Friday, July 11, 2014

For the Love of Visitors

I cannot express with words just how wonderful it is to finally live in a home that is large enough to host family and friends comfortably.  I have always been uncomfortable with the thought of hosting holidays and family events because we have always been in such small housing.  And even though its the people that make it important, knowing you can't provide space and comfort is not fun.

We have been lucky enough to have people come visit us here. Each time it happens I love this house that much more.  We not only have the room to host one family, I think we could easily host two inside and a third with the travel trailer since we had the shop wired to run electricity to it.

And the yard/property just begs to be enjoyed. There are several different areas for seating and private conversations, etc.

Spring break this year brought my sister and her kids down for a visit. It has been forever since we have hosted for them.  It was a fantastic visit and we enjoyed them immensely.  To wrap up the visit we headed to Six Flags and wore the kids out with some amusement park fun.
I have also been able to host my friends here in town for a birthday celebration. There are 11 of us so we do need a little room. LOL.  And again, with the set-up of the house, we can all be together or there are plenty of places for several little groups to be visiting together.  Love that.
This summer we had one of our best family visits ever. Hubs brother and family got to come visit us for the first time ever. Mouse's cousin is the same age so they were in heaven. And we hosted a family dinner and had another brother and his family come up to see them also. My son came. My nephew and his wonderful wife came. It was a great big wonderful house full of family from Hubs side that we have never had in our home before.  And it feels good not to be the ones that have to do the traveling all the time anymore!
These four look so much alike--hubs and his brother and our son and his. 
And these two? Thick as thieves and they got along so well. You never really know with girls how it will go from one visit to the next. These guys did great!

Loved, loved, loved this visit. Can't wait to do it again.


So now friends, you know I have the room. When you coming??


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Restless and Wild

Quilt number 42 is a baby gift for one of my all time favorite moms.  She is also the only person on the face of the earth that has no less than 5 quilts made just for her and her kids.

As former missionary's to Africa and and African theme to the other three kids quilts, we kept this one in the same theme.  I found a picture that was similar on Google and adapted it to the fabrics I had. The picture blocks and backing material are new, but many of the other fabrics are scraps from making his brothers quilts.

I would have had this one done in time.  But the Bus Driver had to go and have her baby early.

I actually found this backing material first and was going to build the quilt around it. But then I found the animal squares and this became the backing instead.

I had a hard time deciding what to use as a binding. In the end I used a different animal print than the borders and I like that. It frames the black nicely.

For the quilting I stuck with straight line walking foot stitch in the ditch again.
With the busy patterns I thought the simple would be best.

Mom and baby are at home recovering and settling in. I managed to deliver the quilt on the day he was SUPPOSED to be born. LOL. 

Maybe I can stay caught up with the next quilts now!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hypnotic Windows

I really should try to take better pictures...but I get lazy.

Quilt number 41 is a graduation present of a amazing lady I am honored to call friend.  And her daughter is the spitting image of her. Can't wait to see where this kid goes. Its so fun to watch a kid start out on their adult life.

This quilt top was made of all scraps I had from other quilts.
The back I did pick up the pillow panel of the state of Texas for. Also the long multicolored piece, which I got with another piece for the back then changed my mind. The rest is more scraps.
The binding is actually a piece I had picked up for the next quilt I was making...but I liked the way the colors went with this quilt so I used it here instead.
KL will be going to college in another state so I wanted to send her with a little bit of home.
For the actual quilting I took the easy way out and stitched in the ditch each rectangle and then echoed that shape in the green spaces. Simple but it makes the colored pieces pop nicely. 

I did not get a signature block done on this one as I was 3 weeks behind on it. I did free motion my name into a border. 

This one had not been delivered to its new owner yet as they are out of town. Can't believe I let myself get so behind on it!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Close Call Number Three

Want to hear a crazy fact about Autumn?

I have this crazy knack for walking away from encounters with poisonous snakes...without being bitten.

To date anyways.

I lived in Arizona as a kid for about 7 years.  We were taught to be careful and aware outside. There was everything from poisonous snakes to scorpions to tarantula's.   I don't remember ever seeing a scorpion but we did get tarantula's on the patio where I rode my trike.   I remember screaming for my daddy once because one was out there with me.  He told me to step on it.  It was bigger than my foot.  What I didn't know at that age was that my dad hates spiders. He didn't want to step on it any more than my 5 year old self did.

My craziest memory and encounter was not with a spider.  It was with a sidewinder rattlesnake. In our back yard.  I had just entered the back yard with my sister and one of her little friends following me. I heard a rustle and turned around to find myself face to face with this rather large snake.

I screamed.

I ran.

It hid.

We ran in the house to tell mom and then we all went to the wall of windows in the back of the house. We couldn't see it anywhere.  But the rug to wipe your feet had been kicked up to make a tunnel.  I knew it was in there. It had to be.  So I got down on the floor and looked through the glass door into that dark space. And there is was.

That gave me nightmare for years.  And to this day I get chills even at the zoo looking at snakes in their glass aquariums.

Mom called someone on the base and they sent out a guy to catch the snake.  We got to watch the whole thing from the back window wall.  And the funny thing was we lived in a military duplex and our side was fenced with chain link. The not-so-bright guy kept having to go in and out as the snake went from one yard to the next thru the fence. Finally he got smart enough to call in back-up and they caught the ugly thing.

Flash forward to my mid 20's, living in Florida with my incredibly hot husband. (Just sayin.....)  We were in military housing again, with a carport instead of a garage.  There was a door into the kitchen from the carport. By that door was the recycling bins that made perfect little caves. (Hindsight)

One evening I was hurrying from the back yard to the front to wash out Bone's hermit crab aquarium when I sort of noticed a hose stretched out from under the car to the recycle bins.  Hmm. That should have caught my attention, but I was losing all daylight and in a hurry.  So without thinking too much about it I continued my power walk and stepped on that hose.

And felt its ribs break.

And kept walking and did not look back.  I knew I had just stepped on a snake. We had also had a very funnny (to the adults) and frightening (to Bones) incident with our son running into a hog-nose on this same carport. I didn't really have time to go check it out at that point.

Hubs opened that kitchen door just afterwards and I heard him yell for me and tell me there was a snake. I said I know, I just stepped on it.  At that point I came around the side of the house to see it.

To see my husband with his face down close to see what it was.

And it was a rattlesnake.

Of course.

I do believe I let loose a blue word or two and yelled rattlesnake. Hubs moved away and found a shovel and finished it off.  It was not a large snake thank goodness. Maybe that is why it did not get me when I stepped on it.

So here we are back in Texas.

One evening recently I finished a Netflix movie about 10 at night and wanted to get it in the mailbox so I didn't forget in the morning. So I shoved my feet into flip-flops, snapped the light on as I opened the door and walked out to the mailbox. There was a weird shadow movement in my peripheral vision but we have so many bugs and geckos that I didn't even slow down. (This has served me well over the years....don't stop.)

After putting the movie into the mailbox I started back to the front door.

And there was that movement by the door.  And that was a snake.

So here we have a copperhead on the front step. He had just caught a gecko and I watched in fascination as he swallowed that sucker. And I was feeling rather thankful for that gecko at that moment as I stepped about 4 inched from that sucker. I had my phone in my pocket so I grabbed it to snap a picture. I was shaking so bad at that point that I had to take like 12 shots to even get this half way clear one.

But now I'm standing outside with the mosquito's wondering how I'm going to get back into the house. I have all the other doors locked up tight. Its too late to knock on a neighbors door.  I am also in flip-flops so trying to kill it doesn't appeal to me -- I have this weird thing about having my feet safe. What can I say...I'm mental.

And my biggest fear is that Alia is about to go to bed and come looking for me...see the front light on and open that front door. So I did what all crazy people do and texted my husband a picture.  LOL. He told me to call Mouse's ipod and see if she would unlock another door. Luckily she was still up and had the ipod near her. So I was saved.

When Hubs got home he began watching for the snake.  And one evening he called me outside. Not to the front where I knew the snake hangs out as I had seen its tail about 4 times last year but thought it was a Rat Snake.
No. Hubs ran across and killed this guy where we have the dogs.

And that is not the snake I had a run-in with on the front step.

It's too small. 

So, I have now three snake stories I can tell. And my real fear is three strikes and you are out. My luck has to be up by now.

And its 25 minutes to a hospital.

In other news
 ...these guys started making an appearance also.

And the garden is looking rather sinister now....


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gardening Update

I don't know where time goes lately. I have a bunch of posts that I will try and get done today and set to post every other day to catch up.  I wish I could get some kind of routine down with this new lifestyle...but it evades me. The time Hubs is gone drags like a nightmare and the time he is home flys way to fast. Gotta love it.

Anyways.

The garden has gone insane.

Two weeks ago:
 The garden was growing great. We have had a rain consistently and hard. The plants took off.

See my flattened and squished tomato cage there in the front? Its from the middle of the tomato patch. I found it like that one morning. No other evidence of a visitor. Crazy. I am thinking deer? Maybe with some antlers that the cage caught? And then it runs out and falls on the cage? It does look like it has been sat on. Its a garden mystery.
I did get a few zucchini. I don't think I will have many more as the squash bugs are killing them off fast.  So far it is only the zucchini they have attacked...the yellow egg squash and spaghetti squash remain untouched to date.

The corn isn't coming up all that great. This was a container hybrid. They are doing okay in the containers but I probably wont use it again. The container gardening is proving to be rather stingy and sad.
The beans are coming in but I don't see anything other than leaves at this point. I wonder if I am missing a vital mineral in the soil for them.
The Asian yellow egg squash is doing really well. And they are so pretty. So far the bugs have not bothered them.
The container corn is not growing as tall as what was planted in the garden. But all of it came up, which I can't say for the stuff in the ground.
The container cucs start but then die. I have several large ones in the garden. We have had enough of those that I have given some away already.


This was our first pick of the season. I have already pickled some jalapeno's, frozen chopped green peppers and made stuffed zucchini.  So far we have only had about 4 tomatoes. There are a billion out there but they are all still green. Since I grow them for hubs watch them all start turning now that he is gone again.  I see some salsa canning in my future.

Almost two weeks later the garden is a jungle.  I have to keep pulling leaves off to make pathways. The spaghetti squash plant is taking over the whole back side.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Garden

I actually started this post about a month ago....

So now I will need to do an update on the growth almost immediately.

Anyways....

We had the landscape guys till the back garden for us. We had to clear out all the overgrowth first - that was a job.

I started with just a few things but it just kept growing. Hubs would come home with more tomato ants because they were on clearance.
And such.




Outside the mushroom door is a bucket of herbs. The previous owners were growing something in it on the other side of the house. It now has dill, cilantro, and curry plants.


There are also some planters with chives, lettuce, basil and parsley


On the spa room patio there are more containers. This is what I am used to using so I couldn't see letting all my pots sit empty. Mud I had seed for container plants.

Here we have 2 tomatoes, two bush cucumbers, a jalap and 4 container corn that I was curious about.


In the back we ended up with like 18 tomato plants of many varieties. We like yellow best but had a time finding them.

I planted the rest of the corn and pole beans along the long edge.



There are five different pepper plants of different kinds. Also in the back cucumbers and squash.


3 1/2 weeks later it looks rather different.

I was nervous as I've never had a true garden before. Curious to see how it all turns out.

Update soon.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pinterest Project 26

I'm probably the only one left on the face of the earth that didn't do this already.

We reuse plastic bags like most people. They line the small trash cans in the bathrooms, offices, bedrooms. I use them for scraps and kitchen trash when preparing food.  They are used to pick up and dispose of pet waste from the yard. And on and on.

For the winter I had been storing these in my picnic bucket. It wasn't being used and I hadn't figured out how I wanted to contain them.  But summer is back and we are using the bucket again to go to friends and bring lunch or other affairs where we bring food. It was time to figure it out.

I also didn't want them taking up as much space as they had been.  So I knew I had "pinned" a link on Pinterest for folding the bags small so they don't take up much room.

There are all kinds of links, several with video instructions. I used one of those but honestly its so easy you don't have to have a video.

I lost a total of 4 bags with holes, otherwise this is the new pile. I found an old popcorn tin in the attic that fits in the space they were before. Much more manageable.  Why did I wait so long to tame this beast? Its so easy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kickoff to Summer

Well, the summer did start with a bang. That makes me so happy!

I want to take a minute to say that there is nothing more heart warming and soul satisfying as knowing people that will take you in and make you a part of their family -- especially during holidays.  When Mouse and I are alone, a long holiday weekend is a quiet and lonely event. I don't look forward to them.

This Memorial Day Mouse and I were invited to a friends house for Saturday and Sunday. So were a few of our other friends and their kids. It ended up being a two day celebrations of friends, kids and food. And it was glorious.

Saturday was burgers and goodies and lots of pool time.

I believe we had 15 kids total that day between 6 families.
We had scattered rain storms both days but they had a couple of easy-ups that we could hide under if nothing else.

Sunday was a Crayfish Boil.  I elected to bring hot dogs for mouse and I. What can I say. I'm not very adventurous with my meats. But I did try them (a first) and I did help peel for the kids....which helped me get over it.
What makes it hard is when I was growing up I loved it when my dad would take us to the creek late at night to catch crawdads. See, where I grew up it was bait...not dinner. LOL
The spices were amazing. LOVED the corn and potatoes!  Spicy good!

So it was a wonderful weekend. Not too hot. Lots of laughs. The kids wore themselves out -- and you know it doesn't get any better than that. And it was with some of my favorite people in the whole world.
 A perfect holiday weekend. (At least as perfect as it can be without Hubs with us.)

We all needed Monday as a recovery day!

Hoping all my friends and family were able to spend time with people they love!

Friday, May 23, 2014

What Does Summer Bring

Summer
is a stone's throw away
Its out there
Just beyond reach

What does summer bring
the year after
the greatest summer
you can remember?

On the days we want
to hide from life
We can daydream

Maybe its days
besides a pool
filled with friends
and children

laughter
snacks
misbehaving monsters
and ice cream bribes

Maybe its an escape
to a place
a car ride away
A weekend of laughter
good food
lots of liquids
and maybe even cigars

I can close my eyes
and see the sand
smell the sea
feel the ocean breeze

Maybe its a girls weekend
by a lake
with crowded rooms
and shared kitchen duty
Catching every ray of sun
It cares to cast down

Maybe its dinners
or coffee nights
or houseboats

But hopefully it is more than these things
As they have already been done
And as wonderful as they are
The true adventure
Is in the new

Whatever it is
Its time with friends
That see you
and hear you

and don't make you feel invisible

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Its Dark

Its dark again
Another night
of trying to sleep

by myself
alone

There are shadows
but shadows are good
They hide the empty spaces
the empty side
the cold side

I reach a hand over
I can almost pretend
to feel the depression
where you should lay

The spot that should be warm
The skin I should be able to touch
and smell
and taste

I can almost pretend
that your dogs breathing
is really yours
but not really
although you do both snore

but the room is empty
of the presence
that should be there
night after night

new couples anticipate
the nights together
falling asleep in each others arms
feeling the breath of the one they love
on the back of their neck.

The satisfaction that is soul deep
that touches something so deep inside
it cant be explained
it can only be felt

It leaves you empty
when its missing

And they don't even have to be gone.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Where Are You Today?

If I could meet you.
If I could see you face to face
What would I say?

Because you live with us daily.
In her eyes
In her smile
In the genetic surprises that surface

Mouse has lavished me with love today.
Her momma
She made me little gifts
She wants to take me out
She is excited to celebrate me.

I wonder if she is thinking of you also?
She doesn't say
I could ask
But I let her lead these conversations

I am thinking of you.
So many questions
So many feelings
Where are you today?

Over the years I have wanted to ask so many things
And each year its different
Some years I am angry with you
Some years I am sorry for you

Do you think of her?
Do you wonder where she ended up?
Did you watch from the shadows as she was found?
Or did you run away?

Do you wonder what she looks like?
If she is a good student?
If she is healthy?
If she has siblings?

I wonder.

I wonder why.
I wonder how you deal with the loss daily.
I wonder if you would take it back if you could.
I wonder if she was the only one you abandoned.
Were there more?

We talk about you sometimes.
I expected more grief
More questions
More anger

I am astounded at her need for me
The fierceness of her love for me
The way she panics at the thought of not having me
And her complete faith in me.

She is amazing
She is funny
She is spunky
She is loving
She is beautiful
She is picky
She is spoiled
She swings high
She laughs at inappropriate things
She likes mischief


Some of this is from you
And some of this is from me.

And even though we will never meet
We make a beautiful team.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Autumn Asks: Have You Ever Been A Member of a CSA?


We absolutely love checking the fields first thing in the morning and seeing growth. Get ready, more Home Grown Goodness coming your way very soon!



I have tried to join CSA's all over the states over the last decade or so. CSA stands for Community Sponsored Agriculture.  Basically its a local farm that you buy direct from -- like a membership. Most of them raise organic crops so you can eat healthier than the stuff from the grocery store. Many CSA's have a waiting list as they can only support so many people depending on the size of the farm.

I was delighted when we came back to Texas and found that not only was there a CSA available (actually I think there are two), but they had openings.

The Home Grown Farm is a family owned business. Most of your interfacing is with the two brothers. They are also unique in that they have a website that you go to for your order that next week. You can pick growers choice, or you can customize what you get. Most CSA's just give you a box of what they harvested that week with no choices. This is far better than having things your family won't eat.

Unfortunately I do have to drive into Waco to pick up my box. There are many locations you can choose from, but none of them is close to me. This is hard as pickup is on a school night during dinner time. I do have a three hours window to work with, but it does get old driving that far every week.

And that is my only complaint.

You get more than enough food. You can even choose to skip a week if you want. I haven't done that, I've been putting up the extra instead. Extra doesn't usually happen when Hubs is home, but when he is gone there are many nights that I don't cook from scratch.


Extra cabbage has become sauerkraut. Pinterest instructions of course. I did use one jar in a kielbasa crockpot recipe. It was good and it was on the first day you could use it so the rest should get a little stronger. This first jar was really mild. Also one of the jars did not seal well. I cannot describe to you the horrible odor.  LOL.

I dehydrated some of the extra mushrooms for later use- another Pinterest tutorial. This was my first try with this dehydrator which we picked up at a Goodwill for $5. It doesn't have a temperature control for different settings but it works just great. We have used it for jerky a few times.

I have also frozen mushrooms, onions, peppers, turnips, beets and carrots for cooking.  With extra potatoes I made up frozen hash browns.

So I have been working on canning, dehydrating and freezing. I also have a foodsaver that has a jar attachment for sealing and uses the ziplock bags that you can pull the air out of. LOVE IT.

Although a CSA is more expensive that grocery store veggies, I do recommend them if you can afford it. Its organic. You can visit the farm and get to know the farmers. Its supporting your own community.

Anyone else a member of a CSA in your area?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Asparagus Season

One of the really neat things about our place is this fully mature asparagus bed in the side yard. I'm glad the last owner told me what it was because I would have been clueless.

I love asparagus.

This spring has been a real learning experience because I had no idea what to do or how to care for it or anything.  Luckily it seems to be pretty fool proof since it is an established bed.

I did some reading in books and on the internet. Looks like I have a good amount of new roots spreading so I have stuff that I was cutting at first that really should have been left alone to grow this year. They are very small stalks. I caught on after a few weeks and now leave those to grow so they will be bigger next year.

For 4 weeks now I have been cutting asparagus daily. Its awesome. But I am getting a little tired of eating it so I am now trying other things.

recipe for canning spicy pickled asparagus!
This is a Pinterest pin for Spicy pickled asparagus which can be found here.

I made a jar but I have not tried them yet. Like I said...I'm a little tired....
Mine do not look anywhere near as pretty. My stalks are much thinner than the ones on Pinterest. I will have to let you know how they taste when I try them.

Right now sitting on the counter are:
3 glasses. I read somewhere to put them in a glass with some water in the bottom and cover with a plastic bag for humidity and they will store in the refrigerator for 4 days. I was losing them in a day before I found this information. This set I am going to freeze - instructions compliments of Pinterest of course.

I have two bare spots in the bed so I am thinking of getting two new root sets to plant in them. I know you cant eat them the first year (like my little sprouts) but I have plenty I can eat. I'm not sure how long the plants produce for (as in years) so I think it might be a good idea to add more.  Anyone know?

Unfortunately the artichoke plants did not survive the winter so no new learning on that front. Not sure if I will buy more plants or not. Not this year anyways.

So do you have a favorite asparagus recipe? I could use some new ones. Please share!