls with all kinds of decor to cover the dingy paint.

It’s hard to see in this picture the dark paneling that was around this corner of the kitchen.

Big furniture pieces in the kitchen also made it dark!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bare in mind that our wonderful home has been in the family for almost 200 years and we have lived in it since 2002 and I’ve only painted it once.  I clean a lot but you can only do so much.

The living room is small but comfortable and has a wood stove in it for heating it and our bedroom.  The kitchen is huge and  has clapboard on one end of the room, wide wood boards on the other three walls with two different kinds of paneling halfway up the walls.  I LOVE MY KITCHEN!  It’s dark due to an enclosed side porch on the east side and a family room on the west side.  I need and want lots of light!!!  Here’s what I got:

The living room looks brighter to me but also very cozy!

I think the pale blue sits off the brick behind the stove.

Less “stuff” on the walls in the living room and kitchen which means less dust to get rid of.

Pale, pale blue for the walls and extra white for the trim and doors. Snow white ceiling.

No more ugly paneling, waiting on some shelves hubby is making for the kitchen and it’s so awesome!

Think I’ll just live in this room!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a happy camper and love my old farmhouse very much!

 

 

 

Visits To Covington

I’m still playing “catch up” with my blogging so things may come into play a little out of sequence but I write them as I get to them.

I have a twice-monthly ritual in my life that takes me to Covington, Virginia, to visit my youngest brother.  I go every other Sunday and we spend the day doing whatever he wants to do.  It takes me an hour to get to him and then we usually spend about 4-5 hours together before I take him home to Merryfield.

Lunch in January

Lunch in June

We go riding on roads we haven’t been on, we visit cousins, we go shopping, but we always go out to lunch together. He loves going to Tractor Supply to look at the farm equipment and all of the “cowboy” clothing!  Dean’s favorite food is hotdogs with mayonnaise only and a bacon cheeseburger!!  Occasionally we have pizza or we try to find a restaurant that he hasn’t tried.  Sometimes we head toward White Sulphur Springs WV or Fairlea, WV or we drive into Lexington or Roanoke.  The day just depends on the mood he is in or how much time we have.  He loves to shop and we try to find unusual shops to visit instead of Walmart every visit.  Eddie and I picked him up a couple of weeks ago and took him with us to a family reunion and my brother, Junior, took him home after the reunion so we wouldn’t have to do so much traveling.

I enjoy our visits and sometimes we just stay at his place and do something in his room.  He prefers going out though for that one-on-one visit and we talk about what he’s done since the last visit.  When we go out he dresses up in a shirt and tie and always looks like he’s stepped out of a men’s fashion magazine but he likes dressing up.  His health is much improved though his kidney function is only 40% but you never hear him complain and he’s put back on some weight!  Merryfield keeps him busy going to movies, concerts, wrestling matches, shopping, and Lifeskills during the week.  Lifeskills is a school for teaching day-to-day things that most of us take for granted but he enjoys the interaction with his house and schoolmates everyday.

 

Making Sauerkraut

The last two years we’ve had an abundance of cabbage which I have canned and frozen.  We shared with our daughters and other family and some of our neighbors.  I was starting to run short on sauerkraut so I contacted my neighbor, Linda Smith, about the moon signs to work the cabbage and we got to it.

We brought in four large heads (very large) and Eddie started cutting thin strips from the washed and drained heads.  First he quarters the heads and then uses one of our LEM butcher knives to slice off thin strips into a large pan.  I mention LEM knives because we think they’re awesome (http://www.lemproducts.com/category ) because they keep a sharp edge longer than most we have and they have all sizes you could possibly need.

This shows how thin we slice the cabbage for making slaw.

Next we bring out my big crock and mallet that Eddie made for me years ago.

This is the mallet Eddie made for me to crush the cabbage when we make kraut. I usually put a layer of sliced cabbage about four inches thick in the crock and pound it down with the mallet to about two inches, sprinkle with table salt and pile on another layer. We keep doing this until the crock is about half full.  The mallet is about 36 – 40 inches long which is the perfect length to sit at the kitchen table in a chair and pound the cabbage.

As you mash the cabbage, liquid will start oozing out of the cabbage and this will make the brine needed to sour the cabbage.  You WILL NOT add any water to this mixture, only cabbage and table salt.  You MUST salt each layer as you go through the process.

This crock is about 18 inches tall and about 15 inches across, very large and very heavy!  You can see looking into the crock that I had quite a bit more to fill and mash to get it half full.

The crock is half full, the juices are covering the cabbage and now it’s time to cover the concoction. Eddie has made me a wooden cover 1 inch thick that sits on top of the cabbage.  We need to keep it down on the cabbage tight so that the juices will ferment but nothing, such as dust, bugs, or any other matter can get into the kraut. To do this we fill a heavy-duty trash bag with several gallons of water and tie it up and sit it gently on top of the wooden topper. We move the crock to a dark, cool room (usually my laundry room) and let it work for about two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first peek at the concoction is about 5-7 days from the covering.  We check to make sure it’s bubbling/fermenting and we do our first taste test.  The cabbage will taste slightly salty and may be just a bit  tart.  If we get that taste we know everything is good but if we don’t we may be in trouble!  We check again in two days, sour is good, smelly is bad!!!!  If it’s bad, we throw it out to the chickens.  If it’s sour, we’re whistling Dixie!!  Don’t be surprised if you get a little darkened leaves on top or even a brown bubbling “stuff”, it’s part of the fermentation.  We let it ferment, checking daily now and when it get’s to the sour point of making your face crinkle you’re ready to stop the process and pack it in jars.  I used to use quart jars but the last three years we’ve used pints.  Finish it off by packing the kraut in the jars, cleans off the tops of the jars, put on new lids and rings and pressure can the jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, remove from the canner and wait for the jars to seal.  Man, I can taste that kraut & smoked sausage, pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread now!!!

Down with the Old

The chickens needed a new home due to the age of their existing house!  It leaked like a sieve.  Critters were getting in no matter what we did and killed eleven of my new chicks that were under two months of age.  The hill I walked to get to it was becoming a hazard for me in the winter months.  We moved the chickens (they were not happy at first) into a cinder block building which has electricity and water and a separate room for their feed.

Old Chicken house is made mainly of wormy chestnut. When we started tearing it down we were able to save some better boards.

After two weeks of tearing off boards when we had an hour to spare, it’s starting to look like a spooky shell!!

As we tore off the outsides, everything was thrown to the inside of the shell to burn.

The only parts of the building that weren’t wormy chestnut were oak and pine replacements over the years.

Even the nesting boxes were wormy chestnut. We saved them to use for nesting boxes in the new house.

Next we cut the main support beams on the interior and wrapped a chain around them which was attached to the tractor and started pulling it down.

Amazingly the roof fell straight down on to the interior debris.

Within two hours the fire was almost finished except for some large beams that served as ground support. It took two days for the smoke to dissapate and then it was time to pile up the tin roof and dispose of it.

Fairly simple clean up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the chickens use the remaining area as a dusting bath!  Next spring I’ll spread it out a bit and start a new area for gardening.

Racing With My Love

In our house dating was almost a thing of the past until this summer.  Eddie and I have had several off the farm dates and hope to have more.  We are both race fans and attend Shelor Motor Mile Speedway to watch our favorite racer, Michael Looney.  If you haven’t been to a race before this is where you should start!

Motor Mile Speedway 

The races start in early summer and end in September.  Mike Looney was one of my Cub Scouts a few years ago and I thoroughly enjoy watching his success behind the wheel in the Late Model Stock Car heats. Michael placed 2nd in points at the end of the 2017 season.

Eddie and I only found time to go to two races at Motor Mile Speedway this past summer but enjoyed every minute and we followed Michael on to Martinsville in September 23rd to watch him compete against about 80 other competitors.

A gorgeous day for a race!

Michael’s car was crushed near the end of the race after he had moved into 9th place and was moving to the front!! He did not get hurt but we were all crushed that he was knocked out of the race!!

The stands were packed!

The weather was cold and windy! Eddie and I both were shivering and waiting for the end of the last 20 laps so we could go to our hotel! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then on October 29th we went back to Martinsville to the NASCAR race!!  We had a great time and we owe this trip to some very good friends of our that won the tickets but don’t like racing!!  Thank you Jo and Rusty!!!  We spent the night at The Dutch Inn where we stayed on our first honeymoon back 45 years ago!!! It was a fabulous date!

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the race in 2016!

Foodsaver

Back in September I posted about all of the wonderful vegetables and fruit that we now have stored for winter.  It’s hunting season and all of that wonderful meat our hunters will bring in will stay fresh for a long time if you use the equipment I use!

Broccoli and summer squash

Green pepper strips

 

 

 

 

 

Today I wanted to show and tell you about the best piece of equipment we’ve ever purchased and used to preserve our food.

Best kitchen tool in the house-Foodsaver Vacumn Sealer.

We have had three of these in the past 7-10 years and they range in cost from about $50 to $130.  We have had the more expensive ones but they didn’t do the job or last as long as the cheaper one.  We have meat and vegies in the freezer that range from one month old to four years old and every package we open is as fresh as they day we vacuumed, sealed and placed in the freezer.  Before we started using this sealer my vegies and fruits came out of the freezer mushy and old tasting but now it’s like eating fresh from the garden and vines!!

You can get the rolls of Food Saver bags from Walmart for $13.98 (two roll box) or you can get the bulk rolls from Cabelas for $29.99.

Each box contains a 50′-long, 4-mil-thick freezer bag that easily rolls out. This freezer-defying vacuum bag can be custom cut to any desired size with the integrated cutter on the box. We use the 11″ width.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t go wrong with this food preservation system!  It’s quick and easy to use!

Making Calendars

For the last four or five years I have enjoyed making personal calendars for my family and it’s a gift that they can enjoy all year-long.  I’ve started calendars for this year but they are a work in progress.

I have an old computer program that I got years ago called “Greeting Card Factory”  and I use it to format my calendars and I also use it when I want to make “special greeting cards.  It’s awesome and I’m not sure there is a newer version on the market or not.

Once I get the main format set up I can add photos, special dates, different fonts,  and the list goes on and on.

This is an image of a month I did for my Granddaughter last Christmas. I had all sorts of photos on it of her and her animals. I think she liked it!!

The format is so easy to use and I use all sorts of special papers with the calendar as well but most of the pages are using card stock.

This apparatus is used to punch holes in the pages so they flip easily.

The plastic coil that holds the calendar together fits on this apparatus making it easy to put the calendars together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calendars are great stocking stuffers and as I said previously they’re a gift your family and friends can enjoy all year round!!  Adding family birth dates and anniversaries is a great addition and make the calendar date blocks a little large makes for a day planner, too!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laundry Room Redo

A cluttered mess is what my laundry room has been for way too long!  In June I took the bull by the horns and completed a redo in about three days.  Some history of the laundry room includes the fact that it was used as a milk room back when we were children.  It includes a cement trough that was used to hold spring house water to keep milk cold until the dairy truck arrived to pick up the milk.  It houses a hand dug well at the end of the trough that is about 12 feet deep and covered with a concrete top.  When we moved into the house this well was still used but we had a new well dug shortly after moving in.  The room has had nothing done to it until I retired two (almost three) years ago!!

A total mess but I knew where everything was!! EMBARRASSING!

The concrete sink was used to keep milk cold back in the day!

Cluttered and disorganized

That ugly green door!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First I emptied all I could move myself out of the room.  Then I swept down the ceiling, wall, sink and floor.  Next I bought two gallons of paint, one with primer and one was semi-gloss white.  I wanted everything to be brighter and cleaner!

Clean white walls and ceiling, sink and shelving painted and peel and stick tile on the floors.  No more “green door”, brighter work area, and I like doing my laundry in there now!

Organization is the key to a very small room!! It’s still full but anyone should be able to turn around in it and find what they’re in need of!!!

One more item off the retirement bucket list!!!

Making My Own Cleaning Supplies

I honestly can believe the last time I posted was in September but I promise to get caught up if not by the end of today but definitely by tomorrow!  Over the next two days you’ll receive several emails of my/our hectic life which has been full of hard work, fun, a few trips, more work and preparing for the winter that is sneaking up on us quickly.

For several years now I’ve been making my own cleaning supplies.  I do this because over half of my grocery bill is expensive cleaning supplies and I only buy groceries maybe once a month!!  I even make my own body wash and I do love it.  I want first to let everyone know that I’m not the creator of all of these recipes, I follow some very frugal ladies and gents that share their wisdom with the world.  Some recipes have been tweaked to meet my own needs.  Tip Junkie is my favorite at the moment but I get ideas from HGTV, Real Simple, and a lot more.  All you have to do is “google it”!!!  My favorite make-your-own blogger is https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/homemade-body-wash.html

Today’s recipe is for body wash and I love the commercial Dove Bodywash.  I have very dry skin as I’ve grown older and my OB/GYN told me years ago that Dove was the mildest soap you can buy over the counter.

To make a gallon of bodywash you will need nine bars of Dove soap (other soaps tend to vary) and 18 cups of boiling water.  I like to make a gallon at a time so I don’t run out as quickly!!  All you do is get an old vegetable grater and grate the bars of soap into a pan.  I tried to use a food processor and burnt it up, don’t do this!!!

This is the food grater I use ONLY for making body wash and the wooden spoon is used for stirring it as it cools.

I use a large stainless steel bowl to grate the soap into. Large so the soap shavings go in the bowl and not on my table.

The ratio for making the soap is three bars of soap to six cups of water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you get down to the last bar of soap to grate, put your pan of water on the stove to boil.  The harder boil and hotter the water the quicker the process of melting the soap takes.

Pour the soap flakes quickly (without spilling on the stove top, yuck) into the boiling water and use a wooden spoon to stir. At this point turn off the heat and move the pan off the stove to a cool spot. Left on the heat could cause it to boil over and boy is that a mess and burnt soap smells bad!! Stir the pot several times until the mixture is completely cooled. If you feel like it’s too thick add a cup of water before it cools completely.

I’ve saved three of my Dove bottles to use for refills. Place a funnel in the top after popping off the lid and fill to almost full and replace the top.

I used a clean gallon vinegar jug to hold the remaining bodywash. I label it with a piece of tape which includes the ratio for future reference. The old mind doesn’t hold that information as well as it used to and this helps me remember how many bars and how many cups of water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bodywash makes my skin feel silky but not sticky or greasy and it lasts a lot longer than the commercial packaging!!  Smells so feminine!

I’ll post more homemade products I personally use in future posts including my favorite window cleaner, furniture polish and floor cleaner.  Let me know if you try the recipes and if you like them!

The Beauty of Butterflies

My butterfly bush was an especially beautiful treat today! Very few blooms at the moment but the butterflies stayed on it all day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sedum was found with sweet nectar as well!

 

 

 

Everything blooming was covered with a honeybee preparing for winter!

Hornets_The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Cooler weather is good and upon us and we’ve actually had a fire in the woodstove several nights to take out the chill and dampness.  Fall has crept in on us with the trees changing color and the shadows falling on the ground remind me of Halloween.  Pumpkins everywhere we go and bales of straw.  Scarecrows sitting in every nook and cranny!

With fall come the acts of nature that we overlook until you almost walk into it!  By this I mean, bee nests and I walked right under this one several times before actually seeing it!

I walk along this path several times a week as do the heifers when going to water.

Can you see anything hanging from the tree?  My first encounter was in July and I walked through that path about six times one looking for little chicks in distress because they couldn’t find their mom.  I never saw a thing while walking but that afternoon I was in the laundry room folding clothes and looked out the window and there hung a hornet’s nest the size of a volleyball!

It’s now about 18 to 20 inches long and about 15 inches thick!!!

We didn’t want to destroy them because as long as you leave them alone hornets are good!  They catch thousands of houseflies!!  That’s the GOOD!

The BAD is if I had walked into their nest and made them mad!!  I would have been stung several times before realizing what was happening!  The UGLY is those insects are black, big and build onto that nest all summer.  It’s huge now!

During the day the hornets are flying in and out of it and there are guard hornets marching all over it to protect the hive.

When I walked under it in July it was about seven feet off the ground. Now it’s so heavy and hangs about three feet off the ground.

I’ve found a new path around it so I don’t disturb them!

Along with the hornets we’re seeing lots of bumblebee’s which have a nest in the ground in my rose garden.  The rose garden is a mess now because I can’t get in it to weed.  The yellow jackets and sand hornets are all over the apples in the orchards but we haven’t found their nests yet.  All of the bees make great pollinators but  they do have an ugly and  mean side!!!