August 21, 2018

Tuesdays With Tag - The Garden Helper...

Brynwood's Taggart

 Hi, Everybody!

I bet you're thinkin' I'm the gardener, right?

Wrong! If you're lookin' for me to help garden, those crops are gonna wither on the vine! I'd much rather be chasin' squirrels or loungin' on the porch. No manual labor for me. However, the same can't be said for a certain black dog...

Liljegren's Suncoast Bella

There she sits all innocent, but I know. She's tryin' to make me look bad. No one has told her that suckin' up isn't allowed around here! We "four paws" have to stick together after all. She's gonna give us a bad name!

The Gardener

Mom has a little garden over near the pole barn...and Boo has taken to collectin' her own crops. Right next to her in the first barrel are carrots, and in the next barrel is a tall, lanky, nearly done-for-the-season cherry tomato plant. 

Harvestin' Crops

The Black Dog has decided that she likes the cherry tomatoes, so she's started a personal "pick your own" program. Unfortunately for Mom, it's also an "eat your own" program. She also has her eyes on the carrots, but so far, Mom has discouraged her from pickin' those.
 
More Ripe Tomatoes Soon
 
The cherry tomatoes may be gettin' to the end of their production, but Mom's big tomatoes are still goin' strong and gettin' ripe on the vine. Boo thought she might pick that low-lyin' one, but Mom told her, in no uncertain terms, that she had to stay away from those! We'll see how that works!
 
We finally got rain last night, so maybe the grass won't be so crunchy by tomorrow. We've really needed the rain that everyone else has been gettin'. Nothin' like rollin' in fresh, wet grass. mmm mmm We can't wait! (It will help the tomatoes, too.) "Herself" will be pickin' again before you know it...unless Dad catches her. He'd just as soon she stick to her regular diet, without adding any more veggies!
 
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".
 

August 20, 2018

The Best Of Times...

Stylized Farmhouse Monarch Butterfly
 
We had a perfect weekend. In fact, we had so much fun with our friends, Mike and Joann that we didn't take one, single photograph. We'll commit the wonderful times we spent together to memory instead.

Today, I'm going to put up the rest of the crab apples, turning them into tasty jelly. There are a lot, so this will be a busy day. The weather should be perfect for it, too, so if you're looking for me, I'll be in the kitchen!

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August 17, 2018

Let's Hide Behind The Chain Saws...

Geico "Good Choices" Ad Image

Have you ever seen this commercial? (HERE'S the link, in case you haven't.) Handsome and I thought about this one yesterday, as we were making our way back home from a trip about 45 minutes south of the farm. Let me explain...

Hoosier Cabinet From Marketplace
 
Handsome and I wanted to find a Hoosier cabinet, or something vintage on this order for the kitchen, and saw this in the Facebook Marketplace. I had extensive texts with the owner, who said her brother would be happy to show it to us, as she was going to be out of town. We made arrangements to see it yesterday morning.

We drove south to the address she gave us, but there were three houses on the same driveway. Which one? There were two that were pin-neat, and one that looked ready to tear down. You guessed it. That was just the beginning. (Handsome muttered something about, "How do I get myself into these things?")

As her brother invited us in (alarm bells blaring!!!), I was so grateful my husband was with me. He had originally suggested that I check out the cabinet on my own, and then go back with him after the weekend. I'm soooooo glad we decided to go together instead, because, really, I couldn't have done it alone.

At first, I thought the house was being renovated, but once inside, I realized that brother had been sitting on a ratty recliner in the "living room", watching tv. There was garbage and debris everywhere. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. Then, he said, "It's in the basement. Follow me to the "dungeon". " I kid you not! If I'd been alone, this is where I would have said, "Thanks, but no. I've changed my mind about the cabinet." As Handsome was with me, we followed him downstairs. (Isn't that always where the crazy, axe murderer takes his victims?)

Needless to say, the basement was funky; the dehumidifier wasn't keeping up; the lighting stunk (as did the basement); and there stood the lonely cabinet against the wall. I felt bad, seeing it languishing away in the basement, but once I saw that the drawers stuck and didn't line up, along with the other issues it was having, I knew. I looked at Handsome, and he gave me the ever-so-subtle nod. No way were we taking it home with us. Honestly, who knew what was growing in it? We really didn't need to add another project, either. We thanked "brother" and got out of there as fast as we could. 

We didn't say anything to each other until we were back on the road. I took a deep, cleansing breath, and Handsome started to laugh. I said, "You almost had me go there alone!" He replied that he'd learned a good lesson, and wouldn't make that mistake again. Then, we both laughed about how this reminded us of the Geico ad. "Let's go hide behind the chain saws", and "Look! We can run to the cemetery." My husband also told me that I can expect to hear a lot more about this excursion. I'm pretty sure I can count on that.

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Another Culinary Windfall...

Crab Apples For Jelly
 
 I now have two and a half five-gallon buckets, filled with crab apples!
 
My aunt and uncle have a gorgeous tree that's been producing these little gems for years. They've faithfully raked, gathered and then tossed them..until we talked about it last growing season. I asked if I could have them to make jelly, and they generously said yes!

Crab apples typically ripen before the larger apple varieties, so it works out well for me. I picked up all they had gathered from the windfalls, and then the three of us shook the tree and picked up the rest on Wednesday. They've never sprayed the tree, so there are some imperfections (and a few bruises from their great fall), but I can work around all that. Bonus is that there are no chemicals on or in the fruit.

As of last night, I my first "no added pectin" juice from the first three pound batch. I'll be turning it into jelly later this morning. By the time I'm finished, I'll have plenty for the pantry, some to gift, and likely, some to sell in my online shop and to my Facebook friends. Three pounds of apples was a mere "drop in the bucket" of what I have to prepare. I'll keep track of how many jelly jars get filled.
 
First thing today, Handsome and I are running an errand about an hour south of the farm. We're looking at something special - perhaps for the farmhouse. If it comes back with us, you'll be nearly the first to know. It's definitely going to be a busy day!
 
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August 16, 2018

And, The Kits Just Keep On Coming...

Block Ten - Primitive Gatherings "Twilight Garden" (and Weekly Freebie)
 
The old saying, "Time waits for no man" is absolutely true! Since I went to Kentucky, I've been busy with outdoor pursuits, and studio work (and play) as time allows. Truth is, I'm waaayyyy behind on setting up my Twilight Garden blocks, and stitching the Summer Freebies.
 
I'm seriously craving studio time, but have had other obligations keeping me away. We also have company on the weekend, and I want to make sure everything is "just right" for their first visit to the farm. 
 
Even so, I'm going to work on some portion of this today. I think I'll cut out lots of little, red flowers, and green leaves so I can at least get something done on the minis. Time to try to catch up!
 
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August 15, 2018

A Ride In The Country...

Sheboygan County Octagon Barn
 
I took a drive down one of the back roads near home recently, and saw this fabulous farmstead and octagon barn. The barn is huge! It dwarfs the farmhouse, which isn't small. It's incredible.
 
There are so many wonderful things about being back in Wisconsin, especially where we've chosen to live. This area is steeped in history, and there are tidy farms scattered on nearly every road. Every turn reveals another treasure.

Sometimes the best travels involve taking an unfamiliar road. You never know what's around the corner, but it's likely that you'll find something beautiful if you take the time to look. When was the last time you took a drive in the country? Perhaps it's time?
 
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August 14, 2018

Tuesdays With Tag - The Sky Was Falling...

Image via wesswarmdaddyanderson.com

  Hi, Everybody!
There's no picture of me today...just this.

Last night, Mom, Dad, Bella and I sat outside to watch stuff fallin' out of the sky. Our neighbors sat outside with their grandson - my pal, Eli - to watch from their point up the hill, too.

Eli saw four of these before we went outside, and then we saw one. It was fast, and gone in a flash, and even though this picture isn't ours, it looked just like this! Mom and Dad both saw it, but I think I was lickin' somethin' and Boo was lookin' for frogs.

We also saw bats flyin' around in the yard! Mom and Dad ducked twice because they were dive-bombin' so close, but I was proud of Mom. She giggled, but she's not afraid of bats. If you had me to protect you, you wouldn't be either! And besides, the bats eat mosquitos, so the mozzies don't eat us! 

The days of summer are seemin' to just fly by as fast as those bats. We're enjoyin' time in the yard with Mom and Dad...and yesterday, I even helped Mom clean out the pottin' shed she's set up in the Compass Barn. It's nice enough to take a nap in there now. (Of course, why would I when I have a comfy bed in the house? I'm not crazy, after all.)

Uncle Mike is visitin' family in Wisconsin this week, so we're gonna see him while he's here (with Mrs. Mike, of course). I'm readin' my instruction manual so I'll be on my best behavior (at least, that's what Mom's hopin' for! hee hee). I'm sure we'll tell you all about it when we see him.

Today, we're gonna be hangin' out in the studio. Mom still hasn't been up there to work on her quilt blocks, but she said she's gonna give it her best shot. We'll see about that!

I'm gonna run. So much to do, and time is so...short. (Okay. No low-rider Corgi jokes!)

I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

 

August 13, 2018

I Thought You'd Like To See...

Mr. and Mrs.

I thought you'd like to see a wedding photo I took of the newlyweds, Cathy and Tony. This is a truly special event. They were actually married for ten years in the 1980s and 90s, and divorced. Reunited, they didn't marry in the ensuing twenty three years...until last weekend.

There was so much love and happiness, not only with the happy couple, but also from family and friends who witnessed the happy event. Newlyweds (again), to spend the rest of their lives together. We just know that this time, their marriage is everlasting.

Then, there was this...

Failed Lemon Basil Jelly

I made the tastiest batch of Sweet Basil "Jelly", infused with lemon juice. I actually made the jelly between the wedding on Saturday, and the reception later that day. I followed the recipe to the letter...including that blasted liquid pectin. Man, I dislike liquid pectin. I should have known better.

As of late Sunday evening, the jelly still hadn't set...including one jar I placed in the refrig, per the suggestion of a fellow canner (on FB). Sooooo, (you know my personality by now, right?) I'm going to re-can this batch today. I'll be following the instructions on the powdered SureJel™ insert, for redoing a jelly that doesn't set.

A few people in the Facebook group said that I could use these jars as is for a marinade, or as a syrup, or some other ideas, but seriously...I made it to be jelly, not a re-purposed failure. I'm just bein' real here. Sometimes, things don't go by the book...even here at our little corner of paradise. Wish me luck this time, okay?
 
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August 12, 2018

Sunday Scripture - Wedding Verse...

Web Image
 
 Congratulations to our friends, Tony and Cathy on their marriage.
We wish them all the best...always.

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August 11, 2018

Going To The Chapel...

Cathy and Tony (Photo credit: Catherine Steffes)
 
 Love endures always.

These dear friends were married when we first met them over thirty years ago, and circumstances parted them a few years later. Within five years, they were back together, but in all these years they hadn't remarried.

Then, last spring he proposed to her...and of course, she accepted. They've always been Tony and Cathy to us...and today, they'll make it official by remarrying in the company of friends and family. Of course, we'll be there!

Afternoon wedding, evening cocktails, dinner and dancing. It's sure to be an epic celebration, twenty years in the making! We couldn't be happier for them.

At Last!

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August 10, 2018

Grandma's Going To School This Fall...

MPTC Class Schedule Cover
 
I'm not going to school this fall for a degree (yet), but I am taking classes to learn how to make artisan breads and rustic soups (three classes total). 
 
I'm so tired of going to the grocery story for a limited selection of "okay" breads. I'd like to create our own breads here at the farm, instead of choosing from Italian, French, sourdough, country, etc., that have no real substance to them. After a while, they all taste the same. I'm taking the bread classes to learn how to make breads with personality (meaning taste, texture, and appeal). 

What goes better with a delicious bread than a hefty, comforting, soup? I'm looking forward to expanding my soup repertoire in time for the cooler weather, too! I think this is going to be fun, and I can't wait for my first class in September.
 
Farmhouse Bread & Butter Pickles
 
Handsome and I put up the last of the farmer's market pickles yesterday, too. These are bread and butter pickles for the pantry. I plan to make more, but I've got other things to do first.
 
Today, I'll be back in the studio (yippee!) to work on setting up more of my Twilight Garden blocks. I have more than a few to get caught up. I'm also going to prepare the weekly minis so I can get those stitched, too. I'm anxious to get a needle in my hand again. I'm happy today's the day.

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August 9, 2018

Almost Always Busy...

Windfall Applesauce and Cowboy Candy

I've had so much else to share with you this week, that I didn't get to show you my two most recent canning projects.

Our old apple tree drops more fruit than it retains, but I just can't let it go to waste, so I pick up the windfalls and can the acceptable morsels. I pull out the stems, cut off the bruised parts and quarter the rest into the slow cooker. A few hours later, I put everything through the chinoise, add cinnamon and sugar, reheat and jar. Fifteen more minutes in the water bath canner and voila! 5 3/4 pints of Windfall Applesauce.

After the class reunion, the committee (of which I was one) split up the leftover condiments from the buffet meal. I opted to bring home the green peppers (which I froze), and the jalapenos. I had a plan.

I learned about Cowboy Candy in a Facebook canning group, and had to make some. It's actually candied jalapenos, after adding vinegar, sugar and a few spices. The usual task of cutting up the peppers was already taken care of. I ended up with four half pints of spicy, sweet heat. This will be served over cream cheese, with crackers. (There may be beer or margaritas involved, too, but I couldn't possibly comment on that!)

Male Monarch Butterfly
 
Handsome and I have had various appointments this week, and on one return trip we encountered this beautiful male monarch butterfly. We were almost home, and driving slowly up our road, when he flew into the path of the truck. 
 
When we got home, I went around to the front of the truck and there he was. Still alive, but a bit stunned. I held him in my hand to let him get his bearings, and then, as I walked him over to the milkweeds in our field, he lifted up off my hand and flew away. None the worse for wear, and making me grateful in the process. I was honored to hold a miracle in the palm of my hand...another gift from the farm.
 
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August 8, 2018

Our State Fair...

Our Crew

Both our granddaughters celebrate their Birthdays a week apart on the calendar. This year, we decided to celebrate by taking them to the Wisconsin State Fair. It was a genius idea! The girls have never been there, and Grandpa and I haven't been in at least thirty years. We had a fabulous, fun time!

Grandpa And His Girls

Of course, there had to be at least one photograph of Grandpa with our granddaughters. They grow so quickly, that we always want to capture a moment in time when we're with them. Granddaughter #2 is using the sweet Corgi shoulder bag we gave her at Christmastime, and she loves it!

The girls went on the big Ferris wheel (the top of which is 150 feet high); and Grandma (I) even joined them on the Giant Slide (it was awesome...and I needed help getting up at the bottom because I was laughing like a loon, having "whooped" my way all the way to the bottom).

We ate fair food, and we went into the livestock exhibits, too. I'd love to have a couple of sheep, and a pet cow for the farm some day. In the meantime, heading to the cow barns and sheep exhibits gave me a little "fix" to hold me over. Oh! Oh! We watched the racing pigs, too. That was a downright hoot!

Grandma and Granddaughter #1 Eating Cream Puffs

No one else wanted one, so Granddaughter #1 and I agreed that we weren't leaving State Fair Park without a legendary State Fair cream puff! I've never had one before, but will definitely have one again. They're delicious.

In fact, we all decided that from now on, going to the State Fair will be a new family tradition. Our granddaughter's mama and daddy can join us, but at least the four of us will return again for upcoming fairs.

Sweet Sisters
 
The girls were walking in front of us as we left the park, and this was our view. We listened to them talk with each other all day, and laughed at some of the sweet, funny things they said. I know Handsome and I commit as much of their "gems" to memory as we possibly can. We always share a giggle together when we recount those moments.
 
We're so proud and grateful to their parents for teaching them the value of loving and respecting each other. It's obvious in everything they do and say to each other. They hold hands as they explore new places and shared experiences. This will serve them well their whole lives, and it warms our hearts to be a part of it. 

As the sun set on a perfect day, Handsome and I reflected on all of these things. We said our prayers for the health and safety of our loved ones, and thanked God for the gifts that our sons and their families are in our lives. It was a great way to celebrate the girls' Birthdays, and it truly was a great State Fair!

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August 7, 2018

Tuesdays With Tag - Lazy Days...

Taggart and Bella

Hi, Everybody!

It seems like just yesterday I was here spreading Corgi sunshine around the Internet! Mom's been pretty busy this past week, but we always manage to find a little down time. When we do, Mom, Boo and I head out to the porch and share a chaise. Yup. All three of us!

From this vantage point, we can see the kids playin' at the intersection south of our house, cars comin' up the road (or drivin' on a road down the hill from us), or even watch those little birds and chipmunks that like our birdfeeders.
 
Hummingbirds Visit The Feeders

Right now, we have four resident hummin'birds that vie for prime real estate at the feeders. Mom refills three feeders every four days or so, but you'd think there's only one feeder that's mostly empty the way they act. 

There's plenty of room for all of them, but there's one, little bully who likes to try to drive the others away. They constantly buzz back and forth over our heads the whole time we're outside. How's a guy supposed to get any sleep?

We hang out on the chaise, sniffin' the air and watchin' all the birds. Once in a while, a rabbit or squirrel scamper across the lawn, and it's at those times Boo and I bark our heads off and run back and forth to scare 'em off. Nothin's gettin' past us!

Life is great here at the farm. It's everythin' a dog could possibly ask for...well, except for daily rolls in the poo piles or a pond to swim in. We're workin' on the pond part. Cross you paws for us, okay?
 
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".
 

August 6, 2018

It Was A Great Party...

Class of 1973 - photography by Ken Bauer

Saturday night was full of fun, friendship and surprises. It was the 45th class reunion for my high school graduating class. I was part of the planning committee, so I helped with anything that needed to be done prior to, during and after the party. There was still lots of time to visit, dance and catch up.

Not everyone who attended the party (and was a member of our class) is in this photograph. I noticed twenty or more people who chose to stay outside to visit or watch us taking the photo. (It was really hot outside, and worse inside.) I think they were just more comfortable not huddling next to the classmates that were posing for the picture (or perhaps they were camera shy).

Dr. Cyd Quarterman and me - BFFs for 57 Years and Counting

When I spoke with my oldest, best friend a few months ago, she told me she wouldn't be able to come as she planned to be in Wisconsin a few weeks prior and wouldn't stay on or return. I was disappointed, but completely understood.

I was sitting with my stepsister (also a classmate and long-time friend), Sher, when I glanced up to see my BFF walk across the room. She had decided to surprise me and come back to Wisconsin (from Georgia) for our reunion! She brought her younger brother as her "plus one". I've known him since he was a "pup", so we also got a chance to talk.

I couldn't have been happier to see her, and to spend time with her brother. She really blessed me by taking the time to come back to town for our reunion celebration, and we're planning to get together later this week at her mom's before she heads home.

Planning Committee Volunteers (L-R: me, Mary Schingen, Karen Suhs, Karen Courtney)

Mary, Karen S., and Karen C. were all busy Saturday night. The reunion really was the work product of Mary and another classmate, Rose Reigert. They called for volunteers to help plan the party, and that's how I got involved.

The night of the party, it was all hands on deck to make sure food and drink were available, a fun photo area with props was set up, and of course, end of night cleanup was accomplished. There was also plenty of time for committee members to eat, dance and be merry. (I'm sorry we didn't get a photo of all the committee members and volunteers together. This wouldn't have happened without them!)

John Freund and me

John is the younger brother of one of my old high school boyfriends. John was in my class, and he and I had time to share what's been going on in our lives since we last spoke.

We shared a couple of old stories, and he told me what his brother is doing in the northwest part of the country, too. Lots of changes (although not unexpected) since we graduated and his brother and I went different ways. It was nice to learn that they're all doing well.

Rose and Me

More than a few classmates passed since our last reunion (five years ago), but Rose Roberts is the younger sister of one of those who passed in the last year. She came to the reunion to visit with some of her sister's old friends, and we ran into each other.

We visited for quite a while, catching up on friends and relatives, and she's still as lovely as she always was. Rose always had a quiet elegance, and a great sense of fun. She seems to have become even more so over the years, and we hope to see each other again soon.

All in all, it was another memorable time with so many old friends. The next time we're all together, we'll celebrate our 50th. It's so hard to believe, when so many of still feel like thirty year olds inside. Sure, we have a new ache here, or a little "hitch in our giddyup" from time to time, but our hearts and minds are all still vibrant and fun filled.

I'll continue to work with the committee to plan the golden anniversary of our graduation, and pray that all of us alive today will be able to celebrate together in 2023. What a celebration it will be!
 
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August 5, 2018

Sunday Scripture...

Hickory Hill Farm Wood Shed and Flowers
 
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