Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harvest Blessings

There has been a lot going on around here
as there has been for many folks.
I'm not entirely sure just where to begin today.
My last post included a partial to-do list
some of which has occurred.
Today I found my kitchen floor.
You know, I think it was under there all along
and was just playing hide & seek.
At least we can walk across it without
it pulling our socks off now:)
The forests are open so we have brought in,
split, and stacked a couple trailers of wood.
We probably need one more good load or a couple small ones.
That's quite the workout, but is so rewarding.
A few days ago as I was picking 'more' plums, and
this nearly hit me in the head before I noticed it.
This whole limb will be pruned off 
so I am going to rescue it and bring it inside for the mantle.
The river is low but still sounds beautiful as
my head hits the pillow at night.
Tomatoes! Wow!
They leave me speechless.
There were a bunch that came up volunteer (in the potato patch.)
They are a little later than the ones we planted intentionally.  But look what they are doing.  The vast majority of these little ones go on the dehydrator to become 'sun-dried' tomatoes.  The ones in the upper right bowl are all from volunteer plants.
This year in addition to 'real' tomatoes,
we had little purple tomatoes and big orange ones - both good.

If you have never canned pears,
first let me warn you.
And second, 
you don't know what you're missing.
I have canned as much as we will eat,
gave away six big grocery bags full to some friends,
and they are still falling.
My neighbor was over today and asked if I wanted any pears.
I just laughed.
A good year for pears evidently.
Some folks don't realize that they fall from the tree green
then ripen over the course of about a week.
This was fantastic thought on God's part since they
are too tender, would bruise, and directly turn to mush
if they fell when ripe.

They are easy to can (one of the first things I learned to can.)
Just peel, core, slice, and top off with syrup.
Hot water bath for 8-10 minutes and presto.
I prefer a light syrup so use 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water.
Bring it to a simmer so the sugar dissolves before
pouring over the fruit.
And last but not least...
evening before last we fiiiiiinally had a little shower
move through, and as we looked out our back door,
this is what we saw over the mountain.

I hope each of you is finding your own form of blessings
and enjoying the tail end of the harvest season.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sensing the Season

The race is on...
lately there have been some beautiful autumn posts and pictures.
(out by our gate)
What goes through my head is
"Waaaaiiit! I'm not ready yet."
The pears are on,
The tomatoes are on,
The plums and cukes are still on.
(one day's worth)
All of these need preserving.
The dehydrater is going full bore.
The canning pots are standing ready.
The pantry shelves are still receiving.
The tree with eating apples is not quite ready yet.
The celery is taking its own sweet time.
We had about 6 weeks of 100 plus degree weather
this summer and had to keep things alive through it.
I want to reap and preserve as much of the bounty as possible.
There is still so much to do.
We still need to:
begin pulling and cleaning up the garden
as certain things begin to fizzle out,
get firewood,
as trees finish up, prune them (this is their year,)
clean chimney / ready wood stove, and
deep clean kitchen after harvest which isn't finished.

Yes, I realize this just seems like some
crazy person's to-do list,
but really it's about living with nature.
I don't want to rush it.
Don't get me wrong, I love autumn,
the rich warm colours,
and the crisp cool nights.
If we take our cues from nature
and the critters,
late summer is for squirrelling away our winter store.
The chipmunks have been busy,
the quail nesting earilier in the evening,
the bear foraging on fallen fruit of all sorts,
and birds soaring to warmer climes.
This is where we find ourselves.
I mean really find ourselves.
It's living right with nature:
it's just what is here now and
making the most of the gifts we are granted.
It's not rushing forward into the next season.
Our society forces this upon us by putting
Christmas decor out in October
and St. Valentine's candy out at New Year etc.
Neither, is it grasping to what is gone.
You might try swimming in the river,
but you won't last long - the water is cooling down.
All of this said,
maybe just appreciate the sense of season,
the now season.
It's an in between season with no real name,
no longer summer and not quite autumn.
It's the gift of today,
and isn't today just beautiful?

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Six Bean Soup Mix

This is really a Gift in a Jar idea.
The thing is that it can be a gift 
for someone else or for yourself.
I like to make up three or four at a time
for our own use.
These are wonderful both to give and to receive.
It's something that saves time
and can be used up.

Six-Bean Soup Mix

1/2 cup each (dried):
red beans
navy beans
pinto beans
lima beans
kidney beans
Great Northern beans

Then in a small zip-lock bag:
2 bay leaves
2 Tbl. dried minced onion
1 Tbl. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

And on top:
1 beef bouillon cube
1 vegetable bouillon cube 

Then for cooking:
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 lbs. cubed ham, bacon, or sausage

To cook, remove seasoning packet & bouillon cubes.
Place beans in large pot with seven or eight cups water.
Let soak overnight.
Bring beans to a boil - let boil 2-3 min.
Remove from heat and let sit 15-20 min.
Pour off water.
Add 5-6 cups water, spices, bouillon, diced tomatos, and meat.
Now you can either bring it to a boil then reduce heat
and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours,
or my favorite...
Put it all in a crock pot or Dutch oven with low heat and leave it alone
until dinner time.

This is one of the ways I use up left-over ham.
Mr. LB loves it and even likes to have them reheated for a second meal.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 6, 2014

~Old Bedsheets: the Re-possibilities~

They're hiding in the backs of closets,
the bottoms of drawers, and even
in storage bins in the garage and under beds.
Old bedsheets!
We keep them - just in case.
In case of what?
If you have a small store of these treasures,
here are just a few ways to bring them back
to usefulness.

*If you are a hunter or butcher your own meat,
you can fold them in half then sew the bottom and
up one side and you have a great game-bag.

*Cut or tear them into even squares and use as 
napkins, paper towels, or handkerchiefs.
(I really don't like using or paying for paper products.)

*Tear into strips and make braided rugs.
(I know, but if I didn't include it on the list,
someone would have yelled at me:)

*Cut small circles and use to top canned goods
when given as gifts - tie with jute or raffia.

*Make jelly bags (for juicing fruits)

*Use a strip as ribbon and tie up a present.

*Cut or tear into strips and make a rope.
You can use one strip and with only your fingers
make a long chain - like you are crochetting.
Start with a half hitch - like you are going to tie your shoes.
Then pull long strip through to make a new loop - if you pull 
from the wrong direction, it will just untie.  You'll get it:)
Reach through with thumb and index finger.
 Pull through.
Keep on going.
This would be about a 2" wide strip since I used
a 1" strip doubled over.
The diameter of the 'rope' is probably about 5/8".
If you want a heavier rope, just use wider strips.

A couple other notes:
I prefer all cotton sheets.
They might not last quite as long, but neither are they 
made out of plastic (polyester.)

All cotton can be dyed other colors if you have a light color.

I didn't include quilt-making above, because if they are worn,
the integrity of the fabric might not be what I would 
want to use in a quilt that I put a lot of work into.
If the fabric is in good condition, by all means,
use it in a quilt.

Lastly, don't use them as shop rags - that's what 
old teeshirts are for.  Sheets have too many better options.
Old teeshirts aren't good for much else.

I'm sure there are other things,
but hopefully this gets your 'ideas sector' moving.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, September 4, 2014

~Sentimental Clutter~(before and after)

Being the nostalgic one of the clan,
plenty of items seem to come this direction.
For the most part, I am really grateful.
Over the past couple years though,
I have been on a mission to declutter.
It has been getting better and better.
It's when it comes to family items
that I tend to struggle.
My Uncle Joe passed away about 20 years ago.
Somehow, two foot stools he made ended up here.
They have been moved from one spot to another
gathering yet another layer of dust and debris with each shift.
I have come to the point that these things
(not just the foot stools)
need to either be used or move on.
My memories of him do not center around these foot stools.
He was a kind man, but I think he would call me foolish
for feeling like I had to keep them as I have.
These two little gems are not identical.
(I only got a picture of one at a time.)
The legs are different and were evidently covered
let's see...maybe 1972???
What would your guess be?
I decided to pull the rusty floral off and recover them.
We don't have much white in the house
and would probably use these in the living room
so I applied dark walnut stain to the painted legs.
Stain over paint (low sheen) created a very suttle look.
One has a plain wooden top that will need to be recovered;
however, the other was a suprise.
It had a finished black top.
After regluing the legs that were loose,
I decided I liked that one just as it was.
Imagine, they have been floating around the shop
for a good ten years at least,
and all it took was about ten minutes to have a wonderful
usable foot stool.
After regluing the legs, it is sturdy enough to stand on.
I really just want to use it while sitting in my chair,
but I also like the idea of sturdy.

I suppose the real point to all of this is,
if you have something that you are saving to pass down
to someone, maybe see if they want it now.
Items that are stored for decades are not being appreciated.
If I would have been offered my great-great grandmother's
entire dishes set when I was needing dishes,
I might have enjoyed them.
Now that I have inherited them, I don't need them
but feel obligated to have them.
(Any ideas on that one would be appreciated:)
My latest goal is...
I want it all gone by the time I die.
I hope it's not "things" that I am remembered for,
but life and love.
How nice would that be for my kids - 
just to have the essentials to deal with when I'm gone.
Ma's dentures, coffee cup, and quilt.
Pitch the dentures.  Argue over who gets the cup and quilt - done.
I know it's not that simple,
but I'll keep trying.

PS: I liked the black top on the one foot stool so well,
I decided to do the other top black so they will sorta match.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches