Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The wonder of compost

Who knew I would one day get all warm and fuzzy over grass clippings, chopped leaves and old cow manure? I filled up a compost bin this weekend and it just feels GOOD! A feeling kin to that of watching seedlings sprout and flowers bloom...something good is happening right before our eyes, though we can't see the changes at the moment. I can hardly wait to spread the beautiful, black, crumbly stuff, worth its weight in gold come next spring. This bin is a box made of five wooden pallets and situated right at the back edge of my vegetable garden. Another is a constant work in progress, where the eggshells and kitchen waste are tossed. It is simply close-woven wire rounded into an egg shape, located out of sight, behind our old cellar. I don't go to any great pains with it - simply toss stuff in regardless if it is crumbled egg shells or a whole pumpkin! I stir it from time to time and will use some of the best composted stuff on the bottom come spring.

I'm trying to hold off thinking much about next year's garden until after Christmas. Other than the things I need to get done now, like mulching to protect the perennials and fillin in the beds with more mulch so they will be ready with only a little prep next spring. The best part - poring over seed catalogs and planning what will return to my garden and what new varieties I want to try - that must be saved for those frosty, boring days in January. Like saving dessert for last...

The very last of our home-grown, raw tomatoes found their way into our salad yesterday. Yes, really - AFTER Thanksgiving! In spite of the fact that my 30+ plants didn't produce the bumper crop I had anticipated, there were a whole lot of the little green fruits when the first frost hit, which fortunately was pretty late for us this year. So I gathered up anything bigger than a marble and brought them in. Granted, they certainly weren't as good as those summer beauties that ripened right on the vine, but still better than anything I could have bought at the supermarket. We have enjoyed them sliced, in salads, and in stir-fry dishes for the last 4 weeks. Only 8 months to go 'til I get to enjoy my own, homegrown beauties again

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Vintage Aprons

Textiles - I find myself drawn to them when rummaging at yard sales ... tea towels, aprons, curtains, rugs, and so on. Old chenille bedspreads and quilts and comforters have several entries on my list of purchases for this past year. I've never paid much attention to aprons until this year, and though I only bought 5, they were wonderful finds. The first was a snow-white cotton bib apron with Battenburg lace accents. Then at one sale I got all of the other four:

I had never seen one of this sort before. A city on the shores of a sea or ocean, in what seems to be a view from above, as though I were looking down from a hill. Grapes or berries, growing on an arbor or garden gate, frame the view. I get a Meditteranean or Italian impression, certainly unlike the fabric of the aprons Mom or Grandma wore when I was growing up!
Now these two do remind me of my childhood - the red ric-rac touches bring to mind my grandmother, and the more contemporary, zig-zaggy stripes remind me of Mom's aprons.
And this adorable child's apron in a filmy, satiny, see-through fabric (chiffon?) looks like something some little suzy-homemaker might have enjoyed in the 50's-60's. The pocket is embroidered with "I Love Mommy" inside a heart bordered with roses - for Mommy's very own little cook-in-training. I have the black apron and the ric-rac apron hanging on the buffet in my kitchen. The other two just don't seem to fit in the old farmhouse feel, but I've kept them, just because I like them I suppose. I don't think either one would be easy to sell (the striped one is a bit faded and the child's apron has two tiny snags), and I certainly never bother to wear an apron, so I guess they are just another hang-up of mine!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day 2007

I started my day at 5:30 am, puttering around the kitchen, peeling boiled eggs, pureeing the pumpkin I baked yesterday, and generally just making an all-out mess, and enjoying it thoroughly. The results?

The Pumpkin-Cranberry bread was my creation, the hashbrown casserole was Fallan's, as well as the lovely pumpkin bouquet in the photos. Plus she made a family favorite, Pumpkin pie-cake. Had a wonderful time, though I feel guilty for not accomplishing more this day. I hope to get lots done tomorrow - and you won't catch me out shopping for sure! If it can't be done online, I'll just wait, thank you very much. Shopping with hoards of grouchy, selfish, frustrated and downright hateful people is great for those who can stand it - just not me!

Goal for tomorrow is to get the dining room cleaned thoroughly and maybe put up the Christmas tree. Also want to work out in the garden if I can stand the cold. Old tomato vines need to be pulled up and burned, and the other plant remnants need to be run through the shredder and put into the composter. And I want to pile leaf/grass mulch on the veggie and flower beds. If I get all that done it will be a great day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In the Thanksgiving Spirit

Every year it seems Thanksgiving becomes more meaningful for me. I recognize with each passing Thanksgiving, that next year most certainly won't be the same. Which family members will still be with us to celebrate in 2008? And who will have joined our clan, by marriage, by birth or otherwise? Daddy has been gone almost 4 years now, and while I miss him terribly, I have wonderful memories that I'm very grateful for. I'm grateful that my youngest son found such a wonderful young woman to love - and that this year she became my daughter-in-law. I'm proud of all our children and their accomplishments, and thankful that they have all chosen to build their lives nearby so that we can see them and our beautiful grandkids often. Maybe more than anything else I can think of, I'm grateful that my Mom has been given her life back. She suffered with a debilitating bout of depression/anxiety after my Dad died and frankly, we found it hard to believe she could ever live on her own again. But thanks to my sister and her family for taking Mom into their loving home, and thanks to a wonderful Doctor who had the patience and skill to devise the treatment that would best help Mother, she has lived on her own for nearly 2 years now. She even works a few hours a week as a volunteer "Grandma"! And, most of all, thank the Lord for answering the prayers by providing all that she needed to reach this level of independence again.

I look forward to Thanksgiving for the opportunity to be with family and friends and undoubtedly to enjoy the fabulous foods of the season as well. I've started creating the fare I will take to the annual family Thanksgiving reunion tomorrow. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends gather at a local church and feast on the many wonderful dishes and partake of friendly chatter as we catch up one each other's lives. My standard dishes - deviled eggs and crunchy coleslaw will be on the menu, as well as a recipe I first tried last year. Pumpkin Cranberry Bread - and it is not only delicious but eye-catching with the red of the cranberries, the orangy-brown from the pumpkin and the nuts sprinkled throughout. And I wonder if Fallan will make her wonderful, artsy, apple pie again...Mmmmm...I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Favorite yard sale finds

I have been on a mission this year - to hit every yard sale I can - and it has been a blast. I've bought over 450 separate items at sales in 2007 and still have 6 weeks to go! Of course, the sales have dwindled to nearly nothing lately, and the goal isn't to break some kind of record for number of items, but to find things that I love, or that one of my kids or grandkids will enjoy, or something that will save money I would have spent anyway, or to even help my Christmas fund. No doubt I'll have plenty to share in future posts, but this one is about some of my favorites from this year - items I love and have kept for myself.

Bowls! Why do I have this crazy hangup about bowls? Glass, ceramic, pottery - mixing or serving - I love 'em. The white with blue stripe is a set of 3 nested mixing bowls. The yellow looks old but is in great shape and we use it often. The blue spongeware is probably part of a pitcher & bowl set, and isn't old by any means but I love the look of it - makes a great salad server. Not pictured is a Betty Crocker mixing bowl with handle and spout, and a couple of the opaque white mixing bowls that were popular in the 60's-70's.
And I had made up my mind it was time to find an old pie safe or china cabinet or some piece of furniture for displaying stuff, in my farm kitchen. I got rid of the cheap old baker's rack, made of green and gold tubing, that had been tolerated but never loved, during our yard sale in April of this year. I was keeping an eye out for that wonderful piece that I knew was just waiting for me to find it...and then in June, there it was! I went to a garage sale at a huge house and was taking my sweet time since I didn't have to be at my job for a couple of hours. The owner started visiting with me about all the items she had in the house that she wanted to sell...leather chair and sofa, huge TV armoire, solid wood computer desk and matching bookshelves....and then she mentioned a buffet and got my full attention. I don't intend to leave it the color you see here...however I was surprised that it didn't clash in my kitchen. Good thing since I may not get around to painting it for several months yet. It holds a number of treasures I've picked up at sales - an old aluminum colander, several vintage aprons, a tin watering can, the bowls I bragged on above, a picnic basket from a thrift store, and more, more, more. The plan (as of right now) is to paint it a rich chocolate with an antiqued cream color on the interior display walls, leave the unpainted wood as is, and replace the plain wood knobs with white porcelain ones (already purchased at another yard sale).

Monday, November 19, 2007

DIY Projects

Nothing is more satisfying than completing a DIY project that meets or exceeds your expectations. My kitchen cabinets were the dullest, drabbest, ugliest, not to mention dirty, brown for years....just like they were the day I moved in. What took me so long to finally tackle them? I guess fear - that they would be just as ugly after I finished them. That and time and money had something to do with it too...had I known just how MUCH time it would really take, I might never have considered trying. But, I love them now. First, the "Before" shots:

Granted, the picture shows the wear around the handles way worse than you would have seen in person. Keep in mind, this is an old farmhouse that has been added on to repeatedly over some 100 years. The cabinets themselves were built in 3 different sections over about a 20 year period, and it had been over 20 years since their last paint job!....NOW, for the new look:

I love this! The base is painted in a dark, deep red with just a hint of rust. The doors are "Cake batter" cream, then antiqued with a dark brown glaze that I dry-brushed on vertically. And the handles are the cherry on top for me...bought them off ebay for less than 1/2 what they cost retail...and they are top quality oil-rubbed bronze. I had planned to replace the old formica countertops which are off-white with tiny brown flecks, but they are the perfect compliment to the new paint job and the whole "farmhouse" style. Yep, I spent almost the whole summer scrubbing, sanding, removing doors and hardware, painting, and replacing everything - with LOTS of help from husband and daughter (thank you! thank you! thank you!) - but it has proved to be worth it all.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stroll through the garden

Hard to believe how quickly the growing season passed this year.
Bits and pieces - a bee on a huge sunflower, a gorgeous miniature rose and the dill before the seed heads matured. Couldn't resist brushing my hand over the dill nearly every time I passed by to release the scent.

Below are the Blue Lobelia my grandson gave me for Mother's day, the Coleus I started from seed I saved in 2006, and the "Tequila Sunrise" hanging basket I couldn't resist buying on one of my nursery visits.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...