Monday, September 28, 2015

An anti-cooking blog.




There is a reason I don't do recipes and things on my blog.  The reason is, I suck at cooking.  But tonight there was a trifecta of cooking disasters..........why, on a Monday evening after work, I think it is a good idea to experiment, I don't know.  But I did.  I made caramel sauce for apples.  I don't really like to dip my apples in caramel sauce but there was something to good, so rich and so autumny about it..........  It turned a lovely shade of amber - which is what the recipe said it was to do.  It boiled, I stirred, I added whipping cream, it frothed.  I set it on the hoosier cabinet to cool. And I couldn't wait to taste it.  
Bleh. It tastes like brown sticky charcoal.  It tastes like that burnt crap you get on the outdoor grill. It is d.i.s.g.u.s.t.i.n.g.  
So trooper that I am, I thought I would go ahead and make a batch of grape jelly.  Out of the grape juice I made last night from the Concord grapes I bought at the wine festival.  What a beautiful shade of deep, deep purple.  I'm not not sure how it will taste but it looks good.  But I used a new brand of canning jars and haven't heard one single ping of the jars sealing.  So I'll check later tonight.  All of the jars may just be going into the fridge.  And my cooking/canning/baking will be done.



Sunday, September 27, 2015

Airing of the quilts.



I spent the weekend with my mom and daughter.  It was a great time from beginning to end.  An unexpected pleasure was an Airing of the Quilts in one little parks in Titusville.  The weather was perfect for such and event and there was a perfect breeze to truly 'air' the quilts!  

Sometimes we plan and plan and plan for the perfect weekend, the best trip ever or the vacation of a lifetime.  Other times, the stars align in such a way that the perfect weekend is a surprise.  And this was one of those weekends.

Yesterday was a day that you find in the transitional period between early fall and the heart of autumn  There was a chill in the air but yet it was warm enough to sit on the porch and sip on a mug of coffee.  That alone, makes the weekend notable.

By this time next weekend I'll be in Las Vegas.  I have mixed feelings about this - looking forward to an informative conference with plenty of interesting sessions and networking with peers across the country.  If only I didn't have to take an airplane.

This week will be spent finishing up my presentation, stocking up on food so that my son doesn't starve over the four days I will be away, and getting this packed in the smallest bag possible.  I hope to get some sewing done.  If the weather holds out on Saturday, maybe I'll have my own airing of the quilts.






Thursday, September 24, 2015

This is home.

You don't see signs like this every day.  Sometimes I dream about living somewhere else but then I notice something that reminds me why I love living in the middle of nowhere.  

I really love where I live.  I can't say that I love my house - but I love where I live.  I'm in the country but I have neighbors if I need them.  I live on a little one lane road but am within a few hundred yards of  my church.  There is plenty of room for goats, chickens and ponies.  And there is a beautiful little creek running along the bottom of the hill on the property.  Although the nearest grocery story is about ten miles away, it is worth the drive.  It isn't like most of the chain grocerty stores you find : this store is run mainly by Amish.  Across the parking lot from the grocery store is the equivalent of a Walmart - without all the aggravating choices.  If you can't find what you are looking for at either of these stores, then you don't need it!  There is also a gas station attached in this little 'plaza' with the cheapest gas in the valley!

About a mile or so up the road from the grocery store is a little town with all the kitschy stuff that you would expect to find in a quaint little town that is trying to keep itself on the map.  There's a great little cafe that serves food from locally harvested produce as well as locally brewed beer.  There's also a cool little coffee shop, a meat market and a candle shop.  

Basically everything one needs can be found within eleven miles of my home. There are rivers and mountains and dirt roads and ponds and fairs and church dinners and everything here.  And while sometimes I think I would love to try to live somewhere else, I'm perfectly happy right where I'm at.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome Autumn!

"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come over the meadows with me, and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold."

Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the soft little songs they knew.

"Cricket, good-bye, we've been friends so long;
Little brook, sing us your farewell song-
Say you're sorry to see us go;
Ah! you are sorry, right well we know."

"Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we've watched you in vale and glade;
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"

Dancing and whirling the little leaves went;
Winter had called them and they were content-
Soon fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle over their heads.
George Cooper (1838–1927)



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Junk drawer memories.


This afternoon I was searching for one of the many drillbits that I have purchased over the years and as a result, ended up rooting through the 'junk drawer'.  This is a wide, shallow drawer in an island that sat in my kitchen for years and years.  A search, that should have only taken a few seconds, deterred me for quite a while.  I could write the entire history of the past 18 years just by looking at the stuff in the junk drawer.  There were the baby nail clippers that I used on my 3 youngest.  Actually there were two clippers - which is ironic because if I recall, when I needed them I could never find them.  There was a dropper bottle of Kanka that I purchased for my oldest son the time he had a nasty canker sore on his gum.  Given that Ryan is now 28 years old (Oh My Gosh!!!! 28??), I wonder how effective that stuff is now.  I found a bunch of hinges, chop sticks, screws of every shape and size and a Nokia phone - which was the first cellphone we ever owned.  There are new additions - such as the box of chalk; there are things I don't remember ever owning, like these little metal things with holes in them.  There were bottle caps, bolts, seeds, batteries and gross, black stuff.  There was fabric paint, a long lost lid to my pressure cooker vent, balloons, needles and even a drillbit.  Unfortunately not the drillbit I was looking for.  

I didn't do what I'm sure another, more fastidious person would likely do.  I didn't empty out the drawer and clean it - not even the black icky stuff.  I've had too much change for one month, I'm not ready to give up my memory drawer.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Last day of summer.





What a beautiful day it was!  With the cooler weather being carried in overnight, I had intended to enjoy this day as much as possible.  I started my day by working on the chicken coop - and only managing getting a teeny bit more done on it.  But hey, with the help of the goats, I was able to cut the plywood for the flooring to the right size.  No small feat because such a simple cut required me to locate the saw, the battery AND the battery charger.  I found them all - and the battery even had enough juice in it to allow me to saw almost all the way through the plywood.  Goats Hansel and Leslie were responsible for standing on the wood so that it wouldn't move as I sawed it.  They weren't overly concerned with the fact that because they were standing on it, I couldn't move it.  Therefore I had to saw it in the barn.  My third goat, Cinderella, was trying out the chicken coop - and stood inside it to show me that in a pinch, she would fit inside.  Just in case, the chickens wanted her company.

It was a good day.  I found a total of three kittens - all of whom belong to Erik (our mommy cat).  How I missed them before now, I'll never know.  They look to be around 5 or 6 weeks old. And so cute!!!

It really was a good day.  And after working the rest of the day at our church ham pot pie dinner, I am tired.  A good tired - the tiredness of a day well spent.  

Trees.


One of my favorite things is an afternoon walk.  Fortunately for me, I work at one of the most beautiful University campuses in the world.  It has been a glorious week for walking: lots of sunshine, low humidty......just perfect for a noontime stroll.
I love Penn State so much for its trees.  Some people enjoy its football team, I love the trees.  My favorites are the many variety of oaks - I've never met an oak tree I didn't like!  Soon the leaves will turn and the University will put on its autumn coat.  The increasingly cold winds will usher in winter and I won't see the leaves - or ground - again for several months.





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Slow down.



Tonight I took a bath - a soaking hot bath complete with bubbles and a book. 
A nice hot soak in the tub – which was quite relaxing until Socks, the cat, fell in the tub.  Now Socks – he is a story!  He is our ancient yellow striped cat who, up until about 6 months ago, resided mainly on the second floor of our house.  When we first adopted him as a kitten (he was the offspring of Princess and Scratchy), he roamed the house.  He loved us all.  Until the day that my husband was recruited to take him to the vet to be neutered.  I knew when I returned home that day, that something serious had gone down.  Doors were open, trash can overturned, furniture knocked skewwhiff . . . . but no sign of Socks or my husband.  Turns out, Socks didn’t care for the cat carrier and led Ike on a merry chase through the house.  Needless-to-say, Ike won and Socks was neutered.  From that point on, Socks would have nothing – and I mean nothing – to do with Ike.  If Ike walked in a room, Socks took off.  And then one day, years later, Socks snuck out of the house and disappeared for three days.  When he returned, he was in love with Ike.  Socks would jump on his lap, rub up against his legs, follow him around like a heartsick crush.  It was nauseating. Over time the love affair ended and Socks decided his home would be on the second floor.  He lived up there for years not returning to the first floor until the siren song of a mouse lured him down. But I digress......
With my oldest child turning 33 this year and my youngest only 16, I can probably count on one hand the number of baths I've taken in the past couple of decades. So I enjoyed the luxury of being able to soak in the tub and may do it again - without the cat!







Monday, September 14, 2015

By hand.

For the past month or so, I've been participating in a hexie swap.  What is actually being swapped is a six petal flower made up of 1" hexies.  These will be put together in a beautifully scrappy granny's flower garden quilt.  That's what I plan to do with mine anyway.  There are 200 of us participating - many (if not all) of us have at least 1 job and families as well as other obligations so it will be slow going. . .  at least on my end. I'm muddling through.  But what is so awesome about these hexies is that they are done by hand.  No mindlessly zipping them through the sewing machine - each piece is touched by another human's hands.  When we are basting them or slipstitching them together - we are thinking.  Possibly about the person for whom we are making our flower - if we have someone in mind for that particular one.  Some of us say prayers as we stitch.  Some just enjoy the quiet and slow paced stitching that connects to those who came before us.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Old Stuff.

So maybe my infatuation with things from yesterday is as jinxed as my tolerance for new technology. I don't know.  I do know, however, that the problem that i am having with my 1911 sewing machine appears to be exactly the same as the problem I am having with my 1922 sewing machine.  And  the barrier preventing me from fixing it is exactly the same: a jewelry sized flat-head screwdriver.  Which I will purchase tomorrow.  Which I probably have in triplicate here in my home but because I tucked it away somewhere where it wouldn't be lost , will not be found until years from now when my kids settle my estate.  haha.  Which brings me to another issue I am dealing with at the moment.  Another thing that is plunging me into the depth of depression: since when did I become so unimportant in the lives of my children? When did I become so damn stupid and insignificant?  When did I become (gasp) uninteresting!?
Is it menopause causing brain matter synapse misfiring resulting in memory lapses - missing words - the inability to complete a sentence?  I don't know because my record is running 2 out of 7.  Of my family of 7, only my 2 oldest children appear to have any desire to speak to me at all. I do realize that 1. I am including myself in this calculation and 2. the fact that my 2 oldest children speak with me may be solely out of a sense of obligation (I don't believe this for a second).

So it seems that my challenge for today - mainly because the magical air-drop from my phone to my ipad won't allow me to upload any of the lovely photos I took outside this everning - my challenge is to get over myself, accept myself and forge a new life for myself.  Because if I don't change what is not working, then I've no one but myself to blame.  And I've decided that life is too short to be unhappy.  But challenge #1 is to fix my Singers.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

What I've always wanted.

I'm a huge fan of Wizard of Oz. I've always wanted a Wicked Witch of the West weather vane!  And doesn't it look perfect against a stormy sky? While I am happy that the humid, hot days of summer are behind us for the most and while I know that I will be complaining about the early morning jaunts out to the wood stove, I do so love autumn. I love the smells , the beautiful sunsets, the sweatshirts, the football games ........ I love it all!



Monday, September 7, 2015

Un-change.

I've decided that I am not a huge fan of change.  Which is odd for me - I used to be a person who moved at least every seven years - who looked forward to any variation in any part of life.  Not anymore. Not now.  I am having a horribly terribly awful time dealing with my daughters being away from home for college.  I feel as if someone has reached a hand into my chest and pulled out my heart.  I honestly feel as if I could die from being so heartbroken.  But instead of dwelling on my broken heart, I feel somewhat compelled to focus on all that is good.  Which is quite a bit.  I love this time of year - ironically, I love it because of the melancholy that is associated with the change in the seasons, with the return to school and warm clothing.  With the inevitable return to the middle of the night jaunts outside to the woodstove to fill up with wood.  

 There are a whole lot of things worse than sending my girls off to college.  I imagine that it would be heartbreaking to not have the opportunity to do so.  My heart would broken into more pieces than two if I had to tell them that I couldn't send them.  But still.  As a mother, I am allowed my fair number of pity parties.  And each time I have to return them to their schools, I will most surely host a pity party.  That's the way I am.  And when they graduate. And when they move on to graduate school.  And when they move away for that first real job.  I'll never get used to it.  I want more than anything to have all five of my kids home with me but I am pretty sure that would soon descend into its own special kind of hell.   Because what we want isn't really what is best.   


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Garden.

Even when my garden isn't magazine perfect, it is still so beautiful!  Even with weeds and sometimes dry, dead lives, my tomato plants and kale and lettuce and brussel sprouts and everything else, it is a source of amazement for me.  My garden at the end of the summer never quite matches up with the garden I had envisioned at the start of the planting season.  At the beginning, I had no trouble keeping up with the weeds. At the beginning, I always plan out the number of things I will plant.  But at the end of the season - once again - my garden are is jammed full.  With tomatoes I started from seed that I couldn't give away and just couldn't bear to throw away, with the extra pepper plant or brussel sprout plant that I didn't really need but the deal was for a 4-pack, with volunteers that grew as a surprise from last year's compost.  

My garden is a beautiful mess.  It is chaos and unstructured. There is a half-full fish pond in its midst along with my little greenhouse that currently has its own crop of weeds growing in it.  But it is lovely. And to me, it is calming.  And the tomatoes (the few that have ripened) are delicious!    Next year, my garden may be a little more organized. I may draft a plan that only includes 3 tomato plants.  I may grow cabbage at the side of the deck along with the hops that climb up the deck posts.  I don't know.  But however I plan it, my garden will look totally different when all is said and done.  And I'll love it.                                                                   


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On hold.

The construction of the new chicken emporium has been put on hold.  Only for a week or so (I hope!)  The goats are not impressed.  They have gotten used to me working on their turf and enjoyed the treats that I would bring them to keep them out of my way.  I love my chickens but I really love my goats!  Goats are like dogs in that they are always happy to see you.  Mine are like that anyway - maybe they all aren't!?  And they always look so happy!  No one can tell me that they've ever seen an angry looking goat!  Even Bucky, who was the world's biggest pain-in-the-arse, looked happy.  And the fact that he could say Bbbbb----eeeeeee---tttttt-hhhhhhhh almost endeared him to me.
And baby goats?!  Well they are the best!  I don't know how anyone could spend time with a baby goat (or one or two or three) and be in a bad mood.  The way they hop from here to there and back again is the best cure for sadness you can find!