Monday, July 30, 2012

Colorful Canned Goodness

As a child I was always fascinated by my mother's copy of the Woman's Home Companion Cook Book from the 1940's with almost 1,000 pages of information and recipes; from correct table settings to candy making.  She was a naturally excellent cook  and I only remember her using it a few times but it was always in the same place, ready when needed.  Her book is now in my kitchen.  I haven't used it, but it's comforting to have it.  When I see it I think of my favorite page, a photo of shelves filled with colorful canned goods.

On Sunday mornings I listen to a radio station that plays folk and bluegrass.  One song this morning brought back the memory of that photo, and the real meaning of having a well-stocked pantry.

This says it all.......



Friday, July 27, 2012

Mmmmmm, more!

I couldn't resist.  I had to make more jam while the summer fruit is so abundant in the market.  I had my eye on the plums lately so I bought a bunch and on Wednesday evening I made a mess in the kitchen, but it  was worth it!  I've got seven jars of plum jam....Yum!  Six are for gifting to friends and family.  The last one is for me, since I was one lid short and couldn't process it in the water bath.  It's in the fridge and will be gone before the leaves start turning brilliant colors this Autumn.

I'm thinking about putting the canner away for the year.  Or maybe not.

Have a yummy day!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watching Nature

This Spring I stumbled on a webcam fixed over the nest of two bald eagles in Decorah, IL, and joined in with so many other folks watch three little eggs hatch, grow, and learn to fly.  I learned about them through the more experienced viewers via the site's social stream.  Some folks have been watching this nest for years!

The young birds ("juvies"!) each had their distinct personalities, and were amazing to follow during those few months.  The oldest (hatched first) was the bravest and had a strong personality.  The second was more attached and protective of the youngest.  The third took longer to learn to fly and was more demanding of attention.  It was fascinating to see how character developed in each of these three.

The camera is turned off near the end of June each year since the birds are then flying and heading out on their own but the site is showing clips from this year's "season".  Shortly after the camera turned off for the season, the oldest of them met an ill fate when coming in contact with a utility pole.   It shook through the online community and the group's facebook page.  Folks who had cheered on the growing birds felt a deep loss.

This November the camera will be turned back on, and I will be checking in to see the parents settle in again.  But until then, there are other sites to view.  Among them are:

Missouri Turkey Vultures  Camera set in the barn were these are being raised.

Africam There are some great webcams (and video feeds) here that kids will enjoy.  You might be lucky enough to see an elephant at the watering hole.  (When watching from the eaastern U.S., it's best to try early morning due to the time difference.  This is outside in real time so there are no lights.) check your clocks for time zone difference.)

Kalakotkas An Osprey nest in Estonia.  Again, please check your clock.  Early morning may be the best time to watch.    (*update: this webcam was not on over the past few days.  I hope it comes back soon.  The Osprey are beautiful.)

Watch a little bit of Nature that you don't normally get to see.  I hope you enjoy these links!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In the eye of the beholder

I joined the community pool in the town where I work as an alternative to going to the gym, just to mix things up a bit.  So this evening I drove over, arriving just as the sky grew dark and the rain started.  I had just dunked underwater when the thunder began, which immediately meant that the pool was closed (even though it's indoors....rules are rules.)  Oh well.

On my drive home, I spied a double rainbow.  This was one of the few times I didn't have my camera ready so I tried to take some photos with my old cell phone.

In case you can't easily see it, here's the second rainbow:

The thunder may have spoiled my swim, but a pretty rainbow makes up for it.

....and I'll go back to the pool on Thursday.

I hope you're having a beautiful evening.


Saturday, July 21, 2012


I took advantage of the break in the heat to heat up the kitchen.....

Peaches have been abundant in the market these past few weeks and I've been enjoying a few in my cereal, but in the back of my mind I kept remembering shelves filled with jams many years ago.  When my sons were small one of their favorites was my rosy peach banana jam, so those peaches in the market were just calling to me to make another batch.

My original intent was to give them out at Christmas but one of the eight jars has already found its way to a neighbor who is expecting company for the next week.  A second jar will be going with me to my mother today.  A third is for a coworker.  And one each for my three sons, the next time I see them.  Then one for my niece and one for my nephew.  Doing the math, that takes care of all eight jars.

The beauty of canning is that there's always enough leftover to fill a half-jar, and that one is sitting in my fridge.

.....but I might buy more peaches on my way home today.

Spread a little kindness.


Friday, July 20, 2012


After temps flirting with 100 for the past few days, the weather finally cooled down enough to work on the baby quilt I've been making.  I stitched together the blocks and basted the sandwich together.  With a few more pleasant evenings, I should get quite a bit of quilting done.

Inspiration comes from so many places.  Lately, mine has been from memories of long-ago kitchens, and of laundry on clotheslines.  The fabric patterns were so different from ones we have now.

Have a wonderful weekend.  Hike, bike, sit by the shore, play outdoors, bake a loaf of zucchini bread.  Be inspired  :)


Monday, July 16, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation.....

Oh, the benefits of summer!  Longer days and clear roads for traveling.  No worrying about snow and icy patches means that I can leave before the sun is fully risen, which is what I did last Thursday.  I packed my car and pointed it North.  In a few hours the sun had reached high in the bright blue sky and I was where I wanted to be.

Not surprisingly, one of the first things I did when I arrived in northern Vermont was to get my hair cut.  I decided that a pony tail was not the way to beat the heat, so I stopped at an inexpensive chain and requested a straight, short cut that I could blow back from my face.  It came out better than I had hoped, so my vacation was off to a good start!

Thursday evening was a softball game for the team my youngest son is on.  (Please note that my youngest is twenty-something.)  Coincidentally, the team they played against was the same one I saw them play last summer!  Everyone did well and had fun.  Congrats to the winning team....but just wait until next year ;)

Every morning started with a walk by the water.  I would just love to start every day there....

This was followed by tea and a fresh scone while sitting outside at a local cafe.  Mmmmmmm.....

I scavenged some good secondhand stores, spent some time at the beach, and laughed with family and friends.  We tried a barbecue restaurant that had just opened a few days before.

I watched a street artist draw quite a crowd while he balanced on five chairs and juggled flaming torches....

....and do a handstand on top.

He was kinda funny and the crowd gave the appropriate "ooooohs" and "ahhhhhs".

On Saturday we enjoyed strolling around the farmers' market, tasting samples, buying flowers and fruit and watching people, including one vendor who was walking around with her pack goat.

I feel so blessed that I was able to enjoy an extra long weekend away from work, and to spend that time with family and friends whom I love.  My family because even though we are far apart, as they have grown into adults our relationship has developed into a new phase.  My friends because I feel like myself when I am with them.  I can walk back into their doors and we pick up where we left off.  We were cut from the same fabric and have the same values.  We laugh together, we cry together.  We encourage each other to be the best we can be.

There's more, and I've got time saved for other vacations this year.  I'll be on the road again, going to different places.   I choose short trips packed full with experiences and memories.

How about you?  Do you take one grand trip on vacation, or fill small ones with fun?  Would you rather stay at the beach for a week or take a weekday off to root for your favorite team at the ballpark?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wild? life

One of the things I enjoy about the "suburban" area where I live is that I can still see wildlife daily.  Turkeys are always on the sides of the parkway.  As are the deer, which is often to their demise.  A bear is occasionally sighted, and last year a mountain lion was hit and killed on the interstate.  Of course, there are tons of raccoons, groundhogs,.......and skunks, like the one that was outside at 4:30 this morning!

Between the wild fruits in the wooded areas and the gardens, dumpsters, garbage cans, and bird feeders, we now have a smorgasbord for critters.  But since they are no longer frightened by the scent and sight of a human being they're much more daring than they used to be.

Yesterday a co-worker showed me amazing cellphone photos of the damage a squirrel had done at her home.  It ripped through a corner of the window screen above her sink to get an apple on the kitchen table.  While the squirrel was enjoying lunch her dog awoke and chased it, causing it to tear an even larger hole through the top of the screen.

My neighbor also told me of a squirrel who wandered into a local auto garage, passing by the workers, and stole a donut from the bag sitting on the lunchroom table.

And those wild turkeys near my workplace?  Yes, they still come by in the mornings.  I'm hoping that no one in the building starts feeding them.  The food that Nature intended for them is in ample supply in the surrounding woods.

Hoping you enjoy a day filled with Nature's beauty, whether it's a sunny sky, waves rushing to the shore, or birds chirping in your backyard!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

It's my first

Found on my Friday lunchtime walk.....

My mother, who has a set of Irish grandparents, has always been able to spot a four leaf clover without even trying.  The other day I asked her how she does it, since I've never been able to find one.  She enjoyed a giggle over my mild frustration.  But today......Lo and behold!  On today's lunchtime walk I wandered over to a patch of clover and this little guy was on the side waiting for me.

When my sons were young, my second-born, taken by how his grandmother (my mother) could find four leaf clover in our yard, decided he was going to find one.  He sat down in our field and started going through the clover.  To everyone's surprise, not only did he find one with four leaves but he also had one with five!  Takes after his grandma.  *big smile*

Wishing everyone a bit o'luck today!


Friday, July 6, 2012


Yes..... I've been stitching again.  You know I can't just sit still with colorful fabric around...... *big smile*

More on this coming very soon....


Tuesday, July 3, 2012


This is the third year that my neighbor (a sweet little woman well into her eighties) has gifted little "orphan" tomato plants to me.  Her son raises them from seed and brings them to her in early summer.  When I first moved here I would see her working out back, setting in all the tomato plants.  Due to her age and some health issues, her son now does that for her.  I see him unloading boxes with green stems and leaves from his car.  Then she gives him instructions like a good mother would (*wink*) and sits on the back step, watching him do what she so lovingly did for years.

She called to me as I was in the kitchen and gave me two plants.  They're going spindly on me this year with all the heat we've had.  I've been keeping them watered but they would do much better planted directly in the ground.  Still, I will care for them and will certainly enjoy a round globe or two for a summer dinner.

My neighbor has a soft, gravely voice and speaks broken English, having come here from another country.  She is proud and generous, keen and strict.  She loves to laugh.  She's been here for many years but there are times when she has difficulty understanding the language.

She likes me because I love gardening and I do craft work.  She crochets and sews.  I've given her branches of rosemary whenever I have a small plant, which she uses to rinse her hair.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July!  Enjoy our independence, whether you were born here or immigrated to these shores; the land of the free.  And Thank You to all those who have preserved our freedom.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Finding Nature's treasures..... work.

Seeing these early morning visitors at my workplace just tickled me pink.  They were looking for breakfast in the shrubbery near the building, but made a bee-line for my Subaru when I ealked to the front door.  It seems that they "guarded" it for quite a while afterwards.  Co-workers arriving for the next half hour were surprised that they were still standing near it.

I often walk on my lunchbreak, as do many others from neighboring offices.  It's a relaxing area, still semi-wooded and natural.  Nature's beauty is all around.

One section of road is lined with raspberries, fully loaded with buds ready to burst forth in red beauties.  We lunchtime walkers have been eyeing them with bated breath.

I found a few small ones on a bush hidden by wildflowers but I don't expect to enjoy very many of them.  I'm sure the birds will fill their beaks and bellies before we get there at noon.  I hope they're willing to share a few!

I've enjoyed reading so many blogs these past few months....mostly by lurking ;)  Everyone has been so busy!  Much has happened here and there's more coming up.  I'll be back to share with you.  In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying a wonderful weekend.  (We're in the middle of a heatwave here.)  Stay cool.