Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Summer Kitchen

 One of the unexpected perks we discovered once I finally got to see our “new” home was the way the original garage and the newer garage were joined.  The wall between the two structures was not removed.  The newer larger garage would obviously be used for its intended purpose, and will house Vern, our 1948 Ford 8N tractor (more on him another time.) 
The small original garage then became an easy choice for the summer kitchen.  I had a makeshift set-up in the shop at the old place, but did a lot of going back and forth between the house and shop.  This gets to be the real deal!  I do a tremendous amount of food preservation, soap making, and candle dipping, as well as daily cooking.  The old saying (since we are in the vintage era here) “Make hay while the sun shines,” holds true for people food as well as hay for stock. Canning season is typically during the hottest months of the year.  It is so nice to be able to have the stove going and not heat up the house.  Or dehydrators going.  Or the mess corn makes.  Or…
(The "before" shot)
In case you aren’t picking up on it, I am over the moon excited!
Here, let me show you~

It has two windows both of which are broken.  The one over the sink was missing a large shard and had a scrap of cardboard propped over it, not even secured, just kinda sitting there - Classy I know.  MrLB was walking out behind the building to check the roof (which leaked but is now fixed) and noticed the shard on the ground.  Without saying anything, he got gasket maker and applied it to the edges of the shard and put it back in place.  I was cleaning inside when he came in and took the cardboard from the window and said, “There.”  I was amazed.  He’s just so sweet.

I still have my old pantry shelves which now house canning pots and empty jars.  I might change things up a bit as I use it and get the space figured out, but am just smitten with it all at the moment.  
I have the igloo set up by the sink for water since there’s no water to the building.  There is a large bucket under the drain of the old concrete sink to catch the water which will work well so I can water plants with it.  
Next is the hutch I recently acquired and cleaned up.  It will house pretty much what it did in the mountain house other than my herbs and spices.  My bowls aren’t out here yet as there was a bit of a mouse problem so we had to get that under control before I store things like that out here.
I haven't seen any "evidence" of the little rascals for nearly a month now.
I'm sure it will be on-going, but at least now maybe we can have a bit better control over the situation. 
Next is the harvest table.  I had this at the old place too, but honestly, it was usually covered with junk.  It’s an old library table about 7 feet long, and I love it!  It is a perfect height for me.  I am rather vertically challenged :-)  Standard kitchen counters are high for me and when working at them all day, my neck and shoulders get tired/sore.  It’s right next to the stove so I can move heavy canning pots to and from or have a handy work surface when dipping candles, etc. The cauldron fits under it which makes use of that space as well.
A couple other tidbits are the old yellow table and chairs so we can sit to shell peas or string beans or whatever the task at hand is (a cup of tea?)  The cushions actually go to our outdoor furniture, but rather than figuring out just where to store them for winter, I just put them on the chairs. 

And at the moment, I have the clothes line set up in here though it's easy to move outside if I want to.  We get more wind here which sounds like it would be great for drying clothes, but it's often dusty as well so this works out well.
  I've just brought the clothes trees out and will cover them, but
that would be unsightly for the photo.
The shelves will go in the house eventually, but for now they are just sitting there reminding me that I have more to do.
And in this corner which is actually a bit embarrassing at the moment, is where I will put my potting/gardening bench - against the same wall as the freezers.
The fabric on the hutch.
Last but not least, is the guard bunny.  Hucklebunny Hideaway is right out the door so she can be sure to help “recycle” any veggie leaves or goodies that become available.
The funny thing about all this is that when we figured out this space would be the summer kitchen, I hopped online for ideas on how to set it up.  If you do a search for “Summer Kitchen,” you will either see the Hollywood pool-party version or a fireplace in a historical cabin - no happy in between for practical use.  I do realize we are not exactly main stream in our ways, but I would have thought there would be a few.  I realize it looks rather rudimentary, but I assure you it all gets scrubbed before food is processed.  I would love to know if any of you have a summer kitchen or if you set up a temporary one for canning 
(or other specific tasks.)  
I've been busy amending soil that doesn't appear to have seen a spade
 for a decade or more.
Nearly everything is planted.  There are a few more things to get in the ground tomorrow then it will just be whatever progressive planting I decide upon.
I pulled out first radishes today so it won't be long, and I will be putting this space through a real workout.

Hope you are enjoying spring.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Canning Chips

Yes, that says "Canning Chips."
Here, let me explain~
We don't eat very many chips, but
when we do, they are part of a meal rather than a snack item.
They are nice with taco soup or to have nachos on occasion.
There is a small local company that makes good corn chips that we like,
but there are only a few places to get them.
So when I'm able to make it to one of the stores that carries them,
I get a couple bags and can them.
Simply use wide mouth jars and put as many chips in as possible.
Then I use the vacuum attachment to the seal-a-meal to lid them.
You could also Hot-oven Can them which is what I did 
until I got the vacuum attachment.
One bag makes 4-5 quart jars depending upon how many you eat 
during the canning process. :-)
Then they can go in the pantry and are ready when you need them.
For the two of us, we use 1 quart jar at a time.
If you have a family, it would be more of course.
The longest I've ever stored them is about a year, and 
they were still fresh and tasty.
As is the case when canning any dry-good,
it's important that your jars and lids are clean and completely dry.

Just a note, many of the items in my pantry have rims on them.
When we moved, I put rims on most of the jars just as an extra precaution.
I didn't want lids to pop if the jar was jostled just right.
I have plenty of rims so am just removing them as I use the food.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Place to Keep Quotes

The other evening as I was browsing through blog posts,
I meandered over to see what Bonnie K at
I noticed a quote in her sidebar that caught my eye.
Then I sat and read each one.
I thought she needs a book like mine.
I have this darling little book that a friend made for me.
It's only about 2" X 3.5". 
When she gave it to me, I wondered what I would do with it.
An answer appeared within a week 
when I read a quote I liked.
I have a punch bowl on our coffee table in the living room.
It has little books in it that I change with the seasons.
I've tried removing the punch bowl and going with something else,
but I get in trouble.
There are a few folks who visit who evidently like the punch bowl.
So in the punch bowl I keep my little quote book.
Every so often when I read a quote that resonates,
I write it in the little book.
Since I'm not allowed to get rid of the punch bowl,
folks will have to fight over it when my time is through.
If you have a favorite quote, let me know.
Evidently, I'm not the only one who likes them.

A side note~ when we were without internet for nearly a month,
I did hop on another computer and looked at the blog.
Only about half - two thirds of the blogs I follow appear on the blog reading list.
I don't know why, if it's something I did or if it's blogger.
So even if you don't see your blog on the list, I may still be a follower.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Up the Mountain

This last weekend, we had our taxes done (blek!) 
then headed up the mountain to check on the place, 
maybe get a little more work done, and fill our water jugs.
We prefer fresh mountain well water to filtered irrigation water so will haul drinking water as long as we can.
Yes that is a car buried in snow!

We knew there had been significant snowfall 
as we’ve had plenty down here in the low land.
We ended up having to just pull out where our drive is and walk to the house.
Walking was a bit of a challenge.  
The snow came up over our knees as we took each step.
I’m short so nearly froze my bottom off :-)
We built roaring fires in the house and shop.  
There is electric heat on just enough to keep the pipes from freezing, but a fire lasts a while and helps just that much with the power bill for up there.
We didn’t get any work done in the house, because we were shoveling.
I still have two chickens up there that run free. 
They refuse to stay cooped so I quit fighting with them.  
They have a huge self feeder full of food and a heated water dish 
so are really fine.
We checked them out when we arrived.
They wouldn’t leave the lean to so I put their feed under there 
and ran an extension cord for their water dish.
We (mostly MrLB while I filled water jugs) shoveled the snow off the lean to portion of the shop.
It’s not flimsy but it tends to melt off the shop 
and slides down and accumulates on the lean to.
The last thing we need is for it to cave in on the wood and tractor.
By the time we left, we were chilly, our pant legs were soaked, 
and we’d had a decent workout.
The same plow driver is “taking care of” the road - meaning the dufus drives both directions down the middle of the road instead of on his own side to create the two lanes it should be.
There are a couple things I miss about living up there,
but this weekend I was ever grateful we live where we do 
and are on the path we’re on-
even if we don’t know where it ends.

Friday, February 22, 2019

A Time for February

It's during these times, 
the moments between when the snowflakes touchdown, 
one by one building a crystal empire, 
that we find solace and repose.
(View from our front window.)

The long evenings offer opportunity to devote thought and attention 
to subjects of interest.
And the blustery days encourage us to stay put and complete tasks 
that were put off when the weather was finer.
This is when our homes are really our refuge~
not only from the icy storms stirring outside the windowpanes, 
but also from our confinement.
This is why the latest home trends never quite satisfy.
While I might find refuge in needle and thread,
you might find it in a wood lathe or a loom or a tool chest.
We, each of us, have our preferences from the foods we eat 
to the clothes we wear to the homes we inhabit.  

(A closer shot - the dairy barn that was once operated by the college.)

February is the month we really live in our homes.
Being "cooped up" as the expression goes, allows us to see those things 
we've grown weary of and those things we find invaluable.
Why not take the time to pack up the items we no longer find value in 
and ready them for donation (or sale.)
After all, March is right around the corner, and we will be opening windows 
to air out rooms and changing bedding to coverings slightly lighter, 
and preparing for spring.
Just as the buds plump before unfurling into thick leaves and beautiful blooms,
so can we feed the anticipation of spring cleaning 
when our homes will burst but for a moment 
before appearing fresh and light.
Spring cleaning might seem old-fashioned, and it is really,
but certainly makes a statement in a home.  
There are lists all over the internet of tasks to include in spring cleaning.
I get a chuckle when I see things like "clean the bathtub" 
on a spring cleaning list.  
I would like to think this is done more than once per year, but who knows :-)
Some of the things I consider while spring cleaning are:
Dryer hose
Washing machine - inside
Wash walls and baseboards
Wash and/or change out curtains
Oil wooden furniture
Flip mattress
Bed frames (while flipping mattress)
Clean oven
Change furnace filter
Clean out under sink(s)
Wash windows
Light fixtures

Each home has its own features so it is necessary to have 
a list that is custom made just for you.  
There is no sense having ceiling fans on the list if you don't have them.
Now is a great time to create a that list.
To many folks, the idea of a day spent cleaning to such a degree
sounds dreadful.
If you've not grown up with the annual event as routine, 
it might actually sound intimidating.
It's really not so bad,
and the rewards are are tenfold and make it worth the effort.
We appreciate our homes more 
when we've devoted such attention to their care.
If you do practice spring cleaning, 
we would love to hear some of the tasks that might seem out of the ordinary.
Or if there is a particular way you celebrate when finished,
perhaps we too can learn to celebrate that way.
Leave a comment and let us know.

(It got misty at sundown yesterday.)

But wait.
 As stated earlier, this is February.
Look at how the snow and breeze create designs in the yard.
Pull the blanket over your feet.
Have another cup of coffee.
And go ahead and read another chapter in your book.
We'll have time enough for spring next month.

Keep warm my friends~

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We Found It In 1930!

First, I need to apologize for the abruptness of the last post.  I typed it on my phone just to let you folks know I hadn’t fallen off the edge of the earth.  I am not exactly a suave thumb typer, so…..sorry.
Our "new" home ~ a modest little 1930 2 bdr farm cottage.
She's nothing fancy, rather unassuming ~ and we love her.

     But yes, we moved.  After 18 years and me and my big mouth “I’m never moving,” we moved.  It was relatively quick once we made the decision, but it wasn’t a frivolous decision.  Since spring there had been something stirring in me.  My “baby” graduated high school last spring, and I think there was the realization that the kids would never again be minor children.  They have been primarily with their father but at least in this mama’s heart, they will always be my little munchkins.  In many ways (and much hindsight) I think I have been living for them.  Maybe that sounds weird, but something sparked and motivated me to get on with my life.  I have a wonderful husband, and we’ve talked about how and where we want to retire and it finally came time to walk the walk.  If we are ever to achieve our vision, we had to make some changes.  In case you are unaware, I don’t change easily, but something about all of this just seemed right.  
These are the very steep stairs to what they called "the bonus room."  It can't be classified as a bedroom due to the stairs.  Works for us.  Here let me show you what's up there.

A few of the things we considered were both of us commuting.  My commute was about 40+ min each way and his was 55+ min each way.  We also moved across state line.  Oregon is an income tax state so there is 9% of our pay that we never see.  That’s significant!  Washington is a sales tax state which only really matters if we are spending a lot of money.  We are in the “trying to get rid of” stage of our lives not the acquiring stage.  We are hoping to save money rather than spend it.
It's our hobby room.  I'm actually embarrassed to show this picture.  I can't believe how much fabric I have.  I have been gifted a fair bit over the years as well as what I acquired on my own.  I am going through it little by little and getting rid of quite a stack which is the pile in the left of the picture.  Mr. LB ties flies so his stuff is small and tidy.  All I can say is, "I'm working on it."

Also, once we sell the house up the mountain, we will have a nest-egg to bank and grow.  Not entirely sure what that means as we will decide once it sells and our views on economy and options at that time might be different than they currently are.  We are trying to get things dialed in and create focus.  In addition, we decided renting might be a better option than buying as coming up with a down payment while paying the current mortgage and readying that house to sell would be a challenge. 
If I am standing at the top of the stairs and turn from the hobby room, there is this funny little nook that my grampa's desk fits into just perfectly.  There is no outlet so I have an adapter from the light and ran an extension cord.  I still need to pin it up along the ceiling.  This is my writing and drawing nook.  I am hoping to spend some happy hours here.  Sorry, you are getting the still in process pictures.

Almost immediately after telling Mr LB, “Let’s move,” he found a place I referred to as “the Barry Manilow House.”  It was all yellow and gold and dark wood paneling and florescent lights in dropped ceilings, but had the type of space we needed.  Egads! Gasp! Cough!  So I almost as immediately looked up and found a charming cottage with equally nice garage/parking etc. and suggested it.  Deal!  So I called, filled out the application and scheduled the viewing.  The evening before the viewing, we received a call.  The owners pulled it.  My heart sank.  For the 2-3 months following, I looked at listings daily.  We looked at several houses.  One thing we found is most folks want a large house and a small garage for storage.  We of course, we aren’t normal.  We wanted a smaller home but needed a real garage.  The other thing we found was houses that allowed pets translated to grimy and dirty.  I’ve been a homeowner since 1994 so I quickly realized a few things in the renting world have changed - go figure.  We were nearly deflated after a couple of other places fell through.  We had hoped to move before year end so that next years taxes would be easier - yes, another one of our motivations.  Nine days before Christmas, a couple hours after I had gone to bed, MrLB came up stairs and said, “I have to wake up up.”  I hadn’t actually slept (anxiety.)  He said the cottage was re-listed.  “What!?!” Repeated.  “You’re kidding!” “Nope,” blinding me with phone in the dark.
This was once the walk in cooler.  It still has the original door which is cool.  They put a hole through the wall to recess the refrigerator.  It was just a dingy room with a make shift shelf, a few cans of paint and some old blinds when we moved in.  This was MrLB's first project.  He's such a love.  I knew I was protective of my pantry, but moving it stressed me out a bit.  Now it's all safe and sound and reorganized.

Rentals go by first complete application received = first priority so at 11PM I got up, went down stairs, and got on the computer to fill out the application.  It was a good thing I did.  Another couple had applied the following morning.  MrLB went and did the viewing, said we’d take it, and we signed the lease (online.)  Mind you, I still hadn’t seen it, but knew it was right.  I had asked God to put us in the right place and ‘knew’ he would.  Have you ever experienced that?  After this place was pulled initially and after looking at another place that turned out to be a dive, I had gone for a drive.  Not knowing any of the backroads, I thought I would just see where I ended up.  I ended up staring at the cottage, pulled over, prayed (and cried at that point,) then found my way back to the highway and headed back up the mountain.  So, when that little cottage became available again, I said a big “Thank you,” to God and signed that lease sight unseen.  
Though I'm not wild about the garbage can gray they painted the lower cabinets, I love this little feature in the kitchen.

We met at the house December 21st to do the walk-through and list any existing damage and get the keys.  We hauled our first load December 22nd.  Christmas was at our house up the mountain, then two more major loads the 28th and 29th.  In case you are wondering, Christmas week is not the most optimal time to move.
Homemade cake donuts ~ I had to!

Our “new” home is a 1930 farm cottage and sits on 73 acres (which is leased out to a farmer.)  We are down-sizing by almost 40%.  That part seems unreal as we seem to have everything we need.  We have made a couple smaller loads and still have a few things to get but we’ll be having a HUGE yard sale.  We will be sprucing up the house before listing it (hopefully) this spring.  
It’s funny how in my mind, I knew I didn’t want to retire where I was, but was so hesitant to change just for fear of the unknown.  We love this little cottage - even though it’s not ours, we can be good stewards and appreciate it for what it is and what it is helping us to achieve.  Sometimes taking the necessary steps are scary or imitating but once you start it’s an amazing trip.

There's more to share, but this post is rather long so will close for now.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Comments to Your blogs

Hello all~
Over the past week or so,  I have commented to multiple blog posts. Unless everyone is mad at me, the comments aren’t going through.  Although it is peaceful, I’m looking forward to having internet again next week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

An Update

This isn’t the most elegant manner in which to share exciting news,
but we have moved ­čśü
Our internet service did not move with us at the same time
so we are without internet until the 24th. 
It has been both peaceful and inconvenient. 
I’m looking forward to sharing the particulars once we are back up and running. 
Tootles for now.