Category Archives: Uncategorized

Daddy’s other little girl

As much as he loves his beautiful and precious daughter, my hubby loves his second child too!  She plump, frisky, hairy, lovable, and can get under his skin in a heartbeat.

BUT, when Daddy comes home from hunting, feeding the cattle, anything that she wasn’t involved in, this is what happens:

 

Daddy and Sassy after the hunt!!

Daddy and Sassy after the hunt!!

Sassy loves Daddy!!

Sassy loves Daddy!!

 

He made her a special bed and it sits in front of our bedroom window.  She patiently (most of the time) waits/sleeps until he comes home.  Once he comes in the door she waits for him to come sit beside her and tell her how much he missed her and rubs her ears.  She listen to all of he hunting tales patiently as long he rubs those ears.  She’s not quite the joy our beautiful daughter is but Sassy comes in a fast second!!  The best part, she was supposed to be my baby as a Christmas gift eight years ago but it’s pretty clear where her heart lies.  She is definitely one of the family!!

Four more blocks. . .

This has been another successful quilting day for me.  First I corrected the mistake in block six from yesterday.  Then I spent two hours cutting the pieces to make the two different blocks  that follow.  There are four different blocks but two versions of  each pattern; subtle, yet vibrant differences when you look carefully.

Block  # 7

Block # 7

This is block 7  of the Sampler Quilt I started yesterday.  It’s a simple block but look at the difference changing the colors can make in Block 8.

Block # 8

Block # 8

Block # 9

Block # 9

Block #10

Block #10

You can see the same difference in placement colors for Block 9 and 10.

I plan to do this throughout the quilt, that is, two color placements of the same block.  It will give me practice for all the blocks that will wind up in the quilt.  I’m really pumped to complete the entire king size quilt.

This is the correct Block six that caught my eye yesterday and it only took about ten minutes to pull out the seams, turn the blocks and put it back together.

Corrected Block #6

Corrected Block #6

I may not be as productive tomorrow because I have 36 half pints of blackberry jelly to process, but more about that later!!

Hey yall, I’m back!!!

I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would miss blogging as much as I have!!!  My computer locked up around Thanksgiving and couldn’t afford to just go out and buy a new one!!  I’m too busy at work to take a few minutes to write a note and it probably wouldn’t set to well with the boss!! BUT, my dreamboat husband slipped around without my knowing and bought me a new Hewlett Packard Desktop and surprised me on Tuesday night with it sitting in our bedroom!  He had told me he would get me one for my Christmas but he knew how much I missed the OLD one and decided to move on with the project and get it for a birthday present and early Christmas present.  I have been since Tuesday learning how to use “THE NEW WINDOWS 7”!  Talk about a learning experience.  Anyway, I’m back and can’t write long as I have lots of housework to do, decorating to do, wreaths to make and crafts to start.  I’ll be back soon with new adventures!

SEE YA SOON!!!!!

Walk around the farm

Let’s go for a walk on the farm and let’s do it quietly!!  You never know what you might see!!

View of the Mansion from the front porch

From behind the house

Overlooking the hayfields to the west

East view

Back pasture

West toward family cemetery

The mountain

Behind the orchard

The orchard

The flat woods

Our daughters house

More pasture land

HOME!!!

Let’s eat. . .

 

Mac & Cheese

 

These are some of our favorite fall/winter side dishes.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

EASY MAC & CHEESE 

Small box of elbow macaroni (about two cups)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 dash black pepper

1 – 1 ½ cups milk

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded ( 8oz)

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Add butter over medium heat; stir in flour, salt and pepper; slowly add milk. Cook and stir until bubbly and most of milk is cooked off.  Stir in cheese until melted. Serve.

Easy Macaroni Salad

2 cups cooked macaroni, drained and cooled

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 large tomato, diced

1 large cucumber, peeled & diced (cut out seeds before dicing)

1/2 cup diced green peppers

1/2 cup diced red peppers

1 cup diced onions

Combine dressing ingredients.  Stir into macaroni until well covered. Cover and chill.

Fried Potatoes

8 medium to large potatoes, peeled & sliced thin

2 large onions, peeled and sliced thin

1 stick of margarine

2 tablespoons of  cooking oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

In large iron skillet, on medium heat, melt margarine with oil and let sizzle just a little.  Add onions and then potatoes.  Cover.  Turn with spatula occasionally until potatoes are tender and golden.  Serve and eat!!  So good!!

Baked Apples

8 – 10 large cooking apples, peeled, sliced

1/2 – 1 cup of brown sugar

1 stick of margarine, sliced thinly

Place apples in baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and margarine slices.  Place in microwave and bake until juices are bubbly.  Cool and serve.  Great for a snack with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!

Cooking again. . .

Family Favorite Sweet Potato Casserole

Everyone in the family loves this dish and hope you will too!

CLASSIC SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

6 med. sweet potatoes

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c., plus 2 T. butter, melted and divided

2 lrg. eggs

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1/2 t. salt

1/2 c. light brown sugar

3 T.  all-purpose flour

1/2 c. flaked cocoanut

1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

14 lrg. marshmallows, cut crosswise or enough mini marshmallows to cover dish

Place  sweet potatoes in a pot of water and boil until easily pierced with a fork.  Pour water off and cover with cold water so they will be easily handled and pull the skins off.  Mash the sweet potatoes.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 11/7 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Combine mashed sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, milk, 1/3 cup butter, eggs, vanilla and salt in medium bowl; stir to mix well. Spoon into prepared dish.  Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and cocoanut in small bowl; stir to mix well. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.  Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Summer flowers retake

If you have followed my blog prior to this post, you know that I had a pretty bad summer for my flowers in 2011 and killed almost everything.  It’s been quite a lot of hard work and planning to get back (almost) to where I was before the fiasco!  I wanted to share some of my 2012 blossoms with you while they’re still pretty.  

And last but not least:

IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN!!
She already weighs over 30 pounds and still growing!

End of Summer clues

You know that summer is coming to an end when the kids start back to school but the real clues are when the garden is being cleaned off for the fall crops, the woodshed is full and the cellar shelves are stocked. I was riding home yesterday and saw a hint of gold and orange in the tops of maple trees on our road. Last night we saw a herd of deer near the house and three of the larger bucks had lost the velvet from their horns. The apples are starting to drop and the wildlife is scarfing it up almost before it hits the ground. The hummingbird population has dropped from 30 to 10 or 12. The chickens molt has come to an end and the new feathers are shining. The cats and dogs on the farm have almost quit shedding. The katydids are screaming way before dark and the evening porch sitting is so much cooler. Best of all, the screech owls are calling!! Fall is near!!

Fall Color

I’m so looking forward to fall and the beautiful colors that come with it.  To make my wait a little less painful I thought I would share these photos of past autumns at the farm.  ENJOY God’s beautiful artwork with me!

Fall means cider time and Sassy is guarding the apples!

Wild asparagus and not so wild!

We love asparagus and especially so in early spring.  We know that warmer weather is soon to stay when we start seeing asparagus popping through the ground.  Another sign is when we see people driving by our property really slow and jump out of their vehicles and scour the ground.  You see we not only have it growing thick around our gardens and haylot but it’s also growing wild along the roadway beside our fence lines.  We’ve surmised that birds eat the berries in the fall and then while sitting on the fence post they leave their dropping and then we have more asparagus growing.  We have more than enough around our gardens and when we happen to get to the roadside patch before everyone else we have more to share with our family and friends.  I’ve attached a couple pictures of the asparagus after it’s finished it’s growing season and bearing seed for the birds.  Watch for it along your roads and around your fenced property.  I’ll bet you have some and didn’t realize it.

Look for this now along the roads and fences and memorize where it’s at. You’ll find a wonderful treat in the spring.

 

Florist use these in their live arrangements. They have a feathery feel.

 

It’s hard to believe that when it comes up in the spring it looks just like the beautiful fresh asparagus you buy in the produce department of your local grocery store.  Then at the end of the growing season we let it bush up, bear berries and feed the birds.

This year I also planted some seed in my greenhouse and I was very pleased when it came up and then survived.  We prepared a new bed for it near the garden but won’t be able to harvest it for three years.

 

In the meantime, we have plenty more in and around the garden and along our roadway.

Our favorite way to eat it is to steam it just enough to keep it crunchy.  You just can’t beat fresh asparagus in the spring along with a batch of fried morels, baked apples and homemade biscuits!!  YUM!!

Changes

Like my housecleaning I needed some changes and this was absolutely the least tiring.  I changed the theme of my blog and I think it looks pretty nifty.  Spring cleaning is continuing and today it’s in the living room.  I’m not making any major changes but trying to suck up all the spiders I can with my new Bissell vacumn and it’s amazing how many of the blasted critters are in this one room.  Hubby thinks I ran them all downstairs when I was cleaning upstairs.  The ones that got sucked up this morning aren’t going anywhere and the living room is starting to pull together.  Clean curtains are ironed and ready to go on the windows as soon as I wash them which is my next task.  I’m going to Christiansburg this evening, I hope, and pick up a new recliner for me (Sassy takes the entire couch anymore) and I want to shampoo hubby’s this afternoon or in the morning.

Just wanted to show everyone my new blog look and take a break from the dust bunny’s!  Pictures later of the clean living room!!

My herb garden

Back in the spring I was browsing around on Pinterest, which I love.  (http://pinterest.com/)  Pinterest is an online pin board where you can organize and share things you love.  I digress, sorry!!

 

On Pinterest I found this neat way to grow herbs on a wall.  I have a wonderful friend that has a woodworking shop and he made me some pot holders.  I ordered the herb seeds that I use and love.  I cleaned up the insides of 12 clay pots and filled them with dirt and planted my seeds.  When they started sprouting I hung them on the coal house on the farm and now I have little seedlings growing quickly on  a wall and the chickens can’t get to them. (Chickens love to dig up flower and vegetable gardens.)  Here’s the beginnings and I’ll post again before and when they’re harvested.  The pots have marjoram, lime basil, sage, garlic chives, lemon basil, oregano, sweet basil, Italian basil, stevia, parsley, cilantro and catnip for the kitties.

 

 

I am so blessed . . .

Family, job, home, farm,friends, . . . .
Blessings abound in my life. God has been so good to me!!

I have a wonderful husband of 40 years. He’s kind, loving, protective, and a country boy through and through.  Although he has a full beard, the laughter in his eyes touches my heart and soul.  He takes care of our farm, harvests most all the food we eat, he cuts the firewood that keeps our home warm in the winter time and he’s always there for me when I need him. He’s quiet, funny, very private and very handsome. I love him very much!!!

I have two children that I absolutely adore! They are 39 and 35, boy and girl, smart, caring, good-looking, and protective of what is theirs. My children are my pride and joy and I can’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without them and their father.

I have a gorgeous grand daughter that has me in tears one minute and laughing myself to death the next. She is very active and loves the outdoors. She is smart, beautiful, skinny, funny, imaginative, a social butterfly and curious about life.  She likes to turkey hunt with her grandpa and loves to craft with her Nana.

I have a younger brother that came to live with me almost five years ago when my Mom passed away. He is sweet and funny! I have one sister and three other brothers.

I have a great job that is interesting, pays well and has great benefits. It’s not far from home, has interesting & friendly co-workers, and hopefully the Center will keep me until I have to retire.

I have a very comfortable country home on a 500 acre farm with all that nature has to offer. It feeds us well, keeps us warm by providing timber, provides us beauty, and educates us on a daily basis.

I have wonderful pets in my life including an adorable blonde cocker spaniel that has the whole family at her beck & call!!

I have wonderful friends in the neighborhood, county, state, East Coast, United States, and around the world. I have friends I can always count on to be there for me when I need a shoulder or want to share a moment in my time.

I have a roof over my head, food on my table, joy in my life and most importantly of all, I have my God who showers me with all these blessings and more!!

LIFE IS GOOD!!

Making maple syrup on the farm

Why in the world would anyone think they could make maple syrup this time of year?, you might ask. Well, my reasoning behind this post is: “tell them now and they’ll be prepared in February or March of next year”. Maybe??
As you know if you read my profile, I love to do things the “old” way and I am fortunate enough to live on a farm that allows me to do a lot of those things. One is making maple syrup for our family and friends. Why make it when you can buy it at the stores? Because, it tastes so much better and the gratification of know ing you can do it yourself!! We do sell some on years of good sap flow.

If you have a maple tree in your back yard you can make your own just like we do (in a condensed version)!  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup or 20 gallons makes two quarts.  You could cook it off on the stove in your home.  You don’t have to have a sugar house to make your own syrup.

Here’s the instructions we use to make it in the sugar house with pictures and instructions:

First, watch for the right time and to do that you have to have a sugar maple tree of at least 15″-20″ across the girth of the tree (not circumference). In late February or early March wait for very sunny days and below freezing nights. When this happens the sap will begin to move up the tree from the roots. They’re sucking water out of the ground up through the body of the tree.     
Second, prepare your sap taps! The first ones I ever made, my Dad showed me how by cutting a 6″ limb from an elderberry bush. We carved all the bark and stuck a crochet needle through the little limb pushing the soft bark through to the other end. This limb is very soft and porous and will easily push out. You don’t have to wait until spring to do this. In the fall when the berries and leave have fell off the limbs you can cut the limbs then and make the tubes.   BUT, you can also buy the taps (sometimes called spiles) from old country stores (Lehmans) and I have found some at hardware stores or maple festivals. BUT, if you are making your own, continue on to clean out the 6″ limb until it’s fairly smooth and has a good hole for the sap to drain through.  We also use these plastic plumbing tees that allow us to hang the bucket from just like the metal spiles.  The tees are much cheaper!  Both last for a long time when cared for and the tees are easier to clean at the end of the sap season.

Next your going to drill two – three holes using a 3/8″ bit (match the drill bit to your tap) about 3/4″ to 1″ into the trees and about 3′ to 4′ off the ground.   DON’T WORRY, THIS DOES NOT HURT THE TREE!  The holes heal over within a month after the sap season.

Place the tap into the tree making sure it’s tight. If it’s not tight the sap will leak out around the tap and your wonderful sap is creeping down the side of the tree instead of out the tap into the bucket.

If the trees have thawed enough and the sun is hitting them the sap will immediately start dripping from the spout/tap (spile).  Just for fun, stick your finger under the drip and get a taste. It will taste just like cold water. It’s after the cooking that it starts to taste sweet. Also, at this stage it will be somewhat sticky. Let it drip all day and if it’s a good day ( below freezing the night before and very sunny come morning) you might want to check that bucket under the tap several times during the day.  Once the sap starts running good, your gallon bucket could be full and running over within a couple hours.

We use metal coffee cans for the gathering buckets. I use a nail to tap a hole in the top on each side and run a thin wire through and knot for the bail of the bucket. The gallon cans aren’t so heavy that they’ll pull the taps out of the tree if they get full and they will  get full and run over. We keep old milk cans between the trees for holding the sap each day and we keep a milkcan on the ATV for gathering when the trees are some distance apart.  At the end of the day we empty all the cans into the big holding tank.

This part of the work is probably the hardest! I work out of the home all day and it keeps my hubby quite busy emptying buckets all day long.

The taps will freeze up during the night and that’s okay. Usually by 9:00 A.M. on sunny mornings  the taps are dripping again and by noon on really warm up days he will have to empty all the buckets at least three or four times. We usually tap 10 – 12 trees each spring and if I was at home to help, we could easily double that. A few years back we bought a 250 gallon water tank and when the sap is running good,  it’s full in usually about 7 – 10 days.   Then it’s time to start making syrup.

Did I mention that a week prior to all the gathering we bring in a pickup load of four foot firewood for the firepit. Once the sap is gathered, hubby gets the fire started in the sugar house and starts pouring  the sap in the  pan over the firepit. We have all of this under roof because most of the time the wind is howling, it’s snowing, it’s raining, very cold and occasionally a beautiful day.  Here’s a couple pictures of the sugarhouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as the fire gets started, the sap is poured into all three panels of the sugar pan. This is done quickly so as not to scorch the pan or burn the sap.

Now the cooking begins!!! We have time now to fill up more milkcans or clean out the ones we’ve used. It all depends on how frisky everyone is and how good the sap is still running. The cooker is watched carefully once it starts boiling and the foam that builds up on the top is dipped off and thrown into a bucket. The foam can make it strong but the honeybees love it and we share those leftovers with them for extra food at this time of year. As the sap cooks off it will become thick and it’s moved from the larger panels of the pan into the smaller panel at the end of the pan where it gets thicker and thicker and sweeter and sweeter.

Reading this and looking at the pictures can be deceptive. This whole process of cooking can take as much as two days of working day and night. Shift work between all of us keeps everyone from getting tired too soon and making mistakes or deciding to take the syrup off too soon!! As the sap cooks and boils down, it is moved into the smaller pan gradually and watching the smaller panel is very critical. After about 100 gallons of sap has been cooked and moved it is left to cook quickly and to thicken. When we begin it runs out of the dipper like water but near the end of the process it runs out like thin syrup and it gets sweeter the thicker it gets. While this is happening in the smaller panel, the other two panels are kept full and cooking. The clear sap will start turning a beautiful amber-to-topaz color and we just keep adding the sap while the smaller panel syrup is ready to take out of the pan.

There is a plug and drain line at the end of the small panel and we have a very large stainless steel pot ready to drain the finished syrup into. We don’t use any thermometers, hydrometers or fancy gadgets to test the syrup. We’ve just learned to take it off by the consistency and taste of the syrup along with the color. This process of taking off the syrup is quick with several hands helping. The syrup must be moved quickly, plug the hose, and pour boiling sap from the larger pans to keep the pan from scorching. If it scorches we’ll have black burn flakes floating in the syrup at finish.

Once the first batch is in the pot I take it to the house and strained four or five times through 10-15 layers of cheesecloth and set aside to cool. This is also a fun part of the process because I have made fresh bread the day before, gathered a couple dozen eggs and prepare to make a delicious french toast and serve to all the helpers. Of course, everyone pours lots of “fresh from the sugar house” maple syrup over their toast.

While the second batch is cooking in the sugar house, we let the first batch cool and settlement from the batch settles at the bottom of the stainless steel pot. The settlement is actually maple sugar that can be separated at the end of the process, pour into a sheet pan and left to harden for snacking later. Talk about a sugar rush!!! It looks like harden brown sugar and tastes much like it too. Each time the syrup cools and settles, we run the syrup through cheesecloth again and keep the “sugar candy” separate. After three or four more heatings on the stove and three or four strainings, the syrup is ready to can. It will be boiling hot when it comes off the stove and poured in the sterilized jars. The jars are capped and the boiling syrup seals the jars.

We make sure that everyone that helped with the process is sent home with a jar of syrup, we sell better than half of the jars and we keep some for family/personal use for the rest of the year or until the next season. I’ll drop a few more pics of the processing just for grins and giggles!

Update on cleaning recipes

I LOVE THE HOMEMADE CLEANING SUPPLIES!!!!! In the past month I’ve been trying some wonderful recipes I found on http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/how-to-clean-that-greasy-stove-hood.html website. I’ve made her Miracle Cleaner for the shower, laundry detergent, fabric softener, bodywash, stain remover, and dryer sheets. They are all wonderful and the money I’ve saved is unreal!!! I used to have to buy laundry detergent, fabric softener and body wash every two weeks even though there are only three of us in the household. I change the bedclothes on two beds every weekend. I wash all the scatter rugs in the house every weekend. Three people taking a shower at least once a day sometimes two and changing clothes each time causes the laundry to pile up. Plus, the fact that I’m spring cleaning which means curtains, throws, etc and it’s easy to see why I do so much laundry each week and use so much detergent. I haven’t bought any detergent, fabric softener or body wash since May 17th–yeehah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would advise everyone to go to Jillee’s site and try her homemade recipes. You’ll be absolutely amazed and save enough money to go out to dinner occasionally!!

Who I am

I am a wife, mother, grandmother that lives on a farm in Craig County, Virginia and I work full time.  I love to cook, read, quilt, craft, garden, hunt and take long walks in the woods.  I have one gorgeous  teen granddaughter and two beautiful and caring children, boy & girl.  I’ve been married to my farmer husband for 40 years and I have a younger brother that has lived with us for the last four years since my Mom passed away.  I love doing things the “old” way such as canning, making maple syrup & cider, handcrafts and baking.  We live off the land for the most part and another reason why I hunt.  We run 75 head of cattle on our farm, 20 chickens, and dogs and cats.  Our bed partner is a five year old blonde cocker spaniel by the name of “Sassy” and she pretty much rules the house.

First Day as a Blogger

I’m new to this sophisticated tool so bear with me.  I love to read and write but most importantly wanted to blog to share ideas on crafting, cooking, gardening and life in general on the farm.  So here goes:

What better day to start a blog than on a Friday and I’m so pumped about the weekend.  I know it’ll be work but most importantly “work at home”.  It’s a very brisk and cool morning and hoping that it warms up some as I would like to work in my yard this weekend and maybe hang all the bed linens on the clothesline to freshen up.  There’s nothing in the world than freshly laundered sheets and pillow cases straight off the clothesline to the bed.