Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nice Surprises

My new central vacuum system is in place, and I'm loving it.  Joseph & I recently got it all hooked up, and it is truly a whole different experience now.  Vacuuming has always been one of my least favorite chores, but dare I say I'm actually enjoying it?  It's quiet, and I don't have to stop and lug the vacuum behind me every few feet, so it's quick.  I never thought this would be something I'd actually ask for as a birthday present, but it's a wonderful thing!

There's another new soap on the curing rack.  I've been doing some research on good flea and tick repelling essential oils.  Once I'd finished my list, I gathered all the oils I had on hand, about a dozen, and put each under Guinness and McNib's noses.  The ones they approved of are now in a dog shamppo bar.  I've been pondering names, and have one that I like a lot.  I'm going to run it by my best name critiquer first.  If it's a go, I'll be sharing it.  If not, I have another idea up my sleeve. 

The birdnest is one I found last week, nestled in the crook of one of the pear trees.  Wishing you a day of nice surprises!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Lone Filbert

This is the first nut harvested from several nut trees we planted.  And the only nut.  But  isn't it a lovely little filbert?  I managed to save enough figs from the critters to make fig bread.  One for us and one for the freezer.  It'll  be a treat with a warm beverage on a fall or winter day.  Here's the recipe:

Fresh Fig Bread with Sherry 

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped figs
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I sometimes use up to 1/2 whole wheat)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and baking soda
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg and salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I've used both canola and olive with good results)
2 large eggs

Combine figs and sherry; let stand at least 15 minutes.  Mix together flour, walnuts, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.  In a mixer bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs to mix.  Blend in flour mixture; gently stir in figs and sherry.  Pour batter into a well-greased 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven until bread feels firm when gently pressed in the center, about 1 1/4 hours.

Let cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a rack to cool.  Makes about a 2 lb loaf.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Having a Blast

 In the past few days, I've got my creative mojo going again.  There's a new pumpkin spice soap, some embroidery pieces, and some metal lanterns I had a blast making with Tuesday yesterday.   The soap uses organic pumpkin puree from our garden, along with some essential oils that smell good enough to eat.  Think pumpkin pie spices, citrus and vanilla all rolled into one.  A sprinkle of cinnamon, and layers of orange and white.  I can't wait until they've cured, so I can try one.

My plan has been to use all recycled metal for my metal art.  I got to thinking about all those olive oil tins I've been saving, and a lantern idea a friend shared, and this is the result.  I'm really enjoying creating with the plasma cutter.  I got another welding lesson from Tuesday too. 
I'm not steady enough to take good nightime photos, but hopefully this gives you some idea.  Tonight, I'll borrow a tripod from the shop and try again.  I've almost used all the tins I've saved, so if you know of a source of olive oil tins, or other large cans, I'd love to know!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Scenes

It's been a full week for both J & I. Last night we took a break, and headed to Out and About on Sunset. The shops and galleries stay open late, and there's often music and refreshments. We wandered around and saw some friends, including a little girl who was celebrating her first birthday.

Today I'll be helping out at Whynot Pottery. Come on by and see us!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


There's a hint of fall in the air.  Nightime temps are dipping into the low 60's, and we're able to enjoy open windows again as we sleep.  Poke and beauty berries are turning purple, and bright goldenrod sways in the breeze.  The garden is beginning to slow down.  We begin planting our fall garden this weekend.
I've been putting my work in some new shops and galleries.  At the first shop I was dropping off work, I had three sales before I left.  I'll take that as a very good sign.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Link Love

There are so many good ideas shared by bloggers.  I've mentioned Jill before, and a most delicious juice recipe.  I'm fairly sure it was she who blogged about this wonderful book, though I can't seem to find the link for it.  The book is At Home with Country. It's one of my favorite design books, full of comfortable, soulful homes, from city lofts and seaside homes to treehouses and tents.  I found it in my local library, enjoyed perusing it's pages while at the beach and at home, and will be sad to return it.
The other link was a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe that Elspeth shared. I finally got around to making them last week, and think I'll be making some more this week!  I was surprised how good a cookie using only whole wheat flour could be.  Thanks, Jill and Elspeth, for bringing such good things to my attention.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh Sunny Day

A while back, I mentioned how Hickory used to get in the bathtub by himself.  I've been working with McNibs, who is now around 70 lbs, and yesterday, he did the same.  It took praise and treats, but I'm as tickled as I can be.  I'm strong for my size, but a less than 5 ft. woman can only do so much with a dog that's almost as big as she.  J and I are thinking he'll likely top 100 lbs.  Next, I need to work with Guinness.  He won't get as large, but he'll still end up being a good size dog. 

The garden is keeping me busy.  Most days, I pick cucumbers, squash, and okra.  Every few days, I pick tomatoes, lima beans, green beans and crowder peas.  The figs and pawpaws are just beginning to ripen.  I think I've picked the last of the elderberries, and will leave the rest for the birds.  We finally got some rain.  Not enough, and the corn dried up while we were at the beach, but we're grateful.  Growing your own food can be challenging, and each year is different.  We were really hoping to eat homegrown corn, but there's always next year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Bit More Beach

Sunset on the beach
My Sis and her hubby
My niece and her husband celebrating with the cow
My brother and sister-in-law.  As Poppy Angelo would say looking at all of these family pics (insert strong Italian accent), "so good looking" :o).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Feeding My Soul at the Ocean

Joseph and I spent a few days with my brother's family at Sunset Beach this week.  There's just something about the ocean that feeds my soul.  There were lots of walks, some reading, time at the water catching up with my sister-in-law and niece, and dinner with the extended family one night.  The house had a cow out front.  Apparently, it has been there since the house was called Udder Rest.  Though the name has changed, the cow remains.  My niece celebrated her birthday while there, and the cow got decorated, which is what you see in the picture.  My niece is a kindergarten teacher, and recently started a teaching blog.  I loved hearing her stories of the inventive things she does to teach her kids. They're lucky kids to have her for a teacher!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Something to Cluck About

In between several biodiesel-related jobs last week, the fab shop worked on creating these gates. Their client gave them a few pieces of metal he asked them to incorporate; otherwise it was up to them. This is the design J came up with, which the client was extremely happy with. There was also a smaller gate to go along with these large ones. They're some talented guys, I tell you!