November 20, 2017

Monday Morning Lists...

Coming Soon! New Wooly Project Bags

I had a great weekend, and hope you did, too. I spent time in the studio choosing fabrics for new project pouches, pulling fabrics to list in my shop, and cleaning up the fabric studio.

I'll be making up the new pouches and filling special orders today, as well as shipping out orders I received over the weekend. It's going to be a busy day!

"Brewing" New Hickory Syrup

Over the weekend, I also brewed up a new batch of Hickory Syrup. I received my bottle order on Saturday, so orders will go out in style!

Hickory Syrup Available
 
I've already run out of the filled sample jars shown in this picture (Thanks, Facebook friends), but I still have a few of the sample bottles available that I showed you last week.
 
I'll list these up in my shop in case you're interested in a bottle for yourself or as a gift. If I run out this week, I'll make more over the weekend. I expect that I'll be able to keep making more through New Years', but will have to see how my hickory supplies last from there.  

I hope you have a fun week planned. I'll be stitching with Kathy D. tomorrow at Primitive Gatherings, so I'd better get my tasks accomplished today to play Tuesday!
 
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November 19, 2017

Sunday Scripture...

 
 
 Mom Grace's granddaughter, Kayti gave birth to her first great grandchild last week. 
She would be happy that Thanksgiving will now hold a happier memory for her family.
Welcome to the world, Paisley.

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November 18, 2017

A Rare Day...

Brynwood Sewing Studio
 
If you create anything at all, you know how your creative space can get away from you. I refer to it as "creative chaos". Lately, it's looked like a bomb had gone off in this room. I had to take a little time to bring some order back into my sewing studio. (We won't look in the fabric studio today, though.)

This is a panoramic scan using my iPhone, so you'll notice a little distortion. One hundred year old farmhouse floors aren't quite that curvy! 

I was standing in the doorway to my space when I shot this image. Immediately to my left is my pattern file cabinet, filled as usual with fat quarters, patterns and some kits. It's sitting next to my Ikea cabinet with the glass-front drawers. I use this as my "local" cutting table (my big cutting table for cork, etc. is in the fabric studio in the next room). 

The door on the left side of the room leads to the walk-up attic, which will eventually be a guest room/bunk house for when our grandkids, nieces or nephews come to visit. You might notice my newly painted shelf mounted on the wall. I really like it there. 

Kenny and my little serger sit on the table in front of the south window. When I'm sitting at my Destiny table, I can see out that window to our driveway. Tag makes sure no one ever sneaks up on us, so when he lights up I just have to look out the window to see who's on the drive.

Next to that window is my drawer stack. These were purchased in Florida from a scrapbook store, and that was the intended function. They work perfectly for holding my bag hardware, a few stamps and other supplies. The rest of my hardware and KamSnaps sit in drawers on the countertop. Everything is within easy reach of my sewing tables for efficiency. The cabinets hide hold shipping supplies, bookkeeping binders, my sewing notes/hand drawn patterns, and office supplies.

Of course, you can see my computer, printer and tool box on the table facing our back yard. The new door with it's much-appreciated window still haven't been painted, but it lets in light, and in front of it is the perfect place to take photos in natural light. 

Jane sits on her Sew Eze table in front of my thread cabinets and a bookshelf, and the last thing on that side is a closet for things I don't need sitting out. If it were a little larger, some of the other items that are in the room would be in the closet, but farm closets were built smaller. I think I'll have some shelves put in them to make it easier to get at what's in there, but that's a project for another day.

Now that I'm reorganized, I will be sewing today. It's supposed to be rainy yucky today, so sewing will be just what the doctor ordered.


Before I go today, you may have noticed that your comments weren't showing up as soon as you hit the send button. I had been getting a bunch of spam written in languages I don't read, so I set the moderation to "always", which means nothing posts unless I give permission. Then, I promptly forgot that I did that and hadn't been checking. I'm such a doof! It was brought to my attention last night, so I went to see whether or not there was a problem. I had NINETY TWO comments to moderate. I'm so embarrassed! 
 
Thank you to everyone who left comments. I'll try to catch up and respond to everyone over the weekend. I'm going to sew for a while now (she says as she scuffs her toe and slowly backs away). See you tomorrow!

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November 17, 2017

Girls' Day Out...

Holiday Booty

I met up with Kathy and her grade school friend, Barb in Menasha (WI) yesterday. They started their shopping day earlier in Appleton, but Tag and I caught up with them at Primitive Gatherings mid-morning.

I hadn't realized that Primitive Gatherings was having their holiday open house, so it was a wonderful surprise to see all their newest items, get a few holiday-themed projects, snag a few sale items, and even find a little bottle brush tree to sit next to my sewing machine!

Projects From Primitive Gatherings

There were homemade cookies, free patterns (with a modest purchase), make & take classes in the basement of their shop (which is a remodeled home), and prize drawings. Kathy and Barb each got to choose from the door prize offerings when their names were drawn!

Sewing and Stitching Kits

I bought the little Peppermint Lane table runner kit to go with the free pattern (It's really festive!); an annual pincushion (featuring geraniums) from 2015, which I'll date the year I assemble it; a gorgeous ivory penny rug table mat kit (top left); mixed grey and cream wools (I needed those for another project); a book by Janet Clare (I just love her designs); and a pattern with preprinted panels for little holiday bowl filler pillows.

After shopping, the three of us lunched at The Weathervane in downtown Menasha. We parted ways after our meal, but I'll see Kathy again next week for PG's Sit & Sew on Tuesday. Now I have a nice list of options for what I'll be working on that day!

Tag and I stopped at the apple orchard on our way home. They'll be closing for the season on the 27th, and their stock is getting low. I wanted McIntosh apples to use for canning more applesauce, but they were out for the remainder of this year. I bought Cortlands instead, so I'll still make applesauce, but it will be a little different because of the apple variety. It will be tasty just the same.

I'll be in the studio today. I listed up new fabrics in my shop over the past couple of days, but I think today will be for sewing. What am I going to work on? I have no idea. I'll just see where my muse takes me...it will make for an interesting day, I think.

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November 16, 2017

It Was One Of Those Days...

Me. 1983.
 
Today, I just rested and caught my breath. I needed that.
 
Spending time today with my pal, Kathy and another friend of hers.
We're going shopping in the Valley. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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November 15, 2017

By George, I Think I've Got It...

My "Perfect" Chocolate Chip Cookie

You know I've been whining about obsessed unhappy with my chocolate chip cookies for some time now. I was unable to make a cookie that met my standards the entire time we lived in Florida, and even for the past few attempts back here in Wisconsin, they were less than what I wanted.

Image from SimpleMost blog

Handsome hinted that he would like me to send a batch of cookies to him in Florida, so yesterday I decided to experiment a bit. His hint was in the form of a link to that chart/blog post I reference a couple of years ago here on my blog. This was the post from a site called SimpleMost. I went back and read it again, and then decided to experiment to come up with my own cookie recipe.

Aren't They Pretty?

I began with the same Toll House Cookie recipe I'd been making since I was eleven. It seems that after I got smart about measuring ingredients and being more precise, my cookies started to literally fall flat. I needed to think like eleven year old Donna again.

I decided to measure out the flour as I would have as a kid. Instead of scooping the flour into the measuring cup, I'd use the measuring cup as the scoop, which has a tendency to pack more flour into the cup. Then (after rereading the other post), I decided I'd change the proportions for white sugar to brown sugar. Finally, I split the baking soda into half baking soda, half baking powder. I know. I changed three things instead of just one. Not always the smartest way to experiment, but it worked!

I'm going to share my exact (double batch) recipe with you in case you'd like to try it for yourself.

(Click on the recipe to enlarge and save.)

Pier One Plates From 2016
 
In case you're curious about the plate pictured with my cookies, this is the little guy trying to peek out from under the cookies. I bought a few of these plates at Pier One last fall, when we were in Wisconsin purchasing the farmhouse. I don't know whether or not they're still available. I haven't gone to Pier One lately. (I get in trouble shopping there! lol)
 
Half of this batch is shipping to Handsome today. The other half went up the hill to Shelly, Andy and grandson, Eli. I was smart and only kept a few here to have after dinner last night.
 
If you make up my recipe, please let me know how they work out for you. I'd love to know if you get the same results! 
 
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November 14, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - The Frost Is On The Pumpkin...

Posing With Our Pumpkin
 
Hi, Everybody! 

November 14th, and we've already had some pretty frosty days.
Good thing I've got a full and fabulous coat. Cool weather doesn't bother me!
 
Taggart

 Mom takes me out every mornin' so I can do my business.
Yesterday, the grass was frosty, and everythin' smelled interestin'.
Of course, I had to strike a pose, 'cuz the light was just right.
 
Taggart

I'd like to thank Mom for not takin' any pictures of me while I was "otherwise occupied". Not my best look, you know. But, she never misses a chance to get a shot of my cute Corgi butt.

This early in the mornin', the grass is crisp and crunchy. The dampness holds scents, so I like to explore a little whenever I get the chance. It seems to me that there may have been a few interestin' critters around here overnight. I'm thinkin' maybe a raccoon, and definitely a mouse or two. (I've seen some fat field mice in the yard before.) I like checkin' out the yard first thing in the mornin'.

The Boy Can Run
 
After I make my mornin' rounds, Mom lets me know that it's time for breakfast. Breakfast and dinner are my favorite times of day. I run when she tells me there's food in my future. Feets don't fail me now! 
 
Don't tell the Black Dog, but I miss our mornin' runs around the farm. I know she's havin' fun with Dad in Florida, and that she's gettin' to see Uncle Mike twice a week, but I still miss her. Mom just doesn't have her speed. Of course, I miss Dad, too. That almost goes without sayin'.

Mom and I are plannin' a few visits this week. I'm gonna bet that she takes a picture or two so I can tell you about it next time we visit.
 
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

November 13, 2017

A New Farm Treasure...

Hickory Syrup
 
You may have noticed lately how I've become slightly obsessed with the whole process of canning. (Understatement of the year, I know.) I recently found a group on Facebook where I've made new friends and found great knowledge and inspiration. The group was created by Marisa McClellan who wrote the book, Food In Jars (among others). Her group is of the same name.
A new (to me) friend in the group is Mary Marshall. She writes the blog Cooking With Mary and Friends. She has posted some magical canning recipes, including the one I recently told you about (Christmas Jam). It's a big hit around here.
 
© Cooking With Mary and Friends image
Over the weekend, I found her latest group contribution from her blog...Praline Syrup. (Click on the link for the recipe.) I immediately decided I'd make this recipe using hickory nuts, which I mentioned in the discussion. Another member shared that she'd made hickory syrup, and I went from there.
  
Dried Hickory Shells and Nutmeats

When I spent so much time last fall and winter cracking hickory nuts, I only had one thing in mind when I saved the shells (and nutmeats I couldn't pry out of them). I figured I'd use the shells in summer campfires, or when grilling spare ribs.

As luck would have it, I never did anything with them over the summer, so they just continued to dry out in a clean 25 gallon plastic container. When we started talking about the process of making hickory syrup, I decided to bring the container inside and give it a try.
 
Finished Hickory Hill Farm Hickory Syrup
 
Eight hours later, I have six pint jars, and seven 1.5 ounce sample bottles of the most tasty, beautiful golden brown hickory syrup to show for my first effort. I've barely made a dent in my tote full of shells. 
By my calculation, I have enough to make at least twenty more pints of syrup...and that's just from last years shells. That's not even counting the fifteen gallons of hickory nuts from this year that I'll be shelling for their meats.
I'll definitely be making Mary's recipe for Praline Syrup, and I'll spend free time this winter making more Hickory Syrup, too. I'll be ordering containers today, and plan to share this golden nectar in my shop. I'll have larger bottles or jars available, as well as small sampler jars.
They'll be listed up in my shop as soon as the new containers arrive, and I'll be sure to let you know so my blog friends get the first chance to purchase some. If you know you'd like to have some, you can send me an email to reserve a pint or jar. More goodness from Hickory Hill Farm, thanks to a little help from my friends.

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November 12, 2017

Sunday Scripture...

via quotesgram.com
 
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November 11, 2017

End Of Season...

Soy Bean Harvest

Harvest time intrigues me. I love the process. I love the machinery. I respect that hard work and long hours our neighbors put in as they provide for not only their families, but America's families.

A few days ago, I heard the machinery in the fields north of us. I knew that our neighbor and his sons would be harvesting the soybean field (and part of the property they lease from us) soon. The night before last, I could see the lights of the machinery, as they worked late into the night in the field just to the west of this one.

Soy Bean Harvest
 
Today, they tackled our shared fields. I sat, again enthralled, to see how the machinery was so effective at harvesting the soybeans. By dark, this field was cleared. 
I'm not sure whether or not they plan to till before the snow falls, or whether it will stay as it is now. I do know that our neighbors are good stewards of the land, so they'll do the best for their - and our - land. We're happy to be partners in their production, even in a small way. 
I think about food producers, whether small, home gardeners like me, or large operations like our closest farm neighbors. I have a great respect and appreciation for what they do. As much as I enjoy my reintroduction to canning this fall - and my tiny kitchen garden - I can only sit in awe of all they produce and accomplish. I'm grateful that the work of farmers, big and small, grows so many of the crops that I was able to bring into our kitchen and serve my family.

As this growing season comes to an end, I'm grateful for their knowledge, diligence and commitment to their craft. I wish I could personally thank each and every one of them. I want them to know that I know where my food source comes from. Thanks to them, our lives are infinitely easier and richer, and we're all healthy and nourished because of it.

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November 10, 2017

Christmas Jam...

Christmas Jam
 
Yesterday ended with jars filled with tasty Christmas Jam. I made two batches which yielded fourteen 8 ounce jars and four 4 ounce jars. It's really delicious. I'll be making more before the holidays arrive, as I'm planning gift baskets of jams, cheeses and crackers this year.

If you're interested in making your own Christmas Jam for the holidays, HERE is where my recipe came from. In addition to the listed ingredients, I also added orange zest to my batches. (I love citrus!) Mary's recipe is easy to follow and processes beautifully (and our whole house smells like the holidays already!!)

Today I'll be making chocolate chip cookies to send to my Handsome boyfriend in Florida. He's been seeing all the jams and jellies I've been making and hinted yesterday that he was craving my cookies, so I'm happy to make a big box to send south. I'll be taking some up the hill to Shelly and Andy (and Eli), too! Lord knows, I don't need to eat them all!

It's hard to believe it's already Friday. My plan is to spend the weekend on homekeeping things, and Monday I'll get back to sewing. What do you have planned this weekend?

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November 9, 2017

Back In The Saddle...

Pomegranate Jelly

I'm finally feeling fit again, so of course, I headed to the saddle kitchen. While I was lying around, I was reading my canning cookbooks and came across three recipes I had to make!

The first one I made is a fabulous pomegranate jelly that starts with pomegranate juice! There are only three ingredients...juice, sugar and Sure Jel™. This jelly is seriously delicious!

Yesterday's yield was nine 4 ounce jars and two 8 ounce jars. I know I'll be making more.

Tomato Jam
 
My second recipe is called "Amy's Tomato Jam" from Marisa McClellan's book Food In Jars. This recipe calls for sugar, freshly grated ginger, lime juice, cinnamon and cloves. It can be eaten as traditional jam, or as a condiment. This one took hours to cook down, but it's so wonderful! It was worth the effort. Five pounds of tomatoes yielded eight 4 ounce jars.
 
Yes, I mentioned three recipes, but only have two photographed. The third is being made today. I'm making Christmas Jam. I'll tell you all about that one tomorrow. Man, it's great to be feeling good again!

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November 8, 2017

Farmhouse Fall Day...

Farmhouse Fall Day
 
The leaves are falling, the squirrels are left to the rest of the hickory nuts in our yard, and our front porch is cleaned off, made ready for winter. I love that we live where we don't have to rake leaves. We can simply enjoy their color and the crunch under our feet when we walk through the yard. 

These days become cooler and shorter - even as the shadows grow longer. Winter is just around the corner, so we'll savor these days while we can. It's my favorite time of year in Wisconsin...glorious Fall.

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November 7, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Loose Ends...

Farmer Tag

 Hi, Everybody!

I promised to show you how I dressed for Halloween last week.
I was a Gentleman Farmer. 
(Real stretch, right?)

Truth is, I really don't like gettin' dressed up. It starts with a hat, and the next thing you know, I'm wearin' a stoopid tutu or somethin'. It's easier to draw the line at a bandana and a cap. 

I convinced Mom to go with props instead so you'd get the idea. The rake behind me made me a little nervous, but it was better than the pitchfork Mom went for when she first went into the shed. I convinced her to go with the rake instead.

So, let me tell you what else happened recently... 

Dr. Griffiths

Before Boo and Dad left, she needed to get a special shot to vaccinate her against canine flu. It's a big deal in Florida - and since she was travelin' with Dad, our Florida vet, Dr. Stephanie said she should get the shots before heading south.

Not every vet in Wisconsin carries the vaccine. Mom called around and found out that they have it at Veterinary Village in Lomira, WI. That's about a 35 minute drive from our house. She made an appointment for Bella, who got her first shot about a month ago. Then she had to go back for her booster two weeks later, and guess who got dragged along? Yup. Me.
 
What's Goin' On?

First, they put you in a private room and make you wait a little while just to take you off guard. I kept askin' Dad why we were there, but he wasn't tellin' anyone. Bella's lips were sealed, too.

The Ruse

Dr. Griffiths was a nice enough man. He's cagey, though. He has this sneaky system for givin' shots to us shorter life forms.

When Dr. G and his assistant, John came in, there was a flurry of activity as they descended on Bella with treats. Wait. What? Treats? One of them gave her treats while the other one gave her a shot between her shoulders! She liked the ginger snaps so much that she didn't even care! Ginger snaps!

There Must Be Some Mistake
 
Next thing I knew, they were givin' me treats. Awesome!! Wait. There musta been a mistake. I didn't know I was gettin' a shot, too! Well at least it wasn't in my...um...butt.
 
Mom said we're goin' back this mornin'. Time for my booster. Oh, joy! Be still my beatin' heart. Not even ginger snaps are enough to sidetrack me. The only good thing is when I go to Florida with Mom next year, I won't have to worry about gettin' sick.

I sure hope this isn't the highlight of my week. I'm lookin' for somethin' a lot more excitin' than a shot.
 
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".


November 6, 2017

Brighter Fabrics...

Tropical Fabrics

Some of you noticed what my dear friend, Susan (now living in Georgia), told me years ago. I need a little more color in my work. Susan loves bright colors with black backgrounds that really make them pop. In fact, I have a fabulous, favorite wall hanging she gave to me at the end of the last quilt show.

Sea Life and Florals

I have listened to her - and you - and will add more bright colored items to my show repertoire in February. I'll have items made with Florida, sea life, florals, geometrics and other bright colors to mingle with my "go-to" fabrics.

I'll start sewing soon while I also make my Christmas gifts this year, so you can be sure I'll share the finished projects with you for your input. I've got plenty of time, so I won't be waiting until the last minute, for sure.

I'm still under the weather, but getting better by the day. I had a delivery of delicious chili yesterday and have been eating every grandma's cure for the common cold...homemade chicken soup. I'm also not trying to do too much other than heal. I've got too much to do to just lie around all day! Maybe I'll just sit in my fabric studio. These brighter fabrics are bound to get me up and around in no time, right?

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