Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Country Homemaker Hop- Week 9

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career. ”

― C.S. Lewis


I have been spending a great deal of time outdoors lately trying to keep ahead of spring, so I have been posting lots of garden pictures.  

Today I'd like to share what's been going on indoors here this week...

I found a new favorite whole wheat bread recipe.  It makes three loaves per batch.  It incorporates honey and tastes nutty and has no bitterness.  

I will post the recipe soon.  

My husband attended a car show with his old green car and he even won a trophy.  

He was shocked and smiles from ear to ear.  

Then, Jerry drove down to the big city to see his big sisters Kathy and Carmen, and his Mom Cinthia.  Kathy is visiting from Alaska.  

Their family is full of artists.  They can make or do anything.  I think they get their craft skills from my Mom-in-law Cinthia, she's pretty amazing.  

In the 20+ years that I have known her, I have watched her grow the best gardens and she can do most any handicraft including tatting, kniting, painting, quilting, brazilian embroidery, and many other fantastic crafts.   

Jerry brought back a few really neat things from this trip.  

My Mom-in-law Cinthia surprised me with this lovely bird she painted onto this comfy fleece hoody for me.  
I LOVE it.  

He also brought back this intricately hand carved, painted gourd musical instrument.  It was a birthday gift to Jerry from his sister Carmen.

She makes amazing gourd crafts.  

Carmen has made us beautifully painted gourd candle lamps, decorations and now this giant dragon gourd... 

This one is somehow configured to mimic the sound of thunder when you pull the cord.  

It really sounds like thunder too.  

I am not sure how she did it, but the end is cut out and the sound amplifies outward.   It's so loud, it's really fascinating to listen to.   If I ever figure out how to upload video I will certainly share it.

I made my dogs a batch of those peanut butter pumpkin biscuits that they love.

HERE is the recipe.

My sweet hubby made me these cute little vaqueros this weekend...

They are sitting neatly on my new shelves in the sewing room...

and speaking of the sewing room, I am working on my first mini-quilt swap.

This is what I am planning.

Each half square triangle will be 1" finished. 

I am looking forward to this little challenge.   I have never made a mini quilt this small.

My mystery swap partner likes blues.  These are the fabrics I am thinking about using...

Well, that's it for now.   I am looking forward to seeing what you've been up to around your place this week.  Please share.

I can hardly wait to see this week's posts.  Thank you all for your fantastic contributions.  I sure enjoy reading what you've been up to around your homestead.  Have a GREAT week.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Country Garden Showcase- Week 9

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
May Sarton

Welcome Friends!

Here's my February Garden Plan and progress so far...

February Garden Plan: 

place and mix compost into raised garden boxes ~ DONE
place and mix compost for in ground garden beds ~ DONE

construct berry fences and raised burms  ~ DONE
plant berries, bulb onions, seed potatoes ~ DONE
plant strawberries in strawberry pots ~ DONE
sow a row per/crop each week- winter veggies ~ DONE
plant bareroot table grapes ~ DONE
add compost, blood meal, & bone meal to fruit trees ~DONE
spray fruit trees with sulphur spray fungicide ~ DONE

start seedlings for some veggies indoors- this project began 2/25

put up hoop house over the winter veggie bed, once seeded- *not until seeding is complete

 Well, that's what I've been up to lately.  

It's time to link up and share what you've been doing in your garden, on your farm, and in your  greenhouse...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

FarmGirl Friday Blog Hop- #46

Welcome Friends!
Hello farmgirls and boys!  I hope this post finds you in the midst of a great and productive week.    We've been busy here on our little homestead.  Here's a quick run down of what's been going on this week...

berry fence construction
raspberry, boysenberry, and blackberry canes planted
blueberries planted (they do not self-pollinate well, so I planted two varieties)
3 varieties of strawberries planted in strawberry pots
3 varieties of seedless table grapes planted
onion bulbs planted 
3 varieties of potatoes planted
seedling trays prepped for seeding this weekend... and that's about it.

Here's a quick tip for growing bulb onions from the Weekend Gardener website:

Long-day vs. Short-day Onions
"When you are shopping for onion varieties to plant in your vegetable garden, you will often see them listed as either short-day onions or long-day onions. Which ones to grow depend upon where you live.

Most onion varieties begin to form a bulb when the temperature and the number of daylight hours reach certain levels. Varieties listed as short-day onions bulb up when the day length is between 12 and 14 hours. Long-day onions, on the other hand, begin to form a bulb when the day length is between 14 and 16 hours.

Northern gardeners should plant long-day onions. In the North, daylight length varies greatly as you get farther and father away from the equator. Winter days are very short, but summer days are long. Long-day onions will have a chance to produce lots of top growth (hence produce bigger bulbs) before the day length triggers bulbing. If short-day onions were grown in the North, the onions would bulb up too early and they would be small by comparison.

Southern gardeners should plant short-day onions. In the South, there is much less variation in day length between seasons than up North. If long-day onions were planted in the South, they may not experience enough day length to trigger the bulbing process."

This link HERE  will take you to their great site.  It's full of helpful garden information.  The site is written by gardeners, not industry professionals.

Now it's your turn to share.  Let's hear what YOU'VE been up to this week on your homestead...  Have a great weekend.

Here are the rules for the Farmgirl Friday blog hop! 
1.) Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals, quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!

2). Leave your entry in the Mr. Linky space to your Farmgirl Friday post.

3). Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Country Homemaker Hop- Week 8

The Country Homemaker Hop

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career. ”
― C.S. Lewis

Welcome Friends!

   Jerry and I have been working indoors and out this  week to get things ready for spring.  My sewing room/garage cabinets are almost done.  We are awaiting another load of firewood and we'll be set for the rest of the season.

   I am waiting on a few more cabinet doors, but poor Jerry can only do so much and I have him working on several things at once right now.   In the meantime, I painted the entire room white this week, floor to ceiling...  I can SEE so much better now.  

I went through every box in the room and separated everything I have not used in more than a year (except fabric of course).  True to my word, I bit my tongue this morning and donated several boxes of good stuff to our local hospital guild.  I feel such relief, and I can actually see my floor for the first time in almost a year.  It feels like a weight has been lifted.  No more anxiety when I walk in the room.  Everything has a place on a shelf and I know exactly where everything is.  I really like this organization thing.  I feel less like I have Alzheimers now...

   We have both been spending atleast three hours a day (weather permitting) in the garden too.  

   It's exciting to see everything take shape. 

  Last week, I got 80+ cubic feet of compost into the boxes and beds.  

  This week I got it all mixed in, mostly by hand and shovel.  

   I look forward to  this time of year.  

   I burn so many calories doing garden prep.  I save them up for later on...  homemade treats.  I figure I can justify sneaking a piece of pie or an extra portion of cake when I've worked outside til my shoulders ache and my hands are sore.   

   My forearms get so much stronger too.  By the end of summer I feel like I could lift a house. lol.  

   The Berry Fence for my new cane berry garden is almost done.   Jerry concreted in the support posts today.  

   Tomorrow, he'll wire it up and I'll plant my new raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries and a few starts I made from root cuttings last year too.

   I amended my soil and built up "burms" today because I have now read in several sources that raspberries in particular, do not like their roots to be too wet, for too long.  They get root rot easily and try as I might to improve this clay soil, it is still mostly clay around here and it holds a lot of water...  

   You can see that the weeds are growing fast in this mild winter weather.  Hence, all the greenery...

   Poor hubby, he took me to the home improvement store today for cement bags and walked out carrying a little bit more...

   I found really nice sized affordable terra cotta strawberry pots that I could not leave behind...   they were less than $20 each!  Wow!

   I have a strawberry patch, but I think I'm going to try to grow them upward in these cute little gizmos and see how they do.  

   I expect that our winds will be a problem so I got water beads and moisture control soil.    If they dry out too much, I'll move them back to the ground and plant pretty flowers in these pots.

   I hope it works because my hubby has a new addiction, strawberry pie.  I need more plants and more strawberries.

   I made a few pies on Friday... and they're all gone today.  Jerry and Rufus finished them all off.

Well, that's pretty much what's been going on around here.  I hope you had a good President's Day holiday and I hope you have a GREAT week.  It's your turn to share what you have been up to this week.  

Please join us Wednesdays to share your pictures, recipes, household wisdom, garden and farm, barn and butcher, homemaking tips, crafts, homemaking ideas and stories with the country homemaking community. It's a new year full of exciting new opportunities. Life is what we make it. Let's dig in and discover just what's been going on- on the Country Homestead this week? 

The Country Homemaker Hop is being co-hosted this week by Dolly and myself. When you have a chance, I invite you to check out each of our blogs:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

FarmGirl Friday Blog Hop- #45

Welcome to Farmgirl Friday!!!
Boys and girls...

     Another week of mixed weather, but I'm still here.   We were surprised yesterday morning by snow!  (this is NOT considered snow to folks living up north, but for those of us in the southwest states, this is about as good as it gets...  I loved it!   

     My wonderful husband took me to town  for a morning meal and a drive through our countryside.  He even managed to rescue a damsel in distress along the  way.  As I sat in the pick up to take this lovely picture of a giant blue oak, he was pulling the sweet young woman's vehicle out of a ditch.  

     We California natives are not used to snow/ice driving, maybe even infamous for our lack of skill.  Somehow this young farmgirl had managed to twirl into a cinder block wall about 20 feet from the road, in the wrong direction... No worries.  

     She was fine and in a flash my hubby had her out and on her way.  We followed her to the main road and observed that she was driving safely, and much slower.  She got lucky.

     With the weather too cold to work in outside, we soon got involved in an indoor construction project.  My garage/craft and sewing room is in need of organization.

      A few weeks ago, Deb wrote an article HERE about joining Sonya Kanelstrand's Simple Living Pledge (Sandra's original article HERE).  Convicted and inspired , I joined too, and on February 1st I took my list to my hubby for his help.  

     He surprised me on Valentine's Day by starting to build a wall full of shelves with doors.  I am a packrat.  I admit it.  If it can be re-purposed, is still "good" for something, or I think that I may need it again someday, it's here somewhere...  No more!  

     Once these shelves and doors are finished (I am sanding, painting, and staining tonight...) I am packing up anything that I have not used, needed, or seen in more than 12 months, and it's being hauled off to a local thrift guild this weekend.  

     Just typing that hurt, but I mean it.  What use is there in holding onto something if it's just taking up space in my cupboard or a rubbermaid when someone else could really be using it now?   

     Do you see my hoard of puzzles in that shelf on the right?  I am saving them for what: a natural disaster, the end of commerce as we know it, 2012, or what?  

     There is no sensible reason for me to keep hanging on to all this stuff.  These are really nice USA made puzzles and there are folks like me that like constructing them.  They will be going to a local senior care home Monday.  

     Well, you can see from the pictures that I am going to be very busy de-cluttering a bit of my life for the next few days...

     I will post a few pictures when I'm done to show my progress and to show you the scary before images.  I almost changed my mind when I looked at the images I shot of what I had to scour through, it is a daunting task.

     My next re-organization assignment begins in the spare bedrooms.  I should call them storage rooms.  Since my son's wedding last fell, I have not changed anything in his old room.  He's happily married and lives three hours north, so it seems foolish to keep it arranged for an old high school athlete.  It will soon be transformed into a cozy bedroom for our guests, stay tuned...

     This week has been another GREAT one.  I attended my favorite quilt club meeting on Saturday HERE where I got lots of great ideas.   

     I got to participate in show n' tell with my quilt buddies.  This pretty quilt top belongs to the nicest horse lover in town.  She's a wonderful lady and a great quilter too.  

     Her quilt top was completed nearly two months ahead of our club's schedule...  
     The ladies in this quilt club are serious quilters, they don't mess around.  That's good for me though because I have been way too lazy in the quilt room lately.  

     I am going to have to pick up my game and get cracking.  I DID get my homework done, on time too, though I was up almost all night the night BEFORE club doing it...  

That won't happen again though, my head was ringing for about 24 hours afterwards.   I'm too old for that.  

     That leads me to remind you quilters and sewers out there...  

     Have you linked up YOUR sewing/quilting projects for February to the UFO Roll Call blog hop yet?  Did I mention that there's a giveaway at the end of the month?  

     Don't worry, there's still time to make something and link it up before the deadline on February 29th.  Let's get those sewing machines humming...

This is MILLIE.  She's my longarm quilting machine.  In a few months I will be celebrating her 8th birthday in my home.  Millie lives in my garage/sewing and quilting room.  

     Together we have sewn many great things.  We've made wonderful gifts for family and friends, and we've helped fellow quilters complete philanthropic quilts for wonderful organizations like Operation Homefront, Paul Newman's Painted Turtle Ranch, the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, pediatric ICU units, and a place very dear to me as the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, a Los Angeles Veteran's Administration Nursing Care facility that houses disabled American vets, both men and women, many of whom served in Korea and Vietnam, are mobility impaired, and  receive little or no visitors, and have few, if any, family left.  

     I miss making the magic happen with Millie, but as my pile of storage boxes has grown beneath her table, it's become nearly impossible to access her and quilt anything.  That's just one more really important reason to clean up and simplify things around here.  

     I know what I am feeling.  Weighed down by possessions, guilt,  and clutter.  My goals have actually been mitigated to work around my clutter.  Yuck!  I am growing anxious to complete more goals, but am being held back by obstacles like this needless wasted space.

     Perhaps Sonya said it best when she wrote the framework for what she describes as simple living: 

"What is Simple Living?
-Identifying what is most important for you and eliminating everything else.
-Freeing up time for doing what inspires you and being with the people you love.
-Decluttering your mind, your everyday life and your virtual life.
-Single-tasking and learning to diminish stress.
-Striving to live frugally by wanting less and buying only what is necessary.
-Slowing down and being actively present in the moment.
-Living a healthy life, including cleaning your home and your body, eating, exercising and thinking.
-Striving to be green and sustainable as much as your surroundings allow.
-Enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
-Simplifying your goals, tasks and expectations."

     So, whether or not you are feeling like it's time for a change, you've been feeling weighed down, or you are simply looking for great ways to simplify and de-clutter, I encourage you to think about the things that are the most important in YOUR life today too.  The people and events that make life worth living.  

     Are you meeting their needs now?  Are you meeting yours?  If you are making your goals and are not left feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or inadequate, that's GREAT!  I am happy for you, but if like me, you are feeling like maybe you could benefit a little from re-framing your goals or re-focusing your attention in a specific way, please read Sonya's article HERE.  It's a great place to start.


     The last exciting thing I HAVE to share with you this week, while I hopefully still have your attention, is Michelle's bread recipe.  You can find it HERE.  I finally tried it last night.  (During all our snowy moist weather, no less).  The recipe is YUMMY!!!  

     I actually had the benefit of having Michelle in my kitchen to help me work through the humidity issues and the temperature variance between HER oven and MINE.   

     Would you just look at the result...  What we did to adjust for the dampness is add 1/4 cup less water and we let it rise for only a half hour, instead of an hour and 15 minutes.  

     The hubby LOVED it and so did Michelle and I.  We nearly finished off the first loaf between us...  

Okay, I am done talking your poor ears off.  Let's hear what YOU'VE been up to this week on the homestead...  Have a great weekend.

Here are the rules for the Farmgirl Friday blog hop!
1.) Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals, quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!

2). Leave your entry in the Mr. Linky space to your Farmgirl Friday post.

3). Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Snow Day...

 Today, it snowed.  Not a lot of snow, but enough to enjoy its beauty and how the occasional snow enhances
 the beauty of nature...
 I just love how the snow blankets the ground beneath this ancient blue oak
 I love to watch snow fall and to hear the sounds it makes- slush, hush... as it falls all around me
I really enjoy the contrast of the bright white against vivid colors in my yard
 I love snow covered honeysuckle vines.  
 elderica pines 
and seeing a bright blue sky peeking out through the clouds, up above my old oak tree...
Snow days inspire me to see the beauty in everyday things.  

I hope YOU have a GREAT day too.