Monday, August 30, 2010

Ri's Projects

We wanted to give Ri some things to work on in order to get some more practice in at sewing, but except for a couple of skirts, our girls really didn't need anymore clothes at the moment.  We asked one of the families at church who had a couple of girls if they didn't mind letting Ri practice by making their daughters a few things.

These are the first couple of dresses she's made for them:

The photo doesn't really do this dress
justice.  It looks much better when
someone is wearing it, but T.Lynn was
already in bed by the time we thought
about pictures.

The little girl that got this one has
curly red hair and I thought this
color would look very good on her.

We were fortunate to be able to use T.Lynn as our model because she's about the same size as they are (the one that gets the purple dress is a little taller) even though they are quite a bit younger.  They are on the tall side and T. is on the small side.

Since these were for practice we supplied all the material - I'd never want to practice on material someone else went to the trouble of buying.  Plus, as I mentioned in a recent post, we have a couple (or maybe 40) extra yards of fabric lying around.

Their mom said she'd have them wear the dresses to church this coming Sunday. I think I'm just as excited to see the girls in them as Ri is.  :D


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Here you go Ruby

I thought you might like this picture Ruby.  As you can see, we still have the original machine in there. I've even sewn on it before when I only had one electric machine and it was in the shop.  I've also shown the girls how it worked so they could see how our grandmothers and great grandmothers did a lot of their sewing.

This one even came with an attachment that came out in the 40's to sew button holes. I've got to admit I wasn't brave enough to try that though. It looks pretty complicated.

Ri took this picture some time ago as a black and white photo project she and a friend were doing.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Machine of Her Own

With part of the money she received for a graduation gift, Ri bought her own sewing machine.  I'm so proud of her.  She remembered the man at the sewing machine shop talking about this particular machine the last time I was in to buy a special foot.  Since she has become very interested in sewing lately she decided that buying her own machine would be a very practical use for her money.  She still plans on buying a camera later on, and has already figured how much more she will need to save.  She's very good at saving money.  At any rate, she researched this particular machine, looking it up with Consumer Reports and checking personal reviews. Finally, we went to the store for a demonstration, making sure to ask about the thickness of fabric it could easily manage.  Consumer Reports rated it as the best machine for the money, and we were impressed with the eight layers of mid-weight denim the machine easily went through.  She also went ahead and bought an extra pack of bobbins and some extra needles.  After that she asked us to take her to Walmart so she could buy a lamp similar to the one her dad insisted I buy to sit on my sewing table.  She was tickled pink to set her machine up and get going on a project (you can see it to the right of her machine) for one of the little girls in our church.  Her father and I plan on buying a desk for her next month, but for now we've just moved one of the other machines so she could start enjoying herself.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making Do

Awhile back I told about how I had made some homemade barbeque sauce one day when a recipe called for some, but I had none in the house.  Well, it was time to give a go at another frequently used condiment.

It was all as yellow as the top looks.  I think
the reflection off the jar made it look whiter.
We get eggs from a family at church who
truly have free rage chickens, so our egg
yolks are a really deep yellow.

I've actually made mayonnaise before, but the first time I followed the 'Nourishing Traditions' recipe to a T and didn't really like the results. It recommended olive oil (but said you could use expeller-expressed sunflower oil), and calls for dijon mustard.  It was too olivey (real word?) for me and I didn't really like the mustard flavor.  Since I don't like mustard this isn't a surprise, but I thought that with the small amount called for I may not be able to taste it.  I was wrong.  I went online and tried to find other recipes for mayo, but almost all of them call for mustard in some form.

This time I just plunged right in and tried it my way, which is the 'Nourishing Traditions' recipe without the mustard and using cold pressed sunflower oil. Oh, and minus the whey this time because I didn't have any left.

For anyone who's curious here's what I did:
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 & 1/2Tbls lemon juice
generous pinch of salt
3/4c. cold pressed sunflower oil

Put the eggs, lemon juice and salt in a blender and blend on high for a few seconds.  Then with the blender running on high add in the oil in a VERY thin stream.  And when I say very thin stream, I mean it falls to a dribble about half the time.  I let it blend for a few more seconds after the last of the oil was in and then I put it in a glass jar.  It takes a little while to pour all that oil in so slowly, but it's not at all hard to make. 

I liked these results much better and next time I'll add the 1Tbls of whey the book suggests, although I didn't really need it for it's keeping abilities this time as I'm already out of the homemade mayo.  And the reason I needed it?  Deviled eggs.  They were delicious.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Small scale gardening...Big time food

Sometimes an incredible amount of food can come from a small area. My younger brother lives in a single-wide trailer in a mobile home park.  He's not allowed to have a garden, but he is blessed with a small deck; only some of the trailers there have them.  He loves to garden and has used what area is available to him to it's best advantage.

He grows tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and some herbs.

He uses an assortment of pots and buckets.

I think one of his favorite things to grow is peppers.
He has a variety of bells, sweet bananas, and cayennes.

His deck is only about 8'x12', but he has been able to eat cukes, tomatoes, and peppers every day since they started producing in July.  He's also been able to give away quite a bit, and has supplied almost all of our peppers this year.

One of the things I like the best about his little garden though is the feeling that you get when you're there.  The mobile home park is a little on the barren side.  There are some trailers with toys, or bikes (and maybe a trampoline or two), but they discourage any type of gardening there.  They like to keep things simple for the people who come in to mow, so they keep everything as streamlined as possible.  They even spray round-up in a 2ft. path around everything so they don't have to weed-eat.  BUT, at his trailer there is this little oasis of green (that's not just grass).  There is such a peaceful, hopeful feeling there. 

Our own garden is not all that big, although it is larger than his.  For the most part our veggies are planted around our deck (the zucchini and some carrots against the side of the house are the exception), which is 20' long.  I would guess the total growning room is about 40' long by 18"-20"wide.  I kept it narrow since I knew some of the veggies would most likely try to fall under the deck and I wanted to be able to reach them.  I even planted about half the herbs in this area.  We've had 12-14lbs of zucchini, more cucumbers than we can eat, radishes (also more than we could eat), some carrots, okra, herbs, cantaloupe (2 so far), and about a bushel of tomatoes. We've eaten veggies from our garden almost everyday (we didn't on the day we had spaghetti), and we've shared some with our neighbors. 

This morning.  There's some okra under all the tomatoes and cukes.

When we added in what was already in window sills in the kitchen and sunroom, it was time to can some more tomatoes.  Italian style diced tomatoes this time.  We got 10 & 1/2 pts.  We would have had one more, but we had another casualty in the canner.  From the way the jar broke I think there must have been a crack in it.  I didn't think to check them since we were opening a new case of jars. We'll have to check them better next time. 


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bree's Quilt

I finally finished Bree's quilt yesterday!!

It's quilted very simply. I just stiched in the ditch through the body of the quilt.  For the border I turned squares on point to make it like a running diamond pattern around the edge. I thought that would look nice since the overall design is a diamond. Unfortunatley you can't really see it in the picture.  (I just checked the post, and if you click on the picture it will get larger and you can see the stitching)  The back is done in the dark blue fabric.

Don't know why the color looks weird here.  Maybe it's the lighting.  At any rate, Bree made these pillows herself.  The fabric is a cream color, nearly identical to the cream colored squares and has some kind of shiney thread woven through all over that gives it a look like someone threw glitter on it.  She used some of the leftover dark blue to edge the large pillow.
On another note; see how creative she is.  She used a large bulletin board that my mom's company was getting rid of as a headboard for her bed. It's really neat.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The room has been conquered!

After several days of hit-and-miss cleaning/organizing, we finally settled in yesterday afternoon and worked methodically on the room.  We already had the closet cleaned out and reorganized, and both the cabinets were filled and in order, so we started in yesterday on the bookcases.  After reorganizing all three of those we began working down the wall that holds the sewing machines, their tables, and the file cabinet; periodically working on the ironing board as it kept being a catch-all.

I even did a little decorating.  These bears,
most of which were given to me by the girls or
my step-mother, along with the old laundry stuff
(yes, people have told me the old Clorox bottle looks
like a whiskey/moonshine bottle :D), used to be on
the mantel in the den of our previous house.  Since
we don't have a mantel over our current fireplace
these have been sitting in a box.  I thought it was
high time the place was more than just utilitarian.

T.Lynn wanted to take a picture too.

Instead of buying another shelf or cabinet, I
bought this basket to keep some of the prettiest
pieces of fabric in.  I think it looks right nice on
the cabinet by the computer table.

A clean sewing table encourages one to work
so much more than a disorganized one. I even
found the dust cover for the machine. :)

While we were at all the cleaning and reorganizing I went ahead and reorganized the school desk/cart for next week.  It kind of made sense, since the tall bookcase (the one with the bears on it) has a lot of the extra school stuff in it and I wanted to move over some things that we would be working on.  Now we're all set to start school again.  Just three this year - I'm still marveling over that just a bit.

Miscellaneous stuff:

Play clay I made for the two youngest on Tues. They've been asking me to make it for quite a while.  They've also missed out on some one on one time with mom because I've been so busy, so I set aside a couple of other tasks and worked with them on the clay.  They especially loved helping to mix the dye to get the colors.  It was a little hit-or-miss since the clay darkens, and sometimes the red/pink dye comes out more as it cooks.  The best things about this homemade clay though are: 1) It's cheap - the cream of tarter is the most expensive ingredient, but I buy it at Aldi when I find it there, so it's not that bad. 2) It doesn't smell bad.  I REALLY dislike the way store-bought play-dough smells.
If you've never tried making it the recipe is:
1 &1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. salt
3 tsp. cream of tarter
1 &1/2 c. water
1 &1/2 Tbls. vegetable oil
food coloring of your choice
Mix the dry ingredients together in a pot; stir in the water and oil; add food coloring (remember, it gets darker/brighter as it cooks); cook over medium heat until it all comes together and doesn't stick to your fingers when you pinch it. Turn it out on the counter to cool a bit and then knead it until it's smooth. Store it in zipper bags or other air tight containers.
I always buy the cheapest ingredients I can for this (after all, they're not eating it) except for the oil.  I didn't want to buy a whole bottle of oil for just a few tablespoons, so I used the olive oil I had on hand.  I thought it might alter the color some, but it didn't.

One of the sunflowers in the corner garden.

Tomatoes growing over onto the deck.

Cukes too.

Now I'm off to cuddle the littlest one.  She still needs some prime mommy time.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Food Preservation

As you know from a previous post, we purchased large quantities of peaches, tomatoes, corn, and okra to put up.  That's what I spent a great deal of my time on last week.  We had a few challenging things to work around - the trip to the Dr. on Friday being one, but we also had some difficulties with the sink that made canning an adventure. 
We have granite countertops with an undermount sink and the sink had come loose, mostly on the larger side, so I made arrangements for my younger brother to come on Tues. evening to fix it in the hope that everything would be all set for canning on Wed.  Unfortunately the job was going to be a bit more involved than he had expected and required a trip to the hardware store as well, so the sink couldn't be repaired Tues.  I got the parts and we made plans for him to come again on Thurs.  We went ahead and started canning on Wed., but we had to be careful not to splash much in the sink and we couldn't put the canner or large pots in the sink to fill - we had to hold them, or set them on the counter and fill with the sprayer; a little slow, but doable. The adventure came when he was trying to fix the sink on Thurs. while we were canning the last of the peaches.  He was lying on the floor, half under the sink, with three tool boxes in various places around him, and we were back and forth between the sink (since the problem wasn't with the pipes, the water was never turned off), counter, table and stove trying to get things in and out of the canner.  It was kind of like a dance - one he objected to, saying that I could have planned things better and not been canning while he was there; to which I reminded him that I HAD planned it well - he was supposed to have fixed it on Tues. :D
All eventually worked out, and here are some of the products of our labor:
This is some of the result of this spring's labor.
Here are some of the tomatoes we've gotten so
far this year.  The romas, in the middle, were added
in with those that we were turning into sauce.

We canned the peaches first - this is just some
of what we have put up.

Diced tomatoes and peach honey.

Tomates cooking down for sauce.

Finally finished.

A casualty. This was a homemade version of
Ro*tel - diced tomatoes and green chilies.  Since our
peppers didn't do well this year (and I had specifically
planted poblanos to use for this) my brother donated
some green cayennes.  Needless to say, we didn't need
much per jar.  If I ever have to use them again I plan
on wearing gloves while I cut them.  The tips of my
fingers were burning by the time I was done cleaning
out the seeds and chopping them.

Most of the tomato stuff:
Diced, homemade Ro*tel and sauce.

I didn't think to get pictures of the other things we did last week, but we also got the corn, okra, and some shredded zucchini (from our garden) put in the freezer.  Kay and the youngest two girls sat on the deck one morning shucking all the corn while Ri and I blanched the okra.  Bree bounced between jobs, helping as needed with shucking and cutting the corn, cutting the okra, or washing dishes.  The grating blade on the food processor made short work of shredding the zucchini.  I would have liked to have done some more tomato sauce, but we don't have a food mill yet.  All the tomatoes had to be peeled (easy once you blanch them, but still...), chopped, seeds removed and excess liquid squeezed out by hand.  I definately plan on getting a food mill in the future, if not this season, then I'll ask for one for Christmas.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thank you Ruby and Foxglove Spires

Thanks for your concern for Beenie.  She's actually not feeling bad (except for an hour or two each morning). She's not even running a temperature, which is kind of typical for my older kids who've had it. 
I've always felt it was a toss up as to which was worse:
Babies or toddlers with the croup - when they feel bad and can't breathe well, and can't really tell you what's wrong, or understand what's going on.
Older kids with croup - they don't really feel bad, except first thing in the morning, but sometimes the symptoms are a little more alarming; like coughing up blood, or turning blue. They tend to bristle when made to take it easy for a few days, and they also resent me putting them on quarantine for a few days if on the steroid because it supresses their immune system - remember, they generally feel fine.  I hear a lot of, "But I feel okay mom, can't I just.....".
I've sat in steamy bathrooms feeling awful for the little one sitting on my lap who is feeling so bad herself, but on the other hand, I don't really like having one of the girls run in first thing in the morning telling me she went to wake her sister and her lips were blue.  Well, I guess I would choose the steamy bathroom with the little one over the whole turning blue thing, still, you worry and hurt for them either way.  It's just one of the many aspects of motherhood.
Thanks again for your concern.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Ugh, the croup...again

Beenie woke this morning, after a restless night, unable to breathe well.  One quick listen at the stridor (tight, kind of wheezy, high pitched sound on inhalation) and I knew she had the croup.  I had her go get the stethoscope though and listened to both her throat and lungs to confirm my suspicions before calling the doctor's office.  Then I set her to drinking warm drinks to relax the airway while I was on the phone.  I really just wanted them to call in a prescription to the pharmacy - you know, save me the 45min (one way) trip, all that time in the office (not to mention the fee), when I knew what it was and what they would do to treat it.  Hey, I had(have) 120 pounds of tomatoes waiting to be canned. I really could have spent my time much better this morning (plus Beenie wouldn't have to be in a car when she wasn't feeling well - she suffers from motion sickness even when she's feeling fine).  Yuck!  A bad morning/early afternoon all around, and we haven't even started on the tomatoes.
I know why they want you to come in. I know older children don't usually get the croup.  I know they just want to be certain of the diagnosis.   But I do wish they'd flag my girls' files or something.  Every one of my children have had the croup, even as old as 17.  Beenie had it quite a lot when she was little.  I know what to do at home; I know when it's bad enough that we need the steriod treatment; I know when they need emergency treatment. Man I said "I know" a lot in this post - but I do know a lot about the croup, and I'd dearly love not to have to go to the Dr's office for it.  After all, I was telling the nurse (one I hadn't seen before) where to listen for the noise because she kept listening to her lungs. They also need to calm down a little.  If I were one of those easily agitated moms I'd have been a basket case after all the, "You need to come in RIGHT NOW!" and "We're not giving you an appointment, she needs to come straight in for assessment." stuff.  Hey, trust me, this morning had nothing on the one where Bree started coughing up blood, or the one when Ri woke up pale, with blue lips, almost incapable of breathing.
Note: This kind of makes it sound like the girls are sickly - they're not.  They're actually a pretty hardy group.  They have gotten croup at older ages, and some of them more than other kids, but one Dr thinks they may have slightly smaller than average airways, which exacerbates the problem. It's not a huge problem though.  The last episode was three years ago (4 of the 5-ages at that time-6,10,15&17), and before that there had been a lapse of several years between cases.  They've just had it enough that I can diagnose it while still partialy asleep - like this morning.
Oh well, I guess I can get off here and go redeem part of the day by putting some of those tomatoes in canning jars!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh Boy! Busy, Busy!

I can't wait until I have some free time.  There are quite a few of your blogs I'd like to catch up on, but right now I'm just dropping in real quick to show what I like best about summer.
Metal hummingbirds?  Well, no (although I am rather fond of this one).   Growing things.  That is what I love best about summer.  I love to see gardens growing.  Ours is doing very well, and we've gotten quite a lot out of it so far, even though it's rather small.  This is the climbing blackeyed susan that's planted around the shepherds crook my brother made for me.  I'll get another picture once it has started blooming more.  Our front bed didn't do as well as expected, but we have a lot of zinnas blooming and have been enjoying them and all the beautiful butterflies they attract.

And of course, I love the produce.  We got the peaches from a local orchard and the other produce from another farm.  I would love to be able to grow enough to provide for all my canning needs, but I'm more than happy, and very thankful for what we have been able to grow (besides, we plan on increasing the size of the garden over time).  We have not had
to buy any veggies (except lettuce) since July.  It's great to see your own produce on your supper table.