Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The view from my bedroom window...

and some other odds and ends.

These flowers are so pretty right outside my window.  Sometimes I wish I could sit in there more often and enjoy the view.  I suppose the cat will just have to enjoy it for me. The climbing black-eyed susan didn't bloom as much as I'd hoped, but the orange sunflower made up for it. And yes, I mean sunflower, as in singular. That is just one plant. It kind of swallowed up, or rather, smothered the other things planted around it. But that's okay. It single handedly made up for all the blooms the other, squashed plants would have provided. It's long since weighed more than the support could handle, so we just gave up and let it flop over.

See all those beautiful blooms?  The girls have cut flowers from it repeatedly to grace our kitchen table.  There are some, along with a few of the remaining, dark pink zinnias in an old Cheerwine bottle on the table right now. The bright pink and orange make a very pretty arrangement. I should have thought to get a picture, but...oh well, maybe next time. You can just make out one of the small yellow sunflowers we planted in the bottom of the picture, slightly to the right of center. I guess it managed to struggle through.

We're still getting tomatoes.  See that white one?  Yes, I know it looks yellow, but it was classified as a white. At any rate, it's a whopper.

See?  It more than filled my hand - and I have big hands for a woman.  There's another equally big, if not slightly larger one that we're waiting on to ripen. I hope nothing eats on it before it's done. If it stays safe it'll be a beauty.
I said "odds" and ends. This counts as a little odd. Most of you are mothers, so I know you'll know better than to ask why a toy knife is tied to the pull cords for the blinds...right? Yeah, I thought so. I didn't bother to ask either.  I didn't even ask who did it. My hubby on the other hand, did ask.  In fact, he asked me why we had a toy knife tied on the pull cords, so I'm sure the response he got was less than satisfactory. I think it went something along the lines of, "Because we have kids." He also did what I had been rather disinclined to do. He untied it. There's probably some important meaning behind the fact that he took it down, while I only took a picture. Maybe he's a bigger neat freak? (Sounds better than-he's a HUGE fan of stark simplicity.) Maybe I like a little whimsy? (I prefer that to-maybe I was a little lazy.) 
I have no idea where the knife is now, but I'm sure it will turn up. Hey - I was just happy it wasn't one of my kitchen knives. 
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Canning again - apple pie filling

The last bushel of apples we had were Granny Smith, so we spent the day making apple pie filling.
Ready to go. Apples in the back, syrup mixture
in the front, and hot jars in the oven.
All is said and done, and 25 jars of pie filling are
cooling on the counter. I just love having this handy
anytime we want a quick dessert. It works just
as well for apple crisp as it does for pie.

On another note, we were cleaning out the jelly pantry yesterday (trying to make room for all the jelly and fruit butterI had just made) and I happened to notice the wonderful color of the mixed berry jam I had made earlier this year. The sun was hitting it just right and it was beautiful, so we tried to get a picture of it. This was the best we could get:
It doesn't quite do it justice. It's a bit brighter, and you
can see the little bits of fruit better in person, but here you go.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Okay - on to the response to the comment on courtship.

Dear Anynomous,

First off, I should say that my lovely daughter, who you apparently believe won't have a mind of her own, thinks I should just spam the comments and ignore this altogether. Not really a bad idea, but you almost make a valid point, and nearly asked a reasonable question. Suffice it to say, Ri has more than enough of her own mind, and will most likely be better prepared for her future marital relationship than nearly anyone I've ever met. Also, I will turn these into valid points that all parents could benefit from keeping in mind.

I'd like to address the nearly valid point you made first. You said, "Your daughter will start relying on YOU so much in her relationship that she won't know what to do when she gets married and you're not there every minute!" The reason your point is almost valid is because it is possible for a parent to be so totally in control of a child that the child never really learns to think for themselves.  This happens with all sorts of things - the type of career a person enters, how they handle finances, how they raise their children, and yes, how they deal with their spouses. But, that type of parent makes a child dependent on them their whole lives. I may be a control freak with things that go on in my own home, but I'm very much the type of person who believes that a person should ultimately be responsible for themselves and I work on training my children to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their own actions. I may try to guide them in making good decisions now, but as their parent, that is my job. I never allow them to excuse their actions and I encourage them to think things through on their own before they cause themselves problems. The reason for all this is because one day they will be on their own. Even now, if Ri and Superman need to talk something through, I leave it to them.  My being in the room doesn't mean I'm in control of the conversation.  I'm just there to make sure it stays PG. I've seen plenty of relationships where the couple started out the (ugh) "normal" way, only for their marriage to be constantly derailed by a meddling mother/father-in-law.  If it weren't for my own husband's willingness to stand up to his parents, they would be overbearing and controlling.
The point here would be that every parent should try to raise their children to be mature, independent adults; not to cripple them into being dependent. Part of raising a child to think for themselves is the realization that they may not always agree with you. My children can voice an opinion even now in opposition to one I hold and I will listen to them, as long as they are being respectful. Oftentimes their opinion is over-ruled, but sometimes they make a valid point that I need to think/act on. No parent should be so much of a control freak that they feel they are never wrong, or that they should never have to apologize to their kids. Usually the reason the girls are over-ruled is because they didn't have all the information to begin with. Once I explain things to them, or point out how they could/should look at the other side of things, they usually change their own minds, but if they don't they are at liberty to act on it how they want to once they have their own home.
I do not expect to be able to "run my daughter's home from the house next door", so to speak, nor do I expect her to put up with it if I were to try. The reason your point wasn't really valid is because you don't know me and therefore don't know what my expectations for my children and their future lives are.

The second thing I will address is what you said at the end of one of your comments.  You said you obviously couldn't understand why I would be so strict and you asked me to reply, stating that you would be interested in hearing why I would want to do this. I'm not quite sure what it is you're asking.  Why I'm strict? Why we practice courtship? Or maybe... Why we practice courtship in this manner? So, I'll try to answer all three. For why we practice courtship in general see this post: 'Courtship part 1' . All you really have to do is look at the divorce rate, which runs at around 50%, to see that current dating/relationship practices do not work all that well.  Logic alone will tell you that. But, I don't really think this is your question. If you went all the way back to May's post to read 'Courtship part 2', I would have thought you would have read part 1 already. Plus you said in your comment that "sure, courtship is a great idea.", so one would assume that most likely we just disagree on the "how".
So that leaves us with why I'm strict and why we practice courtship in this particular manner. They are virtually the same question, but I will add here that I'm just fairly strict in general. I'm of the "kids are guilty until proven innocent" camp.  Why?  Because I was once a child and I remember what they are capable of. Which brings us to the other part.  It is because we are all capable of sin.  Children and adults alike. Children misbehave because of sin.  Adults are no different. We practice courtship with all of the rules mentioned in the post you read because we want to reduce the amount of temptation the young couple is likely to encounter. We want them to focus on the lives they will lead once they do get married instead of all the warm fuzzy feelings that people usually get drawn into and that tends to sidetrack them from the more important life issues they will have to face later on. Are they capable of resisting temptation? Some are, sure. But when the bible tells us to resist temptation, it doesn't say put yourself in a situation where you may be tempted and then try to resist it.
As to your comments about invading her privacy, what does she need privacy for? The only things my husband and I need privacy for are the very types of things unmarried people do not need to do.  As an unmarried, young woman, there should be nothing she says, writes in a text, or does that anyone else can't see.  What's very telling is that it's someone totally unconnected with us that objects to this, and not my daughter or the young man who is courting her.
Most importantly, I feel my daughter is a treasure to be guarded and worthy of someone who will think she is as special as I do.When approached by people questioning him on why he would put up with all these rules, Superman tells them that Ri is worth it.  All the rules, the waiting, everything.  What I would want to know is why more people would not want this for their own children.
BTW-Superman and Ri have both previewed this post and totally agree.
In fact, Superman suggests that perhaps salvation would be the key to a new opinion on the subject.  He makes a good point, and if you are not currently saved that would be the best place to start. I would be willing to discuss this further if you want to leave some way to get back in touch with you.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Coming Soon - Response to a comment on courtship...but first:

Apple Jelly! Lots of apple jelly!
Apple butter too.
27, 1/2pt jars of jelly - 18 plain and 9 cinnamon,
and 14, 4oz jars of apple butter.

But then...we had a lot of apple juice.
Two of the nearly three gallons of apple juice.
See - I told you it was a pretty pink color.
After boiling it down we still had almost a
gallon and a half of juice; enough for three
big batches of jelly.
The finished jelly.  This is the plain; the
cinnamon is just a bit darker.
I tried to get more light shining through the jar,
but every time I did the light around the jar
washed everything out. Still, you get
a rough idea of the unique color.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just guess what time it is again.

Apple time!

The mother of a visiting family at church last week told me of an apple orchard just over the Virginia state line that has started using organic farming practices.  Previously I had been unable to find any organic orchards in North Carolina or just over the line in South Carolina.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me to check Virginia.  We're practically in the middle so it's six of one, half dozen of the other in terms of the drive for me. You do have to be a bit more careful when picking in an organically treated orchard - there are many more little multi-legged critters around.  I had to back carefully away from one tree that had an enormous wasp nest (I'm allergic to stings from anything in the wasp/hornet family) hanging in it.  It explains why there were so many apples left on that tree. :)
They had a great price on apples though - $10.00/bushel (for pick-your own).  Did you get that?  I haven't even been able to get that good a price on conventionally grown apples. The girls and I went up last week and picked 4 bushels.  Three bushels of (mostly) Fuji, for applesauce, and one of Granny Smith, for apple pie filling.

Just shy of 200 lbs of apples.

Some of the sauce. Plain and cinnamon.
We've already made the three bushels into sauce and I've got a crockpot full of applesauce cooking down to turn into apple butter. Since the apples were organic I saved all the peels and most of the cores to turn into juice for making jelly.  After cooking and draining, I collected almost 3 gallons of juice. I't's currently in the fridge and the sediment has settled to the bottom so I'll be able to pull the clearer juice off the top tomorrow and boil it down a bit more to concentrate it some before I make the jelly.  I want it to be a bit sweeter to start with so I don't have to use as much added sugar.  Since the Fuji's have a red blush (and we had a few red apples mixed in-Red Delicious and Braeburns I think) the juice is a beautiful pink color.  I can't wait to see how the jelly turns out. We also need to make the Granny Smiths into pie filling, but I think I'll do the jelly first.
We'll have to go back and get at least a couple more bushels, but I didn't want to have a bunch sitting around that I didn't have time to get into jars; it's way too warm right now to store them for very long. I wish we had a cellar or something we could store them in for fresh eating. We live too far south for the garage to stay reliably cold enough, even through the winter for something like apples (it does fine for pecans though).  It may partially be because the garage is on the south side of the house.  A north facing garage may do better even around here.

On another note, one of my wonderful readers gave me a blog award.
I would love to pass it along to the requisite 15 blogs, but I don't routinely read that many blogs, so for those of you listed on my sidebar, consider yourself awarded.  I really enjoy all of your blogs.
Do me a favor and pop on over and check out her blog: (Foxglove Spires). She does the cutest art projects with her little princess.  They did an adorable, folded paper ladybug not long ago that I want to try and make with Beenie and T.Lynn.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Revamping and old bookcase and coming across a find.

Okay, so it's not all that old.  In fact, it's the newest bookcase we have - not that that's saying a whole lot, but still...  This one has had more than it's share of abuse, as you can tell from this before photo:
See that shelf just up from the bottom?  My hubby was afraid that the weight of the books on that shelf was too much and had done the damage, but I informed him that the shelf's plight had more to do with a certain little person, who didn't want to go get a step stool for reaching books on the upper shelves, than with the weight of the books. I know that this damage couldn't have happened with just one or two occurences, so I'm more than grateful that the weight of all those books managed to offset the weight of the little person climbing on the shelf. I believe I have managed to convince said small person that climbing on the bookcase is a REALLY bad idea. 
What you can't see so well is that the other shelves are bowing slightly too.  The edging pieces in front of the shelves keep it from being so obvious, but you can tell from the one without the edging that the shelves aren't all that thick.  Plus,it's one of those put together bookcases so the back is essentially a thick piece of compressed cardboard.  They don't really hold together all that well. 
We removed the back and replaced it with a piece of paneling, making the whole thing a great deal sturdier. Then we replace all but one shelf (it was a fixed shelf, screwed into the sides of the bookcase and not bowing) with thicker MDF, sanded it down and painted it white (because we couldn't decide/agree on a different color).  Here's what it looks like now:
I also readjusted the shelves so that there's a shorter shelf down low for the books most apt to gain the small person's attention. :)
I may put some cute, lacy shelf edging up later to cover the the edges of the shelves, because upon close inspection you can see that they kind of look like sawn MDF - which, of course, is what they are. But then again, this bookcase is almost exclusively for school books and sees alot of activity.  I need sturdy more than I need cute.

Now, on to the "find".

We moved the room around (which is what prompted this revamping project anyway; after all, why not fix it while we have all the books out to move it?) in order to make room for Ri's new sewing table.
Please ignore the fact that I obviously can't take a straight picture and instead focus in on this darling little table hubby and I found for Ri a week or so ago. We went to my favorite second hand furniture store to look for a table or desk for her and when I first saw it (behind a door and with stuff on top) I thought it was a desk.  I zeroed in on it mostly because of the drawers - I knew drawers would be handy for a sewing table, and low and behold, when I got closer I realized it really was a sewing table.  If you look closely you can see the groves where the pieces move/come out for the sewing machine to be mounted in.  We are going to see about having it mounted inside sometime later though.  As you can tell, it's an older table so the holes for the mounting screws don't exactly line up right, but we think that can be remedied. It will allow her to raise the sewing machine up when in use and lower it again later if she wants to use it as a desk. I'm so glad we found that little table and Ri seems pretty tickled with it too.  As you can see, she has her whole area all set up with a covered bulletin board for sticking notes and pattern pieces and a shelf for holding things.  She picked one with a rod so she can hang things there too.  Kind of like mine, where I have S hooks holding all my scissors within easy reach of the sewing machine. She already has a couple more sewing projects there that she's working on.

BTW - I know you can't tell it from the first and last pictures, but I really do know how to center furniture on a wall.  It's just that we have deliberately set furniture more on the left of that short wall in order to free up the doorway a bit more.  We have tables, bookcases, cabinets and the like on every wall in that room and since some of it's close to the door it doesn't take much to make it feel cramped.  Setting it off to the left helps it not feel so closed in.
Now, to put all those books back...
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Look at what's new!

My lovely daughter Ri has graciously redesigned my blog for me.  I may be partial, but I think she did a fabulous job.  She also redesigned a blog for one of her friends, so if you want to take a look at some of her other handiwork you can click on this link for Lys' blog and see what Ri did there.
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Ri here.

Just so y'all know, I'm redesigning Mom's blog right now.  Please ignore the mess!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Zinnias and Butterflies

I never knew how much butterflies loved zinnias until this year.  We didn't have anywhere near the number of plants come up in the front beds as we planted, but several hollyhocks, a couple of flax, a few dianthus, several nasturtium, and something else that I'm unsure of, that has very tiny purple flowers have all managed to survive and bloom (except the hollyhocks - they usually don't bloom until the second year).  But the zinnias have made the most outstanding showing, and they keep us supplied with non-stop butterfly activity.  Keep in mind that although many of the following butterflies look the same they're not actually the same butterfly.  There were several of this particular species on the flowers the day the photos were taken. 

I believe most of the photos were taken by Ri,
but this is one that I know for sure was taken
by Bree.

I don't know if you can see it, but there is a small
butterfly on the flower behind the larger butterfly.

You can see some of the weeds we've neglected
as well, but just ignore those. :)

I just thought I'd share some of the lovely pictures the girls have been getting lately.

On another note, Grandma is back home again.  Finally.  I don't know why they had to keep her so long this time.  Sometimes I wonder if they just do it to get the payments from medicare.  She certainly didn't change anything with regard to her health in the the last few weeks.  Oh well, there's nothing I can do about that.  I'm just glad she's home now, and I know she's glad to be out of there too.