Saturday, August 28, 2010

Farmer's Market

Do you have a Farmer's Market in your area?  We have, forever.  Like many, though, it has turned from farmer's selling excess produce at a higher-than-commodity (but still cheaper than retail!) price into more of an organic, specialized, niche market.  There are benefits and drawbacks to this, of course.  You don't usually get conventionally grown produce, but a local organic farmer is selling green beans for $3.50/lb.  *gulp*  

I stopped by earlier this year, and wasn't terribly impressed.  It seemed more like a craft fair than a farmer's market (though I did get there towards the end and maybe the foodstuffs were sold out by then). This last time was MUCH different; there were more vendors and plenty of produce, and the craft items were a nice addition.

I love home-canned jams and goodies.  I kinda like that shelf they're displayed in too, but I don't think it was for sale...

This was about 20% or less of the vendors.  The lady in the black pants in the center is a vendor, and also leases my field for her sheep.  Though her sheep aren't here yet.  Hm...

I LOVE embroidered dishtowels.  My sister-in-law made me a darling set of herb-themed ones a few years ago for Christmas.  I still jealously guard them from any use save drying *clean* dishes.  They've stayed nice, and I still love them dearly.

The Alpaca lady lives not too far from me.  This was alpaca mixed with nylon; perhaps for weaving rugs (you can see the tiniest edge of a woven rug on the left of the photo).

I saw one man buy a sunflower stem for his little girl who was walking hand-in-hand with him through the market.  Slowly, at her pace.  She couldn't have been but 2 at the most.

This vendor I thought was particularly brave!  :)

Rattlesnake melons!  For *cough choke* sixteen dollars. Each.

These little spreaders (?) were so cute.  And sanded so smooth and thin along that edge!  I really should find out the price (I wasn't a buyer that day, but I am acquainted with this vendor/craftsman).

I have one kindof like this, half-done.  Mine doesn't sit nearly so flat as these do.  I think the key is in making the crochet loose enough.  Maybe.

Our market is Saturday mornings in Town.  I have some neighbors who are market gardeners, but they sell in a more distant (and more elite) town.

I have a dream of one day setting up a booth and blowing everyone away with my mad sewing and baking skillz, maybe even something homegrown or home canned.  Oh, and with four lovely aproned sidekicks, of course. :)  Big Sister has already talked of baking things to sell "when she grows up."  I must say her cookies are VERY short-lived around here.  If I *really* let myself dream, I imagine a really free market for raw dairy products and more, in a similar venue.  Perhaps these Blessings of mine will be for Baker, Gardener, Seamstress and Milkmaid...?  ;)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blueberry Girl

Isn't there a book called "Strawberry Girl?"  This isn't her.

For some reason the Costco blueberries are... bloodier?  than azure blueberries.

She doesn't do laundry, so this didn't bother her at all.

In fact, I think she liked it.

**I didn't blog about it, but she turned 1!  And I still don't have a blogname for her!  The 15th was her birthday, and we celebrated with an oatmeal cake.  After celebrating my niece's birthday the day before.  After celebrating my friend's daughter's birthday the day before that.  I almost ate enough cake that weekend.  She took her first step at that first birthday party, and is WALKING now!  Yikes!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another Treasure

This is another garage sale treasure I picked up a few weeks ago.  This is not the "before" picture.

Be glad for that.  Be very glad.

The good, the bad, the ugly:

The good:
  • Aside from the bottom shelf, which I think is particle board, and the back, which is quarter-inch plywood, I believe it's made of "real wood."
  • It's sturdy, and sits flat.
  • It measures about 39" wide (3 feet inside the shelves) and 4' tall, with nice tall shelves.  This is huge, considering the limitations of my other bookshelf.
The bad:
  • The top piece is slightly warped, so the right side has a gap between the top piece and the side piece upon which it should rest.
  • At the top and bottom of the side pieces, someone put what looks like trim.  I don't know if this was to add strength, but it's a little weird.
  • Between priming and painting, when it was on my porch with it's back to the sliding glass door, a gnarly gust of wind snuck in and pushed the unsuspecting shelf forwards, bashing it's upper lip against the burners of our propane burners.  You can see one of the dents in the middle of the top piece in the photo above.
The ugly:
  • It's not really showing now, thank goodness!  This shelf was bright.
  • The top and outer sides were bright yellow.
  • The interior of the top shelf, sides, ceiling, everything (including the front edge of the shelf and side pieces), was blood red.
  • The interior of the second shelf, sides, ceiling, everything, was bold blue.
  • The interior of the third shelf, sides, ceiling, everything, was the bright yellow.
  • The interior of the bottom shelf, sides, ceiling, everything, was a dark, grassy green.
  • Semi-gloss or a higher sheen.
  • I sanded a little bit, but I hope hope hope nothing chips off to show it's former non-glory.

This is the back, which was not painted, obviously.  I left it the same.  I used two coats of primer, 2 or 3 coats of paint (leftover from my kitchen cabinets), forgetting (again) that the paint is flat, and then a coat or two of clear top-coat stuff to add a bit of sheen and resilience.

It's now happily at home in our schoolroom/family room.  Oh, and it was five bucks.  The top-coat was another $7, but there's lots leftover (I couldn't find my former can of the same).

Bashed in face, warped top board...  I don't mind a bit.  Twelve linear feet for books, for five bucks???  I love it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Starting Harvest

The garden is finally starting to come into production.  And I'm out of town for a wedding!  Ack!  Please, sweet corn, do NOT fully mature today.  Please wait a few more days, please?

Here is a 3 or 4 gallon bucket of Anaheim chiles I harvested last week.  I have 18 plants, with the goal of roasting and freezing enough to keep Hubby happy all year without buying any of those little cans of overpriced "diced green chiles."

It turns out they're expensive, but maybe not overpriced.  Following these instructions takes a good long time to get a little bit put up.

I was disappointed to have Hubby roast the bucket of peppers, then spend a LONG time wearing rubber gloves to get this measley-in-comparison pile of chiles ready to freeze, but he later informed me he still had up to half the bucket left to roast.  I'm glad 3 gallons wasn't reduced to 1 quart, but still a little daunted at the time it takes.  Now if I could get him to peel and seed them himself....

The green beans are coming on, and the chickens and I race to see who can get to the just-turning tomatoes first.

These beans fed us for a meal, and I trimmed, blanched, and froze the rest on a cookie sheet, and then transferred them to a gallon ziploc bag.  They're semi-loose and will be easy to portion out for cooking, much as I do the ones we usually buy from Costco.

Also, instead of dicing the chiles, or putting them in ziplocs as the link suggested, I "piled" them in portion-sizes on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment) and froze them that way.  They'll go into ziplocs, but in frozen portions, rattling around and sharing a single large bag (or several large bags).

If any tomatoes are left when I get home (doggone chickens are getting in somehow), I'll start freezing them, and might even try some "tomato fruit roll-up" in the dehydrator, for use as 'tomato paste' in recipes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Abundant Harvest

What, you disagree?

Well, let me tell you...

At some point a few homegrown indian popcorn seeds were tossed into Hubby's potted ponderosa pine in the corner of the dining room.  They sprouted last winter, and s l o w l y grew through spring, and into summer.  A couple of them were uprooted or otherwise bit the dust, but eventually we had a very classy stalk of corn growing in the dining room, aside a stubby little pine tree in a big, ceramic pot.  I can't even uproot volunteer tomatoes from the WRONG place in the garden, and I certainly couldn't hurt this tall, spindly effort at survival.  When it started to tassel, well, we all laughed.

And then we were astonished when it began to put forth an ear, with silk.  Just a little one, with a little bit, mind you.

And then we questioned whether or not a single stalk of corn could self-pollinate.  We knew the little tassel-bits had to fall on each strand of silk to produce a full ear of corn, but did it have to be pollen from a different stalk?  Could it manage to reproduce all on its own?  We decided we would find out, eventually.

The stalk began to dry out (I looked, but couldn't find a photo on my hard drive), and Organique pulled on it's long leaves many times, and it was bent, and we propped it back up... Eventually Hubby 'harvested' the ear... What do you know, it did it!  It managed to reproduce!  And counting up the kernels of corn, it actually reproduced near about "an hundred fold."  Makes me wonder what a successful stalk of regular corn generally manages.  Several-thousand fold?

In any case, it's enough to plant a nice little stand of popcorn next year, if we so choose.  Such lovely stuff.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun Treasure

I've taken a few opportunities lately to head out early on a Saturday morning in search of particular treasures.  Of course, as is the nature of garage sales, I found several unexpected ones as well.

This little footstool I bought for $2.  A rural home set among trees, and a choked up granny selling stuff to move with her daughter, since her husband had passed away.  A gem, she.  The woman I believe was her daughter dandled a little girl on her knee, born last Thanksgiving after ten long years of trying for and losing pregnancies.  It was all I could do to peruse the yard without tears fully spilling down as I rejoiced with the woman.  What a blessing!

Anyways, the footstool:  Old, dirty, not to pretty...

But it was well-made, and only needed a little tightening of screws and nuts and bolts (some or all) on the underside.

I unscrews the pad from the frame, and sanded (and sanded and sanded) the frame.  I* cut a new piece of plywood to replace the warped one, found some new (thicker) foam and some fabric, and after repainting the frame, put it all back together...

Lovely, is it not?  Much 'cushier,' too. :)  And you may recognize the fabric, for I've used it before... (and since, actually).  Yesterday's post on the closet bunks had a view of the quilt too.

*by "I," I mean "Hubby."  ahem.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Behind Curtain #1...

What we NEED is an upright photographer.

But since that's obviously not available.... What do you suppose is behind this curtain?

I'll give you a hint:  It's a remodel.

Yes, a cheap, easy, unlikely one, which are the type we are wont to do around here.  I just saw someone's little closet-into-coat-tree remodel, hailing utmost frugality (and truly most of the 'big' stuff was free, acquired from elsewhere in their house), to the tune of *cough* $152.  Wow.  Mine is fairly more useful (to us, anyway), and I don't think it added up to that!

Forty or fifty dollars worth of wood and hardware (screws, a couple brackets), $36 of foam, $10 curtain rod and $6 shower-curtain hooks (those last two on clearance).  The fabric was from my stash, as were the little eyelets through which the hooks go.

It's my girls' new room makeover.  The wall you're looking at is about 11 feet long (you're only seeing the rightmost 6 feet or so) and consists (consisted) of two closets with sliding doors.  The wall that should've separated them was never built, so you could go into one closet and exit the other.  Hubby gave me permission to saw off the rightmost six feet of closet-rod and the shelf above, and when my dad was here over Independence Day weekend, he helped Hubby build this fabulous "closet bunkbed."

The beds are about six feet long, and two feet wide (27" wide to the front edge).  The middle one is about countertop-height, and the high one is about 64" or so from the floor (measuring to the bottom of the bunk).  I found "camping foam" on sale for MUCH cheaper than the high-density foam at JoAnn fabrics (even at 50% off).  One of them is actually a pretty dense foam, but both work.  I cut them from 30" wide to fit the shape of the beds and tucked them in.  The front rail you see is actually from a piece of 'fencing' wood.  Half-inch plywood makes up the platforms and the 'wall' you see at the head of the beds.  Organique's bed is on the floor; her crib mattress doesn't fill the whole space, but fits decently enough for her.  Big Sister climbs up and slithers in at the top of the former 'doorway,' and has plenty of headroom and space up there.

This means three girls only need a 2x6' space for sleeping, total!  The bunkbeds and toddler bed have been removed from the room, freeing up a LOT of space, obviously.  I am loving it, and am almost jealous of their fun little sleeping cubbies!

Of course, since this photo was taken, Organique played Tarzan on the curtains and they have yet to be repaired and replaced.  She also managed to roll the crib to the vicinity (when she wasn't busy using it as a battering ram to knock down the baby gates at the door) to crawl high and breach big Sister's bed, tearing down all her tacked-up coloring pages and pillaging the area.  Little Artist's bed is easier to get to (a few pillows/toys makes a good stepstool) and there is Crayola™ marker on the wall and doorframe at that level.  *sigh*  I'm praying that Organique will eventually civilize.  And I'm doing my best to help it along, I promise.

In the meantime, yes, we put our kids in the closet.  And they love it.  :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Anti-Abortion. And Pro-Life, Too!

There is a difference, you know.

Most people classify with only two camps:  The "pro-choice/pro-abortion" side, and the "pro-life/anti-abortion" side.  I see a third camp.


Well, I've noticed that many anti-abortion people aren't necessarily pro-life.  That is, they're certainly against abortion, they know it's murder, and it's wrong.  But they'll follow that up with, "Thank heavens my husband got a vasectomy after {insert # here} kids."  That started to stand out to me.  "There is such thing as birth control, you know.  Reproductive responsibility?"  Perhaps we have a different understanding of the word...


"Pro" in my world means towards, or pursuing. Assisting, upholding, helping. says, "in favor of a proposition, opinion, etc." In favor.  How can someone be "in favor of" life, if they advocate for birth control, or look down upon the possibility of... another life?

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying those things are necessarily wrong, but they are not pro-life.

My garden has hit it's "prolific" stage.  Everything is starting to produce.  It's pro...  lific...  Hm, where have I seen words like that before? defines prolific as:

producing offspring, young, fruit, etc., abundantly; highly fruitful: a prolific pear tree.
producing in large quantities or with great frequency; highly productive: a prolific writer.
profusely productive or fruitful (often fol. by in  or of ): bequest prolific of litigations.
characterized by abundant production: a prolific year for tomatoes.

You might be anti-RoundUp in your garden.  You might think it would be wrong (from a gardening standpoint) to till up the whole place as your seeds begin to germinate.  But you wouldn't necessarily be pro-garden if you tried to keep seeds from being planted there, or at least more than a few.  You wouldn't be considered prolific that way. :)

For myself, I have decided I can't be "pro-life" if I don't rejoice to hear of someone's baby on the way.  Even if it's baby #20.  Even if it's "special-needs."  Even if everyone else in the baby's life is lackluster in their excitement.  Even if money is tight.  Even if (and this is a little harder) the parents have no business (in my opinion) raising anyone. :)

So, if you're pregnant (again) and someone asks if "it was planned" (again), you can just reply, "how could it not be?  I'm not just anti-abortion, I'm pro-life."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Home Cookin'?

I had a friend lately ask me about homeschooling a preschooler.  She has two lovely children, the oldest is almost 3, and all of his friends from playgroup are gearing up for "Preschool!"  Should she be doing something?  Something more than reading and talking and playing and loving?  I mostly encouraged her that God puts babies in families for a reason.  Little ones need their mamas!  I referred to some studies and articles I've read about Head Start doing worse than Head Start at home (where the 'teacher' comes occasionally to train Mama to interact with the youngster), and gave her some ideas for "preschool" if she wanted to do something.

But, as always, it got me thinking.  :)  'Tis the season for homeschooling posts.  Many are about the curriculum choices for the family, or planning/organizing tips.  There are also the "Why we homeschool" posts.  All of which I love to read.  :)  It never fails, though, for the "top 10 reasons" posts to garner plenty of comments that basically follow a particular format:  how much they love/admire/respect homeschooling and those who do, followed by any and all reasons it can't/won't work for them or their children, and how they just haven't felt God's leading there.  It also seems like they think those reasons have never been overcome by any who ARE homeschooling (i.e. 'don't have the patience').  Some are followed up by references to "those" judgmental types.

One question occurred to me, after I wrote back my friend.  Why do we need to "be called" or "feel led" to choose something like homeschooling?  Do we wait for the calling, the leading, to cook dinner every night?  No?  Well, why do we do it?

What if everyone around us ate dinner at restaurants every single night.  What if that was the norm?  "Yes, it's fine to use your toaster at home at breakfast, and maybe the microwave at lunch, but cook your own dinner?  In your house?  WHY would anyone do that?"

Well, because we want to be sure of what we're eating.  What's going into it (or not going into it), how it's prepared and handled before it gets to our table.  It's also often tastier!  We can choose to eat anything we want, with a little planning.  We can tailor portions according to appetites, eat earlier or later.  It's also a lot more economical, because we're not hiring someone to cook and wash and paint lines in the parking lot. We kindof even like it, breaking bread together and sharing fellowship within the walls of our own kitchen, like families of yesteryear.

"Oh, but I don't have the patience to cook a full meal like that.  Especially every night!  Our house just isn't equipped.  We don't have an oven, you know, and our kitchen is small.  Besides, what if I mess it up?!?  I might burn it, or worse, contaminate it somehow.  Shouldn't we just leave that to the experts?  They know what they're doing, right?  Restaurants never make anyone sick, or have throwaway food.  And think of all the time it would take!  No, that would never work for our family.  We like different foods.  Have 'special needs' diets.  We have little kids underfoot, a new baby on the way..."

Shouldn't cooking at home be a valid choice?  Does it really even need a defense???  Yet homeschooling is bizarre...  It's really hard to wrap my mind around it when I look at it this way.  :)  Cooking at home is not some strange, fringe phenomenon, and neither should home education be.  We are not the freaks.

I'm not trying to say that institutional education is inherently sinful, or wrong, mind you.  Most all my nearest and dearest have their children in an institutional setting for education, and I'm not faulting them for that.  I'm just trying to challenge our idea of "normal" -- normal is really not the standard we should measure against, or the method we should employ without question.  Today's "normal" - eating learning "out" every day -  is ... well, ... weird. :)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Email to my Mother-In-Law

This is what I sent her.  No "Dear Mom," no "Love, Ella."  The subject line read "Christmas" and this was the message:

I'd like to say how much I'd be interested in some more of that wonderful Burt's Bees stuff for Christmas, if budgetary regulations allow for a non-handmade holiday.  Both the Milk & Shea Butter Body Wash and Milk and Honey Lotion were fantastic.  Too bad they're both all gone.

My gift to you will be to end the year with as many grandchildren as you started it.

And I'm asking Hubby for new carpet.  And bedding.  And books.

I'm asking Jesus for grace.  Quickly.


Truth be told, the body wash was poured down my bathroom sink drain a couple months back.  And the lotion isn't terribly destructive to carpet and books on it's own, no, it's her diabolical recipe that does it.  I also need another bottle of bright-yellow B-vitamin capsules.  

*sigh*   <---  planning for time and perspective to shift these to *grin*

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I Like This Tool

Does anyone know what it's called?  I suppose browsing Burpee's site or catalog might offer a hint.  Later. :)

This is just the business end of it; it is long, much like a hoe (the handle is plastic, however), and has the wavy-blade-thing on both sides, so whether you're pushing or pulling it does the job.

I showed my dad this treasure (gleaned from my maternal grandpa's garage after his death), and his response was lackluster.  "Grandpa (his dad) used to have one of those.  Didn't like it."  I laughed and we both said, "it doesn't pull out the roots!"  If you knew my grandfather, you'd understand.  The man was nothing if not meticulous. :) But he didn't have sole care of a garden and four young children.  Ever.  Me, I'm okay if the roots don't come out.  Been there, done that, there are still weeds in my garden.  And if I have to choose between letting them flourish and at least slowing them down, well, I'll take slowing them down.  And it has worked; the corn was able to get established without being choked out, as were some of the beans that survived the grasshoppers.  To my knowledge this doesn't slow grasshoppers down any...

Speaking of favorite garden tools, I have work to do!