Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Dollwood Farms had this cute post a week ago about being green.  It was a quote from an e-mail about how the modern generation doesn't feel as though previous generations were "green", and how some may blame the previous generations for modern day problems.  There's no telling where the e-mail originated, but it does hold a fair amount of truth.  We may not have had the word green in reference to being less wasteful, but we weren't as wasteful in general.  At least, not most people.  Certainly not us.  I know we had gas guzzling cars, but we only had one, and it wasn't driven any more than it had to be.  The one TV we owned didn't stay on all the time, in fact, we only had three channels, four on clear days, so it wasn't like there was all that much to watch anyway.  Plus your mom was constantly telling you to go outside to play, which didn't bother you so much because it wasn't any cooler in the house - no AC to run two thirds of the year.  Toys that made noise did so because they required you to do something to make the noise, like bang a drum, or pound on a pounding block.  They didn't make noise on their own, using up tons of batteries every year, or require being plugged in to recharge.  Just like the e-mail said, we didn't have plastic bags, we had paper ones that your mom saved and used for everything from making patterns (for everything), to baking apple pies.  Everything came in glass, most of which could be returned to wherever you got it from to be washed, sterilized and reused.  We had two lamps in the living room, requiring one bulb each, and one overhead light in the dining room that only required one bulb.  The living room alone of my current house has, I kid you not, four recessed light fixtures, which require indoor, flood light bulbs, an overhead ceiling fan that takes no less than six (and possibly eight - but we haven't gone up to replace them, so...) of the ceiling fan bulbs, a regular size lamp that requires four bulbs, 1 regular and three small, and a small lamp that requires one, night light size bulb.  In my defense, we rarely use more than the recessed lights, which are all on one switch, but still, that's an awful lot of light bulbs for just one room.  I dread it when they start blowing out.  At any rate, my point is that I agree with her post.  We may have had things that didn't use power or resources  very efficiently, but we didn't waste nearly as much either.  If we could do things as frugally (and I'm not just talking money) as we did back then, using the more energy efficient means we have now, imagine how much better off we'd be.
Hey, I'm as guilty about some of it as others.  We don't have 4 or 5 TV's (only 2) and we all have to share a computer, but the TV runs more than it should, I do love the AC and the heat, and I'm pretty fond of most of my appliances.  It is something to think about though.  Maybe I'll use good old fashioned muscles instead of whipping out my food processor next time I'm in the kitchen.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012


I love finding ways to save money and reuse items instead of buying new.

I recently saw a post by Julia @ Blissfully Content about revamping your old rags.  She has directions for making them on her blog.  I loved the idea, and had to try it out.
These are so much nicer to look at.  Let's face it, by the time a towel makes it to the rag stage, it's usually pretty beat up.  This is a great way to pep them up a bit.  The fabric was even a freebie from someone who decided not to go into quilting after buying a bunch of supplies.

I like making rags from a number of things.  Some of my favorites are old, terry cloth robes (makes great washcloths), old cloth diapers (although my Dad, who's a gunsmith would always talk me out of mine for use in his shop), and toweling scraps.
You may remember these that I made for Ri out of scraps left from making a couple of hooded baby towels.

Another thing I love to reuse are gallon, and half gallon pickle jars.  Several of my girls love pickles, so we can go through some large jars.  The only problem I ever had was in trying to get the pickle smell out of the lid.  I tried every trick in the book, and while I could get enough of the smell out for dry items, you could never use the jar for wet things because the smell was never completely gone.  My remedy for this was to contact the manufacturer, which happened to be a company right here in NC, and ask them what size lid they used for their jars.  Then I found a company on the internet that sold the size lid I needed, and ordered a bunch.  You just have to keep a couple of things in mind; 1) You need to check and see if the company can sell retail, and 2) if they sell in small quantities, because you probably won't need a case of 1,000 lids.  By ordering at least a couple of dozen (dependent, of course, on your family's pickle consumption) you can reduce the amount per lid you'll end up paying in shipping charges.  

Another way we like to reuse things, mostly clothing items, is to turn them into decorative pillows.  The girls have used several things to make pillows to dress up, and add a personal touch to their beds.  And though we don't wear jeans (unless we're turning them into a blue jean skirt), I've seen them made into cute throw pillows.
And here's one of my last re-purposing projects.  We recently bought a cute little bistro set to go in the sunroom.  It's taking the place of a bench we had sitting there that had several throw pillows on it.  Instead of turning something into a pillow, I took a pillow I had on the bench and turned it into a cover for the seat.  I didn't really want a thick, padded cushion, but since the walls are tan, with white wainscoting, and the bistro set is beige, we needed a little color.  I took the pillows apart, cut them to size, added some batting, and then quilted.

It's always fun to find new uses for older items.

I've linked this post with the Barn Hop.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Finished!!!

After much hair-pulling, mostly because of a faulty free motion foot, Beenie's quilt is finally done.
The picture is a little dark, but as usual, my photography skills are a little lacking.
Ri and Bree complained that they were too short.  They had to stand on a bench for this photo.
The entire thing was quilted free motion, which is what drove me crazy for a bit.
I had about 75% of it done when I started breaking threads repeatedly.  I did check the foot, made some adjustments on it and in other parts of the machine, made a small repair inside the machine, and even took it in for servicing, all of which seemed to help short term, but I still ended up with broken threads after sewing for awhile.  I finally switched to my darning foot and didn't have any other problems, so I have to assume that the problem was with the free motion foot.  Wish I had thought of that sooner.  But oh well, the machine really did need a little TLC.   I put it through a good work out on a pretty regular basis.

So now that I'm done with this one I can focus on Ri's, along with several things for the wedding.
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

He put this so well.

I ran across a quote today that I just had to share.

“To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
~ G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World.

Well said!
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Gardening with kitchen scraps - part two.

Last Monday I shared how I was experimenting with planting kitchen scraps.  I've been amazed at how quickly everything has been growing, so I thought I'd go ahead and let you see.
I know you've already seen it, but what's a progression sequence without the 1st picture? :)
This was taken Tues. evening, March 6th.
And I'm sure you also remember this one, taken the following Sun., March 11th.
This was taken two days later, exactly one week after starting.
And this is what is looked like a couple of days later.
Finally, this is what it looked like this Sunday evening, just 12 days after chopping it off and putting it in water.
I've been thrilled to see how well it's going, and I don't even like celery.  Though it does help in making a delicious chicken stock.

I was so tickled with the celery, I couldn't wait to try something else, so I pulled out some green onions.
I chopped these off and set them in this little condiment cup, with just enough warm water to cover the root ends this past Tues. evening, shortly after taking the third pic. of the celery.  I told you I was excited.
You could see new growth the very next day. 
(I know the picture is blurry - sorry!  Well, the onions are blurry, but the wood is in focus.)  
I went ahead and planted them out that evening.
And this is what they looked like Sunday evening.
Just five days - I love it. 
I should have at least a few green onions well before the seed Bree and I have sown is ready.

You should give this a try.  It's rather fun, and would be a good gardening choice for very small children since they wouldn't have to wait as long to see some progress from their work.

I've linked this post with this week's Barn Hop.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

For the love of gardening.

"How deeply seated in the human heart is the liking for gardens and gardening."
-Alexander Smith

"God Almighty first planted a garden.  And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures." 
-Francis Bacon

Surely even those among us who do not like to garden, still enjoy the beauty of a garden.  Whether it be found in your backyard, or a park somewhere.  The sound of a good breeze, sweeping through the leaves in the tree tops.  The pleasant hum of bees enjoying the flowers.  The happy birdsong constantly being sung.  The fragrance of the flowers, herbs, or even the veggies growing within it.

Ahhhh.  It's spring.

And that means it's time to plant.  Last night Bree and I planned out the garden.  We think we'll be able to add at least two more raised bed, and a bed for potatoes.  I even included a plan for re-planting areas where late spring, or early summer ripening plants will allow for a follow up crop of some sort.  I don't usually bother with follow up planting, but I want to increase the quantity and variety of what we plant this year.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Bree and I were out today planting the celery I've had in water, and some onions.  We plan on putting in green and sugar snap peas tomorrow, along with some lettuce and Chinese cabbage.  I'm also planning on using some green, bunching onions the same way I did the celery, and seeing how that will do.  I'll probably go ahead and plant that out tomorrow as well. 

We also did a bit of long term planning for fruit trees, blueberry bushes and possibly some blackberry canes.  I'd love to do all of it this year, but patience must have a place.  Besides, 

"One lifetime is never enough to accomplish one's horticultural goals.  If a garden is a site for the imagination, how can we be very far from the beginning?" -Francis Cabot Lowell


"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.  Gardening is an instrument of grace." -Mary Sarton

I very much agree with these, and will leave you with just a couple more.

"Where you have a plot of land, however small, plant a garden.  Staying close to the soil is good for the soul."  -Spencer W. Kimball

"I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation." -Phyllis Theroux

Good luck with your garden this year!
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gardening with kitchen scraps.

I cannot remember exactly where I first saw this (as usual), perhaps on a pinterest board, but I thought it was a neat idea.  I know there are many things you can grow from food you buy at the grocery store - we've grown grape tomatoes from seeds we saved from store-bought tomatoes, but I would never have considered celery.  After all, what you eat has been chopped off with no thought as to propagation.  But since I'm always up for a little gardening adventure, as long as that adventure doesn't involve bugs, at any stage of development, I thought I'd give it a try.
On Tuesday, we whacked off the celery, leaving 2-3 inches at the bottom, and placed it in a bowl of warm water.  Some sites said to do this overnight and then plant it outside, and some said you could leave it in the water for a week.  After finding out more about growing celery, I decided to leave it in for a week because we were not yet staying consistantly above 40 degrees at night. 
The yellow in the middle are tiny, squished together leaves.
This is what it looked liked Sunday afternoon.
There is definately some growth there.  There's even a tiny stalk you can just see, starting to peek out on one side.  I don't yet see anything that remotely looks like it's trying to grow roots, but since the weather is suposed to go no lower than fifty this coming week, I think I'm going to plant it out and see what it does.  We may still have a night or two of colder weather in our future, but hey, it can't hurt to try.  I should at least be able to find out if it will work fairly well.

I've found other sites that suggest using whole seed spices, seeds saved from fruits or vegetables, and even store bought ginger root to add to your garden.  Just find out the particular growing habits of whatever it is you want to grow and give it a try.  I'll try to remember to do a follow up post to let you know how it turned out.

I've linked this post with the Homestead Barn Hop.  There are always lots of interesting links.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

And I started off so well.

I managed to get a birthday post made for Beenie on her actual birthday.  I got Kay's in a couple of days late.  I totally missed hubby's (I actually forgot I hadn't mentioned his until I started this post), but he doesn't like a fuss made over his birthday.  I know lots of people say that, but he really doesn't, so I guess forgetting to mention his can be overlooked - I did take him to dinner. :) 
But I also forgot to post about Bree, who's birthday was the first.  I'm so sorry honey.  And for the record, I don't actually forget any of them on their birthday, I just forget to post about it.  So, on to the important part!

Bree is an very talented artist (although she disagrees), and loves a wide variety of things.  She likes to go shoot guns at my dad's, and bows with Ri in the backyard.  She got her own bow and some arrows for her birthday.  She loves to read and cook, and really enjoys taking long walks, usually with Ri.  She's interested in gunsmithing, and likes to play the flute, mess around on the piano, and even plays a song or two on Beenie's guitar.  She is a lovely young lady and we are so blessed to have her. 

So Happy Belated Birthday Bree!!

BTW - I'm making no guarantees about remembering T.Lynn's or Ri's since they are in May and June - which is when my older brother and Ri (respectively) are getting married.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

The Very Best Pound Cake

This is my all time favorite pound cake recipe.  It's not dry, as some are apt to be, it's not too heavy/dense, and it's very versatile, which always earns big points for me.  I got this from a lady I used to go to church with, who got it from another lady she went to church with - suffice it to say, it's fed plenty of Baptists with no complaints.

Pound Cake
1/2 lb. butter
1c. shortening
3c. sugar
5 large eggs
1/4tsp. salt
1/4tsp. baking powder
1c. milk
1tsp. vanilla - overflowing
1tsp. lemon extract
3c. all purpose flour

Lay out your butter, eggs and milk for approx 30min. to bring to room temp.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt or tube pan.
Add flavorings to milk and sift your dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add dry ingredients in thirds, alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Pour into your pan and bake for 1hr. 25min.  I test by inserting a toothpick into one of the cracks that will be in the top of the cake.  When it comes out with just a few crumbs, it's done.

Chocolate - Add an additional 1/4c. milk and sift 1/2c. cocoa in with the other dry ingredients.
Lemon - Omit the vanilla and use 2tsp. lemon extract.  Also, add the zest of one lemon into the creamed mixture.  Finish off by using the juice of half the lemon you zested, mixed with powdered sugar to make a lemon glaze. 

This cake can be iced, dusted with powdered sugar, or drizzled with glaze.  It's also heavenly used in place of shortcake with some fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  I've even used this recipe for a wedding cake at the request of the bride, who went to church with the lady this recipe was orginally acquired from.  She had grown up eating it at church dinners and it was her favorite.  For that, I ommited the lemon extract, using more vanilla in it's place, and iced it with an intense chocolate frosting.  Though I thought it an unusual request at the time, with ivory flowers for the decoration, it was actually a pretty striking cake.

We usually make this with palm shortening, raw sugar and unbleached flour, but Crisco, white sugar and regular, bleached all purpose flour work fine too.

The cake pictured above is the lemon version, which is my personal favorite.  Well, next to the plain with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

I've linked this post with The Homestead Barn Hop, The Country Homemaker Hop, and The FarmGirl Friday Blog Hop. 
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