Friday, December 31, 2010

The Promise of Good Things to Come

As the snow has been melting, I've been checking out the growing things. I've been surprised to find daffodils peeking out of the ground. The lilac buds are fattening up, and the hellebores are putting forth new growth. The resiliency of nature inspires me.

Last night, Joseph read to me our 2011 horoscopes, both of which are full of promise of good things to come. We are putting forth positive thoughts and well wishes for a world of peace, and prosperity for all. Happy New Years, friends! Let's create the joyful world we desire in this year of 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Uncertain Girls

J and I have been enjoying some slower days, winding down from the holiday rush. The snow gave us another excuse to relax indoors, venturing outside for a brief time here and there. We've watched a movie, done some small chores, and spent entirely too much time on the computer. I did fix some roasted root vegi's tonight, mostly following this recipe. Though I've opened the door of the chicken pen both yesterday and today, the girls couldn't bring themselves to venture out, and put their little feet into the icy cold. Can't say I blame them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowy Sunday

The birds have been jostling for position at the feeders, as the snowflakes have been falling. J & I just got back from a walkabout in the snow. The world always looks so different, with everything covered by a blanket of snow. Thanks to June's post, I made my first ever popovers this morning. They reminded me of a cross between biscuits and the baked pancakes I make. I would suggest you have everything else on your menu ready as you pop them out of the oven. I wasn't that organized, so by the time we sat down to eat, they had cooled and were beginning to toughen just a bit. They were very good, but I can imagine what they'd be like just out of the oven.

I'm glad J had the foresight to suggest stopping by to see my Mom & Frank, after we left my Dad and extended family last evening. My siblings families and I were to have met up at my Mom's today, but the slippery roads are keeping us all at home. The lights have flickered and gone out briefly once already. Other than hot running water, we're pretty well off here without power. We've had our showers, so let it snow! The picture of the shed was taken first thing this morning, when I went out to tend the chickens. It's snowed another couple of inches since then.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men

Happy Holidays, to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Winter Solstice

The kefir grains have worked like a charm. Every day, there's a new cup of kefir, and the grains are already growing. So far, I've mixed it with strawberries I had canned, and strawberry/ banana. Both were quite good. Tomorrow, I want to try pumpkin spice, which is the last storebought flavor I tried. Sage kitty's favorite new place to hang out is under the Christmas tree. Thanks to Leslie, I've picked up several books from the library to read. Wishing you a Winter Solstice that's as cozy as can be!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kefir Has Arrived

For years, I have made my own yogurt. I enjoy it in smoothies or with fruit, and often use it as the dairy portion of bread or other recipes. I fed Hickory a homemade diet (following Dr. Pitcairn's recommendations), and he went through quite a lot of yogurt, being the big dog he was. The kitties Sage and Callie beg for it daily, so making my own can save a bit of cash.

For some time, I've wanted to make my own kefir. It's not something you can start from a storebought batch, like yogurt. Kefir can be pretty pricey, and there's also the fact that the closest kefir is 30 minutes away. I recently purchased milk kefir grains, to give it a try. They arrived today, and I've already gotten the first batch underway, which was easy-peasy. I bought these from the etsy site, Yemoos. It arrived lovingly packaged, with an adoption certificate! Pretty clever! It's a bit dreary and icy today, so a cozy indoor day was in order.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holidays Past and Present

We've been getting into the holiday spirit here on the homestead. The stockings are hung, the wreath is on the door, the presents are awaiting wrapping. We even had snow while we were decorating the tree on Sunday. In fact, we had some flurries & sleet while we were on our tree shopping expedition on Saturday. There's something about snow, that just feels like Christmas. I remember how odd it felt, living in L.A. at Christmas. I distinctly remember thinking it just didn't seem right to be Christmas shopping, walking from my car when it was in the 70's. The wind whipping, some snowflakes falling.... yea, that's more like it. I suppose that harkens back to my childhood on Long Island. OK, enough about the weather already :o)

My first batch of holiday cookies are in the oven, and the smell is making my mouth water! I figured my sales were pretty much over, with the holidays so near. But, I guess there are plenty of last minute shoppers. Works for me! It's always interesting to see which soap is the best-seller each year. This holiday season, Patchouli wins hands down. Someone bought my last 4 bars today, so there is a new batch of Patchouli, snug in the mold tonight. There's a good chance we'll awaken to more snow. Yay!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Holly Day

Today's the day when it will begin to look a lot like Christmas around here. We're soon heading to get the tree. The folks I've been buying my tree from for years give their repeat customers a wreath, so that will soon be gracing our door. Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Earth is Up and Running

We did celebrate with that bottle of Prosecco, and New Earth Fabrication is working on their first job. The job is actually a tweaking that's being done on the Piedmont campus, but the shop is open for business. Congratulations, guys!

Something Meredith said a while back has been rolling around in my brain. She referred to me as a retired nurse, and at the time, I thought that might be a bit premature. But, as things seem to be working out, that just may be pretty accurate. There has been enough business in my soap shop to keep me mildly encouraged, and additional massage work coming my way. Though it is certainly a bit scary, I'm excited to see where things go from here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let It Snow

It's looking promising around here. My shop has got new listings. The Prosecco is chilling. J said he wanted to enjoy it when they were ready to open the fab shop, and it's looking as though it's shaping up to be this weekend! Everything won't be finished, but there's a client that wants an order done this weekend, so it looks like they'll be in business. Yay! Shhh... don't tell Meredith, but there's a slight chance of snow this weekend.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Progress Report

The overnight temperatures brought a skim of ice to the animal's water bowls. It is beginning to feel like winter here. I've been adding new items to my shop... lavender sachets, a holiday dessert stand and new, sample sized soaps. The men are hard at work on the fab shop, which is coming right along. J hopes to be working in it by the end of the week. I'm pondering tonight's meal, and thinking it feels like a pumpkin pie is in order. I've got to do something to use up that whipping cream :o)

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The show last Saturday was wonderful. I met a number of lovely folks. It was in a great space, and was very well done. The fab shop is coming along nicely. I'll have some new pics of it up soon. Joseph and I got some windows at the Habitat store yesterday, which we'll use, in addition to a large, half round window I'd gotten, but didn't use for the house. The weather has been so nice, with sunny days and warmer than usual temps. Though it's been a busy time, we're enjoying ourselves. Wishing you an enjoyable Thanksgiving, doing whatever makes you happy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wafts of Citrus and Spice

The past couple of days have been filled with lots of soap wrapping, as I'm getting ready for the show. My newest soap, St. Clements, will be making it's debut. It has essential oils of sweet orange, mandarin, clementine, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in it. With a bit of cinnamon and lemon zest thrown in for good measure. It smells just right for this time of year. The name comes from a line in an old English nursery rhyme: "Oranges and lemons, rang the bells of St. Clements". If you're in the Greensboro area on Saturday, come on by, shop local & make sure to enter for doorprizes.

What: Pre-Holiday Market at Forest Oaks Country Club
Where: 4600 Forest Oaks Dr., Greensboro
When: Sat., Nov. 20, 10-3

Free admission. Over 30 vendors will be participating. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Smiling with The Weepies

Well, I had the best intentions of sharing a video with you. The Weepies were in Raleigh last night. I began downloading a video while getting ready yesterday. It was still "processing" when I was ready to leave, so I left it running for, oh... 8 hours, until I got back home. It still wasn't finished. That was on the laptop, so this morning, I gave it a run on the PC & changed it to an audio only on youtube. 90 minutes later, same story. So, I guess our "highspeed" just isn't? Any tips, my friendly fellow bloggers? In any case, the concert was wonderful! And the first act was excellent, too. Hope you enjoy the links!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Fragrant Monday

It's a busy time, here in my neck of the woods. The potters are loading and unloading their kilns, getting ready for this weekend's Celebration. I'm getting ready for Saturday's Pre-Holiday Market at the Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro. I've been up since before the sun this morning, making fragrant lavender sachets. I've been pondering making a few sachets with rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint from the garden, to use as natural air fresheners in the car or elsewhere. Maybe I'll use some of the coffee bean burlap for this. I'll be listing the sachets in my shop, though it may not happen until after the Market. What crafty goodness are you up to this week?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Beauty of Squash

The menfolk are hard at work on the fab shop. My only contribution today has been the sorting of nuts and bolts. I just cut up some yellow squash for tonight's dinner, and found the loveliest design. These are the last of our garden's summer squash. I'm thinking it's quite a nice farewell. Today is World Kindness Day. May yours be most wonderful!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fab Treasures

I wanted to pop in here to share a most excellent treasure I found this week. For next to nothing, I might add. I love all the character and history. The pieces each have tape with a handwritten name on them. They're faded, but the names are different....hmmm. I suppose the names are so it makes it home after a potluck, or maybe when it has been left at the home of a bereaved neighbor. Well, I'm off to assist on the fab shop project. I'm thinking about an apple cake. I'd love to know your favorite recipes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brewing Fruit and Ideas

It's been a fruity kind of morning. I juiced another 3 cups of passionfruit, which I've been freezing until I can come up with a good recipe. I'm thinking I may make jam or jelly with it, possibly with berries, but may do some sort of dessert. Or both! Anyone have a recipe to share? I juiced a few more pears and added it to a batch of pear cider, or perry, I began on Monday. This is our first try at perry, and we're using a simple recipe. Just the pear juice, and yeast. I believe the yeast is a Sweet Mead activator, from Wyeast. There's about 3 gallons of pear juice, in a glass carboy with airlock. J has been the one researching it. If I remember correctly, the primary fermentation is done in the carboy, then sugar added, and put into bottles for the secondary fermentation. It will be a slow process, taking several months, but hopefully worth the wait!

I'm going to get the dehydrator going, for some apple rings. I like them as snacks, and J likes to break them up into his oatmeal. I've had some ideas brewing for new handmade items for my shop, and am excited about starting on them today. Here's a peek at the new fab shop, as it begins to go up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Good Long Run

The days feel like they're whirling past. J & I got all the sections of the metal building loaded up and brought here on Friday. The fab shop began going up on Saturday. Our first hard frost arrived this weekend. I'm sorry to see the flowers, basil and tomatoes go, but the garden had a good, long run this year. We had our first winter salad last night, which was a delicious consolation. I took this picture of the cosmos last week. Have an enjoyable week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Prolific Chickens and Halloween Wishes

The chickens have been quite prolific lately. So much so, that I'm working on a fifth egg carton. Which calls for some drastic measures, in terms of egg eating. J and crew have been dismantling his shop building this weekend, and making great progress. So, breakfast for M & I was a puff pancake recipe from King Arthur Flour, which used 6 eggs. Yay!

The Newcastle Inn Baked Pancakes

3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
a pinch of salt
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450. Whisk eggs with milk until well blended & light. Add flour and salt & whisk until they're well incorporated. Blend in melted butter & continue whisking until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into two lightly greased, 6 in cake pans (pie pans work fine too). Bake for 15 mins. Turn out onto a plate as soon as they're done. Sprinkle with lemon juice & serve with maple syrup. The recipe says this is 2 servings, but I double it, so that we each get 2 pancakes. Try it, for a great, easy breakfast.

I'm thinking I'll make a poundcake this afternoon, to use up another 6 eggs. I'd better take a walk today, and burn up some of these calories! I'm wishing you the loveliest of Halloweens!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shades of Orange

There has been lots of orange in the scenery around here, not only from the usual pumpkins and fall leaves, but from the still blooming flowers and butterflies. I thought I would share some of that vibrant color with you today. Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Colors

The mountains were beautiful. I had a grand time with Teresa, and in class. While I had some long days in class, the scenery, good food and good people made the trip enjoyable. The first photo was the view from our room. On one of the days, T brought back a bounty of antioxidant goodness from The Chocolate Fetish to share. If the toffee, and the dried cherry and walnut round are any indication, I'm almost scared to try any of the truffles. The Center was lovely, with a wonderful innkeeper, excellent food, enjoyable guests and a nightly fire in the great room. We had the best intentions to enjoy the hot tub and sauna, but ran out of time.

The second delivery of concrete arrived early this morning, which finishes the pad for the shop. I manned one end of the screed board again, and Joseph is finishing up the trowel work. There has not yet been anything other than a light frost, here and in the mountains, so there are still perennials blooming, along with the changing leaves. I'm enjoying all the color, while it lasts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Forward Progress

Progress is being made on several fronts. They're all good, but it's especially exciting to see the fabrication shop taking form. Yesterday, the first concrete pad and both footings were poured. I acquired a new skill during the process, that of manning (or should that be womanning :o) the screed. Next week, we'll get the remainder of the concrete delivered, and finish that piece. Next will be the moving of the building. We're dismantling a large metal building, moving it and setting it up here.

Tomorrow, I'm headed to Asheville, for some massage training. I chose this class after the class in Virginia Beach was canceled. It will make for some long days, but I'm taking a extra day to head back, stopping in Black Mountain along the way. The autumn leaves should be lovely, and the colors may even be peaking. I hope to get some good pictures to share with you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sprouts and a Show

I've just come in from checking the winter garden. Yesterday's rain has encouraged sprouting of the greens, so it's coming along nicely. My good friend M is visiting. He and I go back many years. J & I are enjoying having him here, and catching up. I've been getting ready for a show this week. I'll be taking part in the Caldwell-Hohl kiln opening this weekend. The forecast promises a lovely, sunny fall weekend. If you're anywhere near Seagrove, come on by. I will be leaving at 2 tomorrow to attend a dear friend's memorial service, so come earlier if you're coming for my offerings. I'm playing Sunday by ear, and will stay as long as there's enough attendance. Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Summer in October

This year has been an interesting one. Usually this week, we're getting our first frost. Instead, we're eating fresh-picked summer squash and watermelon from the garden. I'm not complaining, mind you. Just noticing. I'm awaiting the arrival of a dumptruck, which is delivering a load of dirt for the fabrication shop this morning. I tried a new recipe last night, for watermelon salad. It was different, but pretty good. It's something I wouldn't want everyday, but would eat again. J said he felt the same. The recipe came from Country Living magazine.

Watermelon and Blue Cheese Salad

24 1 1/2 in cubes seedless watermelon (about a 4-5 lb mini watermelon)
3 oz high quality blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Divide watermelon among 4 plates. Crumble blue cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve.

I should say I followed the feel of the recipe, rather than the exact recipe. Our watermelon wasn't seedless, but I tried to remove most of the seeds. I used Gorgonzola Dolce for the cheese, a milder, sweeter blue cheese. I didn't weigh or count the watermelon cubes. If you'd like a little something different, give it a try.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Plants and Projects

There have been many projects to keep us busy around the homestead lately. One of them has been creating new flower beds. The first was created where the last of the sandpile was, along the path to the house. Joseph thought pansies would look pretty there, and I agreed. I also put a hyssop there. That one was finished just a couple of days before the Mom's arrived. Perfect. This weekend, several plants had to be moved, because they were in the way of the new fabrication shop Joseph is building. That bed went in the same area as the other, but along the driveway. It has several baptisias and daylilies in it. An astilbe and a squill went to a shadier area, where I expect both of them will be much happier.

This morning, I planted kale, collards and what's known in these parts as salad mix. It's a blend of kales, canola, mustards and turnip greens. We love a flavorful winter salad made from these. I'm definitely later than usual planting these things. I held off a long time, as things were so hot and dry here. I do have patches of mixed lettuces and spinach that are growing happily. We'll likely buy a few cabbage and broccoli seedlings this year. There is one chard plant up, & I replanted some more last week. That will pretty much do it for our winter garden.

The fabrication shop construction is moving along. Rick came out on Friday, and he & Joseph moved some earth around, leveling things for the cement pad. Yesterday, Joseph & I got pieces of plywood in place on the side of one of the footers, and got the soil leveled and tamped in that footer, so it is now ready for cement.

In case you're wondering, yes those are tomato cages all around the flower bed. To keep the chickens out. While creating the bed, we'd totally forgotten how the chickens had decided pansies were a delectable treat last year, and how much of a chicken magnet that loamy soil would be. Thankfully, Joseph's memory kicked in before we let the chickens out, so we headed that one off at the pass. We'll definitely be putting something more aesthetically pleasing around the bed, but for now, we're happy to have pansies.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Love Those Wild Foods

These lovely fall days are making me happy! It's a pleasure to work indoors or out. Yesterday, I juiced a large batch of passionfruit, also known as maypops in these parts. I've been freezing the juice, with the intention of making jelly, once they've all ripened. I've also been cleaning staghorn (red) sumac, basically separating stems and seeds. I'll be making zaater with these. There are many variations of this Middle Eastern spread, but the recipe I learned in a wild plants class years ago is:

5 tbs dried sumac berries (grind them in a nut or coffee grinder & sift to get the remaining, big, inner berries out & discard. Keep remaining powder.)

2 1/2 tbs sesame seeds- toast seeds & grind with a mortar & pestle or a suribachi

3/4 tbs dried thyme

3/4 tsp salt

Mix ingredients together well. Spread out in a small pan and toast in oven/toaster oven for one minute. Store in a jar.

When you're ready to use the zaater, mix some with olive oil to desired consistency, spread on bread and toast if desired. It's great as is, or with cheese and tomatoes.

Sumac also makes a tart beverage, similar to lemonade, which is loaded with Vitamin C. One recipe for this is to soak 1 tbs of berries to 1 cup of water. Sweeten with honey.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sharing of the Intended and Unintended Kind

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. Our Mom's and partners came for a visit yesterday. We shared a meal, showed them our latest projects and caught up. The weather was lovely. Poor J woke up with the flu this morning, which I had last week. I'll be doing what I can to get him feeling good as new. With last week's rain, we've been seeing more wildlife... tree frogs, toads, an Eastern Kingsnake. The snake put on a good show of imitating a rattler before slithering back into his hole in the ground. The nights are getting cooler, and we had our first fire in the woodstove last night. I love the smell of woodsmoke. It's a sure sign fall is here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Exuberance and Joy

Today is a delightfully rainy one here. Two nights ago, we had our first rain in many weeks, and it's as though everything is breathing a sigh of relief. After finishing up my work at Hospice yesterday, everywhere I went, the air was filled with birdsong of such exuberance and joy. It's as if they held all that energy in during the long dry spell, and were releasing all that lovely song at once. It was truly a delight to be serenaded in such a way, and brought joy to my day. Wishing you much joy this day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vegi Hugs

Did you know that today is "Hug a Vegetarian Day"? Yep, I found that out while researching something yesterday. Never found what I was looking for, but this could come in handy :o). I finally finished emptying out the camper yesterday, and today J & I start on cleaning it. I read a really nice blog post on J's workplace here. The photo is a peek at some of the vintage goodness I've been listing in my shop. Wishing you a lovely Friday! I'm off to go get supplies for some minor repairs on the camper. Don't forget to hug your favorite vegetarians today!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts

I've been cleaning out the camper this week. It's something that should have been done long ago, as it gradually turned into a storage shed. Isn't it interesting how often an open space will fill up with stuff?! So, literally and figuratively, I'm examining things, and continuing to purge what no longer serves me. If you're in the market for a camper, I can fix you right up! This is my 200th blog post. Thanks Meredith, for convincing my reluctant self into joining the blogosphere. It's been an enjoyable ride!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Little Surprises

I should have known, when the usual sweet, grainy smell didn't greet me as I opened the lid. But I filled the bucket with several scoops of mash before I began investigating the rather unpleasant smell, which was getting harder to ignore. As I lifted the edge of the bag of oyster shell, two eyes greeted me, which elicited a small cry on my part. I fed the chickens their mash, as I pondered how to handle this unexpected start of the day. I thought back to finding the lid off the barrel... was that two or three days ago? Either way, it was bound to be thirsty. So, I tipped the barrel over a ways. It feigned a nonchalant air, as they are are wont to do. I filled a bowl with water, and placed it just outside the barrel. Nothing doing, so I gingerly drug the bag until the edge was coming out of the barrel. Bingo! Famata kitty was rather surprised to see the little visitor emerge, and mosey on it's way.

I've been working on clarity this week. Looking at some areas that needed looking at. Letting go of things that no longer serve me. Choosing to show up in the seeming chaos, and just be present. Because I don't want to miss any of the little surprises that may turn up!

Monday, September 13, 2010


A touch of fall has been in the air the past few days, and it has been lovely. I've been asking for clarity recently, and it wasn't lost on me that in the same day, I came across many hearts-a-bustin with fruit bursting forth, and a chrysalis. Hmmm, am I being reminded that sometimes, our hearts must break open before we can move into the new life waiting for us? I am paying attention to the signs and synchronicities, moving step by slow step in the direction I'm being led. Have you had any obvious signs or synchronicities in your life you're willing to share?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Got a Grip

OK, I admit it. I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Not a major funk, but a funk nonetheless. There have been jobs and orders that did not work out as hoped. Instead of taking long walks on the beach, watching the wildlife from the balcony, and reading to the sound of the surf next week, we'll be staying home. But, girl, look around. I've got a roof over my head, my little shop is encouraging, I've got 2 shows I'm preparing for, the garden is bountiful. Loved ones send me bouquets of roses, and Joseph and I have plans we're excited about. I'm blessed, and life is surely good. I've got a grip now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Minty Goodness

Things are still rather unsettled here, but I'll tell you about one good thing that's happened. Remember how excited I was recently, when someone listed something from my shop in their treasury on etsy? My shop has been open, oh... close to two years. Last Friday, Joseph opened an etsy shop. Lo and behold, within hours, his bell was listed in someone's treasury! That was definitely deserving of a standing ovation! There are a few more days to see Susie Q's review and enter the soap giveaway.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Plans Underfoot

There are several things up in the air right now, here on the homestead, but Joseph and I have some exciting plans underfoot. We're pondering and planning, figuring out what's going to work and what's not. Being flexible and creative are two of our strong suits, which serves us well in interesting times. Wishing you a most wonderful Labor Day holiday! You've got until the 15th to enter my soap giveaway.