Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Walkabout Wednesday: Truth or Consequences

Totals for July coming next week

Truth or Consequences.  I grew up on that show.  It was Bob Barker pre-Price Is Right.  Back in the day when he would get Service Men home for unexpected leave from Southeast Asia and surprise their families.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

When I saw Truth or Consequences on the New Mexico map, I knew I had to stop there.  

I wasn't sure why it was Truth or Consequences.  I had visions of pioneer settlers facing the truth of whether or not they could make it further and dealing with the consequences if they weren't truthful.  Or some such romantic nonsense.

But the Truth is a little more prosaic.  

The town was established in the early 1900s as Hot Springs.  There were about 40 local hot spring and the area became a "hot" spot for folks wanting physiotherapy.  The Carrie Tingley Hospital for children with physical disabilities was located there until 1981.

Turns out that before Bob Barker hosted the television version there was a radio version.  Like the television show, it was known for being a combination Quiz show/Wacky stunt show.  In 1950 or 1951 (there is some discrepancy on the dates), the host announced that if a town renamed itself Truth or Consequences, the show would air from that town.  Hot Springs, New Mexico jumped on the bandwagon.  For fifty years Ralph Edwards (the host) visited Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on the first weekend of May.  The Fiesta that was begun in 1950 (or 1951) still continues today with a parade, a dance, a beauty contest (the winner is apparently the Hatch Chile Queen), a stage show, etc.

 Photo of man and woman in period dress in a horse drawn carriage in a parade

And there are still a number of hot springs.  

Riverbend Hot Springs
 Photo from Sierra County, New Mexico website.

Lovely after a few weeks of desert walking!

Some of the earlier entries about walking may be found here

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mr. Marvelous and the Vacuum Cleaner

Sounds like an episode from a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, doesn't it? 

Trust me, I felt as though I were IN the Calvin and Hobbes strip.

Last week Mr. Marvelous took pity on his wife and offered to vacuum the house.  What a sweet and loving husband, right?

When he finished, he called me to leave the mopping for a moment and come see what he had done. 

So I did.

So glad the trash can has a comfy seat.

Quite the decorator, isn't he? 

At least he got under the furniture.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Memories: Grandparents

My Dad's parents were exceptional people.  And any of my cousins will give me an AMEN to that!

Every morning and every evening they joined hands and prayed over each of their children, their grandchildren, and our one-day husbands and wives.  I firmly believe that this is the greatest gift anyone can give a child. 

They prayed over us, and our one-day husbands and wives, as soon as it was announced that we were going to be.  The year they began praying over me was the year that Mr. Marvelous' parents, who never took him to church or engaged in any kind of Bible-teaching with him, decided to put Mr. Marvelous in a Christian Kindergarten program. 

My Granny is the woman whom I admire most in the world, next to my Mom.  She was a Lady of great grace.  She was compassionate and loving.  She was interested in the people around her.  Through all of the very difficult things she went through in her life, her faith in God's love and goodness grew stronger.  She showed me my first falling star.  She always had apple juice and some great wooden blocks on hand for her young company.

I hope that my grandchildren see me the way I see my Granny.

I hope that I am the faithful prayer-warrior she was.

I hope that I reflect God's grace, mercy, peace, goodness and glory as well as she did.

I would encourage you to give the children in your life the great gift that she gave to us. 

 And if you tell me I look like her, I will love you for the compliment!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Quick Update on Baby Chicks

OK folks, I have a TON of canning to do today.  Mr. Marvelous usually asks me how many pounds that is and I have to confess that it is not a literal ton this time.  However I do have a lot of tomatoes and green beans to put up and a friend is coming to learn what she can.  Pun intended.  Get it?

So a quick update on our latest batch of Buff Orpingtons that we hatched out in June.  Out of 12 eggs we managed to hatch out 5.  One of them was sickly and didn't make it past week three.  The others  still live in the basement in a brooder.  Some people call these "plastic swimming pools".  I don't know why.  I also don't know why the Walmart folks advise flling these up with water.  I guess more people raise ducks than chicks over here.  Go figure!


The wire keeps them from fluttering out and running amok ~ or worse, amuck ~ through the basement.

Last week I decided that the weather was so nice and sunny (We had a day of sunshine last week!!), that I should introduce the babies to the Great Outdoors.  So I took some chicken wire and let it curl into a large circle.  Then I got the babies and put them in it.

I put wire over top because we have several neighborhood hawk condos.

Aren't they lovely?!


I put the orange thing on top to give them a little shade.

They weren't sure they needed shade.  This sunshine stuff is great!

And eventually I took them back indoors. 

 Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Garden Update

I have mentioned before that this year's weather has been unusual.  Last year we had an uncommonly early spring and by late May/early June the garden gave up in the heat.  I am fortunate to have Mr. Marvelous, because he started planting early ~ ignoring the weatherman (who was wrong, of course!).  We had a good harvest in by the time the garden quit.

This year has been late, wet, and cool.  It's been interesting to compare it to other years; this year has been very similar to 2009 when we moved into the Homestead.

Remember the funny squash we had?  That is now our absolute favorite!  It's tasty, but it is also a very, very hard worker.  Our crookneck varieties couldn't handle the weather.  They would sprout up, bloom, look around, and give up and die.  I think we harvested 6 squash total from all those plants.  The zucchini did a little better.  I managed to get 12-15 pounds of them which translates into about 6 bags in the freezer.  I'd rather have 12 and be able to have my favorite casserole once a month, but I'm thankful for the 6.  But the Zephyr; oh my!  I have canned a total of 47 pints....

(they are stacked 5 deep)

...from those two plants!

Talk about your hard-workers!

The peas have only just now started producing.   We raise zipper peas rather than English peas.  They are more efficient in yield per space and Mr. Marvelous prefers them.  They are looking pretty, and producing some great blooms for our bees.

Yeah, there's a lot of weeds in there too.  Did I mention that it has been a really wet year?!

So far I have gotten 10 bags in the freezer.  Peas and beans are vegetables that I like to be able to pull out and fix about every week, so I would like to get at least another 30 or so bags put up of these.

Then there's the beans.  Mr. Marvelous discovered a variety a couple of years ago called Scarlett Runners.  They are beautiful!

Imagine a whole fence of these surrounding the property.

Unfortunately, they have a very low-yield.  And the beans that they produce are, well...

We also planted some McCaslin Pole beans.  Now these guys produce and the beans are some of the best we have had.  They are struggling with the wet, but we have a second planting in and are hopeful.  So far I have gotten 1 quart and 17 pints.

I got a few more after this picture

I'd like to have about 5-9 more quarts for family gatherings, and another 30 or so pints for the weekly meals.  Since they are still producing and we were able to get a second planting done, I might be able to pull that off.

The tomatoes are only just now starting to get ripe.  Again, that's pretty late in the year.  


With tomatoes I can, if I have to, go up Chandler Mountain and buy a box pretty cheap.  But we really prefer to have our own.  So far I've been able to get 6 quarts and 1 pint put up.  I really don't know how many I will need exactly, but I do know that I use a lot of tomato puree and tomato sauce in my cooking.  I can them whole or in large chunks and then when I need puree or sauce I will pull out a jar and mash them up.  It's a lot easier and quicker that way.  I'm hopeful that we will be able to take care of all our tomato needs from our own garden.

Like the beans, I have gotten some more done since I took this picture

Cucumbers are not doing as well this year.  I think it's partly because we are doing different varieties and I just have to get used to this new kind.  Still, we have gotten enough harvested that I have made 14 pints of kosher dills and 8 pints of sweet pickles.  I do know that I need about 15 pints of sweets for Mr. Marvelous.  These are one of my more popular items, so another 15-20 pints to have on hand for gifts would be useful.  I think my twin could eat that many jars by herself!

I'd love to get another few watermelons and put up some more of those pickles too; they are also rather popular and make great gift items.  Plus I love to eat watermelon.

We did manage to put up 37 bags of creamed corn in the freezer already.  That we had to buy at the farmer's market.  We have decided to give up on growing corn.  Our soil and our climate just don't do well with that.  Corn is space-intensive and one of the Princess Crops (high maintenance).  We'll support a local small farmer for corn.

 When you stack your bags of corn in the freezer, put paper towels between every third bag or so.  That way if they leak, you can still manage to get the bags separated from each other.  I'm passing that hard-learned lesson along to you as a freebie.  You're welcome.

Finally, there are the potatoes.  Oh my, the potatoes!  We have harvested less than half of the crop so far.  You know those nice red buckets you can buy at Firehouse Subs?  We have two of them almost full!  We also have a friend who is a wood-worker, so we'll be getting sawdust from him for packing the potatoes.  I'm curious to see how long the potatoes will keep that way.

Apart from the herbs, eggs and the bunnies, that sums up our harvest.  So far!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Walk-about Wednesday: New Mexico

The space program.

The history and science of the nuclear program.

White dessert sands.


These are just some of the things that fascinate me.  I grew up through the space program.  I remember the little Lunar Landing Module models that gas-stations gave away for kids to cut out and assemble.  I'm a late baby-boomer and the Cold War was very much a part of my childhood.  I loved the dessert scenes from books like The Horse and His Boy, and the Lawrence of Arabia tales.  I used to imagine being part of a nomad family during the time of Abraham.  And a clear view of the stars from a non-populated area?  Wow!

These are some of the glories of New Mexico.

Alamagordo was established in 1898 to support the growing railroad (trains?! an added bonus in my book!).  

Photo Courtesy of Ross Griff

It is the closest town to White Sands National Monument

File:White sands moon & clouds.jpg
Photo Courtesy of John Fowler through Wikimedia Commons

Holloman Air Force Base,

F-22 Raptor landing in 2008  Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

 the New Mexico Museum of Space History,

File:Whisper dishes New Mexico Museum of Space History.jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

the White Sands Missile Range, (another good link here)

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

and the Trinity Test Site

File:Trinity Site Obelisk National Historic Landmark.jpg

Believe it or not, one of the big attractions at White Sands is Dune Sledding.  I do know that there are You Tube videos of that, but I try not to make it a habit to post any You Tube links.  Yikes!

And then there is the stargazing.

Lying on your back in the sand, looking up at a sky with no civilization lights, and only the light of the stars and the moon.  You just can't beat that!

By the way, if you are looking for a good astronomy book, check out this one by H. A. Rey.  Yes, that's the H. A. Rey of Curious George fame, but he also wrote the best astronomy book ever!  And no, I don't get paid by Amazon for that plug; I just think it's a great book.

Some of the earlier walking posts may be found here

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Animal Update: Bees!

Did you think we had given up on the bees?

We finally got our second hive a few weeks ago.

Our neighbor and fellow bee-keeper had quite a time with this colony.  The girls weren't very co-operative.  However after dealing with them wanting to swarm and generally being uncooperative, he was finally able to convince them to do what they needed to do (stay in the hive and repopulate!) and we finally got our second hive over here.

They have not been as busy as our first hive.  Not sure if that is genetics or just the different time of year.  I checked on them after a few weeks and the hive body was not up to 80% populated.  That meant I could not add a second hive body.  So I twiddled my thumbs for another week and waited out the rain (DON'T try to get in your beehives in the rain.  I'm just sayin'...).

Finally last Thursday before we went on vacation, I did a brief inspection and was able to add the second hive body to this colony.

What a relief!  I can't add new boxes when a lower box is less than 80% full.  If I do, they will give up on the lower and move up to the new one without bothering to fill the lower one.  Then in winter when they start looking for stores, they will move down to the lower boxes, slap themselves on the forehead, and realize, "Oh, duh; we never finished filling this one".  Then they starve.  Unless I feed them.  I'd rather not do that.  II Thessalonians 3:10 and all that.  So we have to wait for them to fill one box before we add another one.  And the hive needs to be at least 3 boxes tall to get through the winter (two hive bodies and one honey-super).

Meanwhile, our "old" girls were going to town.  On the same day that I added the second hive body to the new colony, I was able to do this:

Just look at those hard-working girls!  They are as busy as, well, you know!
They had filled the two hive bodies and the first honey-super and were ready for another honey-super.  They need the first honey-super to get them through the winter.  I MIGHT be able to get some honey from the second super for us, but I'm not counting on it.  More likely what I will do is take excess honey from these hard-working Proverbs 31 women and share it with the younger hive.  It's not that I'm a re-distribution of wealth liberal or anything, but the younger hive may need a helping hand.  I may even have to take a few frames of bees from the stronger hive and let them help the younger, weaker hive figure things out.  Like hard work!

 These are my amazing first-hive-girls.  Impressive, yes?

OK, silliness aside, here is the semi-technical explanation of what happened.  We got the first hive just as everything was starting to really flower and blossom.  These girls had a good head start on the pollen and the nectar flow.  Because the other hive gave our friend some problems (like trying to swarm!), we were later getting the second hive.  When we got them, it was already June.  Most years, they wouldn't have had a chance to get things going and get established for winter.  Fortunately this year's growing season has been unusually slow and late.  We have stuff still blooming (I'm still canning green beans, for goodness' sake!), so they should be able to establish stores for the winter.  However if they don't have at least one honey super full, I will be able to take stores and strong bees from the first colony and move them over into the second colony.  Not only will that help the second colony with their stores, it will also give them some strong workers.  I'm also hoping that we can plant some fall crops and perhaps even some Camellia bushes.

I'm planning on doing another full inspection this week if the rain holds off long enough.
Hot work for a hot week!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Memories: Vacation!

We took an unexpected vacation this year. 

There were a lot of last-minute challenges and changes, but we finally got it figured out; we were going to go to Helen, Georgia.  Mountains. Oh joy!

We agreed that we would spend part of Saturday up in Franklin, North Carolina at the Tartan museum (REAL mountains) and the rest of the time we would bum around Helen. 

Have you ever been to Helen?  Think small-scale Gatlinburg with smaller crowds and no Pigeon Forge shopping close by (both those things are a plus in our book).   Helen is charming.  The Chattahoochee River runs right through the middle of town from one end to the other.  You can get an inner-tube and laze all the way through town (it's great as long as you don't start hearing banjos).  There are little touristy shops, restaurants, Mini-golf, and even the ubiquitous taffy shop.  You can wander through town if you like the crowds, or you can take a drive through the mountains.  You can have a meal at one of the lively restaurants in town or drive a little way out and find a nice, quiet spot.  We had a blast! 

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy the trip with us.

Our Welcome

The trip over to Franklin by way of Hiawassee

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why Bother?

Summertime and time to get the canning done.

I have been asked why we work so hard to grow and preserve our own food.  Since I can't remember if I have discussed that here or not, I'm going to tell you.  Please pardon me if I am being redundant and feel free to just come back tomorrow.

Do we do this for health concerns?

Well, yes and no.  We are concerned about the changes that have come about in the food industry.  I prefer to be able to pronounce the names of the ingredients in my food without having flashbacks to high-school chemistry class.  After working in the drug-research industry, I do get a bit concerned about the potential long-term side-effects of some of the things we are putting into our bodies.  At the same time, we are known to occasionally indulge in junk food and even a fast-food lunch or two. 

Are we doing this for financial reasons?

Again, yes and no.  We are on the "Dave Ramsey Plan" and try to be frugal and intentional about how and where we spend our money.  It is nice to go to the store and not have to buy vegetables (with a few exceptions), eggs, herbs, or as much meat.  I have learned to do things like make my own condensed soup mix and other mixes that save me from having to buy those things at the store.  I'm even hoping to try my own mayonnaise soon since I have the eggs.
However when you start gardening and preserving, the initial cost is higher than you might think.  Especially the first year (or three) when you have to purchase things like a tiller, a canner, jars (have you priced those lately?!), etc.  Each year you have to spend money on seed and other garden equipment.  Don't forget the cost of the actual processing.  If you are set up in your kitchen to do this, you not only have the cost of the water, running the stove, and the dishwasher (to get the jars ready), you also have that hidden cost of cooling the house once you have heated it up.  Even with using my outdoor kitchen and camp stove, I still have the cost of the dishwasher and buying propane once or twice a year. And it is a BIG time investment!

Is this just part of how we were raised?

Yes, but.  Yes, we were raised with fathers and mothers who garden, and mothers who can.  This part of our heritage goes back many generations, but that is not our primary reason for doing this.

So what is the primary reason?

Ah.  Thought you'd never ask!  The primary reason we do this is stewardship.

The circumstances of Mr. Marvelous and I finding this house were pretty remarkable.  Being able to purchase the house, even more so. 

I am bad about second-guessing myself and everyone around me.  I made a promise that when we found a home I would not play that game but would accept the home as the one God wanted us to have.

God provided a place with lots of room indoors and 3 acres outdoors.  It is hilly, and when we moved in it was mostly woods.  God provided us with the energy, strength and knowledge to take care of what He gave us.  At different times we have received unexpected financial bonuses that have allowed us to purchase things like a chainsaw, bees and other needed equipment. 

Mr. Marvelous has worked hard to make the land something that can be gardened.  He has cut trees and cleared brush and built fences.  He built chicken tractors so that the chickens could help till and fertilize the garden area. Some lessons we have learned the hard way.  Each year we do this we learn a little more.  Like what crops are better suited for our area and soil, and what crops we need to just give up on (like corn).

I grew up watching in fascination as Mom canned and preserved.  I watched even more closely as a young bride in my mother-in-law's kitchen.

All of the knowledge, experience, ability, and resources that we have been given are a gift from God.  We are asked to take care of this knowledge, experience, ability, and these resources and use them for His glory. 

So we do what we do here as care-takers of what we have been given.

Through our efforts to be faithful stewards of knowledge, experience, ability and resources; we also are more careful stewards of our health, our finances and our heritage.

All those things were entrusted to our care by God.

And oh yeah; it's fun!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Animal Update: Chickens

My Leghorns are laying!  My Leghorns are laying!!

OK, now that I have that out of my system,

My Leghorns are laying!!!
Oops.  OK, I promise I'm past that.  I'll quit shouting.

My Leghorns are laying!!!

I think the blue container is more aesthetically pleasing, don't you?  See that one on the far right?  That was the first egg.  Usually first eggs are very small (like the ones in the middle), but this girl apparently means business!

My White Leghorns started laying last week. Bet you couldn't tell I'm pretty excited and happy about that, could you? The first egg was a monster AND the girl was smart enough to lay it in the nesting box. That may not seem like a big deal, but we have had chickens in the past who have laid eggs in some pretty peculiar (and challenging to get to) places. Even better, Mr. Marvelous fixed the back-door entrance to their tractor, so all I have to do is unlatch that door and reach in. Prior to that fix, the only way to get anything out of the chicken tractor involved turning off the electric fence, propping up the top of the tractor, climbing over the side, and getting in with the chickens; all the while praying that the top didn't fall and "accidentally" close on me. The back door may not be as entertaining, but it keeps Mama happy.

 Can you imagine me crouched down inside there trying to get eggs?  
If you can't, be thankful.  It's not pretty!

Aren't they just the most beautiful and impressive Leghorns you have ever seen?!

And guess what?  

My Leghorns are laying!!!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twenty-Six Years.

Twenty-six years.

For some people, like Mr. Marvelous Jr. and some of his cousins, that is more than a life-time.

It is more than half of my life.

Twenty-six years ago was July, 1987.

Matt McNutt got ready to start first grade.

The world population reached 5 Billion.

Popular movies released included  Ernest Goes to Camp (it's a classic!); Good Morning, Vietnam; Innerspace; a Jaws movie (it was the 80's after all!); Lethal Weapon; The Living Daylights; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; The Princess Bride; Throw Mama From the Train; and The Untouchables.

Klaus Barbie was finally brought to justice and sentenced for war-crimes.

The Dow Jones reached a record high of 2,510.04.

Gordon and Miriam Reed and all their children and grandchildren traveled to Macon, Georgia.

The Atlantic was crossed by two men in a hot-air balloon for the first time.

Stamps cost 22 cents.

Margaret Thatcher was elected for an unprecedented third time.

John and Diana Reed celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a trip to Macon, Georgia followed by a trip to Florida's Gulf Coast.

There was a fancy dinner at The Rose Cottage involving as many members as possible of the Gordon Reed family and the Alfred Akin family, along with assorted special guests.  At the end of that party as the dessert was being brought out, Al Akin had the waitresses bring a large piece of watermelon to set down at my place.  It's kind of a family joke.

Twenty-six years ago, Mr. Marvelous went and bought a comfortable pair of black dress shoes.  Then he went by a little church in Warner Robins, Georgia, where a friend of his was the pastor.  They sat in his friends' office and chatted for a while.  Finally the friend asked what he could do for Mr. Marvelous. 
"Well.  I've taken care of everything now that I finally have a pair of comfortable shoes.  In an hour I have to be at the church.  Could we pray together?"
And they did.  Thanks, Bob Jarrett!

Twenty-six years ago, I put on the fanciest dress I have ever owned, fixed my hair, and put on my first and only veil.

Twenty-six years ago I walked down the aisle to the music my father had chosen for me.  Rejoice, The Lord Is King.  Dad quietly sang it to me as we walked.

Twenty-six years ago, I stood at the front of First Presbyterian Church, Macon, Georgia and promised to love, honor and obey Mr. Marvelous.

Twenty-six years later we have been through better, worse, sickness, health, plenty, and want.  Together.

Twenty-six years later, he is still ~ and even more so ~ Mr. Marvelous.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Marvelous.  I love you and I am honored to be your wife and share your name!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday Memories. Or Maybe Tuesday?

I have such vivid memories of our family vacations when I was growing up.  We would leave as soon as school was out (after Memorial Day).  My parents were very wise in how they coordinated everything.  We would not leave until the late afternoon ~ sometimes as late as after an early supper.  That kept us from having to spend money on that meal on the road.  We had a station wagon, of course.  In the days before mini-vans, that was the only way to transport 5 children and a week's worth of luggage.  Mom and Dad came up with the idea of drawing a line on the map that went straight from Greenville, South Carolina, to Mexico Beach, Florida.  Then they found the roads that went along that line and that was our route.

Before we set off, Mom would dose each of us with Dramamine, "Just in case!".  I finally figured out that the "Just in case" was really, "Just in case you can't go to sleep!".  No wonder she was so cheerful about it!  I blame the Dramamine for my conditioned response of always falling asleep while riding in the car.  Anyway.

We would stop at the average bed-time...or whenever the bickering got too bad...change into our nightgowns and pajamas, and were put to bed.  In those days the back seats of station wagons would lay flat making a bed big enough (kind of) for five children. 

Mom and Dad would drive all night and we would pull into Marianna, Florida around time for a very early breakfast.  We could order whatever we wanted!

We got to the beach by early morning.  The first person to see the ocean got to pick their bedroom.  Since my brothers got a room to share and we girls got a room to share, there was hot competition between the girls and the boys.

We all worked together to unload the car and put things away, and then BATHING SUITS AND BEACH!!!  Mom and Dad would send us off, promising to come join us as soon as they "got the kitchen organized".  I realized many years later that this was code for, "We've been up all night driving and we are going to take a nap now."

I remember so many things about vacation.  We had wonderful times.  We played, we fought, we had card games and monopoly battles.  We fished, we swam, we walked on the beach.  Some of us always got sunburned.

One thing about those vacations always sticks with me; coming home again.  The feeling I would have as we drove the home-stretch, coming down I-85, crossing over White Horse Road to Mills Avenue, and then the long straight run up the street to the house.  The getting home again and running to all our friends' houses to tell them about all the wonderful things that happened.  Most of all, I remember walking into the house.  Before we unloaded and tracked in the sand and the mountain of dirty laundry, the feeling of a hot, closed up, CLEAN house filled with sunlight and family noise.  Because before we left to go, Mom had that house spotless.  She refused to come home to a dirty house.  I can close my eyes and still remember how it felt to walk in the door of that house.  It was hot, of course.  But the rooms were tidy, the sheets on the beds were clean, the bathrooms immaculate, the kitchen spotless.  It was HOME. 

I griped about the work of getting ready back then.  I wanted to go.  I understand it now.  Come home from a good time to a dirty house?  I think not!

That's why last Thursday found me starting at 7:00 am and going until almost 1:30 am.  It wore me down, but when we came home again after our long weekend the house was clean, the vegetables had already been canned, and apart from what we brought with us, there was not that much to do. 

We were Home!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It may be a cool, damp summer, but the hummingbirds are back.

Last year we discovered the late summer migration.  Oh my, we had so many hummers around here!  The junipers were full of them and if we had had 20 more feeders they would have all been in use.  We found this website about Abigail, who acclimated them to feed from her hand.  So of course I had to give it a try.  They never did land and feed from my hand, but they would buzz me and didn't seem to mind me being right there under the feeders.  Then we got up one day and were suddenly down to 4-6 hummingbirds.  Within a few days, they had all left us.

With the weather being what it has been this year, and the garden, the bunnies, the chicks, the rabbits, the truck (oh yeah, the truck!), etc., we just had not gotten around to putting the feeders back out. 
Last week I got buzzed.  One of those, "Hey Lady!  Remember us?  We're back and we are HUNGRY!"  I quickly mixed up some sugar water, got the feeders cleaned up, filled up, and hung up.  They are so happy!

Last year we had the hammock right under the feeders and could lay there and watch from that angle.  This year we have moved the hammock around back, so we are watching from the other end of the porch while shucking and scraping three bushels of corn.  It's fun having a different perspective.  It's fun having a return of Homestead TV while getting the corn done.  Mr. Marvelous and I are both a cheap date.  It doesn't take much to entertain us!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wandering Wednesday: Luecke Trees

Have I mentioned that Texas is BIG?  It is.  So please be tolerant of just one more Texas post before we move along to New Mexico. 

In between Houston and Austin (or LaGrange and Bastrop if you are a native), you will find the Luecke Trees.  It seems that a gentleman in Texas ~ by the name of Luecke ~ somehow trimmed a stand of trees so that it spelled his name.  You know that saying about how everything is big in Texas?  The stand of trees is so large that it is rumored to be used by NASA to calibrate some of their satellites!

Can you imagine what it would be like to wander in amongst those trees on a Texas summer day?  Maybe find yourself walking out of the first "E" to find that nice, cool lake (and since we are imagining, please can we imagine no snakes, 'gators, or anything slimy in that nice, clean, sandy-bottomed lake?  Thanks.).

Just the thing for a hot day of walking!

If you have ever traveled to this part of Texas, would you share your experience in the comments please?  I'd love to read about it and maybe even see your pictures if you have any!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Summer Time!

The weather this year has been different from last year. 

Last year we had everything planted by early March, I was canning up a storm by late April-early May, and other than the Chandler Mountain tomatoes I bought in September ~ and the hot pepper jelly I discovered I could make in August! ~ the garden was done by mid to late June.

This year?  We aren't worried about a drought.

It has been a cool, wet spring and summer so far.  It reminds me of the summers we lived in western North Carolina.  According to AccuWeather, we have had less than five days so far with temps in the 90's.  My porch thermometer has said otherwise, but OK.  We were very late planting potatoes.  At one point after Mr. Marvelous had tilled the ditches and before we could get the potatoes in the ground in between each 3-day rain, I honestly thought about giving up on potatoes and buying some ducks!

We finally managed to get everything in the ground.  Now we are finally beginning to have enough of a harvest for me to start canning.  Have you noticed the calendar?  It's July!

So far I have managed to put up 37 pints of squash, 6 bags of zucchini (I freeze that for my favorite casserole), 12 pints of green beans, 6 pints of kosher dill pickles, 9 pints of watermelon rind pickles (Wow, those are good!), and CORN.  Did you know that three bushels of corn makes eleven 2 cup bags and THIRTY-SEVEN one cup portions?  Guess what we were doing on Saturday??  We did buy corn this year.  Once again our corn crop wasn't anything to brag about and once again Mr. Marvelous is swearing that he will NOT mess with corn anymore.  We'll see.

In addition to that, I have 17 bags of rabbit in the freezer.  It's nice to feel as though we are finally making some progress in the preservation department.  And I am thankful that:
  1. We are able to do grow and preserve so much of our food
  2. We are not having to water
  3. We are not having to rush to get things up before the heat and the drought kill all the plants
  4. We are not having to do this in triple-digit temperatures.
If you miss me for a couple of days, you'll know I'm in one of my kitchens.  But I'll be back!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Picnic Potato Salad

I have been going through a bunch of old magazines trying to pare down a little.  I tear out anything useful and compost the rest.  I found a few of the old Kraft Magazines with the recipes (and VERY outdated coupons) and pulled a few of the recipes to try.  One thing that was intriguing was a recipe for Barbecue Potato Salad.  I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out but it is a winner.  Mr. Marvelous Sr. and Jr. both enjoyed it more than I thought they would.

Compliments of Kraft Foods (thanks, Mike!), here is the recipe.

BBQ Potato, Bacon & Corn Salad 
from Kraft Food & Family Magazine Summer 2006

1/3 c. Ranch Dressing (I make my own)
1/3 c. Barbecue Sauce ~ your favorite kind
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2-3 pounds small red potatoes cooked and quartered (much better if you dig them out of your own yard!)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained, or 1/2 bag frozen corn thawed
1/2 c. sliced celery (I didn't have any and it was fine without)
1/2 c. chopped red peppers
1/2 c. chopped onions
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Mix dressing, sauce and mustard in large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients except bacon and mix lightly
Sprinkle bacon over top.  You may serve immediately or let it sit for a while first.
Makes about 12 1/2 cup servings