Friday, August 31, 2012

What a Difference

Yep, there's quite a difference in the before and after mess factor. The rose garden/soon to be vegetable garden clean-up has continued and along with it we've been getting our winter fire wood ready. 

After the tree was cut into logs we rented a splitter and between out two households (our son's and ours) we split about three cords of wood in a day. Two for them and one for us, all from our own downed trees. We still need about two more cords which I think I'll have to buy soon.

As you can see it was all hands on deck for this major work day. It's a big help to have the grands old enough and big enough to make a real contribution. They can really put in a days work let me tell ya!

Chris also spent a day renovating the composting area so that those pesky skunks will have to go to some major trouble from now on to feast at our house. The blue trash cans are bottomless and aerated to hold kitchen compost and the garden compost pile is to the right. Come on wormies do your stuff. It's all fenced off  so the dogs won't be playing in it either. For some reason Shadow loves her some compost!?

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Out of the Past

While cleaning up my sewing room a few weeks ago to get ready for all that company I not only came across those HTS that I used for the table topper but I also found this beautiful piece of handwork that I had forgotten all about.

This has been in a drawer for more than 40 years. My husband brought it back from Vietnam in 1969 when his tour of duty was over. In fact it may be the only thing he brought back. He thought I might like it, he knew even then how much I loved needle work of any kind and I was heavily into hand embroidery in my youth.

This is a piece of work from the hands of a Hmong woman. She may have been a translator or a laundry lady or even just a street vendor. The Hmong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China and Vietnam who where America's allies in the Vietnam War and suffered for it. You can read more about them here.

Isn't it strange how a piece of fabric can evoke such strong emotion? Perhaps it's your grandmother's apron or your mother's handkerchief. Or a quilt handed down through time. Isn't that why some of us  quilt? So that we will be remembered?

 It's wonderful, precise work. Tiny, elegant stitches. But it brings back not so happy memories for me. I think I'll put it back in a drawer along with those memories. Some things are best forgotten.

Until next time,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Design Wall Monday/Table Topper Flimsy

It's Monday again and at least some progress has been made here on Dogwood Lane. I was able to get the table topper I showed you last Monday sewn together and it's ready to be quilted. I don't know if I'll get to it this week or not as there's a lot to do here as usual.

We're expecting more company this weekend. Good friends from So. Cal. are coming for Memorial Day to mark the official end of summer and even though we expect more hot weather believe it or not there is a slight chill in the air in the morning here. 

River 7wks old
And...River is finally coming home to Dogwood Lane! She is old enough to leave her mother and we make the trip to pick her up on Tuesday. Brace yourselves to hear all about our adventures in puppy training.

Linking up to Patchwork Times for design wall inspiration, you should check it out and be inspired too.

Until next time,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

 When I say we live in a small town I mean we live in a really small town. By anybodies definition our town is tiny. We have a stop sign, a gas station and a little market on Main Street.  Down the hwy. there is a larger market for most of our grocery shopping and a bank and of course a beauty shop. We girls need to get our hair done! 

The Shannon Knox House - the oldest residence in town, right on the corner of Main Street.
 There are two cross streets, School Street and Church Street. I'll bet you can guess where they lead. Not much happens here and we are on the way to and from nowhere. The main industries are ranching and logging and not much of that goes on any more. Most people here are just barely getting by and have to work "off the hill" as we say, which means a daily commute of at least an hour on mountain roads.

The I.O.O.F. Hall  - every gathering of importance happens here, concerts, weddings, funerals and graduations.
This town is a California Historical landmark because in 1849 it was a booming gold rush town inhabited by thousands! Hard to imagine that now. Because we are not on the way to anywhere and the roads are a little scary we don't get a lot of tourists. This is good for those of us who like to be left alone, bad for the economy.
The beautiful American River Inn
Main Street is usually pretty quiet.

The saloon is still here minus the dance hall girls.
 We moved here 15 years ago so that my husband could take over the job as principal of the elementary school and I found a job at the local paper. We always dreamed about a more rural life. We wanted a slower paced, less stressful life and so traded jobs making a lot more money for peace. It was a good decision for us but might not be for everyone. As Chris pointed out it certainly was not the best career move either one of us ever made! But we like it here. We like the quiet, we like the space, we like the green and the distinct seasons. We both like a little bit of solitude.

The road is winding to Dogwood Lane.
We certainly chose the road less traveled. It was quite an adjustment for us moving here from Los Angeles with a lot of ups and downs. How do you think you would fare in an environment like this?

Until next time,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Yogurt

I've been making my own yogurt for 30 years. I know what you're thinking, how can that be? Well, I am one of those original granola munching types who sent her kids to school with healthy food in a brown sack and embarrassed the heck out of them back in the day. Scared them for life just ask them they'll tell you all about it. And, I have been recycling since forever. Anyway... back to making yogurt. We used to eat it by the quart when we had all the kids at home and I made it in Mason jars in the oven using the pilot light for heat. Remember those? Pilot lights in ovens I mean. Now that there is just Chris and me I use this handy dandy yogurt maker that makes just about enough to last a week or so and no need to find a heat source, it's built in. I got mine from Chef's catalog for about $36 and it's lasted now at least 5 years so far.

5 cups milk (any kind -whole, 2%, skimmed) I use 2%
1/2 cup dry milk (this makes yogurt thicker and increases protein content)
3/4 cups natural active culture plain yogurt

Heat your milk until bubbles start to form. You don't have to be too precise here. Heating the milk will make the yogurt firmer. Stir in the dry milk. Let your milk COOL to room temperature. VERY IMPORTANT. Once the milk is COOL stir in the plain yogurt. This is your starter, like yeast for bread it will grow and multiply and if the milk is too hot you'll kill it. 
Pour into jars, turn on the heat source and walk away. Come back 8 hours later and bingo - yogurt! It's that simple. 
Add your flavors with fresh fruit, honey, cinnamon etc. when you serve it so that the consistency stays firm.
Super cheap, super nutritious!

Remember to save a jar to be your starter for the next batch!
Linking up to Farm Girl Friday 

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Please, God, Let Them Be Amazing

This is the true story of MY beautiful God-Daughter's fight for life against all odds written by her husband Kyle and published today. It is wonderfully written and truly inspiring, you won't be disappointed when you read their life affirming story. I am so proud of both of them. Available for sale at Amazon and at the family website

Kyle Ervin, by all accounts, was a happy man with a wife he adored, three great kids, and one on the way. He wrote humorous and newsy Christmas letters to family and friends each year that expressed his profound gratitude for the fullness of love in his life. But weeks before Christmas in 2009, FEAR took center stage in Kyle Ervin’s life.
After a fragile and frightening pregnancy, Anthony Ervin was born a month premature via emergency C-section. He weighed only two pounds twelve ounces. As the newborn struggled for life in the neonatal intensive care unit, Kyle’s wife Brynn suffered a massive pulmonary embolism.
Kyle, there at the hospital when the blood clot stopped his wife’s heart did the only thing he could – He prayed.
Knowing his wife’s only chance for survival were the men and women in scrubs that responded to the emergency, he said the only prayer that made sense to him at the time: Please, God, Let them do their finest work. Please, God, Let them be amazing.
Kyle Ervin’s story of struggle and pain, with FEAR as his companion, takes him one step at a time through the valley of the shadow of death. Please, God, Let Them Be Amazing demonstrates how God works miracles through the talents and strengths of many different people, and how, with the help of many, a family survived its darkest moment.

Until next time,

Fancy Iced Tea

Summer time and iced tea just go together at our house. Ever since I was a little girl the tinkle of ice cubes in a glass has just naturally meant iced tea. And not just any tea but Sweet Tea! As I might have mentioned before my family originated in the South and that means sweet tea you'all.

Now on to the real subject of my post. Whenever I go to a restaurant I like to order those fancy sweet teas with the fruit flavors like strawberry or raspberry and I got to wondering how to make those at home. I tried just adding fruit to the tea but it didn't give that intense flavor I was after. I even tried cans of fruit nectar but that was kinda pricey, the flavor was OK though. Then I stumbled onto this - Torani syrup. It comes in every imaginable flavor and adds just what I was looking for to my tea. They sell it to add to your coffee and for mixed drinks I think.

Just 1 tablespoon per glass and bingo Fancy Raspberry Iced Tea! It adds flavor and sweetness. I found mine at World Market but it was also at my local grocery for a LOT more money so shop around for the best deal.

Until next time,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Design Wall Monday

Finally a little something to show on Design Wall Monday. I was able to sneak into the sewing room and mess around a little with some triangle squares I found when I was cleaning up for company. These have literally been in a bin for YEARS! I trimmed them up and discovered that I had 24 5.5" squares and 24 3.5" squares. 

 What to do, what to do?

This should make up into a cute table topper at least, quick and easy.

Also, I want to show you a small wall hanging I did for my husband some time ago to hang in his office. He brought it home after his retirement and now I think I will give it to Zack for his office. Those border squares are 1.5" finished!

Linking to Patchwork Times for other design wall inspiration.

Until next time,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rose Garden Clean-up Continues

As you can imagine dropping a giant dead Madrone on a rose garden (read about it here) is not so good for said garden. In fact it creates quite a mess and pretty much destroys the whole thing. It just was not possible to do this any other way and that darn tree was a real hazard to people and structures so we had to let the branches fall where they might and now we deal with the aftermath.

Chris has his Search and Rescue shirt on just in case we need trained assistance!
 Our son Zack came over with his 24" chain saw to help and he and Chris got to work cutting the tree into usable fire wood. If the logger had done this for us it would have cost us twice as much, this way it cost us several days work but no cash.

These rounds still need to be split.  Zack has rounds on his property that need splitting too, we'll rent a splitter for a day to do that and divide the cost and labor. With all of us on deck we can do four cords of splitting in a day.

We decided to go ahead and take down this small pine while we were making a mess to create maximum sun exposure. While this rose garden has been a great joy to me instead of renovating it we've decided to convert it into a working vegetable garden. Given the state of the economy and the outlook for the future it just seems like the more prudent way to go. Fewer flowers and more food.

Until next time,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's Been a Kilt Lifter!

Wow! The party's over and it's been a blast for sure. The house was ringing with laughter and the bathrooms, laundry and kitchen really got a workout. Now it all seems strangely silent and I'm a little hung over from all the company (not from the ale, although that was pretty good too).

Our oldest son and his family left on Tuesday the 7th and the first Uncle rolled in on the 8th leaving me just enough time to clean the bathroom and change the sheets on the guest room bed. The other three uncles and their wives soon followed for a really full house. My husband so enjoys hosting his brothers and this was the first year that the wives decided to come along so I had some female company as well.

The boys played with power tools while the girls chatted and kept the first aide kit close by. We all went to lake to mess around with water craft and there was a lot of lounging on the deck with a cold beer or iced sweet tea. After all it was HOT! Over 100* every day. My ice maker could not keep up and just gave a big sigh and quit. We ate some mighty fine food - grilled salmon, tri-tip, ribs and sausages and all the fixin's and celebrated our son Zack's  42nd birthday. 

Happy Birthday Zack!

Homemade buttermilk pie and pineapple upside down cake, yummy!

L-R brother Steve & wife Roberta; brother Larry & wife Shirley; brother Mike; Chris & me; brother Tim & fiance Ellen

 The house is too quiet now that everyone has left and I need a nap.

Until next time,