Monday, August 31, 2009

Market Bag


I'm thinking about making shopping shopping bags for Christmas gifts this year. I made myself a couple of these yesterday as prototypes. I don't like the bags you get at the grocery store because I usually shop at several different stores and it's embarrassing to pull out a Shaw's bag when you're standing at the the Price Chopper checkout line. Like your average 16 year old check out person would care. So if you expect a Christmas present from me and you are reading this--sorry about blowing the surprise factor.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Late Season Tomato Blight

ICK! It happened. Late season tomato blight hit the garden. My neighbor had told me a few days ago that he'd lost his tomatoes. I thought I was going to be lucky because I hadn't seen sign of it, but no such luck.
Now I remember why I gave up with vegetable gardens all those years ago. It's a lot of work, there's too much rain or not enough rain, and then you wind up feeding bugs and slugs and other critters OR you end up with so much of something that it's rotting in the yard before you can deal with it.
Better to support the local farmer and just buy fresh what you need.

Friday, August 28, 2009

An Herbal Wreath


I made this herbal wreath out of some the overwhelming amount
of sage and other herbs in my tiny garden. It's hanging on the door just for the sake of picture taking and it is now hanging in the breezeway to dry for a bit more. It smells great and I enjoy it while I do my sewing.
Check out a wonderful source of information about growing and using herbs here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our New Car


They say when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade. I say, yeah, if you add copious amounts of vodka.

But that is not a safe way to drive so Mike and I decided to ditch the money sucking something almost always broken. We did research online and both came up with the idea to get a Ford TaurusX--a crossover utility vehicle, or, for those of us who still remember the 1950's, a station wagon. Having made that decision, the next step was to find one. Not easy. Ford didn't make that many and they ended production of them entirely this year, replacing it with a Flex (an ugly, boxy thing, IMHO). We did find one though--Walker Motors in East Montpelier had a 2008 model that they were using as a courtesy shuttle. We jumped at the chance to get it. They cleaned it up and put on four brand new tires. So now we are happily on the road again.

Yes, I know about found on the road disabled, so don't bother me with that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pickles

I never even knew how fast a cucumber can grow. One day there's a baby cuke hanging on the vine and the next day there's a monster cucumber. The grand children love cucmbers so that helps get rid of what we cannot eat, but I also decided to try my hand at canning some pickles. I didn't really have a bushel of cucumbers to go about the process that I remember my mother and grand mother taking on, but I had enough to make a batch of one quart jar and one pint jar. I'm going to say that it would not be at all true to say that making a small batch is just as much work as making a large batch, but it is a process. So now we wait. My grand daughter asked, as I was sealing up the jars, "Can we eat them now?" I told her no, that they had to cure for twelve weeks. "Well, why did you invite us here today then?" was her response to that. Like they might not be around again in twelve weeks. Those kids love cucumbers but they LOVE pickles.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Amusing a Two Year Old


It is really quite amazing what will amuse and entertain a two year old. My grand daughter was working on sewing projects and to keep her baby brother out of her hair, I sat down with him and poured a bunch of assorted buttons on a plate. He swished them around for a while and then I put a botton over his belly button and he thought that was funny. Then I covered one of my eyes with a botton and pressed one to my nose. He thought that was even funnier. It was a sticky day and my skin was "glowing" so we soon discovered that buttons pressed on my cheeks or my arm would stick there. We were both giggling hysterically over our little game of decorate grandma with buttons and then swipe them off and start over again. We kept it up for the longest time and Kristen was able to work uninterrupted on her project (a small quilt of her own design, a rainblow with a pot of gold). Like I said, it's amazing what will keep a two year old entertained. And yes, grandma had fun, too.

Souvenir of Maine

Kristen, sweetie that she is, brought me this souvenir of their family summer vacation in Maine. She thinks it might be an antique. I just love it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Hikers Take a Rest

I was thinking a picnic and a long walk in the woods would have these two in bed early, but guess what was wrong with that plan.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beautiful Hair

My grand daughter has turned eight. It does not seem that long ago that one had to chase her around with a brush or a comb--and possibly a tranquilizer dart--in order to tame her hair. Cut her hair? Never! But now she has had it cut to shoulder length for her imminent entry into third grade, where apparently one must be cool, and hair down to the fanny is out of favor at the moment. I noticed just this past weekend that showers are now becoming longer and hair is carefully washed and combed and brushed for an extended period in the mornings.
So on her last visit, after her was washed, towel dried, and combed out, she asked, "Grandma, do you have a curler?" No, I do not. "Grandma, do you have an iron or a straightener or something like that?" Well, no, nothing like that either. I mean at some point in my life I had curlers, but they're gone now. I actually do remember ironing my hair--with a clothes iron--but those does are LO-O-ONG past. And anyway, do you plan to curl one half and straighten out the other? Then I get the look. Oh, they grow up too fast!!!
The next day she asked if I had hair dye. Mike was highly amused by all this. He asked her if we looked like the kind of people who cared about our hair so much we would have an extensive collection of hair care products. Later that day, which was hot and muggy, after I'd been chasing around with kids all day, fixing meals and snacks, feeling a bit dishrag-like, she gave me a thoughtful kind of look and said, " I can see that you really don't care a lot about your hair."
Hmm...but I can't wait to tell Mike her observation about him.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Harvest TIme


This is the second tomato and one in a long line of peppers from my small garden effort. And then the endless cucumbers...I am attempting a pickle making experiment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Camping Again


We had a week of hot, sunny weather--just like summer! We went camping for three days and did not get rained on or dumped out of the canoe. A voluntary swim was most refreshing, however.
This is the view from our campsite first thing in the morning. Well, not exactly first thing, but when we got up. Nothing beats fresh air in the woods for good sleeping.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just Another Saab Story

I bought the car of my dreams in 2003. It was a Saab 9-3, steel grey, that cost me exactly as much as our first house. I didn't look at other cars. I didn't read consumer reports. I just always wanted a Saab and I could afford it at the time. It was painful to part with that much money, but I promised myself I would do everything right as far the regular maintenance, take good care of the car and it would last me for the rest of my driving life. Something that cost that much should last forever. But, hello, LEMON. One thing after another. I've spent nearly three thousand dollars on it just in the past two and half months and now I can't afford it. Lights are flashing at me, telling me to make a safe stop and call the dealer immediately. Who needs this aggravation? I am so very disappointed with that vehicle. Aside from the mechanical/electrical things going haywire, the final straw is that the interior of the car looks worn out. The numbers are worn off the radio buttons, the interior trim is all chipped, the decals have worn right off. I'm going car shopping!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blueberry Scones for Breakfast



I have two recipes for scones. Both use the exact same ingredients. However, one says to knead the dough and roll it outbefore cutting with a biscuit cutter while the other warns to handle as little as possible. I chosse the "little as possible" option--not just because I'm lazy but because I wanted to add blueberries and I didn't think they would survive a good kneading.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Facebook

I have very little idea what Facebook is all about. I am trying to sign up though. Threadneedle, the fabric shop I so loved, is out of business now, but the former owner has started a group on Facebook and I want to join. It seems quite complicated and I am completely stymied by trying to upload my picture, but I'll keep at it. Can't be defeated by a machine, darn it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vegetable Garden

Time for all the work of setting up a new vegetable garden to pay off. There are loads of tomatoes on the vines so maybe I'll get a few. Apparently the conditions are just right for late blight that has wiped out large tomato crops so I hope I get a few from my own garden because they are bound to be way expensive this year.
I had a couple meals from the green beans and I froze some, but then something literally ate the bean plants right down to the skeleton. I pulled up the plants and got rid of them. Maybe it was some kind of flea from what I can find online.
I planted one Italian sweet pepper and now have more peppers than I know what to do with. I put some in Buffalo shrimp the other night and that was pretty good. I throw them in salads. I'll have to consult the Martha Stewart web site for some creative ideas I guess. I think it was in her magazine (that I check out from the library) that I saw a recipe for Italian peppers stuffed with a sherry-shrimp salad.
It has not been a very hot summer so I took a chance on planting more lettuce. I'm hoping that will come in by September when we are picking all those tomatoes.
Cucumbers...the first one was half eaten by some critter, but there are plenty of little ones on the vines so maybe we'll get to have some of those too. We had to chase a woodchuck away while preparing supper on the grill tonight. Last year he started to eat my flowers so I should expect he'll be nosing around the vegetables. Pesky varmint!
Parsley, sage, thyme, basil, chives, and lavender are the stars of the garden. I've been using them all season and all the plants look so pretty and healthy. Maybe I should specialize in herbs.
It really underscores what a risky business farming can be, but there is so much satisfaction in picking and preparing--and eating, of course--something you've tended from seed to maturity.

Blueberries

I went to pick blueberries today--and did I ever pick them. This must be a good year. The berries were big and sweet and just about jumping off the bushes into my box. Now what to do with five pounds of blueberries I brought home. Mike suggested blueberry pie but I made a lemon pie on Wednesday so I'll wait a few days before another pie. Since his sister is coming for the weekend, I think I'll make blueberry scones to have for breakfast. Most will go in the freezer. Too bad the grand kids are not here because they would eat a bucket load just plain, the best way.
Here's a recipe for Blueberry Fool:

1 cup blueberries simmered in 1/3 cup water until tender (10 min)
Add 2 T sugar and 1T creme de cassis. Cool in pan then
chill for 1 to 2 hours.
Fold in 1 cup heavy cream whipped with 1 T sugar and 1/4 t lemon zest
added.
Serve in chilled glasses.

I cheat and use vanilla yogurt instead of the whipped cream when I'm feeling health conscious.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Slate Floor

Among the never ending tasks of home maintenance, another grouting job appeared on the list. This time it was the slate floor in the basement tv room under and around the wood stove and the slate floor at the front door entry. Large pieces of grout have been cracking and getting pulled out by the vacuum so Mike finally decided he was going to patch it up. He starts by doing the research--"Here's a DIY video on grouting floor tile I want you to watch." I pointed out that on the video it was a one person job of approximately five minute duration, but in my heart I knew his plan to patch the grout had become a "we" project that would pretty much take up my day. And for the clincher--"I can't keep doing this. My back is killing me and my legs are cramping," says dear husband a third of the way into it. Still, I can't complain. He helped me with the table top refinishing project I started a couple weeks ago--although now that I think about it I didn't ask him to nor did I assume he would. Anyway, now the floor is done and looks much better.
Here's the thing. Mike can spread a job like that over several days, weeks. He can work for a set amount of time and then stop. I cannot do that. Once I start something most of the time I just cannot stop until it is completed. However, I have noticed that over the years we've been together, we are getting way more tolerant of each other's working habits and we actually do work together pretty effectively now and then.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gone Camping

Mike was determined to go camping last week. He watched the weather through last weekend, hoping, I guess, that it would somehow improve over time. We left last Tuesday and set up camp. It really was the kind of day you want when camping by the water--sunny, hot, relatively bug free. Wednesday started out to be not so bad either--the day they were predicting a "slight chance of rain." It was a bit cooler so we set about digging out the years of ashes that had built up and rebuilding the fireplace at the camp site. It was good work and the fireplace really looked almost professional quality when we were finished. There was a thunderstorm around 4:00 in the afternoon. We watched it go across Pico to the east of us, and it went by in a matter of minutes so we thought we were home free then. Unfortunately, a second storm come in from the west, stalled over the entire Rutland county area and dumped about five inches of rain through the night (and that's a lot of rain!). I was really looking forward to a roaring camp fire in the refurbished fireplace, but that didn't happen. We were dry enough in the tent, but everything was soaked when we packed up the next day--making the "putting away" part of the trip much more work than usual. It was worth it though. We have not been doing much just for fun stuff this summer.