Friday, March 22, 2013

Winter/Spring 2013

The snows of 2012/2013 came and went - the snows disappeared the day they came, just how I like it. The 'Big One' was a total washout aside of the predicted four...yep, FOUR inches but it rained instead, dashing many hopes of winter fun. We did, however, have really pretty snow scenes, sunrises and sunsets.
 This was our typical snow this winter.
Lovely sunrises and sunsets.
Warmer weather is very reluctant in coming but my paint-splattered crocs and I took a walk around the garden in the few warmer hours of this week. The evidence of spring growth is all around - one just has to go look for it!
 - tree peony -
 - blooming hellebore -
 - crocus -
 - daffodil -
- peony -
I like this. A lone single stalk pushing up through the cold. A reminder that circumstances may be harsh but LIFE is there!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Love Fireplace Mantles!

Yep...I'm officially in love with fireplace frames/fireplace mantles! I certainly didn't need a second one but a second one I a thrift store, of course! I fell in love with its truly old design so it came along home with me. I did like the yellow color but I'm still a die-hard shabby chic girl at heart.
- before -
 - after -
 I tried my favorite Gentle Rain by Behr but it didn't work with the rest of the room.
 I experimented with the decoration but that didn't fly either.
 So I ended up painting it all the same without shabby-ing it for now. 
Perhaps in another time in another place...
 This was my winter mantle. 
I have other plans for the backdrop which too will wait for another time and place.
And because of everything else going on in our lives, simple blue jars came to the rescue once more!

Turning Butter Into Ghee

I've been spending more time in the kitchen in the weeks of Mr D's recovery from surgery and have been trying recipes that were in my favorites list. One of these was making ghee from butter in a crock pot - so, so easy!

Why ghee? cooks out the milk that's left in butter. stores well for a long time. makes everything taste delicious. It can be done with no work at all other than watching it turn from butter into ghee - you can watch the process for 6-8 hours or you can forget about it until the sixth hour and keep an eye on it til it's finished.

Any butter can be used: however, the closer to organic the better! I bought mine at a local Amish store in a two-three pound roll. I placed it in the crock pot at 8:00 and by 2:00 it was turned into this lovely clear, gold liquid.
 Warning: it's very hot at this stage. Pour it through either a cloth or a coffee strainer that doesn't need a coffee filter into a container. I used recycled glass jars.
 This is what is cooked and strained out of the ghee. The butter was salted which made this very salty but it can be used to add flavor to rice, etc...just do it before adding other salts.
 It looks like this after it's refrigerated. It stays there until I need a fresh container then I let it sit on the counter where it softens again. This gives popcorn a new dimension of flavor!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup {homemade/home-canned}

I purchased several pounds of day(s)-old mushrooms with the intent of following a recipe with a condensed version for soup but wasn't too thrilled about it. Sometime back I had bought this cookbook that has a lot of good, easy and healthy recipes in it. Sure enough, I found one to try and am very pleased with it.
  This cookbook was first published in February 2008 and is in its ninth printing. It explains anything from fermenting to gardening tips to alternatives for white sugar/white flour. I bought it local but if anyone is interested in buying, it can be sent for at this address...

Katie Stoltzfus
426 Stormtowm Rd.
Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505

Origional Recipe

Cream of Celery Soup
  1 cup butter
5 cups diced celery
1-2 T salt
1 cup tapioca starch (found at health food stores)
8 cups milk
Melt butter in large saucepan. Add celery (mushrooms) and saute for five minutes.
Add salt and tapiocs starch (will be very thick), stir well, then add milk slowly,
cooking until thickened, stirring constantly.
Pour into jars and coldpack for 2 hours.
This fills five pint jars.
Variation: Cream of Mushroom Soup 
Omit celery; add 3 cups chopped or sliced mushrooms.

I added dry ckicken broth for flavor or liquid broth can replace some of the milk; 
it gave it a better flavor.
Do not fill the jars beyond the neck. As it cooks in the canner, the soup swells and seeps out
after the cooking time is finished.
This is delish

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Mother's Ironing Board

I grew up in the days before easy-care clothes were available (or the wrinkle-look was stylish!). For some reason, ironing shirts for six brothers is what I connect the most with ironing. First I 'sprinkled' water on the shirt, then rolled it up tight for the water to dampen it and finished it off by wrapping it in a towel to keep the moisture in. So different from the easy-care clothes of today. I chuckle to myself when I remember what my dear friend Rhoda says..."she hopes folks think her husband's Sunday-go-meetin' shirt just got wrinkly on the way to church!' No, ironing was not a favorite laundry job.

After my parents passed, I ended up with the ironing board because I couldn't bear to let it end up in the trash heap and because of the memories attached to it. It spent a lot of time in storage. I used it outdoors for one summer as a garden prop and it went back into storage again. It came out last summer when I used it to display my collection of watering cans for a garden tour. After browsing through some blogs I saw the beginning of an idea and the ironing board found it's place in 'my hall of memory fame.'

In the laundry, of course!

Our laundry is very narrow and it's impossible to get a direct picture but one gets the idea.
I'm as pleased as punch with it!

Now I think fondly of ironing my brother's shirts and can still hear
my mother's voice giving instructions in the art of ironing.
Because we grew up six boys and six girls in my family,
it made sense to use the number twelve to give it a lovely finish.

Folded up, the back is an art in itself and could be displayed like this as well. I am thinking of cutting the legs off so it hangs flat against the wall but that's still undecided. There are no screws to take out; rather it's a kind of welded (?) bolt on it so I used plastic ties to keep the legs together.
The weathered finish is just gorgeous! Product of the natural aging from the summers spent outdoors.
The lettering was very simple to do and I used a permanent marking pen to outline the letters...
and didn't bother about being particular filling it all in.
 It got a good sanding to finish it off. I'm totally, totally pleased with it
and it comes under my idea of rustic glamour!

What do you think...
let it as is?
cut the legs off?

(wonder what my mother would say if she'd see it now?)

Update on Mr D

I wrote this on my face book page yesterday...'s time for a long overdue report on what's happening at our house! Saturday evening was not a good night for my honey and he saw 2:00 AM before he fell asleep. After sleeping most of Sunday forenoon, he felt better and could play table games with son Wayne & family from WV who spent 24 hours at our house. Sunday evening, Loren and family and Julia and family were here for an hour - the g...rands were eager to see Grandpa again!

Dave slept most of Monday morning recovering from the weekend. After lunch we went to Home Depot and he drove for the first in four weeks. We were gone 45 minutes, long enough to not make him too tired and Monday evening he spent some time at the monthly fire hall meeting.

Today he spent several hours at the shop (I was freakin' out!), sitting at the desk and answering phone calls. All of a sudden he's eating more and doing MUCH better. Now to fatten him up to regain some of the 27 lbs he lost and I do believe we're good to go!

This 'pause' in our life for me has had times of facing new realities, of spending lots of 'sitting around waiting' at which I'm not always good at. It was good to spend one on one time with our children on the days they drove me to Mercy. This time forced me out of my comfort zone of my little 'safe' Mennonite world where the hospital staff and the cafeteria cooks became familiar faces and the receptionists and security recognized me. I was forced to learn to drive into and find my way around a big city.

It also was/is good for me to spend concentrated time with my honey and to lay aside for a time the things I love to do. We talk a lot about what's ahead of us which in no way defines our faith in a God who can heal. I say once more - the cold, hard facts DO NOT trump the sovereignetry of God who is good - ALL THE TIME!

Thank you, thank you for your prayers that we felt surrounded with!

Adding a few more words from the surgeon, Dr Sardi...

The risk of the cancer coming back is still very high. Mr D and I are taking this time of recovery to treasure each other, making memories and sharing dreams and it's all good!