Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parts is Parts

So sorry to have been out of touch. Monday I got to spend the day with Tristan again. He's a real sweetie. I'll post a pic for Steph later.

And this week we started on another parts order. That means I'm a working gal and I don't mean maybe. We have 20,000 parts done as of this moment and just 50,000 more to go. It keeps me busy. But it looks like we'll have them done before our trip in November, so that's good to know.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oh no, Toto! I don't think we're in autumn anymore!

I woke up this morning to the usual cold weather, house heated by woodstove, "everything is on hold until you get the fire stoked back up" routine. And then I checked the weather. It's getting harder and harder to pretend that it's still fall up here when you see things like this

It's the point forcast from It's usually extremely accurate. And it's for my very neighborhood.

So despite the fact that there are a few leaves still hanging on for dear life, I'm prepared to begin resigning myself to winter. Sigh. Love the woodstove, though. It's working the best it has ever worked and I'm truly enjoying it. So far our furnace has not been turned on. And we began getting frost and flurries (though no snow was sticking) off and on in September. We do run a small fan to circulate the air and now I'm in the market for a heat-powered fan that will run silently. Silent is good when you use it continuously. It's a really groovy concept. Read more HERE.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just. Too. Sweet.

I had the privilege this week of spending a day with Tristan. Tristan is the son of Sam and Jessie Mazurek, friends of Stephanie's and mine. Tristan is just super cute and a real sweetheart. I now find it hard to believe that I could hardly sleep Sunday night for my apprehension of how I would do with a 1 1/2 year old for a day. I thought maybe I'd forgotten everything I'd known 20+ years ago. Turns out, he made it real easy and I'm looking forward to next Monday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I'm missing her.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Giveaway! Get neat stuff for free!

Yesterday I was whipping up a batch of laundry detergent and as I was working I thought about my post on making homemade cleaners. I thought about how I could further encourage folks to give it a try. And then a profound brain-thing happened in my head. (Extra points to anyone who can identify that line).

You see, I know I'm getting visitors that aren't just family. I got curious about a month ago and started noting where folks were visiting from. In the last month I've had people from 8 countries, 35 states, and over 100 cities visit my blog. I'd love to meet ya'll. And then I thought that profound thought - I could give away a laundry detergent kit if folks would introduce themselves. That way I'd get to meet some nice people and encourage someone to try the laundry recipe. In fact, I could give away THREE kits! Yes, That's it! The idea really got rolling... so here's the scoop:

I will give away three Laundry Detergent Kits including borax, washing soda, pre-grated Fels Naptha, a printed recipe and wooden spoon. And one lucky winner will also receive a vial of lavendar essential oil.

You will leave me a comment saying that you wish to be in the random drawing for the prizes, tell me your name (just first is OK), and if you feel real kind, throw me a bone of info about you and what you like. I wasn't kidding about the bonus points - tell me the source of the profound brain-thing line and you'll be entered an extra time. Sign on as a follower of this blog and you'll also get another entry in the drawing.

Since this isn't necessarily a high traffic blog, I will run the giveaway for two weeks and in two weeks, on October 31st, I will have a third party draw the three winning names. And then draw the essential oil winner from those three names. Sound like fun? I hope so!

* I'm sorry but I cannot include international shipping so this will be limited to US and Canadian residents, only.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Angels Watching Over Us

Alternately titled:
Take it to the Limit
Running on Empty, or
Thank You, Lord!

This is the valley in which I live. It's beautiful, somewhat remote, and peaceful. How Green Was My Valley (good movie, BTW).

I drive 8 miles of this to get to my valley...

And another 2 miles of this...

Along that 10 mile stretch there are exactly 4 possible side road exits and 2 driveways. Due to the mountaineous terrain, there is no cell phone reception. For essentially the full 10 miles.

Now picture, if you will, that it is nighttime and you are really ready to get home. Except, halfway there, your engine begins cutting out and your car jerks around the bend in the road. My wonderful husband made the split-second decision to take one of the few wide spots on the road, where we presently found ourselves, and turn the car around. And we began to pray. He put the car in neutral and we began coasting. At least two times the lay of the road required putting the car in gear and accelerating. Then the engine cut out and we were dependent on gravity and God. For over two miles. The bottom of this road intersects with a four-lane highway. God turned the light green ahead of us (Have I mentioned that our traffic lights are triggered by a car pulling up at them and waiting - and that this light has an unusually long wait time?). Kent coasted through the intersection and we drifted until the uphill slope stopped our progress. He attempts to start the car. Nothing. Again, nothing. More prayer, another attempt, it miraculously starts. We drive to the next intersection and head into Bergen Village. We come within sight of the gas station, the car begins jerking and attempting to stall again. More prayer, getting closer, angels pushing us along, and we coast, uphill!, to the pump - with a dead engine. Thank you, God!

Being a frugal, budgeting sort of girl, I keep track of every fill up and my mileage. I just did the math and my average fill up (that point at which the needle indicates we are nearly on empty) is at 249 miles, requiring 10.85 gallons of gas. Last night the car took 15.2 gallons and the trip odometer read 395. Wow! (BTW, the book says my tank holds 15 gallons of gas.)

I guess this is testament to what a nice visit we had with Kent's daughter, Esther - that Kent didn't even think about the gas gauge as we drove to and from the airport and did some sightseeing. But more on that later, I've invited Kent to do a guest post on his next day off.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Naturally, I Like to Clean

I like most of the domestic arts. And I like to be naturally clean, as well. Over the last several years I have been moving away from commercial products and towards homemade alternatives. I haven’t purchased laundry detergent in years. I no longer use commercially purchased fabric softener, shampoo or conditioner. I’ve found wonderful recipes for homemade window cleaner, soap scum remover, disinfectants, and deodorizers. I have long used baking soda as a wonderful kitchen scrub. And if I want to freshen the air, I find a drop or two of essential oil on a bit of paper towel work perfectly.

If you haven’t yet tried some homemade alternatives, let me encourage you to do so. The things I use don’t just work OK – they work better. I wouldn’t be motivated to bother making them if they didn’t out-perform their toxic, irritating, over-packaged, over-priced commercial counterparts.

My laundry detergent costs me less than 2 cents per load. And it cleans great. It never leaves a residue on my fabric, has no annoying scents or irritating additives. My window cleaner cuts through the dirtiest grime without effort. My hair is silkier, healthier and has better body than ever was achieved with shampoos and conditioners. My shower gets and stays cleaner, my bathroom surfaces shine and are disinfected. And all with everyday ingredients and simple recipes.

Let me share a few to get you started. You’ll find the recipes for Homemade Laundry Detergent, Pine Disinfectant, Bathroom Cleaner/Soap Scum Remover, Window Cleaner and Shampoo/Conditioner on my other blog - I Did This and You Can, Too!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Animal Magnetism

Yup, I’ve got it. They just can’t keep away from me. ‘Sides, I like a little fiber in my morning coffee.

I was going to call this, “What’s grey and white and shed all over?” …

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Going to the Library

A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man's history. It is a man's duty to have books. - Henry Ward Beecher

Kent had saved some money from metal recycling and had a number of books in mind that he wished to add to our personal library. I was glad he wanted to do that. He’d read several books this year, or read of them, that would make great reference works for his metalworking, machining and our future farming. Then he told me that I could add titles to the list, also. Ooooh! New books are always very exciting. I have found many wonderful volumes at thrift stores and the library sale. We don’t often, though, buy new books in great numbers. This time was an exception.

So what did I add to the list? Well, there were a few reference books I wanted as well. Such as Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and Samuel Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants. But there were also a couple of novels I had been looking for and hadn’t found yet. I wanted nicely bound copies of Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) and Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen). I did find a new publication of Sense and Sensibility with a pretty cloth covered hard binding. Jane Eyre was a little harder to locate in hardcover. But I found a matched set of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – published in 1943 - and coming from the Warner Brothers library in Hollywood, CA. Library cards still in the pockets. Jane Eyre hadn’t been checked out since September 19, 1955. While I never quite understood sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights, I thought I might give it another go and see if I could connect in any way with the dark story of Catherine and Heathcliff. Usually I find that I would rather spend an afternoon shutting my own hand in a car door. But Jane Eyre I will read at least once each year. I love that story.

The fact that the books have long languished in a library made Kent laugh. He commented that it was only right that I have them to read. He is referencing a story I’ve told him about when I was a young girl and was permitted to work in a library. I was 11 or 12 years old and begged, cajoled and otherwise insinuated myself into the public library in Union City, Pennsylvania, where we lived. I loved the library. I believed I wanted to be a librarian. I had even made cards for all my own library books at home. I had a three-shelf book shelf by my bed and I had passte-in book plates with cardinals on them so I called it the Cardinal Library and I put my books in Dewey decimal order. I also went to the public library at every opportunity. It was next door to the elementary school so that wasn’t much of a leap. Anyway, they let me cover the desk for short periods of time while they ran an errand. Oh, it was a thrill to rubber stamp the due date on a card and pocket. I also got to put the crisp, clear protectors on new books when they arrived. And I was allowed to re-shelve books. In the course of my time in the library, if I happened across a book that had not been checked out in a long time, I would personally check it out and read it so that it would not feel neglected and unwanted. Silly, but it was a kind of mission for me. Seems I’ve passed this on to my daughter, as well. Since she also understands that books are people, too. (Yes, I’m smiling as I say that.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In My Colorful Kitchen

While I love canning, some foods don't lend themselves to canning (in my opinion). I find many vegetables lose color and flavor when canned, such as green beans and carrots. And I discovered that dried apples make wonderful pies. (Don't their colors go well with the kitchen towels I wove?) So here we have some lovely apples waiting to be peeled/cored/sliced all at once on my wonderful little handcrank peeler, dropped in some lemon water and dried for winter treats.

And this year I decided to take advantage of a sale on peppers to try my hand at drying some for winter casseroles and stir fries. Sometimes that bit of pepper really makes a dish pop with color and flavor. But when I need some sweet pepper for a dish, they usually cost $3.99 each. So of course, being me, I skip the pepper. When I saw they were 10/$10 this week for red, orange and gold peppers, I bought me up $11 dollars worth to experiment with. I'll let you know how they work out. Here's an interesting pepper. When I split it in half I found a green pepper inside it, nearly filling the cavity.

I've dried carrots in the past with great success. They maintain their color and sweetness and are so easy to add to soups and stews. Carrots are one of those items that become cheaper the more you purchase. And so I bought a 10 pound bag of organic carrots at Costco and am in the process of turning them into dried slices and dices. These need to be blanched and chilled for best results. Otherwise the enzymes will continue to work in them, just at a much slower pace, and color and flavor will deteriorate over time.

So here's my dehydrator filled up with colorful veggies to be enjoyed all winter. I'm sure I'll be busy all week with my apples and carrots. I'm really glad I got the large capacity dryer.

Yes, I really did weave those dishtowels and here's a link to the dressing of the loom for those towels which was my first project on my floor loom. :) Ah, good times and good memories.

Signs of the Times - #9

Yesterday I hung my laundry out. And I didn't even wear a sweater or jacket. And I let the fire burn itself out because I didn't need it, the house was warm enough. And this morning I woke up just before 6:00 am to hear something hitting my window. Sigh.

It's really coming down. And, inconveniently, the blower in my car stopped working on Sunday. I noticed when I was driving home from church. Of course, I forgot to call the garage yesterday while I was standing in the sun hanging laundry. Now I'm thinking it could be difficult to drive without warm air blowing on my windshield to defrost it. I'm hoping it's just a fuse.

I do see the upside of the "snow that sticks", though. This should mean that bears will be done wandering around and will settle down for the winter. And that means that I can begin feeding the birds again. They've been hanging out around my house and asking for feeders for weeks now. I've kept them in water of late but didn't dare hang up self serve bars for the bear population. Now my feathered friends can gather around my railing again!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Too Sweet Not to Share

This past week I had the most wonderful surprise. But first you must visit my friends blog and read her entry, then come back here and let me tell you more...

Diane is just such a special person. I can hardly wait until we finally get to meet in person back East. The first time I read her blog I thought (and wrote to her), "I so want you to be my neighbor and friend." And you know, through this strange world of blogging, I feel like we are becoming just that. I visit Diane's corner of the world every day and miss her when she hasn't had time to post. I've also purchased lovely covers from her and I can say that her sewing skills rate five stars. She does beautiful work and I'm so pleased to have a bit of it for myself.

So when she posted about her stash of printed waxed papers, I was just so excited to see a little kitchen history and I wrote her to say that I hadn't even known that printed waxed paper existed even though it's been my wrap of choice all my life. It was fun to read about her paper treasure.

Then this week I went to the mailbox and there was a thick envelope from Diane waiting for me. I mean, just getting GPC was enough to send me! (GPC - my term for Genuine Personal Correspondence, which is sorely lacking in today's world) I wanted to tear into it right there at the box but I prolonged the pleasure of mail addressed to me in handwriting while wondering what on earth could be in it. Had Val ordered something to be sent to me on her behalf again? But that didn't make sense since she now lives closer to Diane than I. I got home. Admired it for another moment or two and peeled back the flap. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but...

Thirteen sheets of wonderful prints, including the square dance, chinese lanterns, sailboats, circus animals, blooms and flowers. The feel of it is so much richer than anything I've ever touched. I've shown it to everyone who's come to my house, including the realtor!

Aaahhh. Diane is too sweet for me not to tell you about her. She was too sweet to keep her lovely stash all to herself. And this paper is too sweet not to share about with you. So all the way around, my title works. I couldn't believe it. And it was humbling, making me wonder if I am willing to share as freely as Diane. Hmmmmmm. Maybe I can be. Maybe there's a package of some of my treasures out there somewhere traveling to a new destination, hoping to make someone smile as widely as I have.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Signs of the Times - #8

Some leaves may yet be on the trees but clearly that appears to be snow.

Who's House is This?

I barely recognize it.

I think it's looking quite handsome these days.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Signs of the Times - #7

Mountain communities see season's first snow

Friday, October 8, 2010
KUSA - The first snowflakes of the season fell in mountain valleys overnight, leading to the first chain restrictions.

9NEWS Meteorologist Ashton Altieri says the flakes fell in areas generally above 9,000 feet overnight, with up to two inches of accumulation possible in areas above 10,000 feet. Prior to this snowfall, the only snow seen in Colorado this season fell over the highest peaks and passes.
Mountain communities such as Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Vail all saw some light snow.

The white stuff forced the Colorado Department of Transportation to issue its first chain restrictions of the season. Trucks were required to chain up going over Loveland Pass overnight, but those restrictions were lifted around 6 a.m.

"yada yada yada" (my comment)

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