Sunday, October 30, 2011

Have a cookie and get your candle lit....

 I made sugar cookies yesterday and invited the neighbors to come and help frost and decorate them.  We had such fun.  See these woolly (coconut) sheep?  Well, the cookie cutter was a cow, but I didn't have enough flour in the dough so they puffed up into sheep when I baked them.  I'm glad. 
I did add in some more flour to the cookie dough and tried the cow cutter again.  Hooray!  We had a few cows along with our sheep, pumpkins, and leaves.  
Peach decided this cow was going to be a bull.  After all, our bulls sport orange ear tags.  Isn't she an observant child?  Yes, she is!  And smart too!

Now for one of my favorite poems for Halloween by John Ciardi.  He's one of my favorite poets and you must not miss The Man Who Sang The Sillies, a collection of his poems with illustrations by Edward Gorey who is such fun!  The Stranger in the Pumpkin reminds me that we all need to "get our candles are LIT!"   I was just reading from my Bible that we all need to be filled with Light, if not, the darkness is very dark indeed!  (Matt 6:21-23)  When the kids were at home, we always recited and read aloud Halloween poems.  In fact, just this morning one of my sons told me that he could still recite his favorite, scary Halloween poem and he planned to share it with some of his friends.  I wonder what they'll think of that?  Well now, on with my poem.

The Stranger in the Pumpkin
The stranger in the pumpkin said:
"It's all dark inside your head.
What a dullard you must be!
Without light how can you see?
Don't you know that heads should shine
From deep inside themselves--like mine?
Well, don't stand there in a pout
With that dark dome sticking out--
It makes me sick to look at it!
Go and get your candle lit!"

~John Ciardi

And now for the scary poem that S. likes. 
Read it in your scariest voice, slowly. Very slowly.
The Broomstick Train (or) Return of the Witches

LOOK out! Look out, boys! Clear the track!
The witches are here! They've all come back!
They hanged them high,--No use! No use!
What cares a witch for a hangman's noose?
They buried them deep, but they wouldn't lie still,
For cats and witches are hard to kill;
They swore they shouldn't and wouldn't die,--
Books said they did, but they lie! they lie!
(to read more of this long, long, long poem, click here.)
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
One more poem, this one is another favorite of mine.  
(I can't help it, I like a very little scare)

by: James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
      To all the little children: -- The happy ones; and sad ones;
      The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
      The good ones -- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.
      ITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
      An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
      An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
      An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
      An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
      We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
      A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
      An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
      Ef you
      Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
      An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
      His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
      An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
      An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
      An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
      But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
      An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
      Ef you
      An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
      An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
      An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
      She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
      An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
      They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
      An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
      An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
      Ef you
      An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
      An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
      An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
      An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
      You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
      An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
      An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
      Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
      Ef you
(so glad I didn't have to type this one out!  Thank goodness for the internet and copy/paste!)

Do you have a favorite Halloween poem or tradition?
  How about a favorite poetry collection?
Do share!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jack-0-lantern tip....

I've been setting out a few of my Halloween things and had this good idea for stabilizing candles in your jack-o-lantern jars.  Use Epsom salts (or any other salt).   I thought of this idea after remembering this cute tip for holiday jar candles.  I have used mason jars with Epsom "snow" for Christmas, but never thought of using it for Halloween.

When the kids were all at home, we made these cute jar-o-lanterns.  Martha Stewart had this idea on her site and we liked it so much we gave them a try.  They were quite simple to make.  We used orange spray paint on the inside of the jars and printed out Martha's stencils for the faces.  Some of the more creative kids designed their own faces.  In her how-to instructions, she says to print off the jack-o-lantern faces on adhesive paper, but we didn't have that.  Instead, we printed off the faces on regular paper, then put masking tape on the jars where we wanted our faces to be.  We cut out the paper faces and taped them onto the masking tape part or drew the faces onto the tape with a Sharpie.  When we were happy with the face placement, we took an Exacto knife and cut away the eyes, nose, and mouth and then painted the open parts with glossy black paint. Let the paint dry and peel away the tape.  You can use the jars to hold treats or add a tea light inside like we did.  I put Epsom salts in the bottoms of our jars to raise up the candle a bit and to keep the spills and melting wax from melting onto the jars. 

Tonight Skelly is peeking out from the picture window and Scarecrow is welcoming visitors and trick-or-treaters by the front door.  Our only trick-or-treaters will be the next door neighbors -- the grands.  Now I'm off to bake up some Halloween Sugar Cookies.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Old-timey homemaking....

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) Wash Day Back Yard Reminiscence of Brooklyn 1886
I was about to season my cast iron skillet again and went to my trusty Homemaker's Heritage Extension Club cookbook to refresh my mind about temperatures and times.  This book has been on my shelf for 30 years and was given to me as a wedding gift.   After I found the recipe for seasoning cast iron, I took a little time to read some old-timey homemaking tips.  Some are so interesting that I wanted to share a few with you while I wait to recoat my skillet with more bacon fat.

Ladies Hair Treatment
A barber recommends ladies to have their hair shampooed once a month.  This will bring out the natural luster, soften it, clear it of dust, and rob it of that musty smell which comes of having long hair wound up closely for any length of time.  It will remove that itching of the head which some ladies find so troublesome.

The Feet
The largest pores of the body are located in the bottom of the feet.  For this reason the feet should be frequently and thoroughly washed and the stockings changed often.  If great cleanliness is not observed, these great pores become absorbent and the poisons given off are taken back into the system.

For Head Cold
As soon as you feel that you have a cold in the head, put a teaspoon of sugar in a goblet, and on it put six drops of camphor; stir it, and fill the glass half full of water.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then take a dessert spoonful every twenty minutes.  This is a sure cure if taken as directed.

1900 Carlo Cressini (Italian 1864-1938) Laundry

Pre-Automatic Instructions
1.  Build a fire in the backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
2.  Set tubs so smoke won't blow in eyes if wind is pert.
3.  Shave one whole cake lye soap in boiling water.
4.  Sort things.  Make 3 piles.  1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile britches and rags.
5.  Rub dirty spots on washboard, then boil.  rub colored, but don't boil.  Just rinse and starch.
6.  Take white things out of kettle with broom handle.  Then rinse and starch.
7.  Spread tea towels on grass, hang old rags on fence.
8.  Pour rinse water on flower beds.
9.  Scrub porch with soapy water, scrub privee seat and floor with soapy water caught from porch scrub.
10.  Turn tubs upside down.
11.  Go put on a clean dress, smooth hair with side combs.
12.  Brew up some tea.  Sit and rest a spell and count your blessings.
Note:  This last one is a copy of a letter from a pioneer woman to her daughter.

I hope this last one is helpful to you this weekend as you get those britches and rags washed up for next week!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On the street where I live....

Miss Turkey came down the street where I live early this morning. The waddle under her chin is bright red with the sun shining behind her.  I wonder what she's thinking about when she walks around the place alone?
Cows were trailing out to pasture on the street trail where I live.
I was driving the feeder truck and the cows were following behind.

It's time for a big drink before we finish the long walk to the Nine Mile Pasture where the other cows are grazing.
It's called Nine Mile because it's nine miles from our little, bitty town.
Here's where I leave them off.  The guys will take the cows a good two miles or so down this trail before they reach the pasture gate where that dot-of-a-tree is.  You'll have to click the pic to enlarge it and see what I mean.
Gray clouds mixed with blue sky and sunshine where above the street gravel road where I live.  I enjoyed a windy, brisk daily walk to the mail box.

Big Sky Country is what it's called.
It is the Heavenly Ocean above the street where I live.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eyeing sheep and cleaning the coop...

(see -- the yellow wool grease or wool wax which is where lanolin comes from)

It's been a great day!  
We arose early and went to gather the 2-year-old heifers from the North Pasture.  I took the pick-up with the cake feeder attached and Honey took the Ranger to help drive them.  The cows were delighted to see their "feed wagon" come along and gladly followed me to the Buck Pasture where we left them for now.  I wish I had taken my camera, but I forgot.  Trust me, it was a beautiful scene watching the cows trail home.

With that job completed, we coaxed the sheep into the corrals the same way, and they, too, were happy to follow their feed truck to the corral.  We brought the ewes in to *eye* them.  That means we clip the wool from around the sheep's faces so they won't be wool blind in the winter.  When it's frosty and cold, the snow, frost, and ice builds up around their eyes and causes them to go wool blind and they can drift off.
Honey took the lead in this process since he's the old pro.  He taught OldestSon how to clip around the faces.  My job, though small, was to hold the electric cord and to pour oil on the clipper as needed.  I also shoved sheep up into the ally and counted each pen out.  Besides clipping the wool from around their eyes, the sheep were also de-wormed. 

See how open the ewes' faces are now?  They really did have quite a lot of wool over their eyes.  Altogether we eyed 206 ewes and ewe lambs.  This is *one of those jobs* that we were glad get done and tick off the Before Winter To-do List.  

The other job Honey and I did together was to clean the chicken coop.  Yick! (T. says Yick is not a word, but Yick means "worse than Yuck")  It's one of the most despised jobs anyone does around here.  It literally stinks, and it's SO dusty.  I raked feathers and poop while Honey scooped it up with a scoop shovel and tossed it into the tractor bucket.  We also cleaned out all the nest boxes.  I finished the job by sprinkling Garden Dust around on the dirt floor to keep the bugs and mites away, and then I sprinkled a box of baking soda under the perch to deodorize it somewhat.  I added some pine shavings for bedding on the floor and then put some clean, fresh hay into the nesting boxes.  I decided to board up some of the nesting boxes because I don't have as many hens as my foremothers did.  Just 15 head in my coop compared to 50 head (or more) back then.  I can't imagine washing 50 eggs a night and storing them, let alone cleaning the coop out more often.  My mother-in-love used to sell her eggs to a small grocer in town and then bought her groceries with the egg money. 
I'm adding a pretty little picture of the last of the roses.  I picked these tiny shrub roses since I know they will freeze over night.  We are supposed to get a cold snap starting tonight -- expecting freezing temperatures and possible rain and s--- in elevations above 4000 ft.  Our elevation is approximately 3500 ft. so we'll see if the precip remains in liquid form here. 

Now it's time to eat supper and snuggle in for the night with that sense of satisfaction in jobs well-done and a good-tired that comes from hard, physical work and a day spent outdoors.  Our pillows will feel extra-soft and dreamy tonight.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

of cookies and donuts...

 It really IS fall!  It seems all I think about these days are those heavy-carb comfort foods like  potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies and homemade donuts.  Perhaps I'm instinctively  preparing for a long, hard winter.  I sure wouldn't want to get caught in a cold snap with my weight energy down and sapped.  I could blame attribute my baking frenzy on weekend guests, I suppose. ThirdChild came home on Friday to help us pour concrete and then stayed the night to help with today's project which was to revamp an old cake/grain bin into a storage shed for the OldestChild and his family.  The Grandfolks came out for this project since Grandpa Schu is good with electricity and has awesome carpentry skills.

Friday I baked the chocolate chips cookies in anticipation of visitors and squirreled away several dozen in the freezer for pop-in company or for the days when I really need a good cookie to eat alongside my afternoon coffee.
Today, while Grandma was here, she thought it would be a good idea to fry up some cake donuts -- a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation.  Notice the names on the card:  Linda, Velma, and Hilda.  Can you guess their nationality?  If you said Norwegian, you be right!  Uffda!  I asked Linda if she noticed that all these women had "a" at the end of their names?   Apparently not until today.

I mostly watched the process and kept the Don Williams music playing while Grandma did all the work -- mixing, cutting and frying.  I did set out all the ingredients like a good assistant should.  While Grandma worked,  I whacked up a pumpkin pie for dessert after supper.  We make a pretty good cooker team.

After all the donuts were fried and sugared, we made a thermos of coffee to take to the guys next door.  We brought a big plate of fresh, warm donuts and were they ever happy.  Uffda mega! (translation:  big uffda) 

Guess what we'll be having for First Breakfast tomorrow with our coffee?  Mmmm.  Mmmm. Mmmm.

I just couldn't resist one more picture of Fluff and his biggest fan, Peach!  She can carry him any ol' way she wants and he doesn't care a flip.  Gotta love that kind of cat. I hope you're loading up on plenty of carbs this fall.  If not, just follow me home and I'll fatten feed you properly!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Think different....

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

— Steve Jobs, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When the tomcat comes home....

 We've seen you out in the pastures hunting, stalking your prey, frolicking amongst the alfalfa fields in search of the Thirteen-stripe Ground Squirrel and the mole and the vole.  By the Springs you have been seen pouncing on unsuspecting frogs and basking in the penetrating sun. What a summer!  What a life!  Fluffy, you wouldn't let us touch you out there.  You wouldn't come to our loving calls of  "Here kitty, kitty, kitty."  You ignored us, you ran away from us, and only thought about your exciting life living in the wild -- no cares, no worries, only fun and frolic.

After all of this, today, you showed up on our doorstep.  You came nuzzling and caressing us.  You slinked between our legs and purred.  You didn't think for a moment of ignoring our call, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty," but you came running and jumped into our arms again, rubbing and loving on us.  What has happened?  What's come over you, Fluff?

Is it time now?  Is it time for the cold winds to start blowing and the temperatures to begin to plummet?  Will the days get dark and chill and bitter?  You know it.  You want us to feed you and comfort you through these next months.  And of course, we will.  Fluff, it's good that you're home, but your coming has deeper meaning.  You won't make it out there in the wild without us.  You need us.  You don't want us to forget about you and leave you out there starving in the cold of winter.  Alone.  You HAD to come home, didn't you?  Well, we can't blame you for that.  Who would want  to go through winter alone, cold, and without a friend?  Welcome back.  The barn is full of hay and straw.  There are mice aplenty in the granaries.  I've got a big sack of dog food in the garage, and I know you'll join the chickens when I bring the pail of scraps from the house to feed them.  Welcome home, old friend.  You're looking good.  The Peach and Toodles will be so glad to have you back home.  Cupcake will get to know you this winter too.

Now, as for me, you remind me that it's time to clear off the garden.  The pumpkins are gathered up, the acorn squash too.  The vines are cleared off and the last of the green tomatoes are on their vines in the garage in hopes that some of them will yet ripen.  I even pulled up the gladiola corms that I thought I'd discard this fall, but they were too big and beautiful to ignore and throw in the trash heap.  Nope.  I'm saving them up for next spring.  I pulled the last of the fall lettuce and snipped the herbs to bring in and dry for winter suppers.  The parsley really took off and there's plenty of rosemary and thyme for roasts and stews.

The garden hoses are all rolled up and the pumps are covered.  It's supposed to freeze tonight, and hard.  Twenty-nine degrees sounds harsh.  It is.  But it is mid-October after all.  It can't stay summer forever, although some days I wish it could.  We both know it can't.  So come here, Old Fluff Boy.  Jump into my arms and I'll scratch you behind the ears and tell you what a good cat you are.  Close your eyes and enjoy it.  Thanks for the reminder that when the warm days of the good life come to an end, you can always go home. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jennifer Rizzo Give-away....

I've just found out about this wonderful designer and really wanted to share her beautiful things with you.
She's just opening a new Vintage Tea Collection on Etsy, and I hope you'll come window shopping and see what she has.
To enter this $500 give away, click the picture above and leave a comment.  There are lots of pretty things for holiday gift-giving.  Come see! 
Happy Shopping!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Leatherman...

How many women do you know that you can call Super Woman?  How many tools do you know called a Super Tool?  I only know a woman or two that I might call Super Woman, but there's only one tool called The Super Tool, and that is the Leatherman.  Some folks call this special tool a Swiss Army Knife, and it is very similar, but I think the Leatherman is a lot tougher and sturdier than most.  I've had this ol' workhorse in my junk drawer for years and years.  It's actually Hubby's, but it's in the drawer for all of us to use.
Today I used the Leatherman for a small project for a sweet Peach.  She and I had been digging in her mommy's garden and the gosh darn handle broke right off her Little Girl Shovel.  I thought Peach might just burst into tears then and there, but I told her I would fix it for her while she and her family were away visiting her Nana and her cousins for the day.  ~smile~
The first thing to do was to saw off the jagged end of the wooden handle.  The Leatherman has a really sharp saw blade that whizzed right through.
Next I needed to whittle off some of the sides so the handle could slide all the way down into the metal shaft.  That was easy to do with the knife blade.
Lastly, when the handle fitted perfectly into the shaft, I needed to put a couple screws into it to hold the handle securely onto the shovel.  The Leatherman had a Philips screw driver that handled the job.  Now the shovel is fixed up and Miss Peach thinks I'm SuperGram!
You, too, can be Super Gram, Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Girl or Super Man!
All you need is the super tool.... The Leatherman.  Getchya one!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Big Fat Geranium...

She has more buds and blooms than she has had all summer.  She has been my splash of Beauty as I walk in and out the door every day (several times a day),  and now that we are nearing the end of warm days, I know I will have to say good bye soon.  I would love to bring her in for the winter, but I simply have no space for her.  All good things must come to an end.  

Flowers whisper "Beauty!" to the world, even as they fade, wilt, fall.  
~Dr. SunWolf

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall ramblings...

Pressed leaf garland.
An idea gleaned from Susan Branch.

I'm enjoying the fall days as they come.  They always seem to pass by so quickly into winter days, but I'm trying not to think of fall like that.  Instead, I am taking each day as it comes -- appreciating the gifts that each day brings instead of always pining for days gone by or days to come.  I've done my share of that too.

The leaf garland on my big window makes me smile.  In mid-afternoon the sun shines through them and reflects the colors of each leaf as if they are mini stained glass windows. I have always dragged stuff in gathered up little bits of the outdoors to bring in for my seasonal decorating -- au naturel.   I like sticks (check this out) and leaves, squash and pumpkins picked from the veggie patch, branches and cones gathered while cutting firewood.  In spring and summer there are fresh flowers snipped from the garden or plucked from the pasture.  I like rocks and fossils, feathers and turtle shells.  I do like to set candles out especially when the fall and winter months are upon us.  There's just something special about candlelight on dark days that makes me feel warm and cozy.  When the kids were home, we used to always light candles during school time.

These past days while taking my walks, I've been noticing big flocks of blackbirds and meadowlarks.  Migration is about to happen.  I know that the birds' days here are short now, but I'm savoring birdsong and flapping wings today.  It still thrills my heart to hear the chirrups of the robin who is still hanging around the yard and the lonely call of a meadowlark in the pasture.  In the evenings, which come on early now, I am hearing the hooting of the owls.  I've noticed crows passing through.  The other day Peach and I were outside when the loud "caw caw caw" came from out in the pasture.  I pointed to the big black crows and had her listen again for their distinct call.  The crows don't usually stay here with us year round, but they always make an appearance around September or October. They remind me of a poem I like.

The Gnome

I saw a Gnome
As plain as plain
Sitting on top
Of a weathervane.

He was dressed like a crow
In silky black feathers,
And there he sat watching
All kinds of weathers.

He talked like a crow too,
Caw caw caw,
When he told me exactly 
What he saw,

Snow to the north of him
Sun to the south,
And he spoke with a beaky
Kind of a mouth.

But he wasn't a crow,
That was plain as plain
'Cause crows never sit
On a weathervane.

What I saw was simply
A usual gnome
Looking things over
On his way home.

~Harry Behn

Crows also remind me of a movie that's rather creepy but fun to watch:  The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1963.  One of my sons is fascinated with this film and always asks me to watch it with him.  The fashion and the cars are terrific--very retro now!

There are a few birds that will stay around through the winter.  The wood peckers, flickers, nuthatches and a few sparrows will overwinter.  Sometimes we have a few chickadees and juncos move in.  Last year there wasn't a single bird around the feeders in the backyard.  It was harsh.   The juncos are here now, but they may be just passing through.    I don't see any chickadees yet, but they may stop by on their way somewhere.

After a perfect, sunny day here today, we are expecting the clouds to roll in tonight and the winds to blow.  There's a chance for drizzly rain tomorrow and so I suppose my window finishing will be on hold for a couple days.  Instead, I'll spend some time on that jeans quilt I'm working on for J.  It seems like the perfect project for a chilly fall day.  Who knows, maybe we'll start a fire in the wood stove.

One more thing -- I made some roasted cauliflower last night to go with supper.  Roasted foods sound perfect for fall suppers, don't they?  Here is what I did.  Break apart a whole cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, toss it with olive oil, and then sprinkle it with salt & pepper.  Put it on a cookie sheet and slide it into a 425* oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the edges of the cauliflower are beginning to brown.  You might turn it a little in the middle of roasting.  Sprinkle the cauliflower again with a little course salt and eat!  It really is so good!

I wish you many special moments as you walk through these fall days.  Don't forget to look at the moon tonight.  It's full!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

To remind them....

I've been scouting Etsy for just the right cross for my sons.
I want to give them a gift to remind them Who they belong to.
He is...
King of Kings & Lord of Lords
Son of God 
Son of Man
The Light
The Way, The Truth, The Life
My  Refuge & My Strength
My Shield & My Salvation
My Stronghold
My Rock & My Fortress 
My Helper & The Sustainer of My Soul
My Hope & Song
The Great I Am
The Good Shepherd
Lamb of God
The Word
The Alpha & Omega
Is there a name that is especially meaningful to you?

The cross is handmade by Brad from Sol Creations.

Friday, October 07, 2011


 Hereford Bull pattern here.
I stitched this bully especially for a just-married friend and bull customer.
I couldn't resist.
His wife gets the dancing apple tea towel that I love to stitch.
I wish for them many happy days 
doing dishes (and other things)


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