One thing about the heat, it didn't take long for fall plants to start coming up. Now if they'll stay alive until it cools off, I'll be good to go.
Want to know something funny? I forgot where I planted what. I know the cabbage and cauliflower are in one part, but I can't remember which was on the left and which on the right. The carrots, spinach and lettuce I know.
I know it's still eleventy-billion degrees outside.
I know we're all still working on canning summer produce.
I'm telling you, though, it's coming. This is what I saw when I went out to get clothes off the line.
Fall doesn't care that the grass is all dead from the heat and the heat is still coming. Doesn't care that I've still got tons of green tomatoes out there. Doesn't care that the kids are back in school so their play time is limited now. It's time to give us a well needed break from the heat and fast pace of summer and she's on her way to deliver just that.
You can see the difference in the sun rises and sun sets. You can feel the difference in the winds.
She's coming and she's not making or taking any excuses.
Geesh. Mawmaw needs hearing aids. Horribly. Took her to have her hearing tested a long time ago because I was sick of having to raise my voice every time I said anything to her.
She flunked the test splendidly, both ears. I don't know how far off those boxes on the test result papers are, but the closest she came to 'normal' was four boxes away for mid range hearing. Low and high range were at least six away, both ears.
They explained it all to her, practically yelling across the desk at her, of course, but they were VERY nice. They explained it's just part of the aging process (she never worked a job with loud noises) and that it was nothing she did. They told her that it had happened slowly over time and since she was living alone for a few years, there was no one to tell her they were noticing it until we moved her in with us. (Side note, she used to complain about her next door neighbor in the apartments banging on the wall 'for no reason.' Want to bet it was because her TV was BLARING???)
They put some sample hearing aids in her ears after they'd calibrated them to her loss. Then they explained it all over again. They asked her if she could hear them OK, talking in a normal voice.
Then they asked me to talk to her in a normal voice. Then they told her they were going to have me talk to them in the voice I have to use to get her to hear me at home.
I explained that all of us have to practically SHOUT at her to get her attention and then she still mis-understands what we say a lot of the time and that the hearing aids would help her be safer and hear better, but also help us because we can talk normally. Plus, she hears one or two words and fills in the rest with what she *THINKS* you said, or what she *WANTS* you to have said and some conversations are a mess. The kids sometimes give up completely.
She wouldn't agree to them. Told the lady she didn't think her hearing was that bad, that basically she didn't care if we had to yell, she wasn't wearing them. It was not a money issue, they have a great 0% interest payment plan for one year that made it VERY affordable for her, because she's saving money each month by living here instead of having her rent payment and own utility bills plus she no longer does the random crap shopping she'd go do when she got bored.
Can't make her get them, can't make her wear them. The elderly can be mighty selfish, let me tell you. I could tell you stories to make your hair curl.
But, we love her. So, we continue to yell at her. lol
This morning she went in the kids' bedroom (I have no idea why) and comes out holding a pull-up. Youngest wears a pull-up at night. We've explained over and over to her that if it's not wet, he wears them more than once. It's clean, he puts it on after his bath, all he does is sleep in it and they are expensive.
She comes to ask me if it's still good as she found it on the dresser top. I told her it's fine, it's still dry, he'll wear it tonight again, just put it back on the dresser.
I just walked into the kitchen and found it in the trash, where she dumped her coffee grounds all over it.
This is Patches. We've had Patches longer than we've had kids.
When we lived in another state someone moved and dumped him. I'm guessing that maybe they weren't so nice to him before they dumped/left him, because he was not friendly. He was very skittish and wouldn't come to you at all. Every morning before I went to work I'd leave food for him and he'd watch me from far away.
Well, Mr. Patches eventually got into a fight with some other cat and lost. Badly. He got his eye all cut up and it was bleeding. I was worried, but still I couldn't catch him. It got swollen. Still couldn't catch him. Finally the infection got very bad and one morning I came out to go to work and there he was, right where I left food for him. I knew he was very sick because he didn't even try to get away when I picked him up.
The vet wasn't sure if we could save his eye but we were going to try. To shorten the rest, after a lot of meds. we were able to save his eye, I had him castrated and he got all of his shots and some general blood testing and all of that regular stuff.
In other words, he cost us a small fortune! I informed him that after all of that, he was mine.
All three kiddos love him to bits.
Patches is getting old. We've had him almost 12 years and he was full grown when we got him. Different vets have given us different estimates, but by most of them, he's probably 15 years old or more now. He's slowing down, he now hates to ride in vehicles (LOVED it when he was younger) and his hearing, while still good, isn't like it used to be.
His time is coming, we know cats don't live forever. I've started taking pictures of him. I want to get at least one good picture of him with each of the kids. That way when his time comes, they each have a special picture of just them and the cat.
Do you make your own laundry detergent? I know a lot do now. I do, too. I make the 'powdered' kind because I don't have space in my laundry area for a bucket to sit (which would contain the liquid kind).
Here's what we do:
You grate up a bar of soap. I use Fels-Naptha because I like the way it smells plus it's readily available up here. My oldest two kids actually love doing this part (with the smallest holes on a cheese grater) so they do it for me. :)
Then you add 1/2 cup of Borax.
And 1/2 cup of washing soda. I can find Fels-Naptha, Borax and Washing soda all on the laundry aisle in the Walmart and the Krogers that are in the bigger town North of us. The Fels-Naptha cost about $1.15 here and the Borax and washing soda are each about $3-$4, but since you only use 1/2 cup at a time, they last for a LONG time.
Then you mix. Or, you have your oldest mix so you can take a picture. :)
All done. You only need a tablespoon per full wash load. Yes, really. I've never kept track, but I wash at least one load of clothes/sheets/towels/something per day and often two loads and one batch probably lasts me a month or so. I only wash in cold water and it has no problems dissolving the soap. Everyone loves the way the clothes end up smelling, especially when you combine it with hanging the clothes outside to dry. It makes your laundry area smell wonderful, too.
If you don't do this already, it's a super easy way to cut some money out of your cleaning supply portion of expenses. I found a recipe for dishwasher detergent and I'm going to try that next. Will report back. :)
Let me start by saying I'm not selling anything for this company, I'm not getting anything from this company, I don't even know any of them in person........this is just a site I enjoy browsing because they carry such wonderful items, so I wanted to share it with others that think like I do.
I have spent hours drooling over the items at Lehman's. Do you know Lehman's? They make non-electric items for household use. Fermenting crocks, hand cranked food mills, water pumps, butter churns, wood fired cook stoves, oh.....the stoves.
Mr. Lehman started the store to service the Amish community and now they sell to all kinds of people, homesteaders, missionaries, and others who need dependable equipment where there is not dependable (or any at all) electricity service. I'm seriously thinking of planning a trip to their store. It's only about 5.5 hours away, maybe we'll make a weekend of it.
Man, if I won the lottery, I'd be like a kid in a candy shop there. OK, OK, first I'd have to PLAY the lottery, but that's a minor detail, right? lol
Really, though, this winter when you need to ease your mind, go to their site and look around. Not only will you be amazed at the selection of items, if you are like me, your soul will be calmed, too. So many of us long for the simpler life, simpler in the ways of operation, no rush from one task to another, no rush to perform one task before you washing machine turns off and you hang out clothes......the simplicity of starting a task manually and staying there concentrating on nothing else until it's done.
That's what I find, see and feel with Lehman's.
Oh - click on their Country Life Blog (in the column on the left hand side) to read about the flood they experienced (wish I could have visited that 50-75% off sale, I know people got amazing deals) get some great recipes and learn about all kinds of country stuff. It's a great read. :)
I got the small Fall garden in this morning. It was cool enough still that I went out barefoot and worked in the cool dirt. That's one of the best things about gardening to me, a bit of cool dirt on your feet and between your toes, feeling how fluffy it is (hopefully - ha) and knowing that what you're doing to improve your soil is working.
I cleaned out the last two zucchinis (and man, did the squash bugs come crawling out!), the last bell pepper and some cucumbers. There are still a few cucumber vines out there but I'll probably remove them within a week, they are starting to wilt and die back. The honey dew melon vines are dying, too, which is too bad, because there are four small honey dews out there.
Tomatoes are still loaded with green tomatoes but I'm not getting nearly as many red ones daily as before. Will probably end up pulling those and hanging them in the basement to ripen during the cold weather.
Jalapenos are still going strong, they are loving the heat.
I planted carrots, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower out there this morning. After I pull the cucumbers and melons I'll put in more of these same things because I have seeds left.
I don't have a picture to share, there's nothing to see but dirt and sweaty me and you don't want to see that! lol
I emailed my family about the earthquake since it was the first time I've ever felt one. They've never felt one, living way down South.
Here is my brother's reply:
Yeah, I just heard about it. That's pretty wild that you felt it from that far away. I think they said it was a 5.9 or 6. It may be hotter than the second level of hell here, but at least the ground ain't movin'. :)
I can now say I've felt my first earthquake. I was sitting here and the door next to me starting bumping against the wall. Not hard, just a light thump back and forth. I'm such a goober that I was just confused and got up to go see why the house was shaking! lol. Go ahead, you can laugh at me, it's OK.
Then I went to a news page and, gee, Tina, it was an earthquake!
Hope everyone's OK out there. If we're feeling it here, almost 600 miles away, I know it was rough there.
I bought this book at a yard sale a few weeks ago. It's a compilation of stories submitted to Reminisce Magazine by people who lived through the Great Depression/Dust Bowl days.
(OK, I tried to put a picture of the book here, but can't get it to work, sorry.)
Gosh, I don't even know what to say about this book. It should be required reading for all Americans, I think. These stories are so sad in some respects, but so very heartwarming and uplifting in others. These are people who, despite desperate times, kept their head up high, worked hard and did everything they could to help their friends, family members and neighbors to ensure they all survived. There are accounts of children selling items to help their family, secret packages of food and gifts being left for people who would never accept a hand out knowingly, families moving in together and of course people working hard to grow their own vegetables, fruit and meat because if you have that, you eat well no matter what else is happening.
That's probably one of the things that rings most true to me. I grew up with fishing and hunting and a garden being a part of our life. Back then I didn't think much of it, it was just how we did things. Now, as an adult, I know that my parents were pretty darn smart! Dad was self-employed and Mom worked off and on in different fields, but no matter what, we had food in jars and in the freezer to fall back on.
If you've read this blog at all up to now, you'll immediately recognize that I emulate these things in my life, for many of the same reasons, to have good food available at all times, to know how it's prepared and that it's safe for my family to eat it. It's sort of funny to see things coming full circle in your life, both personally and as a country.
I also learned several ideas for reusing things even more than I do now! I'm pretty good at reusing, but man, these people are PROS, I tell you! This book makes me even more proud to be an American.
If your library has it, consider picking it up and reading it. It's a great book. I bought it with the intent that I'd read it and then either resell it or donate it, but I'm keeping it instead! lol. I know I'll be reading this one again and again.
Deer season is coming. Husband bow hunts and is pretty good at it, if you don't mind the wife-brag. :)
We own a stand up freezer that I bought at an estate sale roughly 8 years ago. I'ts moved all over the country with us since then and still works great. It's not a frost free model, though, so about once a year I have to empty it and defrost it. It seems to me that doing it before deer season is a logical choice plus I'll have an up to date inventory of what's in there. I know we only have a few packages of venison left, so I'm glad deer season is on the way.
When we moved into this house the owner had a chest freezer here. She's told us that we can use it as she has no plans to take it to her house. It's been unused but does work. So, I've cleaned it well and am going to plug it in and let it get cold. Then I'm going to move our stuff to that freezer and then unplug, defrost and clean our freezer. I'll inventory and then move it all back and unplug her freezer again. If hubby is lucky enough to get more venison than will fit in our freezer, we'll have hers to use as backup. I do plan to can some venison this year, too, so that will save space.
OK, so, I'm going to share my messy freezer 'before' picture with you now. You can tell the kids and everyone have just pulled stuff out willy nilly or thrown new stuff in there without stacking it, drives me nuts! lol. I plan to get the cleaning/organizing done this week some time, so you'll see the after then.
For some reason we only had one cantaloupe that grew out of three vines. It was fun to watch, but man, did it grow slowly. We thought it was neat how the veining doesn't show up right away when it's growing.
Well, one morning it finally happened: I went out to hang up clothes and check the garden and it was off the vine.
Want to see our tiny only lonely cantaloupe? Here it is when it was still growing.
Here it is with me holding it in one hand. Huge, huh? lol
Let me tell you, it was very small, but it was also V-E-R-Y G-O-O-D
We have four honey dew melons growing out there. One will be ready soon, I think. Not sure what the others will do, they are still small. Will have to wait and see.
They aren't really sad, but it's almost time to harvest the sun flowers. This is what most of them look like right now.
Once the backs start turning yellow I'll cut them and dry them in the garage. I'll save most of them for our bird friends for the winter but I'm going to soak some in salt water and roast them for us. Why should the birds get all the good stuff? :)
Hey, I remembered to reset the camera date thing for a change! :)
Sorry, I forgot to come back and tell you what I did with the peaches we got from the tree in the yard.
I made a peach pie.
I mixed the sliced peaches with a teeny bit of salt, some sugar (maybe 1/4 cup, they were sweet and didn't need much) as well as cinnamon and about three tablespoons of flour to soak up some of the juices.
Yes, I know how to make a pie crust but I have a few in the freezer that I caught on clearance sale, so I used one package. So in it went into one of the pie shells.
I put some 'dots' of butter on top. Unsalted sweet cream butter, if you want the details. :)
I cut up the second crust in the package and did a bad lattice work job on top. lol
In the oven it went and then out it came.
It was yummy! Everyone had a piece for dessert after dinner. Hubby ate the rest in the morning for breakfast! lol.
I'm hoping with our fertilizing and watering that maybe it will produce better next year. We'll see.
I want to put another disclaimer here, besides the one about poop. My husband's grandmother lives with us. She's smack dab in her middle 80s. She's outlived her husband and all of her children. I am her primary care giver. I get nothing from doing it, money-wise, but I'm happy we can have her here, ensure she's healthy and taken care of and my kids can know her. My paternal great-grandparents died before my Dad was born and my maternal great-grandparents died when I was a child, so to be able to provide the opportunity for my children to know her is a good thing in my book.
Having said that, sometimes she's just too much and you have to laugh. :)
When you have a baby your life, to a large extent, revolves around poop. When they are newborns you are told they need to have at least X dirty and Y wet diapers per day. This goes on until their systems figure out how to regularly process food and get in a rhythm particular to that child. When they are young children, you help them with potty training and yep, poop again. When they get sick you worry about dehydration and constipation or, on the other hand, diarrhea.
If you aren't aware already, let me fill you in on a secret. When you get older, your life again, apparently, begins to revolve around poop.
If you do not poop every. single. day. then you are sick. If you poop twice in a day.....you are sick.
Conversation from this morning:
Mawmaw: I want you to know I was SICK yesterday.
Me: (Knowing she ate fine and acted fine all day/evening.) What was wrong?
Mawmaw: I was having stomach issues.
Me: (Knowing where this was likely heading from past experience.) Well, I hope today is better for you.
Mawmaw: Me, too! I can't believe I had a (whispers) b-o-w-e-l m-o-v-e-m-e-n-t TWO TIMES yesterday. I don't know what was wrong with me!
Probably the two pots of coffee she drank yesterday, huh? That would be my guess. :)
This home came with some old, neglected fruit trees in the back yard. There are two apple trees, one peach tree, one nectarine tree and a grapevine. The owner of the home hasn't lived here in over 10 years and she's pretty sure no one has done anything with any of them during that time, which makes me sad. I fertilized everything right after we moved in and we've been watering hoping to coax them back to production.
I can report now that we didn't get any nectarines. The few that were on it got ripe and fell off or were eaten by the squirrels while I was out of state earlier this summer and husband didn't get them and save them for me. Bad husband! lol. It doesn't look like we are going to get any apples, either. The one apple tree that the owner though may still produce doesn't have any on it at all, although it did bloom, so I'm not sure what's up with that. The other apple tree, the older one, did have a few apples on one side of it but they've slowly fallen off and now I only see maybe three or four out there. I'm guessing that even with me watering, the horrible heat this year just did them in.
The peach tree has produced some peaches. Yay! I picked what was ripe yesterday and have them peel and cut up in the refrigerator. Not sure what I'm going to do with them yet. I've got maybe 2-3 cups, so maybe a tart or something?
My most pleasant surprise, though, came from the grape vine. I've been watering it and watching the grapes shrivel on the vine and fall off, or get some odd bruise looking rot on the bottoms and fall off so I thought I was wasting my time (and my precious collected rain/cooking/bath water) on them. I tried one of the remaining grapes about 5 days ago and they were still pretty hard and TART. So imagine my surprise last night when I'm checking everything and I found this:
The few that made it to decent size are FINALLY starting to turn purple. I swiped one and they are GOOD. Nice and sweet. The skins are really thick and tough, so they'll have to be juiced, but that's just fine with me. There aren't too many out there, but maybe I can make a jar or two of jelly. Or maybe something else, will have to read up and see what all I can do with them.
(standard disclaimer about date on pictures - you're probably sick of hearing it by now)
My jalapenos are LOVING the hot weather we've been having and I found myself with quite a few of them. We eat them on the grill, in soups and stews, cut up in various recipes and on sandwiches and stuff, but I still had a bunch on the counter.
I've already canned sliced jalapenos this year so I decided to try making some jalapeno jelly. I've had jalapeno jelly a few times in my life. In fact, I have a small jar in the fridge right now, but it's not spicy at all, which is a disappointment to me. So, let's see if we can do better, shall we?
I used the recipe in the Ball Blue Book. So I washed, seeded and stemmed the jalapenos and blended them with some of the vinegar the they went into the pot with the rest of the vinegar and sugar. I got most of the seeds out, personally, I don't care if there are some in it, so I didn't take the time to make sure every single one was out. I like some heat, so I took all of the seeds, veins and cores and tied them up in a clean (bought for canning purposes only, years ago) cloth diaper and put it in there to hopefully add some heat. You can't see it in the picture, but I had a wooden clothes pin holding it on to the side of the pot. :)
After it boiled for ten minutes I added the two packages of pectin. It called for liquid, I only had powdered, so that's what I used. I used a whisk to make sure it was mixed up well. After another minute, I skimmed off the foam and into the jars it went.
Not the best picture of it in the jar, but you get the idea.
Foam skimmed off:
I processed them in a water bath for ten minutes and I ended up with six of these jars of jalapeno jelly. Pretty, huh? I like how you can see the bits of pepper in there. Now, let's hope they have a little heat to go along with the sweetness.
This is the first time I've ever lived in a house with a basement. It does get some water when (and if we ever again) get heavy rains, but there is a pump and they did a bunch of work on it after we moved in, so I'm hoping it works. Regardless, though, there are some heavy shelves down there. Husband has been using them for his stuff since we've been here. Yesterday I told him he has to learn to share. lol.
I've outgrown the limited storage space in the kitchen and dining area. So all of this had to go live in the basement. Then I ended up finding MORE stuff, probably another 10 jars or so, so it went down, too.
I find myself quite often telling people about this and yet most people are reluctant to do it. So, I'm telling you, in hopes that you will be willing to try it and maybe get some great and FREE food for yourself and your family.
All over this country there are old orchards, fruit trees, berry vines, mushrooms and other foods growing and they are going to waste. I am NOT saying go trespass and take them. No. I AM saying, though, that it is WELL worth your time to go ask the property owner if you can pick some of them for your own use. I've lived in several different states and done this in all but one of them (and that was NM and only because I never saw anything to ask about). I've knocked on doors, left notes on doors and even called realtors when the homes were empty and for sale and asked them to ask the owners if I could pick the fruit. One once did anyone tell me no, and that was a realtor of an empty home. Every other time, every single other time, I was told to help myself and usually they said something along the lines of 'I'm so glad it's not going to waste, I just don't have time to mess with them this year.'
On Friday I was driving home and saw this: An apple tree dropping apples. Now, these are early apples, most around here are fall apples, so I was thrilled to see it but sad to see them hitting the ground and rotting. The city had mowed the road side, so they chopped a bunch up, too.
I drove down the long driveway and knocked on the door of a beautiful log cabin home. A man came to the door and I asked if that was his apple tree out by the road that was dropping apples. He said it was. I asked if he would mind if we picked some up. He asked if I wanted them for horses. I told him no, I wanted them for me. :) He smiled and said he and his wife used to pick them and make pies, but they don't anymore and I was welcome to them. I asked him if he wanted me to pick some for him and bring them back to the house (because, they are his, after all, and he's being very generous) but he said no. I keep reusable shopping bags in the car, so we went back out to the road, parked on the side of the driveway and picked up apples. Some had bruises and marks from hitting the ground or where a bird had pecked at it, but that's fine because I'll just cut that part off and not use it. One we got to the tree we realized that only one side of the tree was producing fruit, but any free fruit is a big bonus in my book.
Here is what we ended up with. Bonus Mommy brag because the apples are in a market basket that Private 1 made, the first ever basket he's ever made and he did it by himself. So you know I had to show it off!
I peeled and cut them (peels and cores to compost pile) and put them in a pot with lemon juice, cinnamon, a bit of cloves, teeny bit of salt and some sugar.
They went into a glass dish and then I made up a quick 'biscuit type cobbler topping.' Of course, you know I have to forget a picture somewhere along the way and that was the one I forgot this time. lol. Here is a picture of it after it had been in the oven a few minutes (when I realized I'd forgotten the picture).
And here it is done and out of the oven. It was delicious!
I have one bell pepper plant that's still doing fine, but the other one (next to it) is doing very poorly. I gave it a big drink of water today and if it doesn't perk up soon, going to go ahead and pull it. Not sure why one is doing so well and the other isn't, but it is what it is. lol.
I went ahead and pulled one of the huge zucchini plants today. It had a couple of flowers on it but no zucchini had formed on it in a while and the squash bugs had made it a home, so I yanked it out. I still have two other big zucchini plants out there.
Everything else seems to be holding it's own for now. We sure could use some rain.
When I went outside yesterday evening to get the clothes off the clothes line God put on quite a show for me. OK, it wasn't just for me, but it was so beautiful I immediately went back in to get my camera to share it with you.
This was what I saw to the east of our home. It was slowly rolling over from the back to the front, like it was boiling out of some giant celestial cooking pot.
This is what was going on to the west of our home, as viewed from the backyard.
When they met each other it got super dark, super quickly and the lightning and thunder and wind started.
It blew over very quickly, probably in 5-7 minutes. Then the spectacular show went on.
We need rain, so I'm glad for any and all we get, but my home state of Texas is DESPERATE for rain, so if you could send a good thought or prayer that way for them, I'd really appreciate it. My Mom's pond, for the first time in my life, has gone completely dry. Everyone is selling off their cattle because there's no hay growing, so no way to feed them now (because there's no grass growing, either) or through the winter. Things are bad for so many people down there. :(