Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hello 2019

Happy New Year.  We are, here at the farm, in the middle of a cold snap.  Today it is -12 with wind chills of -25 to -35.  The high is expected to stay below zero today but warm overnight.  Tomorrow should be better.  It sounds like a good day to stay in and catch up on some blogging.

The beginning of a new year is often associated with new starts and resolutions.  I have never been successful with resolutions but I am going to use today for some reflection and goal setting. 

2018 was a very challenging and discouraging year.  A lot of the challenges were out of my control but finding a better way to manage them is something that I need to learn to keep them from overwhelming me.  Last year I found myself running like a chicken with it's head cut off (is that a regional saying?) from one unfinished project to the next and one near disaster (okay that might be a little dramatic)  to the next.  Though I felt busy I sure didn't get stuff crossed of my list.

So here are a few thoughts on 2019.  I started following a blog a few years ago.  I found them by accident.  I saw a pin on Pinterest that was about dismantling a pallet.  I followed the link and found this garden/lifestyle blog.  The couple lived in town, but had a small acreage in the country and they were building, from scratch, a hobby farm.  I started using some of their garden ideas.  One of the things they have done every year since I started following them is to make a list of goals for the year. I think every year that is their first post of the new year. I tried one year to do the same and it was halfhearted at best--way too comprehensive and not realistic at all.   It was more like a brainstorming session where you list every single thing that comes to mind.  Here is a link to their blog

In the time that I have been following them they have built a house and moved to the farm, written two books, quit their day jobs and are about to embark on a year-long trip to visit each of the United States in a camper.   Well, maybe not Hawaii or Alaska in the camper.  I am going to create a list of goals for the year.

I tend to be a list maker but I don't always make good use of my lists.  Often it is a way to organize my thoughts, but once finished, never to be referred to again.  I recently read again about bullet journals.  I am going to give it a try.  All my stuff (goals and to-do lists) together in one place! The idea of a portable collection of all my lists is enticing but not very practical for me, who sees small print poorly.  I am starting my journal on the computer.  I can print individual pages if I should need portability.  I am going to take a week to gather my ideas and needs and then prioritize those into a hopefully achievable list of 12 goals.  One for each month.  Maybe the blog needs a bullet journal of its own. 

Thanks for visiting,


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Mother Nature puts on a show

Friday night it was foggy after dark.  Because it was cold the next morning our trees looked absolutely amazing.  This is not really unusual for Minnesota.  It happens a couple of times each winter but today's was particularly stunning.  I grabbed a few pictures but of course they do not do justice to the real thing. 
barn and pasture

North yard

The River Birch

The house is behind the big evergreen

The tree between the evergreen and driveway closeup below. 

different angle, the house roof and dormer is peeking out

East of the driveway and the orchard

Frost on each branch and trig of the tree west of the driveway

If you look closely you can see each longer blade of grass is coated
Of course, by the end of the day the frost was gone.  Much of it fell out of the tree with the gentle breezes and the rest was melted by the little bit of sun that we had.  Still it is fun to see.

Joining BNOTP here.

Friday, November 30, 2018

beeswax food wraps

In the summer I have a table at our local farmers market.  It is a small group of vendors and at one of the neighboring tables is a couple who have beehives and they sell their honey and beeswax along with garden produce.

I buy their honey and have bought their beeswax.  Besides cooking with the honey I put it in my honey and oatmeal soap.  I have used their beeswax to make candles and am considering pouring it into chocolate molds to make tree ornaments.

My most recent beeswax project was to make food wraps.  Food wraps are a reusable alternative to plastic wrap.  They can be used to wrap food or cover containers.  There are quite a few etsy sellers offering them for sale but I have not seen them locally in our often behind the times rural community.  When I mentioned them to my much trendier metropolitan daughter she said that she was wanting some and thinking of putting them on her Christmas list as they were a little pricey.  Prior to this they were barely on my radar but I did order the other ingredients and make some.  The farmers market season had ended but I did offer them for sale at a craft fair that I participated in the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Only one customer that stopped by had heard of them, having been given a set last year as a gift.  She said that she was still learning to use them.  There was some curiosity about them but, alas, no purchases.  It seems my kids will be getting some in their stockings this year.  :)  I will be using mine this winter so that I can share personal experiences with the customers at the market next year.

I do understand how they can be pricey.  The ingredients are kind of unusual and not available in stores around here.  Perhaps they could be found in a bigger metro area but I needed to order mine. I also had to purchase a lot more of the ingredients than I would need for a couple of batches of wraps.  The process is not hard but time consuming.  The melting of the ingredients involves the pine gum being melted first and then the beeswax being added to it and allowed to melt.  The jojoba oil goes in last and then when all are combined they are painted onto the fabric squares one at a time with a paintbrush and then since the mixture begins to harden as it cools the sheet is placed in a warm oven for a couple of minutes to soften the hardening beeswax mixture and brushed again.  A second sheet is added as a blotter for the first, they are turned over so the blotter is on the bottom and warmed again.  After another brushing to spread evenly the wax mix the first sheet is hung to dry and the process is repeated again with the blotter becoming the new first sheet and a second sheet becoming the new blotter.

drying on my pasta rack

When making my food wraps I used the instructions found here.

Shared with BNOTP here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A repurposed thrift store find

When I check out our local Goodwill or some of the other thrift stores I occasionally visit I tend to spend the majority of my time in the housewares section with a quick swing through the frames, the furniture and the fabric/linens.  Less frequently I peruse the books but I really need to be in the right mood for books unless it is a cookbook.

One of the things that I have been finding is drapes.  I have been grabbing them up to repurpose into reusable grocery or market bags.  I have been picking them up for cheap but haven't had too much time for sewing them until now.  So this week I did the first of the bags.  The drapery used for this bag is a pretty gray and cream buffalo check.  There were two narrow panels priced separately at $2.99 each.   I don't recall what I actually paid since I often have a coupon or a senior discount which are 25% off so it was probably less.  The fabric is a heavy home decor type fabric and the curtains are made with a blackout type lining that was attached on both of the side edges and the top edge and loose at the bottom hem.  Cutting across the panel I was able to use the side edge of the curtain for the top edge of the bag.  The second side edge was trimmed off and became the handles.  A little bit of thread and a couple of french seams on the sides and bottom and a couple more seams to box off the base and the bag was done.

Completely lined, the bag is sturdy and should hold a lot of stuff.  And the best part is that the each panel should make  two and one-half bags.  My mom loves buffalo check and hates plastic grocery bags so I am thinking that when I get the other four done I will see if she wants to use these when she does her shopping. 
The first finished bag

A fun quick project.

Shared with BNOTP here.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Jack's Gift

The first of my handcrafted gifts for this year is done. I shared in my previous post that I was hoping to restart a long neglected sewing hobby and this is one of my first projects.  My brother makes a killer cheesecake.  It is a little embarrassing.  I taught him to make cheesecake but his cheesecake is far superior to any that I have made even though he still uses the recipe that I gave him.  'Our' recipe uses a 10 inch diameter springform pan and this year for his gift I am giving him a smaller 6 inch diameter pan so that he can make cheesecake for a smaller crowd without having half a cake left over.  The handcrafted part of his gift is a pair of potholders with his recipe printed on them.

I had never printed on fabric before.  There are many methods out there on the web.  I used one where the fabric is attached to a piece of freezer paper cut to the size of typing paper and then it is run through the printer.  I prewashed my fabrics to remove any sizing and make sure that it wouldn't shrink when the finished project was laundered.  I double checked to make sure that my printer ink was compatible with printing on fabric.  I prepared my document so that it was the size that I wanted for the potholder and bolded the font to make it a little darker.

After I printed it I cut it to size and applied fusible interfacing to the back.  I then attached a single layer of cotton batting and the ticking fabric to make the pocket.  I made the potholder that the pocket was going to be attached to by sandwiching four layers of the same cotton batting between two layers of ticking.  The back ticking layer was cut larger so that it could be folded over the edges of the potholder and stitched on the front making a binding.  I sewed a few lines of quilting on the potholder then attached the pocket.  I attached a hanging loop in the left upper corner as I stitched the binding in place.  I am happy with the result.  I learned one method for printing on fabric.  My new sewing machine with the self threading feature allowed me to sew all I wanted without needing to get help when my needle came unthreaded.  And I have one gift done.

Sharing with BNOTP here.

Jack's cheesecake recipe is here.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


The farmers market season is over.  The garden has been put out of its misery by the onset of cold weather.  Thanksgiving is coming and I have a lot for which to be thankful.  I am a glass half full kind of girl and one of the things to be thankful for is that we get to start over again next year after a challenging this year.  I am thankful for new beginnings.  Very thankful.

After only posting one blog post all summer I am looking forward to seeing if I remember how.  I have a couple of ideas of things I could share.  I am probably a little late to the party but I made some beeswax food wraps.  My intention was to make them to sell at the holiday extravaganza that i had committed to having a table at.  My thought process went like this--if they didn't sell I could always put them in the kids' Christmas stockings or save any surplus for next year's market.  I only took one picture of the process, and that picture was of the finished wraps drying on my pasta rack.  That is not going to be a photo-laden post.

I have made a couple batches of homemade soap but I am eager to try another method of soap making and more recipes.

I am trying to restart an old sewing hobby.  My poor eyesight has made it pretty difficult to sew.  Threading the needle on the sewing machine was impossible.  I recently bought a different sewing machine, one that threads itself.   Additionally one of my favorite fabric stores closed this summer but before they did they had deep discounts on all of their fabrics.  I bought fabric for a duvet cover and curtains for my newly gray bedroom.  I bought fabric for table linens and throw pillows and linen bread bags and reusable grocery bags.  I have been watching youtube videos about making purses and bags and it looks like fun. 

I haven't added any recipes recently to my recipe blogs.  But this summer I took breads and scones and biscotti and fun jelly to the market.  I tried to expand my repertoire of gluten free offerings for the market, trying to make that my niche in our small group of vendors.  I bought some fun pasta making tools, wood ones for cutting pasta and ravioli and gnocchi that I should learn to use.  And vintage steamed pudding molds. 

I haven't done any tablescapes with any new to me dishes.  I could at least share some thrift store finds.

I haven't started the table that will hold my vintage sink that will be outside.  I have barely started to build the bar that will go in my chicken coop.  Both are outdoor projects that could see a little progress on a sunny winter day.

And...we have three weddings next fall!  So that will mean engagement parties and bridal showers  It is going to be so fun.  My niece wants vintage dishes used at her wedding so her mom and I are on the hunt for white china and brass candlesticks.  I have some.  Well, quite a bit, actually.  Her mom has some too, but more are needed.  We like to thrift so it is not like it will be a hardship to search out the additional place settings that she will need.     

Yep, it is going to be a good winter.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Finally a little update

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

Looking back on my last post on this blog there was still snow on the ground and now we have passed through spring and the first day of summer.  Blogging has taken a backseat to life.  Just about everything that could cause havoc in my life has given its best shot and I am still limping along.  I have lots of not yet finished projects.  The ones that I shared in the last post are still not finished but I am moving forward and they will eventually be crossed off my to do list. 

Still painting.  Still doing the window trim but I am enjoying my new windows. 

The maple sap season is done, and I have some syrup tucked away.  My new buckets worked pretty well. 

The lettuces and greens in the greenhouse are done until fall.  The plant starts for the summer garden for friends and family grew and have been delivered.  Lots of the big garden is planted and so far no rabbits have gotten in to sample anything.

The farmers market has started back up.  I missed the first day but have made it to three since then.  there are not a lot of vegetables available yet so the customer traffic has been a little light.   I am finding some new gluten free recipes and so my repertoire is slowly expanding.  No one else in our small market is doing gluten free so I am hoping to fill a need.

I have been trying to add some perennial fruit to the farm each year.  The fruit that I ordered this year arrived and was planted.  They were bare root and all are getting new growth.  This year's additions are an apple tree, two peach trees, 12 grape vines and four blueberries.   

Libby, the new puppy is growing like a weed.  She still plays in the water and is muddy everyday.  She has a innate ability to find water.  Leaky hose--she will find it.  Puddle at the end of the sump pump hose--finds that too.  When we weren't getting rain and I was spending a lot of time watering she was my constant companion, drinking from the hose and splashing in the water, Now that Mother Nature is helping out with lots and lots of rain she finds all the low spots with the standing water.

It has taken two days to get this little update done and there aren't even any pictures.  Such is the story of my life right now.  Thanks for visiting.