Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring snow...

 It snowed all day yesterday.
Heavy, wet stuff that melted at first and then accumulated.
We received about 6" on top of the slop
 which amounted to .6" in the rain gauge.
The low temp last night was 25*.

 I spent most of yesterday indoors sewing.
I made these stretchy headbands for the little girls using
girls' tights and made clip-on flowers from silk and cotton voile.
(I didn't cut my flowers as fussy as M. Stewart did)
They turned out quite springy.

This is my second time making this Dutch Almond Puff.
It is so delicious and feels very fancy, but it's easy to make.
I spread mine with apricot jam and then drizzled it with a glaze and sprinkled on nuts.
So good with coffee or tea.
I found the recipe on Bonnie's blog:
(Thank you, Bonnie!) 

Danish Almond Puffs
 Cut together until it resembles a coarse meal:
1/2 cup of butter 
1 c. flour
Add 2 Tbsp. cold water
Mix into a dough.  Then press into two 3x12 rectangles on an ungreased baking sheet. 
Next boil:
1 c. water 
1/2 c. butter
add 1 tsp. almond extract
Remove from heat and add:
1 c. flour
3 eggs one at a time beat them in.
Beat until smooth.  Spread over the pastry rectangles and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.  Combine:   2 c. powdered sugar, 4 Tbs. cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/8 tsp. salt.  Beat the frosting until smooth.  When the pastries are out of the oven spread jam down the middle.  I use raspberry jam and caramel apple jam.  The when cooled drizzle the frosting on.  If you remember sprinkle with ground nuts. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017


 The third year on my asparagus.  It's just coming up!

 Above, tiny lettuces emerge.

 Onion starts.

 Above, garlic is peeking through!

 Rhubarb!  Rhubarb!
 Grape Hyacinth along the garden path.

Daffy-Down-Dilly has come to the Country!

I realize that my photos here are less than spectacular when you consider that so many, many others places are sporting Full Bloom Spring!  We are definitely in Spring-mode now, but our start is slower than most, I think.  Where you see mostly dirt in the photos at the top, I see great potential! 

The first couple of photos are showing my third year asparagus.  Three spring ago, I wanted to find asparagus plants to start in my garden, but they were all out, so what did I do?  I bought a packet of  asparagus seeds and started them.  They came up beautifully, but there were no stems to eat that first year.  The second year I had some nice asparagus but it is said that one should not pick it, but let it go to seed and allow the roots to further strengthen and grow.  By last fall, we had a little bit of rain and the asparagus sent up shoots and I decided it would be just fine if I picked those few tender stalks.  Oh my, but they were delicious!  Now it is spring once again, and THiS Is THe YeAR I gET TO PicK!  Can you feel my excitement?  Where you see a lot of brown mulch and just a few stalks of asparagus, I see great potential for many, many stalks and lots of spring suppers of steak and asparagus or burgers and asparagus or fish and asparagus or maybe some bacon-wrapped asparagus.  

The third photo down, you see the tiniest of lettuce leaves breaking through.  I suppose they were planted last fall and didn't quite get sprouted before the cold weather came.  I'm so proud of them for lying dormant through the winter and poking through this spring.  How much more joy I have to see them first thing this spring!  Now I feel like I have a mini-head-start on the lettuce.  I did actually seed some lettuce yesterday, but these are growing already, right beside the seeds.

Onion sets and garlic are spearing through the other dirt-colored photos.  More potential!  And then there's the Rhubarb!   Potential Pie!  One of my most favorite pies!  I never freeze my rhubarb because I think it gets too watery and rubbery once it's thawed, so when the rhubarb is ready and fresh-picked, it's Pie Time.  Anticipation is half the fun of rhubarb pie for me.  It seems I savor the whole experience so much more than I do with other pies.  I even have a big batch of pie crust dough ready.  I roll it out, put it into pie plates and freeze so I am at-the-ready when the rhubarb is.

The Grape Hyacinth and the Daffodils have been putting on a show in my mostly-brown garden beds.  After a cold, snowy winter, brown never looked so good.  Then the green starts coming through and then bam! full-blown COLOR.  It's a gift. 

Today the Littles -- Peach, Toodles, JohnDeere, Kitten, Chief  and I went for a walk-about.  There are two baby calvies in the corral now that Peach and Toodles are feeding with a bottle every day.  We had to go visit with them and run around with them.  The calves like to chase and frolic with the children like little playmates.  Then we went for a look and a touch with the baby chicks and turned out the hens.  The most important thing we did was to go bird watching.  The older girls begged for it.  The boys went back with JLo while I took the others birding in the tree patch.  We saw the Mountain Bluebirds and Peach said she's seen them in and out of the hollow tree with a hole in it.  We're hoping they are building a nest in there.  We saw many robins, many warblers, and a Loggerhead Shrike.  So much fun!  So much potential for nests, baby birds, and big birds in the days to come.

What kinds of potential are you seeing?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Simple Things...

 Sheets, kitchen towels, tea towels, and table cloths 
snapped wildly on the line on a windy day-after-Easter.
All of our family came to celebrate together.
The extra laundry and dishes and dirty floors remind me there 
were lots of wonderful people here laughing and having fun together.
We ate very well too!

A little Easter gift to myself and to the ladies of our family.
I love orchids, do you?

Kite flying.
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Let's all go fly a kite!
(insert children smiling and squealing!)

The Peeps have arrived! 
We picked them up at the feed store today.
This year I chose to get 25 Black Stars,
known for their egg laying superiority.

 Grape Hyacinths popped up a couple days ago!

The daffodils bloomed just in time for our Easter dinner table.
We've had an inch of rain today, just after we planted two big bare patches in our front and back yard.  We did end up digging up the septic line, and I'm thankful our men could do that work with the help of a backhoe rental.  Now the lines are running perfectly, but the yard is in need of new grass.  This rain will give our newly planted grass seed a good start.  
Water is such a basic, simple thing, but a most important need here.  The green grass is growing in the pastures now and the cows and sheep don't want to eat hay any longer.  They're happy with fresh, green sprouts.

What green things are growing where you live?

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Lessons from Madame Chic...

I've been doing some reading from a very special author named Jennifer L. Scott.  She's a wife, a mother of three, and she works from home and makes home her life's work.  Her first book, Lessons From Madame Chic, 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, is her one of three which focus on beautiful living.  When I think of "chic" I think of something far beyond what I can attain in my everyday life or in my occasional fancy-going-to-an-event days.  But Jennifer makes me think differently  about the term chic.  It is more than French style and fashion, but instead it is a refined quality of gracefulness, manners, and good taste.  To me, that sounds like a way of life, something I want in my everyday, at-home life.  We all try to look our best and be on our best behavior when we are in public, but isn't it just as important to be at our best every day, and to enjoy our lives and our homes and our loved ones every day?  This is the message that Jennifer Scott has for us:  take joy in every single thing that you do each and every day.  Do everything with purpose, take your time, see the beauty in it.

I started the Madame Chic books out of order so the first book I read was At Home With Madame Chic.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and just knew that my daughter and daughters-in-law would love it too since they are at the same stage in life as Jennifer.  They are all young wives and mothers at home with small children.  It is a rewarding time of life, but also a very busy, high-energy time that can often leave a young woman feeling far less than chic by the end of her full days.  In this book, Jennifer gives her readers tips to make the days more organized and less chaotic,  more beautiful and less mundane.  Many ideas she learned directly from her Parisian host family whom she nicknames The Chics, but she also learned from Marla Cilley (aka: Fly Lady) and Emilie Barnes, two authors that I read and was encouraged by back when I was a young mom at home. (Sandra reminded me in the comments about Alexandra Stoddard's books which I also read and loved.)

Today I was reading chapter 2 from the first book, Lessons From Madame Chic, which is entitled: Deprive Yourself Not.  To quote Jennifer, "I have never consistently eaten better, nor enjoyed my food more, than when I lived in Paris with Famille Chic.  This was a family who, gastronomically speaking, led a rather enviable existence.  Breakfast consisted of toasted tartines with real butter and homemade jam, among other delights.  Lunch was leftovers from the previous evening... or a quiche and salad.  A typical weeknight meal would be something like leek soup, followed by roast chicken with braised endive and new potatoes, followed by a salad, followed by a strawberry tart and finally the cheese course."  Now that sounds like some dining that I'd totally love to experience day in and day out, wouldn't you?  By the way, all of the meals were prepared by Madame Chic herself!

Dining on such delicious foods was never followed by the comments, "I wonder how many calories we consumed at this meal?"  Never!  That would not be chic.  But instead, the diners' appetites were deeply satisfied not only by the thoughtfully prepared meal served to them, but also by the intentional experience of eating together on the best dinnerware with cloth napkins, and taking pleasure in the relaxed conversations of the family at the table.  (Very chic!)  Jennifer lets us know that she did not gain weight while she was in France even though they ate very well.

Think of the difference in a typical American breakfast: driving through Starbucks and grabbing a bagel and a coffee and eating it on-the-fly as you scramble off to work or to an appointment because you are running late.  Compare it to Jennifer's Parisian breakfast:  an early morning breakfast prepared just for you to enjoy, taken at the less formal kitchen table, sipping a cup (or bowl in France) of tea or coffee with a slice of last night's strawberry tart and a bowl of fruit over yogurt while the radio plays in the background.  I know how I'd rather start my day!

Jennifer tells us further in this chapter that snacking happened rarely so when it was time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, everyone was hungry and ready to experience the meal of the day.  She gives us a tip on how to dine well and she calls it The Delicacy Technique.  "Think about how you would eat a delicacy if it was placed in front of you.  You wouldn't mindlessly jam it into your mouth while you simultaneously check your iPhone, would you?  You would bring the food to your mouth slowly, taste and savor it.  You would discuss it.  You would enjoy.  Just imagine if you did this with everything you ate.  If you treated mealtime as sacred--no matter what the circumstances."

Let me say that I occasionally eat in front of the computer or TV, particularly at noon if Hubby isn't here to eat with me.   When there were children at home, I never did this.   We all sat at the table, said our blessing and enjoyed our lunch as a family.   I don't want to become a distracted diner.  I want to be an engaged eater of delicacies, even if the delicacy before me is a grilled cheese sandwich!  Honestly, if you think of the amount and varieties of foods we have to eat on a daily basis in America, we should be always grateful and mindful of the true delicacies of foods we have compared to so many who have so little.

I'm sure I will have many other tidbits to share with you from this book, but I wanted to give you a taste of something delicious to read and experience.  I shared my book, At Home With Madame Chic, with OnlyDaughter and yesterday we were discussing it.  She told me, "Mom, I think this little book is going to change my life."  Now that's a testimony for you!  She is excited to share it with other young mothers.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Homemade Le Poo Pourri....

For those times when the bathroom smells like
 a fresh cow patty or the chicken coop,
you need homemade Le Poo Pourri.

Perhaps you've seen the famous video-ad for the original
Poo Pourri.  Click here -- It is SO funny!
We all know about those unspeakable stenches
that emanate from the bathroom, 
but what to do if we have none of the original
Poo Pourri on hand?

Make some!
and fast!

Here's how.  
In a small spray bottle mix:
2 tablespoons of alcohol
20 drops or so of your favorite essential oils
Now fill up the bottle with water and shake again.

Before you go #2, squirt 4 sprays of Le Poo Pourri
in the toilet water.  Then do your business.
No stinky.

For good measure, 
you can give the room a little spritz or two.

I have also used my homemade Le Poo Pourri
in the mud room when the dogs are making a stink.
Or when I can't be sure I've gotten rid of all traces of
cow manure off the rugs. It helps.

This spray helps with kitchen odors too.


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