Saturday, August 30, 2008

100 Push-ups....

Good Form Push Up

First, let me make it perfectly clear, I am NOT an exercise freak. I mostly despise it except for my daily walk, but I don't consider that exercise, I consider it therapy (mental, physical, spiritual). But when I saw this challenge over at Bessie's Simple Days, I just had to take it on. After all, if ONE exercise was good for my WHOLE body, then that's the exercise I pick! Hey, if it's good enough for the Heisman Trophy Winner (1982) playing for the U of Georgia, NFL running back for Dallas Cowboys and later the Minnesota Vikings, -- Herschel Walker -- then it's good enough for me!

Walker said, "I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. My high school didn’t have a lot of money to afford a lot of the expensive weights. You know all this stuff. They used that as an excuse. I started doing push-ups and sit-ups during commercials as I was watching TV. And started doing about, sometimes 2,000 push-ups, 3,000 sit-ups, 1500 pull-ups, 1000 dips, or different things like that. I started creating different hand positions for all that, and I learned that could work you out."

In an age where physical fitness is all the rage and most people own a weight machine, an eliptical, a Nordic track or some other gizmo to exercise with, it's refreshing to me to hear someone say it's a good thing to use your own body to strengthen your body. If it works for the US Marines, it's good enough for me!

Alternative method push ups.

You can begin with wall push ups.

Now, onto the place where you can get information to start on your 100 consecutive push-ups in 6 weeks: One Hundred Push Ups. I'm going to be honest with you here. I could only do 2 of the Good Form Push-ups (and it killed me) and I think I did 9 of the "Girly Push Ups" with knees on the floor. So I'm a wimp. I decided that if I was going to do this, I would have to begin the process doing girly push ups (alternative method) and I don't aplogize for it. I figure, if I get to 100 push ups doing them the girly way, then I'll try for the Good Form Push-up later on. After all, the challenge is against my self and no one else. So far, I'm done with week one, level one, and I am already stronger than I was when I started. Is it hard? Yes. Can I do it? Yes! So far.

Do you want to join me? Let me know if you do in the comments.

"Strive to be the very best you can be. Run the race against yourself and not the guy in the other lane. The reason I say this, as long as you give it 110 percent, you are going to succeed. But as long as you're trying to beat the guy over there, you are worried about him, you're not worrying about how you've got to perform."
~Herschel Walker

Pictures borrowed from One Hundred Push Ups and Grrl Athlete

Easier to lick clean...

Just a little comment here to show you how very un-fancified my family is. I made the delicious tartlets for Tasha Tudor Day and served them on tea saucers. Very cute, I thought, but what did my men think?

"Mom, I like dessert on these little plates, they're much easier to lick clean."

I'm happy they enjoyed dessert, but so much for making well-mannered, cultured men of them.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remembering Tasha Tudor, Part III

By Tasha Tudor, 1991

Tasha was known for her home cooking and in fact, she created a cookbook called The Tasha Tudor Cookbook: Recipes and Reminiscences from Corgi Cottage. I don't own it, but I am sure you wouldn't be disappointed in owning it. Tonight for dessert, in honor of Tasha, I made Lemon Tartlets from her receipts (recipes) taken from the Tasha Tudor Family website. I didn't have the convenience of buying lemon curd for this recipe, so I made my own from scratch. I'll share it with you.

Lemon Curd

1 c. sugar
2 t. cornstarch
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
4 T. butter

In a stainless steel pot, mix sugar and cornstarch together. Next, whisk fresh lemon juice and eggs and egg yolks together. Turn on the heat to medium-low and begin to cook the mixture, whisking constantly. Add butter in pats. Continue whisking until the lemon curd thickens. Remove from heat and cool completely. You may refrigerate lemon curd for about 2 weeks.

Lemon Tartlets

1 jar of good quality lemon curd (or homemade)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 sticks (one cup) of butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 c. ground almonds
pinch of salt

Cream sugar and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and beat well. Mix in flour, salt, and almonds to form a soft dough. Chill dough. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Form dough into small balls and press into tartlet/mini muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon lemon curd into cooled tartlet. You may garnish with edible flowers like violets or pansies for a beautiful tea presentation. (I added a little whipped cream to mine. ~J)
This recipe made 10 tartlets in a regular sized muffin tin.

Here's to you Tasha! Happy Birthday!

Remembering Tasha Tudor, part II

Tasha loved her Corgi dogs.
I love my Border Collies -- Jessie and Sue.

Jessie (the mom) in back and Sue (her daughter) in front.

Sue jumps over the fence to get to her next job.

Jessie watches the sheep to make sure they go through the gate. Our dogs helped us work sheep today and they LOVE their job!

Tasha was no stranger to hard work and she did it heartily with her family. We work together as a family too. Here's Grampa, Dad, and two sons. I helped too, but spent a little time behind the camera.

What does working sheep mean? It depends on the season, but today we sorted the ewes away from their lambs to wean them. We then sorted the ewe lambs from the wether lambs (male sheep made into "steers") and marked the wethers with a dob of paint so they'll be easier to distinguish when sorting down a sheep alley when we're ready to sell them. The mother ewes were bagged and mouthed. That means that Third Son checked every ewe's bag (udder) to see if there were any problems, and then he opened their lips to see if their teeth were good. Sheep with bad teeth don't fare well on the prairie and are therefore culled and sold from the flock. Any ewe that has a a varied paint mark on her back is likely a Crazy Old Girl that will also be culled and sold. She's marked for a reason. After all of this, we sprayed the flock with an insecticide to ward off disease. There is a disease that sheep can contract called Blue Tongue. Wildlife like deer and antelope first get sick and die from this disease and then it is passed on to other similar animals -- domestic livestock like sheep and goats via flies. We've been noticing that some of the antelope are dying out on the prairie which is a warning sign that we need to spray our flock to keep the diseases at bay. It doesn't guarantee protection, but it helps.

Tasha raised chickens and called them by name.
My chickens, pictured above, are enjoying the left-overs from our corn freezing marathon. I call some of them by name.... Henny Penny, Little Black Hen, Goldie, to name a few.

"The young couple (Tasha and her husband) aquired a decrepit but beautiful seventeen-room farmhouse in Webster, NH. Here, Tasha continued her career in earnest and raised four children without benefit of plumbing or electricity until the youngest was five, while somehow finding the time to make the house livable, milk a cow, care for a lively collection of chickens, geese, sheep, and pigs, and tend her vegetable and flower gardens. Once again, Tasha thrived on difficulty and hard work, but her husband did not, and the couple, like her parents, eventually divorced. As a single parent, she worked with even more determination to "keep the wolf from the door," through sales of her illustrations, portrait commissions, and by performing marionette shows with the help of her two sons and daughters. Once her family was grown, and with the proceeds from the success of Corgiville Fair, Tasha purchased a plot of abandoned farmland across the Connecticut River in Vermont. Her older son, Seth, built the house and barns according to her plans and work began immediately on the walls for the gardens and the planting of flowering crab apples, pears, and apples in the orchard. Now, after twenty years of Vermont weather, the buildings have mellowed sufficiently to trick any visitor into assuming they are from another time, and the gardens have reached magnificent maturity. And Tasha, living in the surroundings she has always wanted, continues to work from dawn to dusk, gardening, milking her goats, spinning and weaving, and above all, painting."

~Introduction to The Private World of Tasha Tudor

Remembering Tasha Tudor...

In the spirit of Tasha Tudor, I have begun my celebration of her birthday first by setting the table with fresh cut flowers from my flower beds. These are what's in season at my house and like Tasha, I prefer their old-fashioned common names to their scientific names. The vase holds Black-eyed Susan, Cosmos, Baby's Breath, larkspur, a big red zinnia, and a light pink stem-flower that I'm calling Fairy-pink Beardtongue because I can not seem to find it's name or a picture of it anywhere! More celebrating to come later.........

"Because I gardened as a little girl, and my mother and grandmother were passionate gardeners before me, I grew up with flowers, knew them by their look and feel, and called them by all their old colloquial names. Dame's rocket, sweet William, monkshood, and meadow rue -- the old-fashioned names are so much prettier. Delphinium were always called larkspur. Clematis autumnale was virgin's bower. The sound of "foxglove" is so much pleasanter than "digitalis."

~Tasha Tudor

The Private World of Tasha Tudor

For more celebrating of Tasha Tudor's birthday, please go to Storybook Woods for others who are joining in the fun. Also, visit Tasha Tudor and Family for more about this special lady.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Got Corn?

How about 30 dozen ears of corn? We've got corn!
A friend called me yesterday, "Hey Jody, do you want some corn?"
Now here in farm/ranch country that is a loaded question and you best be careful before you answer.

It could mean:

1. I have 5 dozen tough old ears of field corn for ya.

2. I bit off more than I can chew -- would you take the rest of this 5-day-old corn that I can't finish canning?

3. The birds pecked the tops out of the sweet corn we picked and we can't sell it. Would you be interested in 30 dozen ears -- FREE?

If you chose number 3, that was the correct meaning of the question, "Do you want some corn?"
I hemmed and hawed about what answer to give. I really wanted to freeze some corn, but 30 dozen? I'd have to get back to her. As it turned out, my folks were out for a couple days and my dad was helping the guys haul hay in from the hayfield. Gramma said, "Let's do it!" So I called my friend back and said we'd take it.

Thankfully, the men took an extra-long noon hour and shucked all the corn for us and put it in coolers and clothes baskets. We took the raw corn and cut it off the cob using an angel food pan for a cob holder. You stick the pointy end of the corn in the middle, hold the top and cut off the corn. If you have an electric knife, it works even better, but we had some good serrated bread knives that worked slick! After we cut off all that corn, we began to boil it in batches. Here's my Grandma Kathryn's recipe that we used.

Grandma Kathryn's Sweet Corn

9 cups sweet corn (cut off the cob raw)
3-1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. salt

Mix this all in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Cool. Measure corn (with juice) into freezer containers or freezer bags. Freeze.

By the end of the day, we had 46-1/2 quarts (can't forget that little 2 cup bagful) of corn; 50 some flies on the ceiling; a quart of corn juice smeared on the floor, table, and chairs; 10 dish towels, two dish rags and 6 hot pads ready for the washer; and two tired women ready to sit down and rest AFTER the supper was made for the hungry menfolk. Yep, it was a productive day. Who knew we'd wake up to 30 dozen ears of corn yesterday?


The country vegetables scorn
To lie about in shops,
They stand upright as they were born
In neatly-patterned crops;

And when you want your dinner you
Don't buy it from a shelf,
You find a lettuce fresh with dew
And pull it for yourself;

You pick an apronful of peas
And shell them on the spot.
You cut a cabbage if you please,
To pop into the pot.

The folk who their potatoes buy
From sacks before they sup,
Miss half of the potato's joy,
And that's to dig it up.

~Eleanor Farjeon

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Guess who's birthday is coming up?

She's someone who has inspired me for many years through her books and through her life --living simply, intentionally, traditionally and by celebrating the seasons and the work and play that goes with each of them. My life is richer because of Tasha Tudor.

Clarice, from Storybook Woods, and a few of her friends decided it would be an honor and a joyful tribute to Tasha to celebrate her birthday which is August 28th. Would you join me by sharing a small remembrance, book, or tradition that Tasha Tudor inspired you in? Please leave your thoughts in my comments section. I will cherish reading them.

I found Tasha Tudor's precious books in the children's section of my library. Our library is small, but is rich with the books of Tasha Tudor. Oh, what fun it was (and still is) for me to check out those beautiful, detailed, illustrated books that tell the the stories of children who lived close to nature, who enjoyed celebrating birthdays and holidays by using their hands to create cakes and dolls, pumpkin moonshines at Halloween, and Sparrow Post Offices to deliver Valentines. We still have a Sparrow Post that the children made and we used for many years at Valentine's Day! I love the borders she created around each picture. In fall, there would be branches with oak leaves, cornstalks, nuts, and asters. In winter, evergreen boughs, icicles and corgi dogs -- always the corgis were in the pictures.

If you've never "met" Tasha Tudor, you might enjoy a website that her children have been running for several years. You will see her art, her books, notecards, receipts (recipes) and a few tools and things that she might have used in her lifetime. Go to Tasha Tudor and Family for a taste of her creative life.

A Time to Keep is one of my favorite, cherished books by Tasha Tudor. Irene, a 96 year old pen pal, gave this to me before she died several years ago. She knew and appreciated my love of Tasha Tudor.
Do you have a favorite book or two?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Starting early...

This year I am determined to start some of my Christmas projects early instead of waiting til the last minute. Today I found this adorable free pattern on Wee Wonderfuls Blog. I am tracing these cute elves onto muslin and will embroider them before creating Christmas stockings for my niece and nephew and one for my grandangel. I plan to add a block letter monogram at the top for each child's name and I'm thinking about adding a toe and heel of Christmas fabric or ticking. (still to be determined) I can't wait to start stitching!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First day of home school....

Can it be
summer is over?
Not quite yet...
boys are bridge-jumping
this afternoon!
92 degrees
still says summer to me.

Simple things...

Doesn't this sewing top look cute? For the longest time, I have been sewing at this desk with its worn and damaged top. It would catch on everything I sewed. I decided it was high time I do something about it. I really didn't want to refinish it so I thought about a simple solution -- oil cloth. Awhile back I added a splash of color and an easy fix to the stained top of my dryer. I added a piece to my washer too so they could match, so I figured, why not do the same for my sewing desk?

My Hometown's old bakery has now become a fine fabric store which also sells local art and handicrafts. I stopped in and found this heavy piece of floral oilcloth there for about $10. I tacked the front of the oil cloth onto my dresser with double stick tape. I don't know how long it will stay there, but I thought it was worth a try. The weight of the sewing machine will keep the rest of the oil cloth anchored onto the desk just fine.

What fun it has been to sew again. The fabric slides beautifully across my now smooth surface. As Martha would say, "It's a good thing."

I also made a cute little flounce for the top of a window by taking a length of fabric (one and a half times the width of the window) and cutting two 1/2 inch strips every 4 to 5 inches on the top so I could tie it directly onto the curtain rod.

The little flap that is left can flop over the backside of the curtain so it looks finished. Here, I left one flap facing out to show you how it works. Hem the sides and bottom (or use stitch witchery if you don't sew), tie the flounce on and you're done!

It's very unfussy and cute, I think.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In the Garden...

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.

And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own;
and the joy we share as we tary there, none other has ever known.

~In the Garden
a hymn by C. Austen Miles

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Baby shoes...

I've been wanting to do this little project for some time now, but this morning, the same day as the Country Baby Shower for our Little Grandpeach, I finally accomplished it. I wasn't sure how hard these would be to make, but with a little re-reading of some of the steps, I did it without messing up. And....I had FUN! I can't wait to try more. I have lots of fun polka dot fabrics and things that will make cute girlie shoes and every girl needs plenty of shoes, doesn't she? Why not start at one month old? As you can see, I made them with the Christmas holiday in mind. Perhaps Little Grandpeach will be able to fit into them by then.

If you're interested go to Stardust Shoes Blog and click Cloth Baby Shoes for the pattern and instructions. You'll enjoy lots of cute shoe photos to inspire you. I do want to try to make a pair of leather shoes sometime soon. A friend at the baby shower said her grandson had a pair almost identical to these only they were leather. She said they didn't slip when he walked in them and they really held up well. I see Stardust has a pattern for the leather shoes too. Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fresh from the garden...

I'm so excited to be finally picking!
Is there anything better than veggies fresh from the garden -- your own garden?
I have to pick the beans just about every two days so today I made 2 quarts of Dilly Beans and a few days ago I washed, snapped, and wrapped bundles of beans (9 or 10) in a half slice of raw bacon. Then I quick-froze them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. After they were frozen through, I put the bundles into a ziplock freezer bag. I'll bake or grill these little bundles soon. Oh, they're so good.

The cukes are not coming as hard and fast as the beans, but I'm out hunting for them under the vines and leaves every day because Only Daughter called to share a fabulous and simple cucumber dip recipe with me. Shame on her! Now, that's all I want to eat. Every cucumber has D-I-P written all over it! Here's the recipe for you....

Cuke Dip
1 large or 2 medium cucumbers, de-seeded and grated
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream
1 t. garlic powder (or according to your taste)
Lawry's seasoning salt to taste

Mix it all together and chill. Serve with potato chips, crackers, tortilla chips, veggies or just eat it with a large spoon. The ingredients may be tweaked according to your tastes. I think a bit of dill weed would be good in it too! Thanks G!

Addendum to Beans:

Island Sparrow asked about cooking the beans so I thought I'd give a little addition to this post excerpted from my comments....

I do not blanch the beans before wrapping them in bacon. When I cook them, I put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at about 375 and bake until the bacon is a little crispy (half hour or so?) or put them on the grill. I also like to cook beans by first boiling them until tender and then adding them to a skillet where bacon has been crisped and some of the oil drained. Add chopped onion, a chopped clove of garlic, and the beans. Saute until desired doneness. YUM-O!

Bad ass patch job...

Mending jeans has a new twist. Middle Son asked me to patch his jeans today. Well.....I've been patching jeans for 25 years and have never been asked to mend them with a bandanna! I know, you're wondering why not denim like I did. Well.... a couple weeks ago Youngest Son called my cell phone to proudly announce to me,
"Mom, I just patched my jeans!"
"Wonderful!" I delightedly exclaimed.
"Did you use the sewing machine?" I asked.
"And a bandanna!" he informed.
"Well, why didn't you use some denim? There's plenty in the closet."
"Because, the bandanna showing underneath the hole looks so 'bad ass'." (which means "cool, groovy or far out" in my language)

So when Middle Son, home from his summer job before heading back to college, asked me to patch his jeans, he requested the bad ass bandanna patch job too. However, I had no bandanna so I did the best I could and found a hip, olive green, heavy-duty fabric from his gramma's old fabric stash. And here are the results.

The look, "worn and rugged" with just a little something-other-than-denim showing through. I'm tellin' ya, this is one hip style I'm patching up. I can't wait until his friends start sending their mending home with him on weekends!

Do you remember.....
-When jeans only came in one color -- new dark blue?
-When Levi 501's came only in "shrink to fit?"
-When it took 5 years for a pair of jeans to be soft and pale blue?
-When there were only two brands of jeans -- Levi and Wrangler?
-When jeans were called "Levis?"
-When holes in your jeans meant you were poor or your mom didn't sew?
-When jeans only came in straight leg or boot cut?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hail, yes!

This is what we heard pounding on our windows and house early, early yesterday morning at 1:50. All we could do is shut the windows fast and watch. It ended up being golf ball sized hail along with some rain. After the hail stopped, I went out in my robe and picked up a few chunks of hail to take pics of and to throw into the freezer in case we needed proof of the hail for the insurance adjuster.

The damage was not severe, although the vehicles were all left outdoors. We didn't have any warnings of hail before bedtime so we don't usually put them in unless we know. There will be some vehicles that the adjuster will have to evaluate, but the other ranch pick-ups will be left "as is." The house didn't appear to have much damage, but A&J's house had some ripped screens and a busted windshield on their Suburban.

The flowers and veggie garden had some damage, but not as much as I thought there might be. I raked the yard, picked up small branches, did some laundry, picked all the green beans and cukes and zukes. I made a good fried rice dish with the veggies and a little beef and left-over rice which was tasty.

By afternoon my boys were home from golfing and they brought paint. I had sent them with some colors to match and they did a great job. The kitchen color (red) was not exactly what I had in mind, but I decided to try it anyway. They bought only a quart because they were undecided about the color. I just couldn't resist dipping a brush into that paint color and by 7:00 I had the majority of the kitchen painted! (it was a fairly easy job, just underneath the cupboards. And I LOVE IT! It makes the honey oak cabinets stand out as well as the countertops. It give just enough color that it isn't overpowering. I need to buy another quart today when I go to town. It's always amazing to me what a simple can of paint can do.

I took a walk as the sun was setting and dropped over to visit my grandgirl. She's so sweet!


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