Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tasha Tudor Day...

It's Tasha Tudor's birthday today and since I've always been a big fan of her books and art and the way she celebrated holidays, I decided to celebrate!  Clarice from Storybook Woods is hosting Tasha Tudor Day again this year so if you would like to see what others around the world are doing to celebrate this day, check in and read her blog comments.

I honored Tasha Tudor by playing in my watercolors.  I am fairly certain that she did not "play" in her paints since she was a commercial artist who used her art to "feed the wolf" as she once said.  But I'd like to think that once in awhile she took time to just enjoy her painting as a means of recreation and inspiration.  I painted four small cards and I must say that even though they are very simplistic, they took quite a little time to do.  It makes me appreciate the time and effort that artists take to produce a worthy piece.

Our children grew up on Tasha Tudor books.  I was always grateful that our library had an extensive Tasha Tudor book collection  and I'm sure we checked out every single one of them.  I always liked the way Tasha created borders around her pictures.  Tasha said:
I've always done borders of sticks or ribbons or flowers around my illustrations and I don't even know why I decided to.  I don't even remember when I didn't.  People like to find things in them.  Another appeal of my drawings, I think, is that they are done from actuality, not imagined.  I know which side a cow is milked from, and what side you should mount a horse from, and how to make a haystack.  It's not made up.  The people in my pictures are my own grandchildren and friends, and the surroundings are drawn from my surroundings.  The flowers are growing wild in my fields or are from my garden.  People who come to visit say, "Oh, it's like walking into one of your illustrations."
 This picture comes from a book I own called The Private World of Tasha Tudor
I love to identify all the wildflowers and garden flowers from Tasha's borders, and I know that the flowers she chooses for her borders are the very ones blooming during that time of year.  She doesn't just slip in a daisy or a strawberry because it would look pretty.  If it isn't in the season of the illustration, it does not belong.

This afternoon I enjoyed a simple Tea for One -- Chai tea served in a kitten china mug and banana bread with butter.  I imagined that Tasha would have fixed herself a simple tea like this after a morning of painting illustrations.  Do you think she would have liked my kitten mug?

Happy Birthday, Tasha!  It's been fun knowing you!
Take Joy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Just add a pinch of sunshine...

It's hot --  about 95 degrees and the wind is blowing so it makes for a good laundry drying day.  I've had jeans, shirts, jackets, bedding, kitchen towels and potholders all on the line at various times.  It seems when one load is done washing, the next is ready to come off the lines.  This basket looked so cheery to me when I brought it in, and also has some nice memories inside.  The woven potholders were made by two of my sons when they were little boys.  How do they hold up so well?  Another, the red and white mushroom (upside down), was knitted by a friend, and the denim ones I made out of old jeans when I was desperate for something heavy duty.  I love cute potholders a lot, but I tend to burn my hands through them if I don't double them up.  The denim potholders withstand a lot of abuse and heat.  I ought to try to make a cute denim potholder.

The bumble bees are thick around every flower that's blooming.  There are fewer and fewer flowers as the August heat dries out the earth.  Even though I water and water, it doesn't seem to penetrate.

I pulled up the onions a couple days ago and left them to dry on the picnic table.   The sun and hot breezes are drying them perfectly for storage.  I was quite disappointed in my onion crop this year.  I just don't get as many of them with raised beds as I used to with a field garden.  Perhaps I need to plant onions only in one section of my raised beds.  I'll try to remember that for next year.

Since it was so hot outdoors, I thought I'd do an indoor project today.   The shade on this lamp was very grungy and needed a good cover-up.  Frances at Left-handed Housewife recently recovered a lamp and I was so impressed by how hers turned out, I knew I had to try gussying up one of my old shades too.  Since my shade was pleated and hers was smooth, I had to use a different method, so I went for a twirly skirt look. 

I started by making a hole in the middle of a fat quarter, laying the lampshade upside down on the fabric and tracing the circle.  I cut it out using pinking shears, folded down the edges, and hot glued the fabric inside the top of the shade.  I had intended to pleat it all the way around and tuck the bottom edges under and hot glue, but after I pinked the bottom edge, I liked the loose-fitting twirly skirt look so much that I left it alone.  Lastly, I added brown grossgrain ribbon to the top edge and hot glued it on.  I'm really happy with my well-dressed lamp.  I have another lampshade that I want to re-do, but I have to find just the right fabric for it.

I was out browsing in the furniture store yesterday and came upon a table lamp that I fell in love with.  After checking the price tag ($150) and realizing that the lamp stand was just a cheapo piece of plastic and that the shade was a simple cylindrical shape, I decided I could create something similar myself for a lot less than retail. 

One last little project I did today was to sew a quick table runner out of this funky-fun fabric that my daughter bought me a while back.  I didn't do anything fancy, just hemmed it all around and pressed it. I added a pinch of sunshine to the table with a jar of sunflowers snipped from my yard.  I think it makes a cheery place to have meals and to linger in conversation.

One last item on my to-do list..... Tomorrow is Tasha Tudor's birthday and Clarice at Storybook Woods always hosts Tasha Tudor Day.  If you decide to do something special to celebrate the life of Tasha, you might like to post about it in her comments tomorrow.  I have a plan to celebrate, but I'll share that with you tomorrow.  I have always loved Tasha's charming children's books and I like to buy them for the special Littles in my life.... which reminds me of one more thing.....our son and his wife are having baby number 2 in January so Hazel Peach will have a brother or sister to love!  Hooray for us all!  God is good!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Full Zucchini Moon...

This morning we were up before the sun in order to go to the other ranch to pregnancy test 112 heifers.  We had coffee and rolls and yogurt at 5:00 a.m. and then out the door with the horses loaded in the horse trailer, the insecticide, poking sticks, medicine (just in case), and an extra thermos of coffee.  It was just 44 degrees this morning which felt a bit chilly, but was perfect weather for working livestock.  Before I left in my pick-up truck, I saw the moon setting in the west and so I just had to snap a picture before it went down.  Isn't it lovely?  It doesn't even look real, does it?  It looks like a nice orange round of cheese from this view.  Tonight is actually the night of the the full moon.  The Farmers Almanac says:
Full Sturgeon Moon – August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
Last night Miss Hazel Peach saw the moon as it was rising above the trees near her house, and she told her mommy and daddy, "Moon stuck in the trees! Oh man! Whatarewegonna  do?"  Get the whole story here.  Don't kids think of the best things?

Since it appears that native tribes named the full moons, it is evident that they did not grow many crops or tend gardens because if they did, they would surely call the August Full Moon the Zucchini Moon.  Tonight, I am officially renaming it the Full Zucchini Moon.  We (and everyone I know) have lots of the prolific veggie in every size and shape from perfect cucumber lengths to baseball bat and club widths and lengths.  I've made luscious chocolate-zucchini cake and one of my favorites, zucchini-tomato skillet.   Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe to share?

This family recipe is quick and easy and can be changed up according to your tastes.  

Zucchini-Tomato Skillet

1-2 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
thin sliced onions
thin sliced zucchini
minced garlic
chunks of tomato
fresh chopped basil (or dried)
salt & fresh ground pepper
processed Swiss cheese

I start by heating olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet on fairly high heat.  First add the onions and saute them until they are just caramelized and immediately add the zucchini and garlic.  Saute until zukes are tender but not mushy.  Lastly add the tomatoes, basil and salt & pepper.  Saute just a couple minutes and lastly, top the whole mess with a few  slices of processed Swiss cheese.  It melts quickly and deliciously on this dish.  Serve at once from the skillet.  The recipe probably only takes about 10 minutes cooking time to prepare after the slicing and mincing.

Happy Full Zucchini Moon!

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night
and a smooth road all the way to your door.
~Irish Blessing

Monday, August 23, 2010

Strength in weakness...

 "A Breezy Day" ~Charles Courtney Curran
It is easy to smile at people outside your own home....
It is difficult to be thoughtful and kind and to smile and be loving to your own in the house day after day, especially when we are tired and in a bad temper or bad mood.  We all have these moments and that is the time that Christ comes to us in a distressing disguise.
~Mother Teresa

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.... 
for when I am weak, then I am strong...
~2 Corinthians 12:9,10

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy 29 Years...

To my best friend and lover...
Happy Anniversary!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Frog legs for supper?

So.....I was out in the garden picking some fresh basil for my pasta supper when I heard a tussle in the bushes.  I see a frog and a snake.  But something's going on.  I watch and I realize this garter snake wants to eat this fairly large frog.  I watch a while longer and then remember the pasta is on the boil and I go indoors to rescue my supper and then go back outdoors to finish watching.  I grabbed my camera and recorded it here so you can see.  The first weird noise you hear is either the frog or the snake.  I heard it a couple of times before I got the camera on and was quite creeped out.  I'm sorry that I sound like someone who is talking to a small child.  I'm really not talking down to you.  I guess I was in story-telling mode.  I'll let Hazel Peach watch later.  She understands me.
EDIT:  If you don't think a garter snake could have eaten a frog, you must go watch THIS video. 

I stopped recording the snake and frog after I realized this could be an all-nighter.  I mean, they could have stayed in this position all night, I think.  They were each waiting the other guy out.  Waiting for a wrong move.  I promised myself I was not going to "meddle in nature" but then I decided that really, I AM part of nature, so I tossed a small stick over by the two and guess what?  The frog jumped away.  Sorry Mr. Snake.  I caused you to lose your supper.

Here's my supper.  More tomatoes.  It's a very simple fresh tomato sauce over angel hair pasta.  There's no cooking except for the pasta.  I just tossed some chopped ripe tomatoes into 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Added some course salt, pepper, garlic and fresh chopped basil.  Let it sit awhile and then add hot angel hair pasta.  Stir.  Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese.  Eat!  Yum!  I'm glad my supper didn't get away.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This 'n' that...

Look what I ate for breakfast this morning!  The breakfast of champions -- tomato sandwiches!  Make a piece of toast, smear it with mayo, add sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Eat.  Tomatoes have begun to ripen and I want to eat them for breakfast, lunch, and supper.  Question:  Are my sister and I the only ones who start getting canker sores when we feast heartily on tomatoes?  One more related tomato tidbit...if you like homegrown tomatoes like I do, then you must like this song.

 While I was out washing windows this afternoon, I spied this little fella.  He (or she) is a black & yellow argiope spider, sometimes called a scribbler spider because the zig-zag silk thread in the middle of the web  looks a little like scribbling.  Isn't it beautiful? 

Here he is again from a little different angle.  The web is nearly invisible except for that scribble in the middle.

This flower is called a Gayfeather.  It blooms in the late summer in my garden.  Out on the prairie we have a version of it growing wild called Dotted Gayfeather and is always abuzz with butterflies and bees.

I've been sprinkling the lawn like crazy since I have the water pumped up from the stock pond just over the fence from our house.  It's really going rank now though.  It smells so bad when I water, but it's wet and the grass doesn't mind the stink at all.  I never did get to go swimming at the swimming hole this summer.  It was too chilly when it was fresh and now it's nice and warm, but the water is raunchy. 

Sue follows me wherever I go.  She loves me so much and sniffs up and down along my leg whenever we are out walking together.  She looks so pretty right now with her fine slick summer coat.  I was really taking a picture of the flowers, but the camera had its eye on her, I guess.  I'm glad because I like this picture.  Do you see the hay bale in the background?  The hay is cut around our house now and I am hoping that the grasshoppers will continue to stay away.  We waited as long as we could so as to protect the yard, flowers, and gardens from hoppers.  I did spray for them too, which helped I think.

And now for a recipe that I wanted to share.  The barbecue sauce for those country pork ribs I made this weekend  is The Best Ever Stuff and ought to be shared.  I found the recipe a few years ago in an OOP cookbook called  Hearth and Home by Karey Swan.  It'll work beautifully on any meat or if you like, suck it off your fingers.

Sauce-Painted Spareribs
1 c. ketchup
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. horseradish & mustard (half of each)
1 T grated onion
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. either tobasco sauce or cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
*1/4 t. each of oregano, marjoram, and/or thyme

Simmer all together over low heat at least 10 minutes.  Improves with age so store some for later use in the fridge.  *I omitted the herbs in my recipe.

Monday, August 16, 2010


It's that time of year.
We have been so busy.  Lots of hay was made.  There's all of it yet to haul in.  It seems every single day of summer has been full to the brim.  It went by so quickly and here we are near the end of it already.  This past weekend we decided it was time to celebrate the end of summer, so to speak.  The FourthBorn was packing up and getting ready to go back to college.  This is the LastChild's final year of home school and the cousin who stayed with us a week for his Last Hurrah before school starts,  had to go home.  So we decided to have a barbecue while everybody was still around.  Country ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, fresh corn on the cob, salads, ice cream cake and brownies, lemonade and iced tea made for a good celebration meal.  The grandparents came, the kids were all here (minus one), we played croquet in the yard and visited.  We told jokes and laughed and in the evening we roasted marshmallows over the fire pit coals.  It was a great day.  Then.  Everybody left.

This morning at 7:30 the FourthBorn and LastChild left along with the cousin.  And not long after that, Hubs left for town to do errands.  I was home alone.  Normally, I really like being home alone.  I enjoy puttering around, doing the things I want to accomplish and not having to worry about stopping in the middle of a project to get a meal and then clean it up.  But today felt different.  I went about picking up all the things left behind from yesterday's fun -- the croquet set, the campfire forks, lawn chairs, the extra leaves for the table, sheets to be washed, dishes that didn't make it into the dishwasher.  Then I moved on to tidying up.  I vacuumed and emptied garbage and went to FourthBorn's room and found it so bare and hollow.  Everything was gone except for the bed and a few pictures on the wall.  I cleaned in there, moved the bed and vacuumed and decided to wash up the comforter and bedding.  I've been in this situation before -- the situation when one of the kids moves out to go to college or leaves home to find a job.  It always leaves me hollow.  When the FirstBorn left home I cried all day long and many times through the next week.  It got a wee bit easier with the other children, but the same twinge and the same hollowness always came back for a little while each time it happened.  Then I would begin to count my blessings and the hollowness would go away.

Parenting is such an amazing thing.  You look forward to it.  Then you become one.  Then you don't know what you ever did before you were a parent.  You lack sleep, much sleep.  Later on, you wonder why God made 11 year-olds and think that that year should be a parental sabbatical year.  The teen years you realize what interesting people you are living with and how quickly independence is creeping in between you and your child.  Soon enough, they leave home and you wonder why it's so easy for them and why it's so hard for you.  But we raised them to one day fly on their own.  To be independent.  To fledge the home nest and begin new lives of their own.  It's the way it's supposed to be.

I live in a part of the country where all four seasons are very distinct and each has its own unique gifts.  It seems to me that when one season begins to fade away, the soul longs for it to last just a little longer, but ahead is a whole new season with its challenges, its anticipations, and its blessings incomparable to any other season if I will only embrace it and live it to the hilt.

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gleaning chokecherries....

Normally the title of this blog post would be: Picking Chokecherries or Harvesting Chokecherries, but this year it truly is a gleaning.  The birds took care of the big harvest this summer.  And you know, I've been doing my job, faithfully watching the bushes, waiting until the berries were just ripe enough to pick, but the doggone birds have gone and eaten them green!  Whaddayado?

As I was picking, I noticed the robins flitting around and pipping at me as if I was in their chokecherry patch.  The nerve.  Don't they know that *I* planted this row of bushes, watered them through a drought, and mowed between the rows?  I'll admit that I hoped that this row of trees and bushes would attract birds, but I didn't think they would rob me blind!  Perhaps next year they'll allow me to harvest if I promise a gleaning for them.   As I gleaned the few cherries left behind, I thought about the book of Ruth in the Bible -- how Naomi and Ruth would glean from the fields of Boaz.  I always thought, "Well, isn't that so kind of the land owner and the harvesters to leave something behind for the poor to glean," but since picking after the birds, I'm realizing that gleaning is not so easy nor productive.  For the same amount of time and effort it would have taken me to pick a whole gallon bucket of cherries, I have just a third bucket of them.  And you must know that chokecherries are not the size of a cherry at all, but more the size of a small blueberry.  They often grow wild in riparian areas on the prairies and the surrounding foothills, but mine were planted and tended by me.  Chokecherries are almost entirely filled with a pit so there is very little fruit.  That is why chokecherries are mainly juiced and used in jellies (not jams) and syrups.  This year my dad had plans for making chokecherry wine with my harvest, but I called him to say that he must look elsewhere for fruit since I had just a meager third of a bucket to contribute to the wine making.  Bah!

There is a winery nearby that produces The-Best-Ever chokecherry wine and I was really, really hoping Dad could get a good-do on a batch of wine this year to rival the Best-Ever.  He still might if the birds surrounding Hometown USA haven't gone to harvesting as early as my birds have.  I spied some nice-looking  chokecherries alongside the road as we went to the golf tourney this past weekend, but alas, there wasn't any time for picking since we were on a time budget.

The good news is that last year I actually harvested  my chokecherries and I still have a few quarts of juice left in the canning cupboard.  I'll set to work making chokecherry syrup -- my favorite -- at my convenience.  It's the wine making that has become the sad story, but I won't give up hope yet.  I intend to keep my eyes open as I travel around the area, looking for wild chokecherries -- fully-ripened, fully-cherried bushes -- and you can bet I'm going to be carrying a couple ice cream buckets in the car just in case! 

chokecherry syrup over pancakes

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I just couldn't wait.....
I had to pick.
These two cucumbers could not stay on the vine another day.  Even though they would have, could have, gotten longer, I couldn't wait.  I have been waiting a long, long time already for a fresh cucumber.  It could hail tonight and then where would I be?  Cucumberless.  That's why I picked.  They are going to taste so delicious sliced with red onions and stirred into some sour cream. 

The carrots are nice too -- crisp and sweet.  I've been thinning them, a few at a time, so I get some small  fresh carrots through the summer and will save some good long ones for fall harvesting.  It's so nice that carrots grow underground where grasshoppers and hail can't kill them.

Now the beans.  My favorite way to prepare them is to boil them for about 5-10 minutes and then toss them in a skillet along with some bacon and onion and then a few sliced almonds at the end of cooking.  It's amazing stuff!
We went on a little excursion this weekend to watch our youngest son play some tournament golf.  He was trying to qualify for the USGA Amateur.  He sadly did not win, but it was a good experience for him.

It was just a short trip with a lot of walking --36 holes of golf in one day.  I'm glad all I had to do was to walk around the course.  Hubs caddied and carried the clubs and Youngest Son did the golfing.  We were all glad to collapse into our beds at home late last night.

On the way, we passed this beautiful barn huddled against the pines.  I'm a big barn lover and wherever I go, I am camera-ready to snap a picture of pretty barn or an old dilapidated barn that might come into view.

Here is a picture with the house alongside it.  It has the barn's similar structure.  I like it.

On the drive home, it was beginning to rain and I noticed a rainbow blob.  There wasn't the full rainbow that one always think of, but just a tiny hole in the sky that revealed the colors of the rainbow. 

Today there was laundry to do, sheets to wash, gardens to water, home-brewed coffee to drink.  There's no place like home.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

In the garden...

The earth, gentle and indulgent,
ever subservient to
the wants of man,
spreads his walks with flowers,
and his table with plenty.
~Pliny the Elder

Monday, August 02, 2010

Gone to the hayfield....

I rode my bike to the hayfield and raked hay for a couple of hours to help out.  I really enjoy doing it.
Here's the view from my seat.

Several hawks were flying over and swooping down onto the mowed field to check out the mouse population or perhaps they wanted grasshoppers which were in abundance.

A buck antelope had his place in the sun.

Bales and bales and now some square bales too.

I saw this fox pup as I was going up and down the field.  At one point he disappeared and then I saw him jump out from behind a stack of bales.  He sat there awhile and looked at me as I stopped to watch him...

...he had some itchy spots...

...then he stood up, stretched, and moved along to the creek below.

Someone was keeping track of how many rows he had raked.  See the tally marks?

At home I noticed some warblers (I think they were warblers) darting in and out of the lattice on the front porch.  Perhaps they were young birds.

The sky was beautiful again.

And the sunflowers were bright and full of bee life.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...