Friday, August 30, 2013

Another Day,Another Project (The Resting Rock)

Today being Wednesday, plus Carmen's Birthday, both girls, their husbands, and Pop and I all gathered in at their regular eating place, Farmer's Feed Mill Restaurant, for breakfast. After a nice visit at the restaurant, we all headed for the Flea Market. Too hot to linger long, but I did buy a set of three of the cutest and simplest little birdhouses, for the pattern, more or less, and a set of red white and blue star cookie cutters which can be used for cookies or for patriotic decorating,such as the 4th of July. Oh, yes! I bought another food mill for making juice. I have a couple already, but this one was not rusty and a real good price of $8. They sell new for $25.00 or more, out in the stores.
the rock

After our short outing, Pop and I returned home and put another 2 tractor scoops of top soil in my raised bed. That should cap it off good. Then we worked on a little bench I wanted constructed from the huge slab of limestone rock that Pop uprooted when working with my railroad ties for the raised bed. I put 2 concrete blocks under it to raise it to a good height for sitting. It's placed under a shade tree, near the raised bed,so I can take a break from digging in my new bed, whenever necessary. I had 2 extra blocks, so I'll find another flat rock to sit on top of them for a table, so I can enjoy a pitcher of iced tea, while I rest.

I had Pop to put a couple of scoops of mulch around the seat, to keep the grass smothered down, up close and beneath the seat. That will help out with my mowing and trimming. I'll go down and tinker a bit more as the days get cooler. The heat this last few days has been too unbearable to do much outdoors unless you get out really early or really late.

We have been turning the chickens out most evenings to eat bugs and such, so we are usually out and about anyway.That will work out nicely. I can work on my seating area while I wait for them to go back to their pen.They don't get in any hurry either, they are so happy to be out of their pen.I hope to have pictures of my finished "Resting Rock" area, soon.

I hate to say "I told you so",but....."I told you so.!"

Pop is lovin' his new bed. We have some extra railroad ties, so he decided to make another raised bed for himself. His is only two ties high. Mine is three. He has a small bed in the ground that he pampers each year, but this year it was a total bust. Nothing in it did any good at all. Hopefully, he will let it go back to grass and use this new bed he's built. I think he is going to enjoy it just as much if not more than the traditional garden he always grows. I'm sure he will go ahead and put out his usual garden spot, but hopefully, he will come around totally, someday. He has placed the bed out behind one of his garages, and that, in my opinion, was not the ideal spot for it since we can't see it from the porch, but we'll survive. It is such a joy to be able to sit quietly on the porch each morning and admire the projects we have put so much effort into.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wake Up,Pop! I Have Another Great Idea!

As you know, I have persuaded Pop to help me build a really nice raised bed. My first REAL raised bed, although I have toyed with various versions over the past 40+ years. Pop has never been comfortable with my way of gardening. He has always kept a traditional garden. You know the kind. Where you must sow a cover crop where you had last years garden,then in the early Spring, at just the right time, you drag our the tractor, plow the ground, turning under the cover crop to give it just the right amount of time to decay, but don't plow it too wet. It will leave huge hard clods which are impossible to break up later. Then at just the right time, you must disc the garden spot,working up the soil to a fine bug dust. Fertilize it. Lime it. Heaven only knows what I've missed. Pop usually does all of that, but he is no longer able to do all that it requires to keep up a traditional garden.(Well, to put it bluntly,we are getting too old to keep it up.) Oh, yes! I forgot all the hoeing and weeding it requires to keep it maintained. Neither of our backs are what they once were.These are only a few of the reasons why I prefer the raised type beds. Mainly, no tractor and heavy equipment involved. No long rows to keep hoeing and weeding. No water hoses to drag in and out daily.I could go on and on with the pros and cons of the traditional garden verses the raised bed garden, but I'll stop there and show you my plan for watering my new raised bed.This is most likely not a new idea to the rest of the world, but I awoke this morning with this great plan(at least I think it's a great plan). I tried to awaken Pop, but he'd rather sleep in. After all, it was mere 5 a.m. when I tried to awaken him and tell him about my plan.Here it is.

This is a diagram of my bed. I have a black plastic tube cut to the length of the bed. I have drilled holes all along the entire length of the tube, about 6 inches apart . I have capped both ends. I have drilled a larger hole at one end in which I have added another smaller tube and glued it in place. The smaller tube will protrude above the ground at one end of the bed, while the entire length of the larger tube,about 1-2  inches in diameter,will be buried beneath the soil,down the middle of the bed, about 8 inches deep. I will insert a funnel in the smaller tub at the end, and pour in X amount of water (to be determined as I go) daily.  I plan to keep a bucket of water (possibly a weak manure tea solution) at the bed side at all times for watering. Sounds like a good plan to me, but I will most likely need to iron out a few wrinkles as I go along.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ready for a Long Hard Winter

waiting their turn in the pressure canner
 We stopped by our Amish friends place yesterday on our way from picking up my last seven railroad ties. Howie, the friend who gave the ties to us, was in the hospital, and we feared some one else would help themselves to the ties, if left unattended. He's home now. Stomach Virus and dehydration. He has heart problems and cannot be too cautious.

Our Amish friends had accumulated a huge box of tomatoes with flaws and they were sitting there on the porch. I was looking through the box and they were really nice tomatoes. Some were cracked and some had small blemishes on them, but overall, nothing that could not be saved. I asked Mary if they were for sale, and she said she would sell them even though she usually canned those for her family. She said she was so busy, she really didn't have time to do her own canning at this time,so she would let me have the entire box for $8.
The perfect ones, she sells for 85 cents a pound, so this was a real bargain.Even with the blemishes.

I took them home and immediately began working them up. That was yesterday. I ended up with seventeen quarts, so today, I am putting them in the pressure canner for processing. Four at a time. That will take me all day. But it's worth it to have the job done all at once. Our tomatoes are not doing as well as they normally do, so it would have taken me all summer to accumulate enough to can seventeen jars of juice. I have canned several pints of whole tomatoes from our garden. Enough to supply Pop with his tomatoes and cornbread, all winter. This should be the end my canning for this coming Winter. Unless it be a few more jars of fried apples. Our tree is loaded this year and I have been giving them to anyone who seems interested.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Making Mama Proud!

(Don't forget to hop over and check out one of my other blogs.
I have neglected it so long, I am considering closing it down. We'll see how things go.)

I don't remember my own Mother encouraging us kids to do so, but most Mothers stay on their children to "Eat Your Vegetables". I guess we ate ours without being persuaded to do so, simply because we were always hungry. We were always very active and had lots of chores to do, so when mealtime came, we cleaned up everything on the table. Over the span of 20+ years, from 1946 to 1968, there were nine of us children.That was a lot of mouths to feed, so Mom canned everything but the kitchen sink(which we didn't have anyway.Well, truthfully,Mom did find a second hand sink which we used, but it wasn't hooked up to running water).

For some strange reason, I have taken a liking to the bread and butter type pickling mixture. A friend of mine gave me a sample of her B&B mixture which contained several garden vegetables. Squash, onions, green and red peppers and the usual B&B ingredients. I don't have that many squash and peppers coming on just now, but I did manage to work up a couple of pints. I opened a jar of my newly canned relish to eat with brown beans, and I suddenly got a craving for corn relish.  I do remember Mom, especially in her later years, canning a lot of what we called "End of the Garden Relish".  It was very similar, but truly,I prefer more Corn in my Relish. My Grandmother use to make Corn Relish, more so than my Mother, although I guess Mom did make some. Nevertheless, I decided I wanted to make some Corn Relish of my own.

As I was eating a big bowl of brown beans covered in the Corn Relish, I thought about just how many vegetables I had in my bowl. I was getting a good serving without even realizing it. If Mama ever did worry about me eating my vegetables, she would definitely be proud of me today.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bring on the Chalk

The chickens, dogs and fish have all been fed for today,the last batch of the fried apples are in the skillet. A big skillet of cornbread is ready for Pop's supper and a pot of Creamy Garlic Rice for myself and a big platter of fresh red tomatoes. Pop can eat Cornbread and Milk and tomatoes any day of the week, and that was his request tonight, and I can make a meal on any type of rice with fresh tomatoes. We'll have a bowl of left over blackberry dumplings for dessert.  Who could ask for a meal that is any more simple and delicious.

 I had a few minutes to work on one of my favorite crafts. It calms me so, to sit quietly and paint. Pictured above is a blackboard I finished today. I discovered blackboard paint a few years ago and love making pretty little blackboards of all kinds.. This is my latest creation.

 My heart is usually pounding from the days activities so a quiet leisure session of painting gets it back in sync. As I lay down at night,I can hear the sound of my heart really good. It worries me sometimes that it is beating so hard and fast. I figure it's from being so tired. After all, I am no Spring Chicken anymore, and my usual activities tire me more each day. Caffeine affects my heart,too, so I try to limit my morning and evening coffee with Pop, to half a cup each. At my age, I do tend to think more about heart attacks, so the more precautions I can take, the better. Staying inside on these hot humid days is one way of helping to protect my heart,too. Work of any kind outdoors on hot days like we have been having lately, is extremely dangerous, and the weather man doesn't talk like there's any relief in sight for several more days. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's that line about Old Dogs and New Tricks?

finished bed

We finally finished my raised bed today. It has turned off so hot this last few days, we had to take a few small hitches at the building process. Heat and heavy work do not mix for Pop nor myself. Small doses of either is plenty for both of us,and even then we need lots of breaks and plenty of cold drinks.

We did take one day off to go shopping, hoping to catch a few bargains.The Kroger Store has Senior Citizen's Day on Wednesdays, plus we have a Kroger card, so we figured we should do OK  doing our shopping there.We are both so fed up with hearing tales of the Wealthiest Chain Store Family and their greedy ways, we thought we'd try our luck at another grocery store. We mainly buy staples anyway, and not necessarily name brands,either. We stopped by the Tractor Store and picked up a new cylinder for Ole Rose. You know us. We need to have at least two tasks lined up each time we go out. You know! Two birds with one stone. Truth is,we really got four birds with this stone.Pop needed new clothes and we ate at the newly remodeled White Castle. It had been closed for awhile and we had been waiting patiently for it to reopen.

Nevertheless, I worked up more fried apples and tomatoes and corn relish, while Pop put the new cylinder on Ole Rose. We had worked on my raised bed for a few minutes earlier today, finishing up the walls. Now that the tractor was back together, he decided to put in a layer of the mulch,as a test for the new cylinder on the tractor. The cylinder was not near heavy enough to dump the bucket the entire way, but being the tightwad he is, he settled for the lesser cylinder, and swears it will do all we need it to do. After all,we do have another tractor with a bucket.

Now we just wait until Pop mows the fields and I'll bring in a layer of the clippings for my bed. I'll be adding compost and woods dirt along the way,and then some good top soil as the new garden season grows near. I even suggested planting some winter wheat in the bed. Pop hasn't said yet if we will do that, but it sounds like a good idea to me.

With all of the work that has gone into my new raised bed, and having it to turn out so nice, I think Pop is gradually coming around. He is talking about using the extra ties we have left to make a second bed closer to the bee hives. I'm all for the idea of building another raised bed. Maybe it is possible to teach an Old Dog new tricks. Pop may end up liking the raised bed idea better than he thought.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I don't know why I pick up certain things, but I do. Not so much lately, but over the years, I have brought home so many things that I would love to use, but it is a chore, trying to decide when and if  I will get to do so.

One example is the many bottles of creams, lotions, fragrances,etc. I purchase them, even if it's only for a few cents, only to bring them home, let them sit on my dresser or be hidden away in a box or shelf, never to be used or seen again. Many of these get old and smell weird, leaving them unusable, although I will try to use them some way even if it's simply as foot cream during the winter when my feet are covered with callouses from a season of  going barefoot. I haven't figured out the reason why I am drawn to these lotions and creams. I love to have nice smooth soft perfect skin, but that's only a dream. The type of life I live makes that impossible. When I do take my bath, it is usually so hurried, I have no time for soaking and pampering my body. There is always so much waiting to be done and I am the one, elected to do it,or so it seems. I feel my wants and wishes must wait,thus the lotions and creams, just sit there.

The same is true with a lot of reading materials. I see an article that peaks my interest and I will hold onto it with the intentions of reading it some day. The same with books. I see a book that interests me, and I order it. Usually from the used book department, so I don't feel quite so guilty for wasting money. If I get to it, alright, but if not, I've not wasted so much. The same with the creams and lotions. Most of them, I have picked up at a bargain somewhere. Yard sale, flea market, consignment store, departments store. I love sign making, so I really need to make a huge sign or several small signs, and post them all around my area.

Many of the things I bring home, fall in the same category as the above mentioned items. My art supplies,for example. I love working with my art supplies, more than anything else I do, but it seems so useless and unproductive, I push it aside unless it is so cold or bad outside, I can not possibly do anything out there.

I have come to realize that this is an addiction, and must be managed like any other addiction. An addiction lurks dormant in the back of your mind, constantly, waiting to catch you at a weak moment and persuade you to break over and do the one thing you strive so hard to avoid. Struggling with the dreaded desire to repeat the actions you so desperately want to change, is a constant battle. Eating the wrong foods,for me, falls under  this very same heading. I know it's wrong or not good for me, but,many times, the constant nagging inside of my head, wins over. It's times like these that my love for all of the crafts I enjoy,comes in handy. Keeping busy,doing the things I dearly love to do is key for me.

Dirt Bags!

OK! Go ahead! Say it! We're a bunch of Dirt Bags. I don't even try to keep pretty towels and wash cloths. Yes, I dream of having my house all cute and neat. You know the way the cabins look when you go on  vacation. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. Where everything is nice and neat and shiny and new. I even brought home a set of wash cloths from the Pottery Barn a few weekends ago, thinking  "Now,this is the theme for my cottage in my dreams. My Cozy Country Cottage on Black Bear-y Ridge."
I can just see it in my mind.

We spend a lot of time outside. Me,mostly in the dirt and Pop, mostly in the grease. Needless to say, we cannot keep pretty white or pastel linens. We come and go throughout the day, grab a wet cloth and wipe our face and/or hands,and there goes another cloth ruined with the grime.That's why I take a day on occasion and dye the whole lot. Some dark color. That helps a bit.

Mom and Dad lived in a house on St. Simon's Island for many years that  had a direct entry to one of the bathrooms from the outside. I guess it was to wash off the salt and sand from your body when returning from the beach which was only four blocks away. That's what we need here. A bathroom at the main entrance. Pop has a bathroom in his Pouting Room, but it is not handy at all. Maybe that would be another good project for us in the future. We could make a new entrance to Pop's bathroom from the outside and make it more user friendly. I'll put that on my "To Do" list.

While the cat's away, the mice will play.

Today is Pop's day to spend time with one and sometimes both of his daughters.They usually go out for breakfast, hit the Flea Market, then finish up at the local Walmart for their weekly shopping. While I am here by myself today, I decided to do a bit of tweaking to my raised bed project. Pop likes to supervise, and working with him is like working with Mom,God,bless her and rest her soul. She and I always butted heads when we worked on a project together. We always got the same results, but our methods for getting there were totally opposite.That's the way with Pop and I. He wants to rip out several of the ties which are already in place, to correct a minor imperfection. He doesn't want it to look tacky from the road. He made a good point saying that I would probably have so many flowers and veggies everywhere, the imperfections will not be noticed, but still he wants to make the changes. I decided to make a few small changes of my own while he was away. I like a bit of having it complete, but using the hand saw to cut the ties is the pits. I'll wait for him to return to use his chain saw.That's one of the few tools I have not mastered, and I have no desire to do so.

I will need a little filler dirt, rocks, boards or something to fill the space along the ground where I leveled the bed, but that is a minor problem. I will be layering my mulch, old newspapers,grass clippings,etc, over the next few weeks, then bring in some good top soil to cap it off. It may settle a bit as time goes by, but I am aware of that and will be adding more layers as needed. Now if only I can persuade him to leave my tweaking as I have it,when he returns. After all, it's my raised bed and it pleases me. (Wish me luck with that one.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Finally, My Dream Bed

Pop and I work on my raised bed every time it cools down a bit. In the early morning or late evening. We're moving right along. We should finish up the walls with one more good day's work. Then will come the filling. I plan to fill it half way with mulch from the huge pile in the driveway. A lot of the mulch will go around the bed to keep the grass down. Hopefully that will deplete the huge pile of mulch that has been an eye sore for a year or so. I do love mulch,and it was free, but it was never my intention to have it in such a huge pile right in the driveway, but it just so happened that when the local tree trimming company needed a place to dump all of the excess mulch, there had been so much rain, it was impossible for them to find good places off the road to dump.We volunteered to let them dump it on us, never dreaming there would be so much.In the long run, I am not sorry for agreeing to help them out. I have made good use of the extra mulch this past year.

I am so excited about my new raised bed. I have wanted one for years. I hope I have good luck with raising a few things in it. Pop is more into the more conventional type gardening, and he is convinced that my raised bed is not going to produce the results I think it will. Now, I MUST prove him wrong. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another great "Reason For Jumping Out Of Bed" idea

walls for my raised bed
A lot of really great ideas pop into my head about the time I normally get up in the morning anyway. I get so motivated, I literally jump out of bed without my usual aches and pains and moaning and grumbling procedure. When I'm thinking of or doing something I really love to do,I feel no pain.

My latest great idea is going to be a special project for me. I have been GIVEN about 35-40 aged railroad ties. Several months ago, I visited our new neighbor who has settled in here in the last few years,from Alaska. He has 3 raised garden beds and I have wanted a raised bed like his ever since.  Then, too, after watching Victory Garden for years, I have always wanted my own raised beds. I have attempted various versions over the last 35 years, only to find my creations are not exactly what I want.The upkeep of several small container beds is unreal. My beds are usually made from old tires, or buckets, or tubs, or something I've made from wood. My dream is to have at least one really nice raised bed. Just tall enough that I don't need to do a lot of bending and squatting.  I am getting older, you know, and as much as I hate to admit and accept it,I'm not nearly as flexible and agile as I once was.

I usually put all of my grass clipping in the chicken pen, so the chickens can make my compost for me. With this new bed I am planning, I can house a few chickens in one end of it (during the summer anyway)and continue to give them the clipping, at the same time I will be building up the soil in my raised bed.They can scratch and dig and turn my compost pile for me, right in the spot where I will be planting next Spring. Sounds a great idea (I only hope it works like I'm planning). I hope Gavin is reading this blog post. I think he will like this idea,too. He has such a limited space to work with at his home in Australia.

Well, I started this post a few days ago, and now I have most of the beams carried home from the friends home where they were just in their way. They were glad to be rid of them and I am so happy to have them.Now I have run into a slight delay in building my raised bed.
smashed finger

I ended up with a smashed finger in the tie moving process. Now I must wait for it to heal a bit before I continue. It wants to bleed each time I bend my knuckle and I know I'll need to bend every joint I have when I begin the building of my new raised bed.Canning tomatoes is no picnic either. I'll check in after a few days.Maybe I'll have made a little progress on the bed.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mind Games

Of all things! I awoke this morning thinking about my morning glory.I have mentioned this before and folks say it is all in my mind.  Well! That is exactly what I am saying here. How you feel is a great deal mind related. I can be thinking of my aches and pains, and I find I have many more than I originally thought. And I continually find more aches and pains as I keep them on my mind. But! When I turn my mind to my most favorite activity, wallah! My aches and pains are gone.

I love playing with the soil. Constantly finding new ways to make it better. At least in the small amounts that I use in my flower beds and play gardens. I love working with my compost.

Evidently, one of the morning glories had established itself in one of my beds that contained some of my compost. The leaves were enormous. Now that is my constant goal. Seeing just how much I can improve my  compost in order to improve my flowers and vegetables. I love seeing the final results.

There are many things in my life that truly get me this excited, to the point where I want to jump right out of bed (if it's daylight out) and get to it.  There are many mornings that I awaken with a thought of a single task that I want to get into, and it gets my blood a pumping so fast I must get out of bed and get started.

This is not the best shot of one of my morning glories, but you can see the size of the leaves. The giant leaves are on a vine growing in a bin of compost.  The smaller leaves are growing in the ground.The compost produces the desired effect I work so hard to achieve with my flowers and my garden.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Simple Satisfaction

I love wood and I love painting so one of the things that brings me the most peace, pleasure, and satisfaction is sign painting. I love creating something that brings me peace when I look at it. These little signs do just that. I try to incorporate little quotes and a simple drawing of something that fits the theme.My imagination is not what it use to be. I think it's more from not being used than anything else.I feel the mind is like a wet sponge. As long as you keep using it, it stays nice and soft and pliable, but once you lay it aside and don't use it for awhile, it tends to dry out and become hardened and stiff. I truly believe that's the way our imagination works. You must use it on a regular basis in order to keep it working properly. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Taking Time

I tell myself,I do not have the time to sit an write a new post to my blog.,but, oh, how I do miss blogging. It seems there is so much that needs doing, I simply cannot take the time to just sit and write.

It's a cool damp day outside, today, and a not-so-bad day to work in my yard or maybe my craft room, or my two sheds, but that's not what I want to do. Today is a lazy relaxing day. No grandchildren to watch, nothing to can or freeze. No doctor's appointments. Just a nice day to do what I want to do.

I have been trying to clean the freezer and canned foods pantry a bit lately, and you probably know by now, I hate waste,and I do love to experiment. I pulled out a box of brownie mix that had been in the freezer for awhile and decided to cook them,but since we don't need the extra calories, I decided to make them more nutritious by adding a half cup of pulverized all bran. I keep it for it's intended use, but it has been sitting around much to long and I felt I needed to move it along. Hopefully, the small amount that I have added, will not affect us too harshly.

Another thing I have been working with is all of the canned goods that don't get used up so quickly. We don't do a lot of cooking or entertaining anymore. Serving company can help you to move out a lot of canned goods or frozen goods. So.....I have been mixing and matching some of the fruits and vegetables from the cans and freezer, to make sorbets and green drinks. They have been the rage now for awhile. That saves me a lot of time in the kitchen. Pop will drink a meal in a glass anytime. Well, most of the time, I don't tell him what went into it, or he wouldn't touch it. If it looks anything like tomato juice, he will drink it, so that limits my choices of additives for his drinks, but for myself, I'll try anything once, maybe twice.(that's a family joke).

I have lots of jams and jellies that need to be moved, so I have been making barbecue sauce with some, and using others for sweeteners in various dishes. I must hold myself back from canning more. I chopped down many of my berry vines and strawberries, simply to keep myself from preserving them.Pop has diabetes and we both struggle to keep our weight down.

There is still lots to do, so I''ll close for now and put my nose back to the grindstone.