Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Battery Organizer

My daughter is really big into Pinterest and she keeps saying "Mom, you've got to see this cool thing." So I'm now spending a little time on Pinrerest just to keep up the conversation. Not a lot of time as I've not got it, especially when I'm spending my time talking to computer techs about my viral protector that somehow decided that my blogs were dangerous and blocked me out.

Yup, that happened yesterday just when I was preparing to talk to you. It took until today to get it settled because the tech last night said it was impossible. That's me, the one that always does the impossible. The tech took a look for himself today and had to uninstall the program and reinstall it because though I may stretch the truth a little to make a good story, I really really try not to lie.
 So this is what I was so... excited about yesterday and wanted to tell you. I saw something like this on Pinterest and since we had to be in town yesterday anyway, I picked up another fishing tackle organizer. I'm beginning to have a collection of them.

This is what the batteries were in before. Organized by Ziploc bags, if you can call it organize. So when I saw the idea on Pinterest, I was nabbed. I love organization and life has been in a whirl of  just hang on with our daughter and her difficult pregnancy and premature arrive of our grand daughter plus, the care of my parents. Now sitting in the middle of the dirt and clutter left behind, I'm craving order.

Order is what allows me to get far more done and keeps me from spending time looking for things like those way cool green mammoth buttons I made and tucked somewhere safe. Grrr....
 So knowing that a house really never stays clean more than a few minutes if the cupboards are not clean, because you have no where to put the clutter,  I find myself digging into cupboard after cupboard instead of mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms. So don't drop by unannounced, you might be shocked for I'll have to show you my cupboards to prove I'm really not such a bad housekeeper after all. The problem is it has become an addiction.

Seriously, I can't stop. I was just talking to the daughter, who has discovered Pinterest, and I spied my messy book case with the children's hand prints on the glass. I couldn't help myself, I had to clean it while we talked and kept going until I was done. 

I would love to have one of those places with a place for everything and everything in its place but I have too many things and too little space. So... that is a motivation to remove that which I don't need and by rearranging it I know what I end up with will fit into a much smaller place. 

Look at the batteries for example. I can now fit my light bulbs and my batteries in the same space I once had a couple boxes of light bulbs and my batteries. I found several more boxes of bulbs tucked here and there in the cupboard and the thought that I was low on light bulbs has been proven false, REALLY FALSE.  Batteries, on the other hand, we could use a few more for winter chores coming up. We use lots of flashlights in the winter to do our work after dark.
One of the most awesome things about these tackle organizers is how many things you can put in them. I have two for buttons and can conceive that one more will be needed in the future.

 I've started collecting beads as I want to make stitch markers for my knitting.  

For years I've had a little tackle container to keep my earrings in. Yes, that's it folks, the sum of my earrings. Not much of a jewelry person.
And of course I have a couple boxes of flies for fly fishing. How I'd love to go fishing.

As for that extra tackle container I came home with, well I'm thinking I should transfer my smaller saftey pins and sewing machine needles and.... hmm... I'd better just go and do that. See... I just can't help myself.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm Better. I've Had My Happy Pill

You might think I'm joking but I"m not. I'm much better mostly because of this little pill. One of my BEST friends. When I realized my flu had pretty much left and I still could hardly get myself to leave the confines of the bedroom with its Hulu and Netflix capability, I knew it had struck. Yup, I was deeply depressed. Not as in whoa is me kind of depressed but a chemical imbalance that strikes my sister and I. Hence, we have dubbed this little pill, which is really just the amino acid Tyrosine, our Happy Pill because it does such wonders for our mood.

It doesn't work for all hypothyroid patients because my daughter tried it and it didn't work for her. But for me, one little pill and within a few hours I feel the effects. I'm happier. My depression did not stem from my not taking this pill but my thyroid and adrenals are really not happy and so I needed to take more than the one pill. L-tyrosine is the amino acid that starts the whole thyroid production where iodine joins in. Most people take Synthroid but for me that isn't enough. I need the T-4's and a fair amount of T-3's which brings my dismimal body temperatures from hypothermia to almost normal.  
The result of taking  two pills yesterday was my hubby got this for breakfast a delicious fruit smoothy. I make mine with yogurt, fruit, and ice cubes. The yogurt is wonderful in that it adds nutrition along with giving the whole thing a smooth, silky texture. Don't skimp on the yogurt. I should have used three yogurts instead of two when I used a quart of strawberries. The four ice cubes was plenty but adjust the ingredients to fit your taste. The yogurt I used was peach from Yoplait.

No, I haven't been making my own yogurt since my folks came and then I was just too depressed. But watch out, I'm happy and I'm going to return to my old busy bee self.

But back to the fruit smoothy. If you are adding store yogurt, it's already sweet so you don't need to add anymore sugar. If the fruit you are choosing is a little tart,  throw in a banana. They have lots and lots of sugar in them and a good way to use those that are turning a bit brown. I throw bananas that are turning into the freezer to use not only in banana cake and bread but for fruit smoothies.
While I'm talking good for you, don't forget the omega-3 juice. I can't handle fish oil,. It not only tastes horrible but I have allergic reactions so I use flax oil. Not a cheap addition to your diet but we've had pretty impressive results on our health fair blood tests. It's more about the balance between your HDL's and your LDL's than just trying to lower your cholesterol numbers. We've had elevated LDL's because both our bodies require a large amount of protein and because our HDL's were so high, it negates any risk from the LDL's. We take ours in a small glass of juice. I'm too big a baby to just drink down the oil.

Since breakfast was scant, we had T-bone steak for lunch. Lots of LDL's in that, except ours is grass fed. And we love summer squash and zucchini grilled. A little, well, maybe more than that, of butter spread on top and sprinkled with garlic salt and then grilled beside the steaks. Yum, Yum!!!

Toss on the plate a generous helping of freshly picked and steamed green beans, slices of cucumber and we were in heaven, gastericly.

I'd separated milk that morning and so for supper, it was cream biscuits, left over steak sliced thin and added to some cooked roast I had in the freezer, gravied of course to put over the biscuits. To add color, we had sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, and I'd roasted some small potatoes in the oven in a cast iron pot. They had been slice, tossed with olive oil, and sprinkled with fresh parsley and garlic salt.

Yup, my husband is more than happy to support my Happy Pill needs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Goat Butter

 Cream forms this rubbery white band. It always fascinates me that milk has this unique protein that is rubbery.

This is out of the cone shaped metal area that separates cream from milk in a milk separator. This is casein and it gives you that squeak in squeaky cheese.
During the beginning of my folk's stay, I didn't separate milk. I figured I'd have time after they left but the stay went on and on. I hated wasting all that cream so I separated and kept it in the freezer.

The trick to keep the quart canning jars from breaking was to refrigerate them until they were really cold plus leaving lots of head space, an inch and a half of no cream at the top. Then the next day the jars went into the freezer.

With five quarts waiting to be made into butter, I got out the blender today and set to work.

I know, I know, I use to do this with my butter churn but I've got the flu today and not much is getting done. The churn works great but it works me, so I've found if I freeze my cream and then let it thaw to where there is a soft lump still partially frozen in the middle, it makes great whip cream and butter in the blender. Where as before my blender heated up the cream too much and I'd hit the whip cream stage and then go back to the cream stage.  

With heavy cream that has gone through the separator once in the milk stage and then the resulting cream put once more through the machine I get a heavy, heavy cream. I do have to frequently stop the machine and scrape the whipped cream down toward the blades. Yes, my cream is that thick.
Now I have to perfect my problem with the final product being too warm and the water not rinsing out well. I'm going to have to freeze some ice cubes to thoroughly chill my water that I rinse the butter with.

You see, we rarely use ice cubes around here.

Once I get that down, I want to try culturing the cream and seeing if I like butter made from it better than my plain ole style.

Have anyone of you tried it? What was your opinion?

Now the folks are in my sister's care, I can now get back to learning to cook with goat butter. To make it a little more convenient, I lay a piece of plastic wrap on my kitchen scale zeroing it out, then I plop on freshly made butter to a quarter pound, just like in the store packages. I wrap the butter up and freeze for later use. This way I can cook with it or make some more ghee to can. I'm cooking with it quite a lot lately.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Home At Last

Back home to our drought stricken plains. It feels so... good to be home though the view is very disturbing. What will the poor wild animals do come winter?
 Around us yesterday, I saw rain fall on the horizon but not a drop for us. We can but pray that the Lord will grant this parched land a drink in the near future.

The heads you see peeking up from the prairie are antelope gazing at me and our garden. They must wish they were inside and it will become a problem I'm sure in the near future.
It is a jungle in there.
The weeds are as prolific as the vegetable plants. There is a pepper plant peeking out from this mess, I promise. Can you find it amongst the weeds.? The poor garden has only been weeded once this summer. Things have had to be let go as I cared for my parents.
There care took a great deal of my time.  

My older sister graciously took over with my brother's help. Things aren't going well. Let's just say that if you ignore problems they don't go away. They may hide for a time but they will surface with a vengeance.

For now, I have a period of time to try and catch up a bit on chores and begin our preparations for winter.
Despite the weeds, I had a bumper crop of peas today. They almost filled a large bowl. With a general amount put aside for supper, I was able to put eight cups away in bags for winter. Tomorrow morning I will weed them and those pods playing hide and seek will hopefully give us another meal tomorrow night.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Part Two - Artist's Conference

This is my favorite thing at the whole show, well, except my hubby that is. I'm kind of a plain Jane and I like things I can use. Not things that sit out and need dusted because I just don't have the space in our small home and the time.
 Admitedly, I don't have a fire place either, just a free standing stove but if I could afford this, I'd have it as part of a staircase or decoration arched over a doorway or..... or.... or... Yeah, I'm in love with pine coney things.
 I loved this too, in my quirky personality.  I a rather complex person. I could decorate numerous homes in different styles and love it. Would I necessarily live in them? No, but I'd love doing the decortaing. I thought about that as a career but didn't want to mess with having to please others.

This sculpture slash light makes me think midevel period. Can't you just see this sconce on a stone garage with a castle like house?
The metal is in twig and deer horn shapes entertwined to shape a horse. This would be in my garden or out by the stables at my log home. You know, the one in my imagination that goes with the other stone house of mine that lives there.
 And all my doors would have fancy latches.
This would have to be at my stone home, but it isn't really my taste. It is cool though.

And there you have another round of a few of the things we have seen at this artist's conference. Got to run. We demonstrate in just a couple hours.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Copper Art

 Here we are at the ABANA conference and yesterday was an extremely full day. Temperatures hovered around 105 but under the awnings of our tent it was over 110. With demonstrators working away over hot coals and fiery blasting propane forges, it at times seemed unbearable.  Needless to say, after a three hour demonstration and Kirk filling in for one demonstrator who passed out from the heat with heat exhaustion, we were worn out last night.
 Just too tired to chat with my blogging friends.  But I've got to show you some of the need stuff that was being made.
 This is a family from Mexico who creates copper  and silver pots.
This is not painted on but actual silver and copper. Somehow they carve the pictures and then use an acid which helps the silver to adhere. Never saw that part but wow, the workmanship is amazing. One of the pots they create has a price tag of $40,000 dollars.

Stay tuned, I've not shown you the Scandinavian door the Italians were building, or the Norwegian ax handle, or the art gallery, or....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yellow Striped Corn Leaves

Took a peek at my weedy garden this morning and this is what I found underneath the unwanted growth, blushing tomatoes with a few nearly ripe. We have been eating some for the past week. Not bad for this part of Wyoming. You do have to put them in the ground mighty big though.

So far, I'm not happy so far with my Glacier tomato's performance. We'll talk more about them later.

Alas, I sold all my Siberia plants and one gal said they have been eating tomatoes off them since the middle of June. What was I thinking getting rid of them all. ( Alas, hardship teaches the greatest lessons and I promise never to do it again.)
 The potatoes are a sea of white blossoms and when I pulled a weed near a plant a small potato was unearthed. Woot, woot, we should at least be eating those.

As for my spinach that was left to go to seed. Grey beetles got the munchies and they are all gone. Now you see them and now you don't. The plants that is for these little monsters can ruin a crop in under 20 seconds flat. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating but seriously, they eat their body weight numerous times a day. I think because otherwise how can they do such damage in such a short amount of time when I turn my back?
(Nope, no cucumbers yet but soon.)

We are really blessed here for we don't have many insect pests. Remember, not much grows here but grass and it doesn't have many enemies. The big challenge is the weather and the soil.  Except for this summer, we have cool nights in the fifties where the plants stop growing and days in the 70's to the 90's. This year we are having nights in the 60's and 70's - shocking.
 And here I sit with the smallest garden I've grown in years. Seven weeks of taking care of invalid parents will do that for you.    
 I've several kinds of beans growing and these brighten my day with their vibrant color. Can't wait to taste them next week.
 Now for the lesson of the day. Yup, once again the corn looks like it will be tasseling at close enough to the same time that it will try to cross pollinate. Last year I got in the sweet corn two weeks before the Painted Mountain flour corn. They blossomed at the same time. This year I put in the Painted Mountain first and it is tasseling  and the sweet corn's tassels are just beginning to peek forth.

That doesn't work, the planting at different times so I'll scratch that idea.
I suspect weather is the determining factor for tasseling times, not so much the time of planting. Alas, we live where hay crops, not vegetable crops are grown so there is no planting on another person's land to keep the plants from cross pollinating. Hardly anyone grows a garden here.
I do have this weird corn plant, I'm sure I should have plucked when I first saw it, but curiosity is my middle name. You know what happened to the cat. I hope it doesn't mean the ruination of my corn but this one plant has me entranced watching it grow. I know, I know, I'm easily entertained.

What did I find out about yellow striped corn? Well ...


  • Corn grown in soil containing chalk or calcium carbonate, can be deficient in iron, which results in inadequate amounts of chlorophyll being produced in the leaves. This results in stunted plants and the appearance of yellow or white stripes between the midrib and the veins.
  • Sulfur

    • A lack of sulfur can cause white or yellow stripes to appear between the leaf veins of corn leaves. Other symptoms include stunted plants and yellow leaves. According to Jim Gerwing, extension soils specialist with South Dakota State University, stripes caused by sulfur deficiency occur on the entire plant, while stripes from zinc deficiency usually occur on the third and fourth leaf. Sulfur deficiency usually happens with sandy soil, especially after a wet winter


    • Magnesium deficiencies cause yellow streaks or stripes to appear between the veins of lower leaves. Eventually, the leaves turn reddish purple and the tips and edges may even die.


    • Other nutritional deficiencies that cause the appearance of yellow stripes on the leaves are manganese and boron.
    To find out more reach the below link.

    Read more: Corn Has Yellow Stripes on the Leaves | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_8373694_corn-yellow-stripes-leaves.html#ixzz20tnpg7cv

    Is any one of these things my problem. No, it only has happened to one plant and a few inches away the corn is not effected. I'll probably never know what happened but none the less, it's pretty so I might just keep it until I find out it is dangerous. I hope not.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Curant Jelly and Blackberry Jam

I wasn't going to pick and make currant jelly. I reasoned that I didn't have time. Then guilt set in. Does that happen to you? It said, "The Lord gave you a crop and though they might be a bit small, they still exist." The earth does not bring forth fruit willingly around here and you hate to waste what little you get.
So seeing as I had just gone through all my jelly and jam jars to see what I had and there wasn't any currant, I thought I'd better make hay while the sun shines. What??? You know the saying do it while you can because you never know about the future. Kind of like the hay around here. There isn't any. Life isn't certain and you do what you can when you can.
Me, well I don't make lots of jams and jelly every year. One year I'll make a little and then another I'll make a lot. A lot is what this year is. Not fruit from around here but fruit that I've happened upon non the less. I can't accomplish much else but a simple project like this while my folks are here. Their care has been intense. They leave tomorrow and I want to thank all of you who have stood by me and this blog during my scant posts.

Get ready for this coming week as Kirk and I will spend some time at the ABANA conference where he will demonstrate his knife making. What's ABANA? It is the Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America. There artist will demonstrate the creation of copper vessels, a Scadinavian door project, a sculpture and much more. So stay in touch I've got a lot of lost time to catch up on. Hopefully that fat is still good in the fridge as I've goat milk in the freezer waiting to make Goat Milk Soap.

But for this week I made current jelly and blackberry jam. The currents were from my yard, red ones, and the blackberries were frozen from the store. No, blackberries don't grow here. I'll show you some dead ones in my garden where I tried. Or maybe they just won't grow for me as our soil isn't acidic enough.

My favorite pectin is the above low sugar kind and I have a new recipe from Cook's magazine for sorbet using this same pectin.  I've got to try it one of these days.
My ancient juicer, they now make them in aluminum or stainless, is the ticket for juicing the currants. There are berries in the top section with holes for the juice to flow downward. In the middle section is where the juice is collected and from there flows out the rubber tube into a jar. The bottom section is water with a generous handful of marbles. The marbles are for my attention deficit which has me forgetting my juice on the stove too long and running the bottom section out of water. The marbles begin to dance and make noise jostling my memory.

It's why my last batch of cookies is always darker than my first two.

The recipes I use aren't anything special, just the ones on the instructions in the box.

What exciting kinds of jelly and jams are you making this year? I need inspiration.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eight Goats I'm Milking

"Eight goats I'm milking", yup, I'm singing the Christmas tune The Twelve Days of Christmas  -- well sort of.

I'm still living on little sleep and so when my neighbored called from North Dakota in a panic at milking time last night, said her nephew got hurt and couldn't milk her goats, I rolled up my sleeves and went to milking. Those four bum calves of hers needed something to eat.

And since goats don't care that you can't sing and singing can help keep you awake, especially when you change the words up a bit,  tunes started popping into my head. I just can't keep them to myself for they burst forth. I have a tendency to be annoying that way. 

Some day you've got to hear my I'm Dreaming of a White Bathtub  borrowed from the tune I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas -- or maybe not. It could be that just kids love it.
(Not sure this doe of my neighbors name. Oh well, I usually make on up anyway.)
So after I milked her four dairy goats and tricked her two Boer goat -- I stuck grain just outside the gate so that when they stuck their heads through to eat, I reached and grabbed their collar so I could haul them into the milk parlor-- then off I went to milk my two.

I thought myself pretty clever but the trick may not work twice to get those disagreeable two. But on the bright side, she's obviously drying them up. I didn't have to milk them again this morning as their bags were pretty empty, yeah!! Such is often the way with chores of neighbors. I ask a couple details like, "Are you still feeding the calves milk?' then I figure out the rest. Common sense says they need hay and water and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to discover which does need milked.
And since goats were on my mind all day yesterday since I had to miss the National Dairy Goat show in Loveland Colorado (tear, tear) (yesterday was the Nubian show that I was going to watch and help a friend show her goats at, sigh... ) I'll have to bring you an award winning udder.

Okay, maybe she hasn't won any udder contest but look at this beauty on our yearling named Megan. I've never had an udder this size on a yearling before. Can't wait to see it in another year.

Oh yeah, this is suppose to be educational. Okay, note the rounded arch of the escutcheon. That's the arch at the top. And the strong medial attachment. That's the line down the center of the udder that separates the two halves. The teats that hang straight down not too large or too small, just the right size. They could maybe be shifted a hair bit more toward the center of each half but not bad.

 Best of all lots of depth and width. In other words just plain big without tipping forward or some other crazy angle. Megan has a pretty fore udder also. That is where the udder attaches to the body in front of the udder.

Now off to fix lunch for my parents. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lettuce Seed

 "Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?" This morning it is nursery rhymes and yesterday I was singing the oldies. "Kiss me once and kiss me twice and kiss me once again."  "Bye bye black bird." Everything I heard and saw reminded me of a line in a song and it would burst forth.

Not that that was a pretty sight seeing as my voice is suffering from thyroid issues and sounds like a twelve year old boy with croaking and squeaks but that didn't stop me. I'm hardly known for being shy.

Was I especially happy as I drove my parents to their doctors appointments 4 1/2 hours away. I don't think so but I am exhausted and coupled with a huge amount of stress, the silliness couldn't help but burst forth.

So as I sit here in my motel room, exhaustion my constant companion as I sort out my parent's mess, beware you, never know what may spring forth upon this page.

And though my garden does not has silver bells and cockle shell nor pretty maids all in a row, I do have some Deer Tongue lettuce that has gone to seed in my lone flower bed.  They seem to fit right in as the flower on this vegetable is quite lovely.

I tucked some seeds in there last year and I never got around to cutting this tiny patch. Voila one plant came up again this year and almost immediately started going to seed. Was it the smoke filled skies or the early heat? I'm betting on the heat but I'm not complaining as this is a great excuse for an experiment. 
 The instructions say the seeds will not mature at the same time so to collect them all you have to place a paper bag over the head and shake, leaving the rest to mature and shake again. Sounds like the buckwheat I did last year. The buckwheat I still need to finish processing to cook with. So much to do, so little time.

The other option is to wait until half the seeds are ready and pluck the whole plant, letting it dry. I'm opting for the paper bag method.

I've another kind of lettuce in the garden I'm going to see if it will go to seed also and my spinach too.  I only say that because though my spinach has always been cooperative, it doesn't mean it will continue to be. Our weather has been, let's say unusual and I'm not sure what's around the corner.  In the past I have often let part of my spinach go to seed and reseed itself for the spring.

I love this no brainer approach to planting as I don't have to guess how early to plunk seeds into the ground. We've had some pretty mind winters though and that sounds like it will change. Back to the doozies we use to have when the kids were little is the forecast.  I'm not sure how well this method will work after an especially frigid winter. I think I'll just see. " Baby it's cold outside....." Okay, maybe yesterday's song fest hasn't left my system yet.

Oh dear, this could be a long day for my poor folks. There daughter is insanely tired.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Blessing Dress

This beautiful dress is a collaberation of our oldest daughter and I. The hand crocheted lace is 92 inches and that doesn't count the lace for the neck. Check out this gown at http://thecalicobush.blogspot.com/2012/07/hand-crocheted-lace.html