Tuesday, September 30, 2008

People Are Still Eating!

Of course, like everyone, the economy effects us all in different ways and different degrees. Every since 9/11, I've had moments when I've wondered if the work would be there, but you know, the Lord has always taken really good care of us, and I believe He always will supply what we truly need. I've mentioned my husband is a carpenter; he builds custom homes. He's only had one guy work with him all these years (right now my brother-in-law is working with him). In the 13 years since he's been on his own (as opposed to working for other contractors), he's only advertised once, in our local once a week paper. Never got a job from it, either. Other that that, he's not listed in the yellow pages, doesn't really put his business card out there, none of that. Seriously, God gives him work! And God has impressed in his life that it's important to do your best, to be honest, to be fair. So, in all that, although there have been a couple slack periods, where we were waiting on county and financial instutions to give loans to the homeowners, he's always had work. Thank you Lord! We don't take it lightly that He's done this, that's for sure.
You might now, my little home kitchen is licensed for baking. I bake breads, cookies, desserts, mostly around the holidays, I bake a LOT of Finnish Cardamom Bread. Well, our dinky little community store just recently got a new owner, I told her I bake and we worked out a give-it-a-try kind of arrangement to see if it would be worthwhile for me to bake for the store. Our "town" is only 1800 population, and we are 3 1/2 miles out of town, so, you know, not a huge community. Boy, have I been surprised with how she's been selling my baked stuff! I wasn't doing it for a job, I don't really want a job, I have work to do at home, and homeschooling is one major part of my day. But baking a little isn't too hard for me, so it's working out pretty well.
I came home tonite from my mother-in-law's to a message on my answering machine, my marionberry coffee cakes I just brought in this morning were sold out already! Yay!! Needless to say, my house again smells like marionberry coffeecake. Yesterday it also smelled like molasses cookies, which are a real downfall for me. So, now I know, people are still spending money, at least on food!
I don't have tv in my home, except for videos, no radio b/c I can't get reception, I see what's on my computer, hear what people are saying, and read the newspaper. So, no, I wasn't immune to hearing all the stock market woes. Like anyone else, it does send up a red flag, but, we just have to remember WHO really does feed us and clothe us.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Simple Corn Stick Fire Starters

These are so easy to make! Let me see if I can explain it without confusing anyone!
Get one of those cast iron corn stick pans, I got mine from a garage sale, but if you need to, antique stores always have them.
Gather old wax candles, stuff you don't need, preferably in light or fall colors. If you have white wax, you can add some crayons to color them.
Gather some fall fabrics, rip in strips for the husks.
So, you melt the wax, and get it the colors you like. Ours were already scented, or you can add scent to them. Stick the center of the fabric strips, (use a couple pieces), in the end of the mold. Pour the wax into the mold and let set. When set, pop out of the mold, and there you have your corn sticks. If I remember right, Kristin's ears can hang up by their husks, so you could make a garland with them. She has them actually put together to form two halves together and tied with strips of fabric and a tag added.

OK Kristin, if you have some revisions, let me know and I'll fix it!! Love, Mom

Friday, September 26, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

I do love fall, I love everything about fall. There is only one thing I don't love, and that is that winter comes right after! I wouldn't even mind winter too much, except for the fact that it is as long as the other seasons, but seems longer. Know what I mean? Well, it's fall, I LOVE it!
I've nearly finished my canning, yay! I actually got quite a lot done this year, and I was amazed thinking back, at how much of it actually didn't cost much at all. Now, I can look at jars on the shelf, and know that I won't need to go to the store for those things. I still have a little more salsa to do, and as the tomatoes keep ripening I'll can them or make sauce with them, but the biggest part is behind me. BTW, I got this Zesty Salsa recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook, and it is wonderful. It's a bit spicier than my usual salsa. Randy said it was way too hot, but I thought it was rather...WONDERFUL! I guess I'm going to have to lower myself to make some for him with a little less hot stuff, but it's awfully hard to do. Salsa should be spicy!
I have been having a lot of fun making plans with Kristin for our Vintage Winter Gathering at the Church. Even the guys have gotten involved-last week they poured new cement and replaced the steps and porch. They got the lights working right and a couple electrical outlets fixed. Krisitn and I have been communicating back and forth with a few ladies, getting advice, putting our ideas together, and I think it will be a lot of fun. Kristin has been working on flyers, etc. She's really good at that! We decided on Nov. 21st and 22nd. Nov. 21st is a Friday and it will be an evening opening. I can't wait to see that neat old building lit up with Christmas!
When Randy reads to me in the mornings, and other relaxing moments, like sitting and visiting with friends, I enjoy doing some kind of handwork. I'm learning (and wishing I had a teacher) rug hooking. I'm learning pretty much with books. I am loving it. I got the latest Create and Decorate Magazine, and there was a Jack-o-Lantern shaker that I thought was really cute. I did change the eyes to a little more folk look, and I had a great time making it. I was pretty much on my way out the door, grabbing a bunch of wool, scissors, etc, and didn't end up following the pattern exactly (does anyone ever do that?). I grabbed a plastic microscope slide box that I got from a lady on Etsy to use as a small container for the shaker inside of the Jack. My Grandson, Caleb found me the rocks we used in the box to make the rattle, and we got him stuffed and put together in no time. Thank you little grandson!! So, here's a picture of my little Jack. While I'm at it, I'll show you Kristin's neat little Corny Fire Starters. She made them with an iron corncake mold, wax of different fall colors, and sawdust. Really cute Kristin!
What else? I got to go to my friend Kelley's for a primitive "fix" yesterday. I love to go to her house and look at all the stuff she has. Maybe next time I'll see if I can photograph her place and share with you what I'm talking about. You know how some people have that knack for finding things in a big way? That's Kelley. She's working on her own little at-home shop that I will tell you more about when she gets it going and everything in place. She gave me a preview and I think she'll have a blast doing it. Especially since it's at home!
So, ok, summer's ended, fall's begun fully, and with it comes the preparation for winter things like our first ever Vintage Winter show. Let the planning and fun begin!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I've got to find some time! I lost it and can't find it!

Sometimes I feel like I'm always behind, probably b/c I am! I know fall is hectic. Life is hectic. But I also know that God gives us all the time we actually NEED in a day, whether we use it right or not. I think I've been doing pretty well with priorities. We got a decent start on school, figuring out how much time this was going to take, what to expect, etc. Since we're using the dvd's it's a lot easier for me than recording our classes and burning dvds.
I picked up my gorgeous peaches this morning, for a pretty decent price, considering how high everything is lately. Those will be ready to can in a few days. I finished the pears today. I collected the salsa ingredients and will probably get a small bath done this weekend. My tomatoes are not ripening as fast as I need them too, but at least I've got some.
I am really wanting to get some time to work on my Etsy shop. I've got some dolls I want to put on there, made by a pattern from Sweet Meadows Farm. I just love the folky look of these dolls and I had a blast making them. I'm working on a hooked pumpkin-head shaker that I am really having fun with. I've got a LOT of vintage stuff I've collected that I need to get listed. AND we're having the cider-pressing party in a couple weeks to get ready for. It will all come together, it just takes time.
As I'm typing I have cardamom bread in the oven for a show tomorrow with Kristin, then we'll HURRY to Youth Group, where I will get to sit and visit with friends and pretend like I have all the time in the world. Actually, it is nice to get together with friends and SLOW down. It's important stuff! Here's a pic of my dollys.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Shall We Gather at the River?

We had one of those important, life-moments this Sunday. Chantel got baptized in the Columbia River. What a beautiful day it turned out to be here, actually quite hot. Everyone but me ended up in the water afterward. She had been waiting to be baptised for awhile and it was so special to see her get baptised with no only the pastor, but her dad. One of those days that will always have a special significance to her. I'm pretty proud, too, I must say, of how she is doing with her walk with the Jesus. She's a great kid!
Looking at these photos, it's weird to think we're standing in Oregon, and Washington is what is on the other side!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anything Crisp!

I know this photo doesn't look as appetizing as it truly tastes, but..... it is a wonderful comfort food! I've used this apple crisp recipe for years, and have tried it with apples, peaches, blueberries, rhubard. It's funny b/c most crisp recipes use oats and this one doesn't. It is one of those kind of desserts that you can make in a big hurry when you need it quick and it goes so fast, too.
We took another blueberry picking excursion on Wednesday. Yes, it's late, but here in Oregon, the fruit seems to be quite a bit later than usual. The blueberries we picked first were a sweeter, larger type, which filled the buckets faster, so we were already spoiled. When the kids and I got out into the fields on Wednesday, we were much lazier, knowing we already had some put away for winter. We basically just used them up that day.
I just found out I'm getting FREE pears and plums! I love it! I just love getting the stuff in the jars and the freezer. I love it in winter when you can take the things out and not have to take a trip to the store. And especially now, with prices so high. Even the produce to can is high this year, so the more free stuff I can put up, the more I can offset the cost of...peaches. I'm definitely going to have to pay for those.
There are so many apples around here, too! We usually have a big party, a huge potluck, and lots of strong guys cranking on our cider press. Everyone is carrying around a cup tasting the wonderful results. It's always good to have a party and have everyone bring apples, b/c the mix of the different apples is what makes the best juice.
This year, I want to have a bar-b-que/bluegrass/cider-pressing party! I've got a lot to do b/f that can happen, but I'm thinking Oct. 4th. Good food, great fellowship, fine music! Life with friends and sharing your home! We love to have them over!

Recipe for Crisp:

6 or 7 Sliced Apples (or 4-6 cups of other fruit)
2 T. flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 teas. cinnamon (I don't add it to blueberry)
Mix together in 11X7 pan.

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teas. salt
1/2 Teas. Cinnamon
1 Beaten Egg

Stir together well. Sprink over fruit.

Drizzle with 1/2 cup melted butter. (Real butter is best)
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I love the Autumn-ey Smells

I like it when fall comes and the stores get the spicey smelling candles and air fresheners in. I dont' really like flowery scented candles, but I love spices and fruits. Yesterday, Chantel and I went to Bath and Body Works and got some yummy smelling scents. This week, we are scrubbing down the kitchen cupboards and walls, etc., although I'm not exactly finished with canning, but school starts next week, and I'm anxious to have it done before we get into starting school.
So, in anticipation of my nice clean cupboards, and yep, getting the stove and refrigerator out and cleaning under them, and taking the light fixture glass pieces off to wash, we got some wonderful smelling stuff. Like Caramel Pumpkin and Cinnamon and Clove Buds. Oh my gosh, my house smells so wonderful, I don't need to clean it...just kidding. On top of that, I got the cutest little jack'0-lantern dispenser with pumpkin scented handsoap in it for free, I just had to spend $10.!! Well, now I've got a cute little guy full of soap that my kids can go through like water.

All that weeding and watering pays off!

Yum, now the work of the garden yields it's fruit! We had fresh corn tonite, so fresh that the pot of water was boiling as the corn was picked. There is nothing like fresh homegrown corn-on-the-cob. And tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes with a little mayo and a little salt......I could eat those for a meal in itself.
I don't know if all the tomatoes (which are loaded) are going to ripen in time for the "earnest rain" we'll no doubt soon get, before a blight gets them, etc., but I'm sure hoping I have a good harvest. I have some jars of tomatoes left from last year, but not enough, and NO salsa left either. I've checked the prices locally and at $22. a box, I'm really hoping for my own tomatoes more than ever.
I have been able to harvest a lot of applesauce and apple pie filling for basically the cost of the sugar I added to them, since my mother-in-law bought me a LOT of jar lids. I've canned several pints (enough for our family) of pickled beets, again, free. I've got berries and rhubarb mom picked and gave me. My greenbeans came from my own garden this year, instead of paying $1.75 a pound for them. So far, I have a lot of things put away with just work invested. I know I'm going to have to buy the peaches, which are an expense, but necessary. And I still need more blueberries, but those are only .85 a pound, and basically organic. We'll get out the cider press soon, and that will put a dent in the juice. I didn't grow enough corn to freeze for a year, which I should have, but we'll just have to pay the price through the year. All in all, not a bad year for putting stuff away. There are a lot of people who are into recycling, but not a lot of people make use of food going to waste. I'm not poor, but if I was, I'd sure be out there asking to pick the apples people let rot on their trees, or blackberries that are plentiful in our area.
It frustrates me, ok, I know I'm griping, but I hate it when I am so careful about how I shop for groceries, staying on a budget, etc. I hardly ever buy junk in a box premade, can't afford it and it isn't that healthy anyway. I get up to the cash register and I'm next to someone (It happnes every time, I'm not kidding) who has a huge load of groceries. I've caught myself feeling jealous that they can afford all that food and I can't. Then they whip out the food stamp card and out the door they go with food a lot of hard working Americans can't afford to buy.
I'm not against helping people who need help, but our welfare system is out of control. People do take advantage and food manufacturers don't help. You know a LOT of food companies would squeal if food stamps couldn't be used to buy potato chips or pop or boxed foods or candy. I believe that if people on food stamps were forced to actually buy food that is nutritious and has to be prepared, you'd see a lot of people getting tired of eating oatmeal. I know, now is NOT a good time to complain, when so many people are out of work. Well, don't send me hate mail, I truly wouldn't want to see anyone go hungry.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Keys to The Wine Cellar???

In my travels along the garage sale/estate sale paths this summer, I came across these neat heavy old brass keys. I got them from a man who had a ton of gorgeous antiques, but I know nothing about them. He told me that they were keys to vineyard wine cellars, but how do I know that? I thought they were neat, though, and haven't decided to sell them or to group them on a wall. They are heavy brass and have a neat patina, neat coat of arms, too. I think they would be neat on a wall outside of a wine room. Maybe my husband should give one to the owner's of the house he's building. They have a wine room! While I'm at it, I may as well brag about my husband's work. He is a very skilled carpenter, of course I'm very proud of him and the houses he builds. We laugh b/c we actually don't live in a house like the ones he builds, but when he comes home after building these gorgeous houses, he says he likes our home best, because it is a home. Later, when I find his pics of the house he's building now, I'll put up some pics. I have to say, it's nice to be proud of my husband. It's nice that he's a good contractor and people speak highly of his work. I hear people talk about poor contractors and how they have problems with them, and I just thank the Lord that my husband has integrity in his dealing with his customers and with the actual craftsmanship. OK, I've bragged, you'd think I was his mom!