Friday, October 30, 2009

Scary Mary....

Hide your children.
She's coming......

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tedium in homemaking....

Tedium is the granddaughter of despondency, and the daughter of slothfulness. In order to drive it away, labor at your work, and do not be slothful in prayer. The tedium will pass, and zeal will come. And if to this you add patience and humility, then you will be rid of all misfortunes and evils.
~St. Ambrose of Optina

Thanks to Gladsome Lights for the quote. 

Normally,  I'm not easily bored at home.  I love being at home and I would rather be home than a thousand different places, but today was one of those days when Tedium and Sloth Sisters showed up.  I have a list of things that I need to do all written out and stuck to the frig with a magnet, but today all I could do was to look at it, grab a cookie, and walk on by.  I didn't feel like cleaning, but since when do we only have to do what we feel like doing?  Did my Lord command me to love others if I feel like it or show hospitality only when I feel like being nice?  

I decided to ignore my feelings of tedium and tackle the living room.  I set 4:00 as my quitting time and then I would reward myself with coffee and cookies.  I washed walls, shined the picture glass, pulled out the furniture and vacuumed.  I washed the windows inside and out,  and let me tell you it was a chilly 30 degree day standing outside on the step stool with wet rags in my hands!  The more I did, the more I wanted to do.  I accomplished everything except shampooing the carpets which I intended to finish tomorrow anyway.  My afternoon  coffee was extra-delicious and I felt so much better having knocked off another thing from that To Do List.  Old St. Ambrose was right.  Labor at your work and zeal will come!

While sitting with my cuppa Joe, I began reading a book that my daughter-in-love brought by called Country Living Simple Country Wisdom.  Now this book does not really have anything "new" in it that we haven't heard about before in the realms of homemaking, but still, I enjoyed paging through it and gathering a few new-to-me tips.  And you know what?  I was further inspired to do a couple more things in my home that had been neglected.  I descaled the coffee pot and the tea kettle and dumped the boiled water down my kitchen sink along with some baking soda to freshen it.  I took the screens off the window over my kitchen sink and washed the glass.  It's that time of year when I won't put the screens back up since the cold temperatures keep the bugs down and I can enjoy looking through clear glass with no screen obstruction.  There is something wonderful about looking out through clear, clean glass that makes me feel more connected to the outdoors and less confined.

I really appreciated this quote from the book on cleanliness:
The world makes a lot of demands on us.  There's always something that needs to be done, someone we need to make time for, an item to pick up here and another to drop off there....and often, at the end of the day, any number of to-dos and should-dos are already casting their shadow over tomorrow.
Your home should be a refuge from all that.  The "shelter" in the food, clothing and shelter equation means more than mere protection from wind and rain or a place to stow one's belongings.  It also means shelter from the stresses of the greater world, a little oasis where we can relax, pursue our own interests, and share time with those we love.
 I don't know about you, but it is really difficult for me to pursue my interests or start a new project when my home is really out of order or if I'm not tending to the main business that I need to be doing .  I'm not talking about simple "signs of life" messes, but rather things that really need to be done like sweeping a filthy mud room floor, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, picking up the accumulation of stuff that seems to pile up on the counter by the phone or putting away the last load of folded laundry. Just a wee bit of tidying up can set my mind at ease to focus on other things or the people in my life.  Does that mean I can't do anything unless my house is spotless?  Absolutely not.  I'd never sew a stitch if I had to live that way.  But for me, if there is a reasonable orderliness in the home, it sets my mind at ease to enjoy things like embroidery, doing handicrafts, baking, or reading a book.

Today as I was looking at two boxes of apples that a hunter brought to me as a "thank you gift," I began to wonder what my homemaking responsibility was concerning them -- the apples, I mean.  They were nice apples, but the majority of them were the size of a golf ball.   I was truly delighted to receive the apples and I have cooked with them and shared them and frozen them, but now I am ready to throw them to the chickens and be done with it all.  I did peel and slice a lot more apples for the freezer this afternoon, but I began to wonder:   when is enough enough?  I hated to waste.  I hate to throw away, and I wished for  a Bible verse that said, "Once you've peeled and sliced and made all the apple sauce and apple butter you can possibly want for an entire winter, it's just fine to toss the remaining apples to the chickens."  I know it's not in there because I've read The Book, but while I was pondering the dilemma of too many apples, I was reminded of this particular verse from Ecclesiastes 3.
There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven......(v.6)  A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
THANK YOU GOD!  There IS a time to throw away!  Well, today is not the time to throw the apples away, but instead, it is the time to put them in the garage until they rot  to eat fresh while they last or to use in an apple centerpiece or to throw at the deer when they come traipsing through my yard.  Surely those little apples have more uses before they are thrown away, but at least I have given myself permission to do so at the appointed time.  

Homemaking is not all about cleaning or making the bed with hospital corners (although I know of no other way to make the bed) nor is it about how many jars of applesauce is needed before the lady of the house decides to throw out the apples.  But I have found that homemaking is about learning to balance life realistically between clean and dirty, between making do and doing without, between good and good enough, and mostly it is about making Home a peaceful refuge for the weary soul and the place where somebody is waiting for you and will be glad you've come.

Just try to be angry with someone who fed you something delicious.
~Judge Dunwoody 

Monday, October 26, 2009


It's fall.  I love how the light comes in the big window like this when the sun is low in the sky.  It's so warm and cheery to me.  While the darker days of fall and winter months are upon us the sun is tipped just right to shine into the corners of our home.  The kitchen table served as my workshop today.

Daughter-in-Love grows the pumpkins.  This year they didn't ripen orange so I splashed a coat of white paint on mine and lettered them instead of carving.  I'm happy because they'll carry my decorating into Thanksgiving.  The kids and I made the jar-o-lanterns many years ago and they make me smile and "remember when" as I haul them out for Halloween.

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
~Henry D. Thoreau

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ric-rac flowers embroidery tutorial....

I was asked nicely if I would make a tutorial of the ric-rac flowers so I just couldn't say no.  Plus, I know how much I appreciate tutorials that others do.  Here goes!  I hope you try it. 
You may click all photos to enlarge them.

You will need:
One tea towel
Various colors of cotton ric rac
Fabric glue (washable)
Water soluble fabric marker
Embroidery floss

1.  I determined that it takes 12 points on one side of the ric-rac to make a circle that lays down flat.  So count twelve points and add a little bit extra so you can tuck it under neatly.

2.  Lay out ric rac on your tea towel and make a circle that lays flat.  Tuck under one edge and use a little fabric glue to secure it.  You may also like to use some on each cut end of the ric rac so it won't fray.  The brand I have is Aleen's OK to Wash It glue -- especially for fabrics.

3.  Next you will pin the ric rac down.  Lay out in a pleasing pattern.

4.  After pinning, you will secure the points of the ric rac with French knots and a small hidden stitch.  In all the embroidery in this project, I used 3 strands of  the floss.  I made  French knots on the outer points and secured the inner points with a tiny stitch that was hardly noticeable.

5.  With a water soluble fabric marker, mark the middle of each flower and then take a ruler and draw straight lines across to each inner point.  Draw stems and leaves and add any other extras you'd like.

6.  Stitch along lines within the flowers, catching in the points of the ric rac as you go.  I used the outline stitch for all my lines in this project.   For the center of each flower, add 3 or more French knots.

7.  Now finish up with embroidering the stems, leaves and additional flowers as desired.  Again, I used the outline stitch, but you might also like the stem stitch for this.  They are very similar.

8.  Spray finished work with a water bottle to dissolve the blue marker lines.  Launder as usual and press.

Tada!  You're done!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A little old-fashioned embroidery....

It all started when I was out and about Blogland when I came across a new-to-me blog called Giggleface Studios.  I loved Tracey's embroidery things and especially her tinted embroideries.  You must go take a look-see at the embroidered and tinted state blocks she's doing.  Wonderful!   Anyway, I saw something tucked away in her little green suitcase that I just had to try!  Ric-rac flowers with embroidery. Well, I did it.  And here they are.....

This was so much fun that I'm going to try it again.  I have a few packets of Aunt Betty's old ric-rac -- probably from 1940 or so -- and I'm just going to use it.  Wouldn't she love these?

Thanks for the inspiration Tracey!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Does It Snow?

Pic by Holly Heyser NorCal Cazadora

"Why does it snow?  Why does it snow?"
The children come crowding around me to know.
I said to my nephew, I said to my niece,
"It's just the old woman a-plucking her geese."

With her riddle cum dinky dido,
With her riddle cum dinky dee.

The old woman sits on a pillowy cloud,
She calls to her geese, and they come in a crowd;
A cackle a wackle, a hiss and a cluck,
And then the old woman begins for to pluck.

With her riddle cum dinky dido,
With her riddle cum dinky dee.

The feather go fluttering up in the air,
Until the poor geese are entirely bare;
A toddle, a waddle, a hiss and a cluck,
"You may grow some more if you have the good luck!"

With your riddle cum dinky diodo,
With your riddle cum dinky dee.

The feathers go swirling around and around,
Then whirlicking, twirlicking, sink to the ground;
The farther they travel, the colder they grow,
And when they get down here, they've turned into snow.

With their riddle cum dinky dido,
With their riddle cum dinky dee.

~Laura E. Richards

This poem is a special one to our family because every year when it would begin to snow, I would go to our well-worn Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America and find this poem to recite together.  The kids all memorized it at one time or another.  As it snows once again today, I'm thinking of this poem and my lil chicks acting silly as they would recite with me.  And while we were engrossed in our poetry book, we would turn the pages to a couple other  Laura E. Richards poems:   Eletelephony, Antonio, and Punkydoodle and Jollapin.

Special thanks to Holly Heyser for the terrific goose feathers picture. 
Do check out her amazing hunting blog here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coping with stress....

 Young woman at her toilet (detail) by Giovanni Bellini

Is there a woman alive who doesn't suffer from stress?  If there is, seek her out, ask her to share her wisdom.  When you find her, I'd be willing to bet she'll offer the following suggestions:

Cultivate gratitude.
Carve out an hour a day for solitude.
Begin and end the day with prayer, meditation, reflection.
Keep it simple.
Keep your house picked up.
Don't overschedule.
Strive for realistic deadlines.
Never make a promise you can't keep.
Allow an extra half hour for everything you do.
Create quiet surroundings at home and at work.
Go to bed at nineo'clock twice a week.
Always carry something interesting to read.
Breath -- deeply and often.
Move--walk, dance, run, find a sport you enjoy.
Drink pure spring water.  Lots of it.
Eat only when hungry.
If it's not delicous, don't eat it.
Be instead of do.
Set aside one day a week for rest and renewal.
Laugh more often.
Luxuriate in your senses.
Always opt for comfort.
If you don't love it, live without it.
Let Nature nurture.
(Let God nurture.  ~me)
Don't answer the telephone during dinner.
Stop trying to please everybody.
Start pleasing yourself.
Stay away from negative people.
Don't squander precious resources:  time, creative energy, emotion.
Nurture friendships.
Don't be afraid of your passion.
Approach problems as challenges.
Honor your aspirations.
(Honor your parents.  ~me)
Set achievable goals.
Surrender expectations.
Savor beauty.
Create boundaries.
For every "yes," let there be a "no."
Don't worry, be happy.
Remember, happiness is a living emotion.
Exchange security for serenity.
Care for your soul.
Cherish your dreams.
Express love every day.
Search for your authentic self until you find her.
(Search for God and you will find Him. ~me)

~Excerpt from October 9, Simple Abundance A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
By Sarah Ban Breathnach

Do you have anything to add to this list?  As you can see, I added a few of my own.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Cold days and chicken noodle soup....

NOAA Weather Service chart. Click to enlarge.

It's mighty cold up here in the North -- just 22 degrees with blustery snow squalls and winds of about 20 mph. According to the wind chill chart, which I keep handy for quick reference, the wind chill temperature for us right now is a whopping 4 degrees. My potted geraniums are in the garage waiting for a few more nice fall days. I don't give up easily and I won't give up on fall yet, but as for today, it's a good day to be indoors by the fire baking and making homemade chicken noodle soup. I don't really have a set recipe for this, but it's really not a very difficult meal to make.

Just set a whole chicken or chicken parts (with skin) in a large pot to simmer along with a few peppercorns, salt, and a bay leaf. Cook until the meat of the chicken is falling off the bone. Scoop out the meat with the bones and sort it well, throwing away the bones and skin and any other undesirable things. Put the meat back into the pot and add chopped celery, carrots, onion, garlic and herbs like thyme and parsley or celery seed. You may need to add more water to the pot and if you want to, you might like to add some chicken base or bouillon to the broth according to your tastes. I do. Simmer until the veggies are tender. In the meantime you will want to start your noodles. You can use prepackaged noodles that are just like homemade, or you can make them easily.

I don't fuss as much as the recipes for homemade noodles require, in fact, I'm quite lazy about it. I make the noodle dough, roll it out on a floured counter top, slice the dough into thin strips with a pizza cutter and let them sit to dry just a little. Some noodle recipes require you to air dry the noodles all day long, but I just don't want to do that, so I don't. Once the veggies are tender, you are ready to add the noodles. Make sure that you bring the broth up to a rolling boil. Carefully add the noodles, a few at a time, making sure they go under the rolling current of the broth. Add until all the noodles are in the broth, cover, reduce the heat and simmer about 10-15 minutes. Taste the noodles to make sure they are done.

Serve it up hot with fresh bread & butter  or some rustic crackers and a glass of cold milk.

Egg Noodles

2 c. flour (white or whole wheat pastry)
3 eggs
2 t. salt
1/4 to 1/2 c. milk

Make a well in the center of the flour. Add eggs and salt. Mix thoroughly. Mix in milk, a little at a time until dough is stiff but easy to roll. Roll out on a floured cupboard as thin as possible (like pie crust). Cut noodles with a pizza cutter and allow them to dry out somewhat on the counter. Cook noodles in approximately 3 quarts boiling salted water (1 T.) until tender. About 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and add to soup or other recipes.

*I add my noodles directly to my soup pot, but you can do it separately.
*Sometimes I drop this dough by spoonfuls into my soups for a hard dumpling. For dumplings, you will want a softer dough than for noodles so you may add more milk and a pinch of baking powder.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

5 Lil Chicks...

There once was a Mother Hen who wanted to raise her chicks in the way of the Lord. She wanted to raise healthy chicks fed on the very best wheat and the plumpest worms available. She wanted her chicks to be smart and wise and hard workers. She prayed, she listened, she heard. What did she hear her God say? "Homeschool."
Could she do it?

Homeschool seemed way out of Mother Hen's league and way beyond her abilities, but she felt God calling her to it so she studied and studied all kinds of books like: Let's Have Healthy Chicks and Dare To Disclipline Your Chick and You Can Teach Your Chicks at Home. She listened to Focus on the Family and to a couple dubbed The Grandparents of Homeschooling, Dr. Ray and Dorothy Moore. Little by little, Mother Hen became convinced that this lifestyle could be had if Papa Rooster thought it best too. And he did.
So they did.

The 5 Lil Chicks sat under their mother's wing day after day and learned all the Important Things that she and Papa Rooster deemed necessary. There were days when the chicks didn't want to learn to read or do their math. There were days when the only thing the Lil Chicks wanted to do was to play outside or peck at each other. Mother Hen thought she was never going to teach them a thing. But she pushed on, one day at a time, keeping her lessons short and sweet and giving her healthy chicks lots of time in the sunshine and fresh air. Papa Rooster gave his chicks work to do which made them strong and he taught them fine lessons too. They hoped their chicks would thrive.
And they did.

As the chicks grew in wisdom and stature, Mother Hen knew that one day they would each have to fly the coop and find their own way in the Big World. She taught them in the way they should go according to the Good Book and she tried to direct the chicks' studies after their particular interests with hopes that they would do well on their own, but ultimately the chicks would have to work hard and diligently. Would they be wise enough to fly on their own?
Yes, they would!

Nowadays Mother Hen and Papa Rooster have only one lil chick left at home. Mother Hen is still encouraging her chick in the way he should go, still hunting for delicious worms to serve him, and looking for the perfect books just for him so he, too, will grow in wisdom and stature just like his chicklings. After all this time Mother Hen decided it was time to share some of her thoughts and ideas with other Mother Hens who want to teach their own lil chicks at home.
So she did.

Five Lil Chicks

Monday, October 05, 2009

First autumn snowfall...

garden spuds

The first autumn rain and snowfall combination of the year brought us a half inch of rain and then 4-5 inches of snow last night and today. Snow is still lightly falling and may continue tomorrow.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Do you remember the old commercial for Heinz Ketchup?
Anticipation.....antici-pa-a-a-tion is making me late.
It's keeping me wai-a-a-a-a-ting......

Well, around here I've been anticipating a hard frost. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to decide if I should pull up the tomatoes or risk waiting just a little longer to get yet one more vine-ripened tomato. I did snip off all the parsley and basil to bring in and dry, but have been waiting on my thyme and rosemary, thinking I might get a few more days of fresh herbs before I must give them up and dry them for winter's use.

Saturday I decided I just had to get down to business and not wait for a hard frost any longer. So I rolled up the garden hoses, stowed away the sprinklers, snipped the remaining herbs, pulled up the zucchini vines and the tomato vines and picked the last of the ripe tomatoes. This morning while getting ready for church, Hubs and I missed a phone call but there was a message. I told Hubs to find out if it was one of the kids calling us to bring tomatoes to church for them. Well, it was one of the kids all right, but he didn't want tomatoes, and neither did any of the other kids! I guess I'm done shoving off tomatoes for another year. The funny thing is that when we arrived at church, there was a huge box of tomatoes with a sign above it, "Tomatoes from God." The gardener herself told me she had already canned 100 quarts of tomato sauce and tomato soup and froze lots of them too. I told her I still had plenty myself and would have to passed up God's tomatoes. So did my kids.

I dug up all the potatoes left in my garden too. I usually leave a few in the ground to store for later, but when I heard the weather report that we could possibly have 6" of snow or more by Sunday night, I decided not to wait one more day. The soil makes for a good "root cellar" but if our weather turns cold and snowy and stays that way, I don't want to risk frozen black spuds when I could have my favorite Yukon Gold potatoes all harvested and safely stored away in the garage. I'll have to take some pictures of those wonderful Yukes to show you! Oh my! I don't think I'll ever plant any other kind of potato again. There are some potatoes in my buckets that are the size of a nice roast beef! You could serve a family of four on one spud! No joke! Is there anything in the world like a homegrown potato? No-sir-ee!

Tonight, as I type, Hubs keeps coming in to check Accuweather to see what the radar looks like in our area. We're still just getting a nice shower of rain, but we're anticipating snow to begin falling at any time. For now, it's just too warm (36*). We really, really do hope it stays just rain and doesn't turn into the white stuff.

I wish we had more wood in the garage for the wood burning stove, but we have enough to take the chill off anyway. Cutting firewood will have to go on the list of things to do in anticipation of wintry days to come. We use our furnace for our general heating needs, but we do love a wood fire in the stove to warm up by. When you come in from the chilly outdoors, cheeks red and hands stiff, it's best to sidle up to the stove and turn your backside to it. Sweet, penetrating warmth is what you get! Is there anything like warming up to a crackling fire? No-sir-ee!

I made the most delicious pumpkin bread this weekend. It's got the best sugary-nutty topping which really does makes the bread outstanding. If you'd like the recipe, click here. I made two loaves of bread instead of 2 dozen muffins. Those Mennonite girls can REALLY cook!

Today was the annual Cowboy Poetry gathering in our country community. There were local folks reciting their original cowboy and cowgirl poetry and there were a few guitar-strumming, singing cowboys. There were cowboy paintings, cowboy leather book covers, cowboy iron works, and cowboy spurs. Some of the ladies made crocheted things to sell and of course, there was lots of food to be sold and eaten too. The main draw in the kitchen where I served was the homemade pie. The ladies from all over the community bring a couple pies each of various kinds. There was the usual apple and cherry pie, but also pecan, peach, banana cream, butterscotch, chocolate cream, and even sour cream and raisin, just like my German Grandma used to make. Since I served pies last year, I knew that the favorite pie of all was chocolate cream pie with whipped cream, so that's what I brought. Sure enough, it was gone in a flash. At $2.50 a slice, the community club made a nice income for another year. The Cowboy Poets gathering was first begun to pay for a new kitchen addition for the community hall. Our fine community has been hosting this event for 21 years we figured out today, so I suppose the kitchen's all paid off by now. I was remembering back when my five little kids and I sang cowboy songs one year. Time sure does fly.

One thing we didn't anticipate this past weekend was an earthquake. Yep! We had an earthquake way out here in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the USA. As it turns out, it was a 3.8 on the Richter scale. We didn't have any damage, but just had an excitingly good shake that moved the pictures on the walls and jiggled the wine glasses and tea cups in the china cupboard just enough so you can see the dust from where they were moved. Hubs was worried that the quake might heave the ground somewhat and he was concerned about the waterlines and the wells, but everything's fine. It's just not the type of thing we have out here on the prairie, but that just goes to show you -- you can't anticipate everything.

Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.
~Jim Elliot


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