Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Working on Wednesday....

Here in the middle of the week we are working on:
 Garden produce: picking, putting up, and cleaning out. Weeds are waging a nasty war..so thankful for the tiller my husband has been walking up and down the paths.
A quilt: ironing, cutting and making it all work out. This week, patterns are sorted and set with their fabric motif in preparation for cutting. Hopefully today I can arrange for some quality time with this project.
This is my wind down project: in hand when soothing and setting of nerves is needed. Today, no doubt, nerves will need settling.
Last on my list: some farmhouse cheddar. My husband put together a new cheese press..today we set up a test run!

What's on your agenda today?

Monday, July 30, 2012

How the Garden Grows

   Let me start this garden update with a bracing moment in reality: it was 105 degrees today..yikes! Garden time is limited and done early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Several plants are giving up to the heat: cucumbers and green beans are fairly done and showing signs of heat stress.
   However, the peppers and okra are kicking into full gear. Today several buckets of peppers and okra came in alongside the tasty cherry and yellow pear tomatoes. As for the tomato starts we clipped last week...
   ...all of the sudden the project is not looking so good. The cutters were looking green and healthy, but suddenly became yellow and sickly. I treated them with a weak fertilizer solution..we'll see if they improve. I am not hopeful. The good thing is, my spring tomato plants are alive..not producing, but alive. My intention is to mulch them well. Today the ones partly shaded had blossoms.
   We snagged a rather large pest from the okra bed: a grasshopper bigger than my farm boy's finger! Right after this picture was snapped, the grasshopper headed out the door..Hadassah chasing it with great leaps and bounds.
   Proudly, she caught it in her mouth..without killing it..and carried around..it's wings rattling around between her teeth. That girl..she's a nut:)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Health and Changes: Update

   Three months have passed since my surgery to remove large cysts from my ovaries and growth from my uterus. My recent appointment did not offer the results hoped for. Six weeks after surgery a new cyst had formed and growth in my uterus had returned. Today, that cyst is a clear mass instead of a dark mass..basically the cyst is dissolved but not evacuated. As for the uterine growth..it has not grown larger, but is not gone.
   A long discussion with my doctor left me a few options to ponder:
   1. Expensive injections that would destroy the growth and cyst by 'killing the reproductive system' sending me into early menopause. A petition would have to be made to my insurance to see what they would pay. Herein, hormone therapy of some kind would be needed.
   2. Total hysterectomy which is a rough and long recovery and includes hormone therapy.
   3. Continue the treatment I am on and ramp up my diet/exercise path..give it all more time.
   4. Stop everything and wait.
   Many deep breaths and a few moments of silence led my doctor and I to the following decision: we will continue the treatment, get aggressive with the diet, maintain good exercise and wait. Looking at the options was overwhelming to say the least, but there were slight improvements. The cyst did disperse and did not get larger..no new ones were found. The growth was not growing larger.
   In retrospect I realize the pain is more tolerable that it was before surgery and days of nausea and severe headache have dwindled drastically. Energy levels are improving as the diet kicks in; exercise is getting easier each time I go. This diagnosis has not stopped me from things I would normally do (at least not very often) so giving it more time right now doesn't seem too bad.
   I admit, the first few days, I didn't want to talk about it..and was somewhat depressed over the reality of it all, but God is faithful. He has a plan for me..and a purpose for this trial. Even in this I am blessed and loved. Today, my heart and prayers go out to the many who are struggling and suffering under diagnosis much more devastating than mine. May the Lord guide their hearts and loved ones.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Psalm 28

King James Version (KJV)
28 Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.
Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.
Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.
Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.
Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Herbal Garden: Tea Tree

   Some years ago we acquired a tea tree start from our local extension office and had no idea what to do with it. Today the shrub stands over eight feet tall and is a vital part of our herbal garden. Soft wispy branches hold feathery leaf sprigs that, when touched, yield the familiar fragrance of tea tree oil. Throughout the year we harvest hefty snips for various practical uses around the home.

   1. Drying...sprigs of tea tree are bunched and hung to dry in open air out of direct light. Be aware, it does lighten a bit in color..and shed when jostled. Once dry, I store them in airtight jars.
   2. Vinegar...sprigs are snipped and placed in a jar, covered with vinegar, and sealed with a tight fitting lid. Left a few weeks, the strained vinegar is excellent for cleaning and healing purposes. To make a stronger solution..simply repeat the process several times with the same vinegar.
   3. Sachet...fresh or dry sprigs are placed in cloth pouches and placed in closets, pantries, and storage tubs to keep bugs at bay while adding a fresh scent.
   4. Oil...added to warm grape seed oil, tea tree will release precious oils making a wonderful addition to soaps and skin treatments.
   5. Compost..spent sprigs are tossed under plants and into the compost bin lending their qualities to the soil.
   Our tea tree grows in full sun with well drained soil. Yearly additions of compost are added to the soil and a mulch of leaves keeps it moist. I don't technically prune it, instead, snip here and there as need demands.
   What about you? Do you have any tea tree uses to share with us today?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ten Blessings Often Overlooked

1. Pollen dust on a nose.
2. Twinkling stars with a cricket chorus.
3. Praying for every body that fills the classroom you are cleaning.
4. The joy of doing something just because you can.
5. A crowded kitchen filled with chatter and laughter.
6. Strong arms holding you together when you start to fall apart.
7. Being the stake that supports a tender vine as it grows and falters.
8. Companionship shared by a dog.
9. Quiet moments between loved ones.
10. The unfailing faithfulness of a Mighty God.

So often missed;
So often overlooked.
It is the little blessings
that in the end
were truly
big blessings
after all.
Look for them today
and share them abundantly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Things I Never Do, But Did

   A day away to do things I never do..that's what today has been.
First there was a morning workout with this farm girl.
She has discovered Zumba.
I came; I grooved; I'm done.
Not sure Zumba was ready for me
(or that I was ready for Zumba).
And, no..pictures were NOT allowed!
There was a stroll through a shopping center.
The wares and wonders of Market Street were a sight to see.
We came; we rolled on the floor laughing; we didn't buy anything.
Really, who spends that much on shorts
that really don't cover anything?
One store sparked a hint of interest.
Only because it had some cast iron ware
and pizza peels.
And these totally wacky spatulas.
There was salad..not grown in my yard..in dressing I didn't make.
I haven't had that in a while..it was yummy.
The salad was accompanied by a calizone
baked in a stone oven
with real fire
My girl treated me to coffee.
Again, not made by me..
but tasty.
 Wait..best part..
sharing cheesecake
right before returning home
and shutting the gate
as I retreat to my familiar place
of comfort and home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today I Am:

Tending tomato cuttings..so far so good!
Training little ones to be led by leash..a challenge:)
Wondering where my teen gets her desire for wild socks..not from me.
Attempting to reclaim the gardens from weeds and pests..wish me luck..lots of it!
Preparing to cut fabric for this..worried about fabric portions...excited to start it up:)
Remembering why farm boy makes my day..

What are you up to today?

Monday, July 23, 2012

French Toast- Unusually

   Our new layer flock just started laying. Tiny little eggs tucked in the nests bring to mind my husband's favorite 'any-time-of-day" treat: French Toast. With tasty fresh bread on hand, plenty of creamy fresh milk those eggs-- French toast was definitely on the menu, however, as it can be my tendency..I changed it up a bit.
   Instead of turning on the stove to heat the griddle (it's hot down here in the south, you know)...instead of making the same old every day French toast (that's no fun)... I decided to try something I strange and unusual..using the waffle iron. My husband's other favorite syrupy good breakfast food is waffles..so, win-win, right?
   The responses:
Teen 1: No response..wasn't home from work, however, upon seeing the leftovers in the fridge and not recognizing what it was..she claimed there wasn't any thing to eat. Oh, well.
Teen 2: Said it smelled good but looked ridiculous...she ate several of them with reckless abandon.
Teen 3: No words just the sounds of chewing.
Additional teen visitor: Initially said it was interesting..ate several..loved them.
And..the husband: I received the highest comment he gives..'it's good'. When questioned further he said..'make them again.' He liked the way the 'nooks and crannies' held butter and syrup.
   So, how did we do it? Here's the recipe... (or use your standard favorite):

French Toast Waffle Style

 Six standard fresh eggs (I used 12 new layer small eggs)
1 cup fresh milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
dash of salt
12-14 slices of bread
melted butter for the waffle iron

In a low, shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar and salt while preheating your waffle iron.
Butter the hot waffle iron, dip the bread into the egg mixture and place on waffle iron..repeating as many will fit in one time.
A few notes:
* Butter or oil the waffle iron..don't skip it..don't. Your will be sorry, trust me.
* Press your waffle iron shut..otherwise it won't make the nooks and crannies.
* Cook it like a waffle..mine has an auto timer..worked perfect.
* Larger Artisan loaves work well, too. I fit two per setting (forgot to photo it, sorry).
* This freezes well for easy breakfasts, hand snacks or speedy dinners. Keeps in fridge several days.
Yum, yum, yum...tastes great with coffee!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

From the Garden: Planning for Fall

   Summer temperatures soar; heat and humidity bring pests and problems all their own. In the midst of such weather, gardening becomes a rather dismal chore...swatting mosquitoes while battling the weed war. Yet, hope is not lost for just around the corner is the start of the fall garden.
   In my southern home, gardening is a year-round event..spring struggles to survive summer, and summer survivors become fall producers. July is the month when our table talk turns to garden plots and plans. Here's is what we are doing as of today:

1. Turning out. When one plot/field is harvested out, such as the corn field, our goat herd is turned out to graze it down. Hens will scratch up seeds and bugs turning it over as they go. I also allow hens to work the greenhouse soils..bugs are especially fond of making a home in the greenhouse.
2. Turning under. Where the garden is not completely harvested, such as the field where tomatoes and okra reside with squash and cukes, we turn under or till sections that are spent. Due to rain, the green beans and squash have gone to rust; they will be tilled under and allowed to 'die out' during the heat.
3. Trim down. Pruning and propagating tomatoes and herbs will bring new transplants for cooler days. Tomatoes are already working in the soil; basil, rosemary, cat nip and such are being snipped this week.
4. Take note. My garden notebook is ever by my side as notes are made for crop rotation and planting plans. Corn will go in between the pepper plants; leafy greens will be planted just where the squash were, and so on.
5. Inventory. I make lists of seeds on hand and seeds needed. Herein we refer to our garden notes determining what tomato was a good producer or which beans lasted through the heat.
6. Plan. Some plants direct seed and some need started indoors. Notes and plans are set for starting squashes and cole crops to give them a strong root system before they are put in the ground.
7. Wait. I hate waiting for the soil temps to take a turn, but...we do what we must.

    Every season is a busy season, but the rewards are so very worth it.
garden life link up

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Psalm 3

King James Version (KJV)
Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Instead of 
sensationalizing the act of the wicked
pondering the state of his fate
Instead of
asking how we could prevent
reasoning what caused such a thing
Let us
fall to our knees
fold closed our hands
Let us
weep with those who weep
lift up those so very in need

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Garden Test: Tomato Propagating

   Fall gardening is upon the 'way down south' gardeners; tomato starts need to get ready for the soil. The excessive dampness of June would most likely have given any seedlings rot, so instead I'm trying something new: propagation.
   Over the years I have heard of and even read about propagating tomato starts from healthy 'mother plants'...my first attempt years ago was not so successful. My cuttings were taken and placed in water to root before planting in the soil; they failed to thrive, turning yellow and dying shortly there after.
   This time around, I read further and deeper into the 'art' of harvesting and successfully propagating tomato cuttings. Here is what I found:
   1. Harvest only from healthy plants. If the 'mother' is sick, the cutting will be as well. No rot, no blight, no mildew...healthy plants.
   2. Harvest a cutting 6". Be sure the cutting is strong..no puny stems or weak sections. I cut my from farther down the plant instead of higher up, except.... now, there is some debate here: some resources say cut a sucker and some say top out the plant..I took one of each.
   3. Trim it up. Remove any blossoms, excess leaves..you need a 'crown' or top cluster of leaves, not enough to stress the cutting..we want the energy to go into root growth..not buds or leaves.
   4. To dip or not to dip. Some resources recommend a dip in root hormone; some don't. I did..it was on hand and I figured, why not.
   5. Filter the light. For a few days these little guys need some light but not direct, in your face, heat of the day light.
   6. Quarantine. At this time of year, bugs are hatching and hosting a hostile take over...keep the cuttings out of the garden for about 6 weeks. Since crop rotation is important..I plant to use my 6 weeks to till, clean, and make ready their spot in the garden.

   Being new to the propagating situation, I plant to keep you posted on the progress..might be the greatest thing I have ever tried..might be a colossal fail. We'll see. What about you? Have you tried propagating tomatoes? Share your tips and trials with us...we love learning from you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This Day's Work

   Bits and pieces of paper cover the big farm table; scissors crunch through paper after pencils scratch along the ruler. This day is long and quiet as a plan is formed and pattern pieces are measured and cut. My mind wanders from teen to teen as I ponder what they might be doing right now- what work their hands are finding. Such random roaming keeps me sane.
 The new commission piece looks to be challenging..something I need right now. Along with piecing and applique, the quilt has a limited supply of fabric meaning frugality must be used in cutting every piece. For this reason I am preparing paper templates to layout on the fabric; hopefully this will find the most effective use of the material. This work is tedious..so my thoughts tend to wonder..daydreams lead to memories until interruptions come. The sharp cry of a goat shakes me; Ruth has sounded an alarm..seems a walk through the pasture is needed.
 Goats are such funny things; each personality so very different. You would thing by now Ruth and I would get use to Jubilee's naughty habits; if there is a nook or cranny to hide in..Jubilee will find it. The real kicker is how that baby can remain utterly calm and unphased by her mother's hysterical baulking. Back inside, I leave the paper-strewn mess for a little pinning activity.
  Several months back I was given some beautiful fabric panels; a simply wall quilt or table topper just needed to be done. This blue Dresden will be quilted in the ditch to accent the petals while the background will be quilted in a cross-hatch for depth and direction. When my mother sees this she will flip..such blues are her favorite. In the mundane, once again, the quiet disturbs me causing me to long for the days when their hands were busy nearby...each with work of their own..our quiet interrupted by random bit of conversation. Not today..my girls' late summer semester has started..off to college for them and the farm boy is helping at a camp this week. 

 My thoughts are interrupted by the crow of a rooster; his hen cackles..I wonder what their disagreement must be. The whir of the fan brings me back to a settled state as once more I measure and cut and mark. A sip of tea, a sigh..here amidst this day's work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

As of Today...

A new listing is posted in our shop..Jungle Baby Patchwork; pieced together
from bits and pieces of commission quilts I have done.
I love it.
Sunflowers droop heavy with seeds. Recent rains have made the garden a mess of weeds and water.
Tomatoes are rotting on the vine; not even ripe yet.
It hurts.
The last of the corn has been harvested and put up. Goats gladly graze the field 
in the afternoon cleaning it up for fall planting.
A good thing indeed.
Watermelons are being harvested as we are able. Storms are causing some to burst and others to rot.
Fortunately, we have been able to eat several of them.
They are delicious!
Herbs are starting to bloom; catnip, basil and bee balm are budding out.
Snippets are daily added to water for tasty infusions.
So cooling after a hard work out.
In other news:
the farm boy is off helping our church youth host a camp;
a new quilt project has be reading and planning;
fall garden seeds are being set;
two fingers got in the way of a very sharp knife.
As of today,
my hand is slowing me down.
What's in your day??