Blue Sky Farm

My blogging posts and photos are part of me . I think of this as a scrapbook of my life. The names have not been changed.. they are real people who have crossed my path along my journey. Some I know intimately, my family and friends. If their names are mentioned it's a sure sign they are special to me and I love them dearly...come along see for yourself, perhaps you know some of them too..

February 28, 2009

A Great Day Thrifting

Yes, more Chicken/Rooster .
I had to buy them , because they matched the spoon rest my daughter gave me for Christmas, and they were only $5 for the five pieces: one 10 " pie plate and four 6" individuals. I love them and will be looking for pieces. Can't you picture a nice Quiche served with individual salads in these? or individual apple pies or chicken pies? I could think of lots uses for these and I can't wait to use them. They are oven, Microwave and Dishwasher Safe.
I also found another prize cook book, a Springy tin tulip with two adorable chickies, a small floral porcelin pitcher & planter dish for my bathroom. I think I did well , all for under $20

Maybe today, I will go searching for more.

February 27, 2009

Good Morning "Billy"

It is a beautiful crisp sunny blue sky morning and 27 degrees here right now in Klamath Falls, A nice day to walk to get the morning paper. We were greeted by "Billy" the goat (we named him that) standing at the fence by the mail box. He is a friendly goat, although very lonely we think as he comes running to the fence we approach. He used to have a horse friend keeping him company but the horse has been pastured somewhere else. Occassionally a few hens and a rooster will hang out with him during the day. I snapped this photo as Clay & Buster feed him a few dog biscuits which "Billy" seemed to enjoy. We sometimes take him an apple as do our neighbors when they go get thier paper & mail. Of course Buster wanted more than his share and was ready to take it from Clay as it was offered to Billy. Buster said his goodbye to Billy as he does every day of the walk....He might be back later in the afternoon if he tags along to get the mail and off he runs ahead of us checking every hole he can find sniffing for any mice or mole friends hiding. He has quite a routine he follows everyday on the walk back home. Once he arrives home He will curl up in the sun room on the ottoman watching the birds at the feeder while Clay reads the local paper.

February 26, 2009

Which button do I push?

Let me begin by making it perfectly clear...
I am an intelligent woman, and I do love my husband very much.
He really would do just about anything I ask of him without a lot of questions as to why...But I think I share the same complaint with other women...when it comes to the TV remote control or controller..
I know that there are separate remotes for TV, DVD players, and even Stereos. We have them, but supposedly all are connected with one controller at our house...How does that work?
I do not quite understand how the TV remote works, Something about binary codes, transmitters, receivers, It's all mumble jumble to me... I do know what it looks like and what it does. I am asked on rare occasions "where is the remote" by my husband. My quick sarcastic reply would be' into your hand" or "Honey, You told me not to touch it." That is truely a loving joke between my husband and I when I have again messed with the remote trying to do a more complicated task than changing the channel, or turning off the TV.
I do know how to use the remote feature to Mute the volume. I wish there was ONE simple remote that had big numbers to push (my eyesight is not 20/20) and I already have a problem sometimes remembering where I laid my readers... How can I remember all those instructions for how to operate the remote for changing channels, reverse, pause, resume..... it is just too frustrating for me...and easier for him to just do it..
I think its a Man Thing, that they can pick up any remote, slip in a couple batteries, program it and know immediately which channel is Sports, Documentaries, News & Action Drama. All I want is to know how to switch it to the programs I want to see.
Why not get another TV? you might be thinking.. that would solve the problem...but We have Two already and it has a separate remote, ( connected to the same receiver box I am told )with its own buttons. I am sorry, I just don't understand this technology...It is nothing like my computer- ized sewing machine I am sure of that, and I 'm quite sure he couldn't operate that... because there is no remote control...
These would be My rules for the remote control use:

1. Politeness "No Quick Changes". The remote-controller who speeds through a hundred channels without even one breathless pause in one minute has committed a partner social- crime, worthy of being remote-deprived for the rest of the evening.
I should be allowed to at least know what program is being rejected by the remote controller.

2. Do not hide the remote control when you are going to the bathroom or leave the room.... This overt power play is sure to offend any female companion.

3. Agree with each other and say "let's look through what's on" but, again the problem with that is he usually just goes ahead anyway and decides what we want to watch that we have not already seen..or he tosses the remote my way & says "there is nothing on" and silly me, foolishly thought we had over 150 channels receivable through three satellite dishes mounted on our roof....

4. A remote made for me...One button Off & On. and 2 buttons up & down to change channels. and 1 mute button.

We have settled for a simple arrangement. We will watch what We both wants in the evening and if there's something on I wants to see or he wants it's recorded so we can watch it later, or He will watch his program on the other TV, but he has to first explain again to me how to use the remote. The situation could be simplified even more if we didn't have a remote and had to go back to manually flip the off & on switch. Or better yet, We could just watch what I want....

February 25, 2009

Every woman needs a cookbook

and the one thing every young bride receives at a bridal shower is a red & white checkered cookbook, You know which one I am referring to, yes, Better Homes & Garden, and for me it started there years ago. Through out my married life I have added and given away many, but I do still have many. I have a recipe box of favorites and a few favorite cookbooks. Some old, some new and I keep looking for more at thriftstores and have purchased a few through Amazon, I really like the used cookbooks best. I find them quite interesting when cooks before me have made comments in the margins and underlined the instructions. My daughter has a couple that I have given her and I know she has added many more to her collection. Her collection far excedes the number I have kept. Now that I have time again to spend in the kitchen I find that my collection needs added to. I can always move a few into another cupboard. If I find a recipe in a magazine or a friend or family pass them on I have now constructed a notebook for those clipped and marked as "must try." I have confidence in cooking and this is good, because I must admit I have tried a new recipe on my husband , my family and even company and so far have been fortunate not to throw out dinner to the chickens, and head out to the nearest Hamburger stand for dinner. I do watch many shows on TV like Food Network, gleaning good tips from the great chefs and have purchased books by Giada de Laurentiis, Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse, Rachel Ray to name a few. Family have given me books on Spicy sauces, BBq favorites, Fish & Poultry, Cookies & Breads. Those are used a lot but so are my old tattered, food stained pages of not so famous cooks who put lots of love in their recipes. Today, I think I might go check out the shelves at the thrift store to see if I can find that treasured book of somebody's grandma or aunt or mother that they have discarded. I just might find a new recipe to try for dinner and I could invite the neighbors.

February 24, 2009

Country roadside memories of Spring

I remember as a girl walking with my grandma and my mother along the country roadsides picking a wild asparagus. I passed on this "pleasure of hunting for asparagus" to my children when they were young. Often my car would come to a quick stop along an orchard road, They thought I had xray eyes because I could spot it a long distance away. They often teased me as they grew older. My children were big vegetable eaters since we had 1/4 acre garden every year. I do believe it is one of the vegetables that they all liked and we would gather many brown grocery sacks of it on any given dayof an asparagus hunting adventure. Often they would be outside playing and come running in with fistfulls of the green spears from their grandfathers apple orchard . Just another historic yearly occassion for their "family memory banks". So quickly it would appear along with pussy willows, a sure sign of spring and just as quickly the season would be over.

Asparagus is a hardy perennial. It is the only common vegetable that grows wild along roadsides and railroad tracks over a large part of the country. Although establishing a good asparagus bed requires considerable work, your efforts will be rewarded. A well-planned bed can last from 20 to 30 years. For this reason, asparagus should be planted at the side or end of the garden, where it will not be disturbed by normal garden cultivation. Asparagus is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the spring.

Here is one of my favorite Asparagus Recipes

Preparation time: 10 minutes.
1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.
2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

It is yummy and so easy to prepare.

February 23, 2009

Skin care from the kitchen

Delicious Magazine caught my eye at the natural food store the other day. I picked up a complimentary copy when I read "Skin Care from the kitchen". I think I have spent $100's of dollars over the years on manufactured skin care products. Some I found very good and I was even a "beauty consultant" for a short time, teaching skin care and using their products.

Oh I have had many "make overs" department store cosmetic counter displays often reach out and grab my attention screaming temptation to purchase yet another facial scrub, toner, replenishing moisturizers whit the promise of "youthful healthy skin".
Well this farmgirl is over 50, over weight (a bit) over spent on skin care products.

Today as I try my best to do my part in preserving the planet and taking care of my body by nurturing it organically I realized after reading the artical by Gina Demillo Wagner I have some very good natural products in my kitchen cupboard. In the spirit of finding the fountain of youthful skin and the miracle of a new younger looking me and not spending more money I will give nature a try.
A look in my mirror shows that I have dry , dull skin. I know that during the winter months my skin is not producing enough natural oil to protect it against the daily harsh elements. Dry skin is alo prone to wrinkles and lines. First I have started drinking more water. Surprising enough I have a great make up remover..Olive Oil. It is not as expensive as cosmetic make up removers ant it helps moistens my face every night. I must admit sometimes I forget to do this, Perhaps I need to keep a bit in my vanity cupboard next to my wine glass...(The wine is used to relax me when I am in the bubble bath after a stressful or cold day.)
For oily skin a recommended skin recipe for :

A light weight protein mask

2 egg whites

in a bowl beat the whites until frothy. Generously to clean , dry skin, concentrating on the oiliest part of your face, typically the forehead, nose and chin. Do not rub in, leave on for 15-20 minutes and rince. Do this once ot twice a week. Protiens in the whites absorb oil and improve skin's firmness. If you are a vegan or allergic to eggs substitute with cucumber puree'. Just wash an unpeeled cuke, spread evenly over your face. Astringent cucumber is a natural cleanser that helps remove excess oil and leaves skin feeling toned.

Aging Skin To to slow the signs of aging use a daily toner. Apple Cider vinegar's acidic and antiseptic properties help generate new cells by promoting circulation in the small capilliaries that feed the skin. After toning apply a fruit based mask rich in vitamin C which helps prevent wrinkles & maintains elasticity.

Gentle daily toner:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

In a large bowl dilute vinegar & water ( for sensitive skin use one part vineagr to 4 parts water.) Apply to face witha cotton ball avoiding eyes.

Fruit Mask

3 prunes

2 cucumber slices

Pit the prunes and mash in abowl until smooth. Spread over clean dy skin, avoiding eyes.

Once the mask is applied place fresh cold cucumber slices over your eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles. Leave mask on for 20 minutes: rinse clean. Do this once or twice a week.

So there you have it.. now scoot on into your cupboard and see what is waiting for you...and don't forget the wine if you are taking a bath.

February 22, 2009

An American Classic

I made these delicious cookies earlier this week and in my opinion probably
The best oatmeal cookies. I have altered the recipe from “The Essential Baker cookbook.”
These are classic American cookies loaded with raisins, craisins, pecans, cashews & coconut. They are best eaten warm from the oven or dunked in a cold glass of milk.
Store the cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. Mine never last that long…they are just too good.

What to do First:
Adjust the oven racks to upper and lower thirds and preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick liners
Ingredients needed:
1 ½ cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 extra large egg (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
½ cup coarsely chopped cashews
½ cup flaked coconut
Mixing the dough:
In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon & salt, toss gently to blend together.
Place butter, in an electric stand mixer, using flat beater attachment. Beat butter until light & fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add the sugar to the butter & cream well. Stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula
Use a fork to lightly beat the egg with the vanilla in a small bowl. Add to mixture again stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. At first the mixture will look curdled as the egg is added, but it will smooth out as you continue to mix.
Add the dry ingredients in 3 stages, mix between each, Add the raisins, nuts & coconut until well blended.
Use an ice cream scoop 1 ½ in. diameter to drop small amounts of dough onto 2 baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes and then switch pans bake another 6-7 minutes until set & golden brown.
Remove from oven cool remove with a spatula.

February 21, 2009

One signature dish

For some reason I seem to be in the kitchen a lot lately, The next few posts will be what I have been cooking & baking and a special beauty treat for Monday. It has become my thing to do inside since outside it not ready for me, (my garden is no where near ready to plant, thanks to the weather.)
So I will begin with one of my favorite dishes that I made this earlier this week for dinner.

Lemon Chicken with capers served with fresh steamed broccoli and sweet red pepper rice.
I make this dish often. It is easy to make and it is tender, juicy lemony. I pair this dish with my favorite white wine.

A Pinot Greggio. With a hint of citrus and apple. I am learning to really taste the suttle flavors of different wine. This particular pinot greccio from Barefoot Winery is reasonably priced and is good with fish or just as refreshing by itself.

Lemon Chicken
2 chicken skinless breast pounded lightly to tenderize
1 can chicken stock
1 lemon
2 T capers
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 T minced garlic
2 Tablespoons corn starch diluted with white wine for thickening.

Be sure to clean any surface thoroughly with soap & water after cutting & pounding chicken.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze ½ over chicken slice & reserve the remainder set aside.
Place chicken in a hot skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil & minced garlic & salt & pepper ( brown on both
Cooking chicken until done. )
Pour chicken stock and 1 cup of white wine over cooked chicken and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture to thicken the stock.
The cornstarch will thicken slightly but you do not want it as thick as gravy. If too thick add more wine.
Sprinkle capers over both pieces of chicken with the reserved sliced lemons
Cover & simmer for 5 more minutes.
Remove from stove and serve with rice or pasta

February 20, 2009

Premature thoughts of Garden Fresh Vegetables

Here it is still winter and my thoughts are jumping to harvesting & canning fresh vegetables & fruits and making jams & jellies.
Shopping for these fresh vegetables & fruit yesterday makes me really anxious for Spring and planting my own vegetables. It is way too early here to even consider trying to scratch a dent in the frozen soil that I will call my garden, come May or even June here in the Klamath basin. An awful lot of amending needs to be done to the soil . We will be hauling in sand and compost and top soil to the area I have claimed for my vegetables. To say nothing of the sweat and sore muscles that will be sacrificed. Noticed I said we, I of course wouldn't want to not include my husband in this process. Last year I got a late start and this year I vow to be ahead of the game, weather permitting.
I have been ordering seed catalogues, Reading for hours and learning a ton about heirloom & organic seeds and really want to eat healthy food untouched with chemicals and pesticides. My chickens will provide us with good free range eggs and the good earth will grow really nutritious vegetables. I know I may have to make frequent trips to the Local Farmers market for those things I cannot grow but just wait until fall when my pantry is again full of all these good things to eat.
I am collecting more cookbooks and recipes than I probably ever will use but I do like to try different foods & flavors. I am also learning what wines to pair with what dishes I serve so I will also be sampling a few throughout the spring and summer and that will mean dinner parties too that I can plan. Cookbooks are one of my favorite farm girl things to collect, not counting the eggs from the chicken coop…but, right now as I look at these fresh healthy ingredients I am just wondering what’s for dinner tonight and I think I can decide over a glass of Pinot Grissio.

February 19, 2009

The Golden Girls came visiting

I looked out the back sliding door window yesterday afternoon and my two Buff Orphingtons, I call them my Golden Girls ... "Goldie & Lucy " were there, like they belonged there...Only an hour earlier I had just gone down to their "studio" (pictured behind them) and gathered their 2 beautiful eggs. Tossed into the chookie yard, some fresh lettuce for all 4 of the girls and returned to my warm house.
Aparently these lovelies saw that I had returned to the house and followed me in hopes of a few more treats. They often see me coming to the door and they come a bustling as fast as their little legs will carry them, to be first to gobble up the treats *which I carry in my apron pocket whenever I go out the back door. ( yes, they are spoiled, aren't they) and It is not the first time they have come up the 6 steps to the patio deck to greet me. One day they were there pecking at the door...wanting me to come out loaded with the treats, or maybe they were looking for Buster...Crazy chickens!
They are really such sweet gentle girls. They have been laying each an egg a day even throughout the coldest days of our winter. "Dottie" (the barred Rock) lays an egg every couple days for us and the RhodeIsland Red "Rosie" has not produced her share yet....
Of course I have to shoo them off the deck because as you can see on my rug a couple fresh droppings, Great for the yard & garden, but have no fear "Buster " will find it and roll in it before I get it swept off the step, so I better go do just that.
He is such an "nasty animal at times.." a real farm dog... who is now definately in need of a bath!

February 18, 2009

More Vintage Treasures

I found these items on Monday, when Gail from my MaryJanes Farmgirl chapter and a friend of hers joined me for coffee & some thrift shopping before we enjoyed a nice late lunch at Nibbly's Cafe here in Klamath Falls. we had a great time and will be doing more of these day outtings again.
I found this vintage metal canister & breadbox combo, I am going to use as a storage drawers for my garden seeds or may use it to store my sewing notions in, or maybe repaint it and use it on my desk to organize "desk stuff". It will remain in the craft room until I decide..Thats what is nice about this kind of treasure, I can decide later where & what I want to display or put it to use for.
I love the old green wind up alarm clock, I just had to have it. That will go onthe wicker table in my guestroom. The enamel ware soap dish & water cup is not old but will fit in nicely in my bathroom. I bought some lavendar soap to display with it to match the other lavender & blue tones in my bathroom. The soap smells so nice & fresh.
I have placed a hyacinth plant from my kitchen counter in there too and as you can see it is blooming beautifully. I am waiting for 10 more paperwhite bulbs to bloom so they can sit in the window over the garden tub together.
At least it will feel kind of like spring while the snow melts.

February 17, 2009

Hearts for Good Health

Research has shown that artichokes which is the immature flower of the thistle plant contain a compound that can help prevent certain kinds of cancer and even heal a damage liver. In a study done at the University Hospital of Cleveland an ointment made with the compound "silymarin "
found in artichokes was able to prevent skin cancer in mice.
Silymarin works because of its powerful antioxidants.
One medium cooked artichoke contains more than 6 grams of roughage. Artichokes are a good source of magnesium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C. Folate and Vitamin B.

Getting to the best part....
Preparing a fresh artichoke before eating it:

  • Dirt can get lodged beneath their scaly leaves, so it is important to thoroughly wash them before cooking:

  • Pull off the tough outer, lower petals. With a sharp knife slice off the stem so it is level with the bottom of the artichoke.

  • Stand the artichoke in a large saucepan. Sprinkle salt over the artichoke and toss in a couple garlic cloves, Cover it halfway with water and simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes. Or place on a steaming rack and steam for the same amount of time.

  • To test for doneness, pull on the center petal. If it comes out easily the artichoke is done.

  • To eat the leaves, hold it down by the tip, curved side down, and draw it between your teeth removing the tender flesh. Dipping the petal in melted butter or mayonaise is good too.
  • When the leaves are gone, use a fork or spoon to scoop out the hairy layer, called the "choke." Discard the hairy choke, then eat the best part the heart.
For a good party favorite that is quick & easy try the

Hot Artichoke Cheese Dip

1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Sour Cream
1 envelope Italian Salad Dressing
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked artichokes (canned or fresh)
1 (8 ounce) package Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and salad dressing mix with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add artichokes and 1-1/2 cups of the Cheddar cheese; mix well.
Spoon into 9-inch pie plate.
Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve as a dip with Crackers. Or pour dip into a hollowed round loaf of french bread and serve with the bread bits you took out of the loaf.
Yield: 32 servings

February 16, 2009

The Swimsuit Issue

I know it is the dead of winter, but this really made me laugh, my sister in law emailed me this funny article before she departed for a "girls trip"to Bali.... She has a great figure and would never have a problem shopping for a suit. (I did find it quite humorous but sadly, I can relate to this).

Not so many years ago, the bathing suit for the mature figure was boned, trussed and reinforced, not so much sewn as engineered. They were built to hold back and uplift and they did a good job.
Today's stretch fabrics are designed for the prepubescent girl with a figure carved from a potato chip. The mature woman has a choice-she can either go up front to the maternity department and try on a floral suit with a skirt, coming away looking like a hippopotamus who escaped from Disney's Fantasia or she can wander around every run of the mill department store trying to make a sensible choice from what amounts to a designer range of florescent rubber bands. What choice did I have? I wandered around, made my sensible choice and entered the chamber of horrors known as the fitting room.
The first thing I noticed was the extraordinary tensile strength of the stretch material. The Lycra used in bathing costumes was developed, I believe, by NASA to launch small rockets from a slingshot, which give the added bonus that if you manage to actually lever yourself into one, you are protected from shark attacks as any shark taking a swipe at your passing midriff would immediately suffer whiplash. I fought my way into the bathing suit, but as I twanged the shoulder strap in place, I gasped in horror - my boobs had disappeared!
Eventually, I found one boob cowering under my left armpit. It took a while to find the other. At last I located it flattened beside my seventh rib.
The problem is that modern bathing suits have no bra cups. The mature woman is meant to wear her boobs spread across her chest like a speed bump. I realigned my speed bump and lurched toward the mirror to take a full view assessment.
The bathing suit fit all right, but unfortunately it only fit those bits of me willing to stay inside it. The rest of me oozed out rebelliously from top, bottom, and sides. I looked like a lump of play dough wearing undersized cling wrap.
As I tried to work out where all those extra bits had come from, the prepubescent sales girl popped her head through the curtain, 'Oh, there you are,' she said, admiring the bathing suit.
I replied that I wasn't so sure and asked what else she had to show me. I tried on a cream crinkled one that made me look like a lump of masking tape, and a floral two piece which gave the appearance of an over sized napkin in a serving ring. I struggled into a pair of leopard skin bathers with ragged frills and came out looking like Tarzan's Jane, pregnant with triplets and having a rough day.
I tried on a black number with a midriff and looked like a jellyfish in mourning.
I tried on a bright pink pair with such a high cut leg I thought I would have to wax my eyebrows to wear them.
Finally, I found a suit that fit -- a two-piece affair with a shorts style bottom and a loose blouse-type top. It was cheap, comfortable, and bulge-friendly, so I bought it. My ridiculous search had a successful outcome, I figured. When I got home, I found a label which read: 'Material might become transparent in water.'
So, if you happen to be on the beach or near any other body of water this year and I'm there too -- I'll be the one in cut off jeans and a T-shirt!

February 15, 2009

A Great Teacher in the making

I wish my children lived closer to me. Fortunately for me, they are all very good at keeping in touch, This is Pj and her three sons. Alex 15, Peyton 8 and Mason 6 .
Pj is my second daughter and third child. She is 38 years old and has gone back to college to become a teacher. She calls me almost every day (from her car usually, I think that's her second home.) She fortunately has more energy than the "energizer bunny" and really needs it to juggle her mommy life, home life, student life and her now her student teaching life.
Pj has always been my wonder child, I wondered many times just what was she thinking. Her given name is Paula Jean but she prefers to be called PJ, somehow that nickname stuck. She actually joined the Marines when she was younger, and I am thankful that she was discharged with a knee problem. Seriously she turned out pretty darn good, in spite of her being the "spoiled one" (according to her older brother & sister.) She certainly excels in organizing playtime and her children do not lack for her creative talents. She is not afraid to tackle any problem or the many other surprises her busy life throws her way. She can change her own car oil, remove & replace a battery from a car, (she did mine), fix a broken headlights, keep her cool when she makes emergency trips to the ER when her children are sick, paints faces, makes balloon characters and she can even cook. She certainly can think quickly and has a terrific yet wicked sense of humor. Pj is married and has a step-daughter Taylor and she is also 15. (Yikes!two teens at once.) I don't know how she manages to wear all the hats she does. Her plate is always full. Pj has been an emergency substitute teaching since September and will graduate from college in June. She hopes to teach in the district where her children currently attend public school. I could not be more proud of her, and I am sure she is going to be one awesome teacher.

February 14, 2009

Symbols of a Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to all my loved ones, friends and family. I would have baked you these cookies as my symbol of love for Valentines Day, not just because they look pretty, but they would have tasted good and I knew you more than likely already have been given way too many goodies, like Chocolates, flowers, cards, a night out to a movie from your other loved ones. Right?
Earlier this week we did send Valentines to our grandchildren, well, Grandparents do this without question.
For us this year my loving husband and I decided we really did not need candy, flowers or cards this year as symbols of our love. We decided this on the way to the grocery store, afterall we know we love each other. But then while at the grocery store we bought a pretty little flowering plant, three mountain bars, and then went and rented three movies at Blockbusters for Valentines weekend's entertainment. I did look at the Valentines cards at the Grange Co-op almost bought him one then decided No because we already said we were not going to do that. It was sweet that he told me he loved me in the grocery store and kissed me while waiting for our turn through the checkstand. These were great symbol of the Valentines that we were not going to celebrate. You see, I know I have the greatest husband everyday, not just on February 14th and these tokens and happenings were just because our subconsious minds took over our pocketbook and I was pushing the shopping cart. Somethings just cannot be forgottten...or explained.
Anyway, here are some of the other valentine symbols and their origins:
Red Roses were said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Also, red is a color that signifies strong feelings.
Lace has long been used to make women's handkerchiefs. Hundreds of years ago, if a woman dropped her handkerchief, a man might pick it up for her. Sometimes, if she had her eye on the right man, a woman might intentionally drop her handkerchief to encourage him. So, people began to think of romance when they thought of lace.
Love Knots have series of winding and interlacing loops with no beginning and no end. A symbol of everlasting love, love knots were made from ribbon or drawn on paper.
Lovebirds, colorful birds found in Africa, are so named because they sit closely together in pairs -- like sweethearts do.
Doves are symbols of loyalty and love, because they mate for life and share the care of their babies. I Hope your Valentines Day was what you wanted it to be...too.

February 13, 2009

World Class Birding

The 30th Annual Klamath Wingfest
February 13, 14, 15th
Clay & I will try to attended this event today or tomorrow.
We do enjoy seeing these birds as we take day trips around the Klamath Basin. Just another advantage to living here in the Klamath Basin.
Located in both south central Oregon and northern California, the Basin is a key player on the Pacific Flyway, hosting 80 percent of the birds that use the Flyway. A total of six separate nearby refuges comprise the total National Wildlife Refuge complex spanning nearly 200,000 acres. A unique, strong cooperative partnership between farming, water resources, and the refuges provides an abundance of food and water that attracts vast numbers of waterfowl and raptors.
Over 350 species call this major Pacific flyway layover home…
From November through February over 500 bald Eagles-the largest concentration in the lower 48 states winter in the Klamath basin.

February 12, 2009

My Farmgirl Friends are Special

I dedicate my blog today to all my MaryJane Farmgirl friends.

I feel I know many of you, because you have left me comments that show we are kindred spirits, with encouraging words of support.
Even though we farm girls are sometimes miles apart
We share a friendship deep in our heart”
The spirit and power of women together, comforting and caring for each other.
I want to thank the women who joined the Valentine Swap, I enjoyed taking the time
to make a card for each of you. Each day I looked forward to going to may mailbox and knowing inside would be a special card for me. I am happy to have special friendships with you, we share many ideas, thoughts and dreams. We are not strangers, only friends we have not met.
I hope many days are good for you and hard times are few
Forget me not, and I won't forget you!

February 11, 2009

It's not Costa Rica.. but "Pura Vida!"

I must have been dreaming last night because
I could have sworn it was spring just a few days ago.
We had sunshine and 50 degree days and beautiful Blue Sky.
Mother Nature is not being serious is she? This is the other side of my back fence... it is no better there...
Well I guess it is only February.
Last year Clay & I were in Costa Rica on an Eco-tour. What an experience zipping through the rainforest, warm and carefree. The minute we stepped off the plane we learned a Costa Rican phrase of two words “Pura Vida”. It was used often among the people we met along our tour. They appeared to have no worries. They were content with their humble life. Food and family was their life. These two words say it all and mean many things, used in many contexts “Life is good, everything is fine and wonderful, as a salutation as and a goodbye. So today I will remember the words, and as I watch the snow fall, I can say “Pura Vida! and it is true Life is not better on the other side of my fence.

February 10, 2009

Tuesday's Tastings Food & Flavors

I am going to change Tuesday Herbal Wisdom blog topic to "Tuesday's Tastings of Foods & Flavors" I love to cook and want to share some tidbits & recipes with you.

I know you have seen this in the produce department..have you tried it? This is FENNEL
Fennel is truly a vegetable and should not be confused with the herb, sweet anise. Even though they share a similar mild sweet licorice flavor, fennel comes from an entirely different plant. Fennel has a rounded creamy white bulb, short green stalks and feathery green leaves. Its appearance resembles an extra plump bunch of celery, and it has a unique licorice taste that becomes milder when cooked. It can also be eaten raw and is used as a bad breath neutralizer
Fennel is very popular in Europe and until recently was found primarily in Italian and specialty markets in the United States. It is now found in mainstream supermarkets, however, it is frequently sold incorrectly as sweet anise. Fennel is grown primarily in Italy, France, Greece, and the United States. In the United States, fennel is grown almost exclusively in California

Storage & Selection Fennel can vary significantly in size anywhere from ½ pound to 2 pounds. In my opinion size is very important, as smaller fennel bulbs are more tender and less fibrous than larger bulbs. The bulb has virtually all of the usable meat, and should be a firm, clean creamy white that doesn't show any sign of brown spots, yellowing, splitting, or withering, a sign the fennel is old. Fennel stalks should be straight and the leaves a feathery bright green. Avoid fennel if there are flowers on the stalks because this is a sign that the fennel is over mature. Store fennel in a plastic bag, in the high-humidity crisper section of the refrigerator for no more than three to four days. Fennel loses its flavor quickly so it's best to use it as soon as possible.

SOME IDEAS from The Victory Garden Cookbook
Sprinkle chopped fennel leaves on hot baked oysters or clams.
Add cooked fennel to omelets, quiches, stuffing or sauces.
Add stalks to stocks for their flavor.
Add sliced sautéed fennel to fish chowders.
Cook fennel in your favorite tomato sauce.
Place stalks and leaves on barbeque coals as they do in France. The fennel scent permeates the grilled food.
Slice steamed or blanched fennel, cover with a vinaigrette and serve chilled.
Chop raw fennel and add to tuna fish sandwiches.
Slice fennel thin and layer with raw potatoes, cream and cheese to make a potato au gratin

February 9, 2009

Childhood comfort even when you are over 50

Every morning I am greeted by my favorite doll sitting in her rocking chair in hall entry. I found her in a gift shop a few years ago, and the books were copywritten in 1947. That was a good year. I love her sweet paper mache' face and soft cloth body. She is an inspiration for me to not take life so seriously all the time. I will never outgrow my love for her. Sometimes you know, you just need hang onto those childhood comforts...Maybe I need to bake some cookies eat them warm with cold milk.. or Annie & I could have a tea party.

Raggedy Ann is a fictional character created by writer Johnny Gruelle (1880–1938) in a series of books he wrote and illustrated for young children. Raggedy Ann is a rag doll with red yarn for hair. The character was created in 1915 as a doll, and was introduced to the public in the 1918 book Raggedy Ann Stories. A doll was also marketed along with the book to great success. A sequel, Raggedy Andy Stories (1920) introduced the character of her brother, Raggedy Andy, dressed in sailor suit and hat.

The creation of the first Raggedy Ann doll was inspired by his daughter Marcella. She had found a tattered rag doll in her Grandmother's attic.
Her father used his cartooning pen and applied a new, whimsical face to the doll. The name for the doll came from two poems by James Whitcomb Riley - "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphan Annie."

Marcella Gruelle died at age 13, from an infected small pox vaccination. In the same month as Marcella's death, Johnny Gruelle had been granted final approval by the U.S. Patent office for his rag doll.
As Johnny Gruelle worked on finishing the stories, he often glanced up at one of the few keepsakes of his daughter -- Marcella's own tattered doll.

Raggedy Ann was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2002. Raggedy Andy joined her in 2007.

February 8, 2009

Our Saturday Night Movie

Last night Clay & I went to Blockbusters to get a movie to watch. I had read about "The Secret Life of Bees " by Sue Monk Kidd and how great and bad the reviews were. Being one who see a movie for herself instead of taking the critics' reviews or those of others. I give this movie A+ if I was to rate it. This film is about family and the power of love, based on the best selling novel, that I had read years ago. I need to get a copy for my collection of books I want to own.
While I was watching the movie I was thinking how things have changed from black people not being able to mix with whites, not being able to vote, etc., to one of them actually becoming our President.
How far we have come as a nation since the early 60's. Another great testament of Change
For me it was a feel good movie. A story and parable about how to cope with the painful truth and find forgiveness. You are taken from laughing one moment to feeling as though your heart is being tugged out of your body in the next moment. I will definitely be recommending this film to my friends if anyone were to ask.

February 7, 2009

My friend Carol's GIVEAWAY

Bloggers , this is an opportunity for you to have a header personally designed for you & your interests. Carol has a site called Digital Quilts. If you page down, I have a link on the right side of my blog to her Digital Quilt site. click on the picture.. Go leave her a comment on that site voting for the digital quilt you like best . She will draw two winners from the entry comments. Email her if you have any questions. She posted this offer on the MJ Connection "Across the fence " Topic.
Good Luck!

A treaure found in the my closet....

Sometimes I forget that I am getting older, and wiser and the person in the mirror looking back at me is Me, and then just when I think I have it together, something sparks my thoughts to my childhood like it did yesterday afternoon as I was sorting out a closet and came across this slip and dress my mother made for me when I was a baby. My goodness that was 61 years ago, more than a half a century now..My wrinkled and weathered fingers trace over the dainty flowers she carefully embroidered and I know how much time she spent doing this work. I was my parents first daughter or 4 and I do not think she made anything like this for my sisters , she was then too busy, so I feel special and I feel fortunate to have this piece of my past, a time of course that I cannot remember but I have photos of me that my mother has passed on to me as she has for my sisters. I have a few other treasures tucked away some of mine & some of my mothers and I wonder which of my 3 children will want to have them to treasure as I do. You know, it seems the older I get the more sentimental I become. In these times of hardships that our country is faced with, I am reminded of stories my parents told of how they struggled to feed and clothe us. Is history repeating itself and it will continue throughout the next years? I think
we must savor the moments of plenty and save for our future. Some years are bountiful and some are not. We really do not know what the future holds..and

Now when I hold these precious pieces of cloth I want to dispaly them because I know they are priceless pieces of my past and It is my responsibility to create treasures to be passed on to my children and grandchildren. I think I better start today, time is passing quickly and I have much to do, I think I will start with a journal, don't you think that is a good idea?

February 6, 2009

When I can't escape life

This is where I go sometimes when it is raining and cold outside or humid and hot. When my body aches, when I am fighting a cold , when I need to be rejuvenated for the day ahead, or when I just need a break from life stressors. I can close the door for a few minutes and relax and let my mind wander enjoying the peace and quiet. It is a wonderful feeling of well-being. I do like the scent of essential oils and a good scrub with a loofa sponge. I have a place to go where things are only mine, where I can light a candle, read and sometimes sip a glass of wine letting the world slip away. I have my favorite oils, gels, fluffy towel and scented lotions, relaxing music and I pamper myself with these simple luxuries. Sometimes for only a few minutes sometimes 1/2 hour or more. My bathing pleasures. Vanilla and Lavendar are my favorites for relaxing, but grapefruit and lime are my invigorating choices when I just need to be refreshed and recharged to tackle the day ahead. Sometimes the sun shines through the window and warms me. Sometimes at night I turn off the lights and the stars & moon glow with a burning candle. I have always wanted a garden tub and finally years of waiting I have one. I still dream of an outside bathing place, surrounded by fragrant flowers and and trellises of roses on a patio in with a clawfoot tub sipping fresh squeezed lemonade, visualizing myself in a tropical rain forest after a day in the garden.... ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ! "This is a great place to be!

Bath Time Ritual

First Unplug the phone.
Lock the door to prevent intruders like kids and spouses.
Stop the drain in the tub.
Light aromatherapy candles. Choose lavender to relieve stress and sandalwood to relax.
Turn on the water and adjust the temperature to your liking.
Pour a small amount of bubble bath or oil into the running water.
Allow the bathtub to fill with water and suds. If you are not satisfied with the amount of suds in the water, add more bubble bath into the running water.
Turn off the water when the tub has filled. Replenish hot water as needed.
Slowly enter the bath
Breathe deeply and relax.

February 5, 2009

Senior Day means Bargains

I forced myself to go to the thrift store today, I know it was really a hard decision to go..but I remembered today was Senior Discount Day and well since I am being frugal & trying to be thrifty I needed to go..and I am a Senior....the good part was I really Saved money. ..Well, Let's say I got some great bargains.
I only spent $16.50 for tall hese treasures some for my bathroom and for my kitchen, The cast iron dutch oven is a John Wright Classic Gourmet, I cleaned it up but the inside is in need of great seasoning. I must use more elbow grease to make it usable, but I thought it was too good to pass up for $1.50 even if I never use it to cook in. The white porcelin basket was made in Portugal, I will use it for hand towels & wash cloths and it was only $2.99 . I loved the dainty floral pitcher too. $1.99. and the small basket for soap $.99 The blue dishes were $2.50 for all 4 pieces. Then as I was making it around the store for the 3rd time, I bought a white sweater for me $2.99. I spotted this cute brass tin with a pewter bird on top..and inside was a small sewing kit. I had to have that too...The white tin and the cute little blue bottle $ .99 each Just as I was at the check stand I saw the glass jar with the wood lid.. Well what would you have done? You bet I grab it too. I probably won't go back there for a few days... or until the next Senior Day.

Spring arrived in my Kitchen

Spring arrives early with forced bulbs in my kitchen.
See them on my pretty Springy tablecloth.
I love the four Seasons and hopefully soon it will be the beginning of all four. I could not wait for Mother Nature so I tricked these bulbs and I started these a few weeks ago in my kitchen window in a cute crock I bought at the thrift store. Now they greet me standing so tall every morning with their sweet pretty blooms and they smell so fresh. I catch a whiff as I walk past my kitchen table.
Paper whites have small delicate blooms, so they look best when clustered in arrangements of six or more. While they have delicate blooms, paper whites don't require as much precise care as other bulbs. Simply plant the bulbs as described earlier. Place in a cool sunny location, and in four to six weeks they'll begin their show.
You can even force paper whites in gravel and water in a container without drainage holes. Allow for 1-2" of gravel under the bulbs. Place the bulbs on the gravel and add enough gravel to hold the bulbs in place. Then add water until it reaches the base of the bulbs only. Maintain the water at this level throughout the growing process.

February 4, 2009

Left over Sourdough bread

My sourdough bread made the MaryJaneWay was delicious. The recipe is in the MaryJaneFarm magazine Feb-Mar 2009 issue

The left over sourdough was cut into cubes seasoned with herbs and butter. I put them in the oven for about 30 minutes and toasted them. They are great on salads, in soups or crushed for casserole toppings.

Sourdough Croutons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut leftover bread into cubes and place on baking sheet

Drizzle with butter to coat and sprinkle choice of herbs and spices

place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until cubes are toasted goledn brown

Remove and cool, store in container or package as gift.

February 3, 2009

I had to do it

I had to go.. Nancy Jo made me.. * well ok, she inspired me*
I found this cute cast iron cornbread stick pan and these cute vegetable garden row markers and the Springy floral tablecloth & 4 bright yellow napkins. I wanted to get a tablecloth with more blue in it but this jumped right into my cart.

Ahhh! "The Stinking Rose"

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Garlic (allium sativum) has been dubbed "The Stinking Rose", yet it is actually a member of the Lily (Liliaceae) family and a cousin to onions, leeks, chives, and shallots.
Garlic is one of the most versatile flavors to ever grace a kitchen. It not only tastes wonderful, it's very good for your body. It is one of Mother Nature's most precious gift to cooks of all levels of expertise.
There are over 300 varieties of garlic grown worldwide. American garlic, with its white, papery skin and strong flavor is one of the most common varieties. Italian and Mexican garlic, both of which have pink- to purple-colored skins, are slightly milder-flavored varieties. The edible bulb or head of garlic is composed of smaller cloves. It is a root crop, with the bulb growing underground. Garlic crops are harvested in mid-July and hung in sheds to dry before reaching their prime in late-July/early-August.
Herb-Garlic Marinade
Recipes courtesy Gourmet Magazine
Great for chicken on the ~ lemony and has no sugar. 15 minutes to prepare. Makes 2 cups.
6 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup packed tender fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup packed fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Mince together garlic, thyme sprigs, and rosemary with salt and mash to a coarse paste. In a bowl whisk together garlic paste and remaining ingredients until emulsified. Marinade may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

February 2, 2009

Easy as 1 ~ 2~ 3 ~ Enjoy

I had to try this recipe that Debbie "bushelnpeck" from Nevada posted on the MaryJanesFarmgirl Connection website. It was so simple to make and that's what I liked 1~2~3 Easy, my kind of making a cake. I liked it mostly because it was a single "Big " serving and I have none left to tempt me more tomorrow, except I could make another... couldn't I?

The 1st photo is the uncooked mix ready to mirowave, the 2nd is in the microwave at the end of the 3 minutes and the last is ready to serve. I used M&Ms instead of chocolate chips & it was yummy! A dollup of whip cream would have pushed it to Perfection.

I called my daughter Nancy who has a blog too and gave her the recipe which she also made, we were kind of having a cook off and taste test, She tried it with 3 different chocolates. Go to her site to read her review.
5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
3 Tablespoons chocolate chips
(optional)a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
Add dry ingredients to mug, mix well. Add the egg and mix well... pour the milk and oil and mix again...add chocolate chips if using and vanilla extract and mix again...put mug in microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (may need adjusting) the cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed. Allow to cool a little and tip out on plate if desired...this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous.

February 1, 2009

A little TLC

It was the last day of a cold wintry January. It was another beautiful sunny morning like we have had most of the month. I am so glad we moved here where the sun shines more than not.
I took my own advice from Saturday’s entry “Comforting Sense.”
I wasn’t feeling really good, yesterday so we cancelled our trip to Portland, thinking my throbbing headache and general yucky feeling was more than perhaps a cold coming on, but needed some fresh air. . Sometimes I feel that is my best medicine…
So I bundled up after ingesting some sinus tablets, put the dog in the car and Clay & I drove to this frozen Reservoir near where we live. Hoping to find a place to maybe go fishing & camping in the summer. It was a perfect spot to breathe in fresh air and relax. We were only gone for a couple hours but I felt much better getting out and actually managed to clean out the Chicken Studio for the “ girls” when we came home. I filled the bath tub full of bubbles & soaked awhile.
I am feeling recharged and ready take on whatever this First day of February has to offer.