Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ruche TV.

Winter Lookbook 2011 - so romantic. At the end I bet you'll say "awwwwwwwww" like I did. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Reflections - And The "Flaming Cheesecake" Episode

I really. really! despise how our Thanksgiving holiday has been overshadowed by "Black Friday" and even by Christmas itself. It seems like poor Thanksgiving just kind of gets shoved into the shadow of great deals on flat screen TVs, laptops for $200, and the like.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday; and it's a holiday specifically designated for reflecting on the blessings in our lives and for giving thanks for all the good things we enjoy.

Instead, many people just thing of it as a shopping holiday. And this makes me very sad.

I really do reflect on our blessing at Thanksgiving (and other days of the year too of course). I really treasure my husband, families, home, provision, freedom, and the peace and satisfaction I have with my life.

Plan A for Kevin and I this year was going to his hometown in Michigan to help his mom move into her newly renovated home; but the plan was nixed when she didn't get her occupancy permit in time for us to make the trip up. Ironically enough, she got it the Wednesday before.

Plan B was Thanksgiving with my Mom and Dad, who live locally. My sister Noelle was in from University for the weekend, and we got together on Wednesday to bake.


For me, Thanksgiving baking seems to always entail some disaster, accident, and general failure for some reason. I can bake successfully any other day or Holiday in the year with ease and success, but Thanksgiving has really started to be an issue for me. (You can read about my Pumpkin Pie failures here.)

This year was no different.

My sister came over for the baking: two pumpkin pies, a chocolate pecan pie, and a pumpkin cheesecake.

I made my pie crusts (I always make my own; they taste better) and filled my pies; and the darned pumpkin pies came out with black spots on the top. Drat.
So then we whipped up the pumpkin cheesecake, and that went in last. 10 minutes into the baking time, I went in to the kitchen to get some tea, when I noticed smoke billowing out of the burners on the stove. I opened the oven door and saw more smoke and FLAMES!

I yelled to Noelle that the oven was on fire, while I grabbed my oven mitts to rescue my cheesecake from the fire. I suppose I didn't even think about the fact that the flames could have caught the mitts on fire and burned me when I reached into the oven inferno to grab that pumpkin cheesecake. I snatched it out and plopped it on the counter.

Noelle had run out into the yard to get some dirt - but there was no shovel or bucket within reach so that wasn't going to work. Meanwhile somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered reading that you can use baking soda to put out grease fires so I grabbed the baking soda from the pantry and started tossing it into the oven. The flames went right out; and Noelle and I were standing there coughing and sputtering in disbelief.

She took the cheesecake home and finished baking it in Mom's oven, while I cleaned up the mess in mine.

Kevin got home and took one look at the whole mess, and me in it, and immediately said we were going to dinner and oven shopping. Which was really nice.

The cheesecake turned out fine, despite the filling slopping out all over the box I had sent it home in with Noelle. She and Mom scooped the slopped filling back into the crust to finish baking it. It certainly didn't look like Paula Deen's version on the Food Network. But it tasted heavenly - a new favorite!

Despite the fact that I hate the way Black Friday gobbles up Thanksgiving's attention, I was bored and lonely the day after Thanksgiving (Kevin had to work) so Noelle and I decided to go to town mid afternoon and see the damage....and believe it or not, it was like any other day of the week.
There was no heavy traffic; and there was no debris in the stores from the fighting masses of shoppers thundering through to get x-boxes and Wiis; there were no angry throngs of people shoving and pushing their way through the isles. We went to Sam's club and looked at books, and didn't buy anything. All we did was buy ice cream in the snack bar.
Then we went to The Gingerbread House (a favorite of mine - a small local shop full of floral decor, gifts, gourmet food, and general loveliness)and sniffed the Yankee candles, and ogled over their new accessories department, and I was greatly inspired by the Christmas decor! I fell in love with some cable knit sweater Christmas stockings.... so we went to the Goodwill nearby where I bought a couple of funky old sweaters to try my hand at making some myself. I did leave there with a few Yankee votives to try, and a few other little things from their cooking and baking gadget section. Maybe if I buy more cooking and baking gadgets, my Thanksgiving baking failures will stop. Heh heh. Not likely...

We rented a movie from the Red Box, and we went right back home to Mom and Dad's for leftover turkey dinners. And that was the extent of my participation in "Black Friday".

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rag Balls

I saw rag balls on Etsy, and I knew I could do that, too. (No offense to sellers of rag balls on Etsy; it's just that some things I like the satisfaction of making myself. Jewelry? Nope. But rag balls, I can handle.)

This is the time of year where I get into crafting things. Mostly Christmas things. I think I get it from my Grandmother and from my Mom; they engrained crafting and cooking into me from the time I was quite young. Now, every Nov. - Dec, the kid in me wants to make cool stuff, and bake 100s of dozens of cookies.

So I had a good idea of how to do it, but I checked on line for a tutorial and found one at The Feathered Nest. If you want to do this too, I suggest checking out the tutorial.

I used an old raggedy shirt of my husband's. I didn't want to donate a threadbare rag to Goodwill, nor did I want to throw it out; so I re-purposed it into home decor.






I did these with a metal loop for hanging. You don't have to; if you just want rag balls sitting in a basket or bowl someplace.
They'd be cute in Christmas-y colors, hanging on the tree, too.
I also have ideas for other colors - actually, non-colored: I plan on doing some in tea dyed linen with lace trims and pretty ribbons.

Well, I am off to do my Thanksgiving baking now! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and be safe on Black Friday (if you go out into the fracas).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pickup Truck Adventures Part 3

As I said, I got a lot of interest in my truck. And when the truck was at the shop, the mechanic that worked on it fell in love with it. So when I got it back it came with an offer: he wanted to trade my truck for his truck, straight up.
His was a Ford F 150, newer, higher up off the ground, and more efficient on gas.
Dad and Mom said I could decide; so I had Kevin (we were engaged at that point) look at it before I committed.

I ended up with the newer truck, and I really did love that truck - my first Ford.
Nothing awful happened to me in the Green truck. (It was a lovely forest green.) By this point I was becoming a more seasoned, experienced driver. In fact, one cold winter morning I slid across an icy bridge on my way to feed horses, and remembered how to stay in control when sliding on ice. I made it across the bridge - and stayed calm the whole time.

When I got married, I left the green truck with my parents, and started driving Kevin's bigger Ford F-250. It is now more my truck than it ever was his. I love that truck. I feel safe in it. It has never let me down; it has never broken down; it is just a great all around truck. I rely on it. It's a 3/4 ton truck, with 4 wheel drive, so I can go pretty much anywhere in it, on the road or off. Thick mud, driving rain, slick ice, deep snow.... none of it fazes me when I am driving my Ford.

The green Ford was passed to my brother, and he drove it to it's death. It then sat in my parent's driveway for a few months, while Dad contemplated fixing it. Then one day this past summer, I was at their house during a thunderstorm, when I huge gust of wind blew over a huge tree in their yard; and as I stood there watching, before I could even yell "Uh, HEY! Daaaaad........" the tree fell right across the bed of the truck with a thunderous crash.

"Well, I guess I'm not going to fix it," Dad said when he came out to the yard with me.

My current truck is not without it's own little adventure tales. For one thing, I had to learn how to drive a 20-ft. flatbed gooseneck trailer, loaded down with 350 bales of hay, in that truck. And I have done it many times, without taking out a single mailbox or signpost. I will never forget my husband proudly bragging to someone that I had "loaded the hay, strapped it down, and brought it on home" all by myself. He was impressed. And I was happy to have impressed him with my hay stacking and strapping, and trailer driving skills. He is hard to impress.

In the second summer after our marriage, I was in the process of cleaning out some small barns and outbuildings on the farm. One barn was chock full of glass jars that took me over a week to sort out. I had several boxes of gallon size jars in boxes in the back of the truck, and I was going to back up to another building nearby and deposit all of the boxes in there for storage.
Parked all around the entrance to the bigger barn were various pieces of tillage equipment and other tractor accessories. There was a clear path to the door, so I eased the truck towards it.
My sister Noelle was riding in the passenger seat and just as she said "'re getting awfully close to...." There was a sccccrraaaaape at the door followed by a huge explosion. We both screamed and jumped. I leaped out of the truck and ran around the side to find I had gouged the paint on the door for about 6 inches, and I had backed into the blade of a plow I had not seen because it was covered with tall grass. The blade had sliced right into the thick 10-ply tire wall. On the brand new tire we had just had put on. And tires on this truck cost about $200 apice.
Kevin was standing in the driveway shaking his head in disbelief. I was terrified he'd be very angry with me; but all he said was, "It's nothing but a thing." (What is that supposed to mean, anyway? Nothing but a "thing"?)
I personally took the truck back to the tire company and had another one installed, and endured the jokes and jabs of the owner and the other employees, when I confessed that I had run over a plow blade with it.

Then last year, we were hauling two of our horses in the trailer on a one-lane road in the middle of nowhere when we topped a hill and the first thing we saw was another pickup truck headed straight for us. Kevin dove for the ditch and the other truck crashed into the front left quarter panel. Kevin said some not nice words as he threw open the door and thundered down the road to confront the other driver, while I checked the horses. The horse in the back was ok; but the horse in the front of the trailer had a cut over his eye. Just superficial, though.
It was one of the most scary things I have ever lived through. Watching as another vehicle heads straight for you and then crashes into you seconds later... and hauling horses just made the whole thing more terrifying. Horse trailering accidents are ..... bad. We were spared.
We got everything fixed as good as new, though; and so far there have been no more incidents in the truck.

I can tell you one thing: trucks are fun. And I look forward to many more years of having truck adventures.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pickup Truck Adventures, Part 2.

So after the demise of my silver Mitsubishi truck because I was foolish and never checked the oil in it, I had to drive my parent's vehicles around for a while, until they bought me yet another truck.


This time, we bought our friend/farrier's (farrier = blacksmith. Horse-shoer.He trims our horse's feet and puts shoes on them...) old truck. This truck was a classic. It was one of those older model Chevy trucks, and they had tricked it out. Candy apple red paint job; the shiny metallic candy apple red. All kinds of little bells and whistles. Lowered down a few inches. His daughter Mandy had driven it in high school and they were selling it because she was working in town and needed something better on gas. So I ended up with it.
I used to get so much (unwanted) attention in that truck.... gas pumps, bank line, parking lots at stores... truck lovers would ask me all kinds of questions about it; including if it was for sale. And it wasn't. I think my Dad loved the truck more than me, in fact. He loves classic vehicles.

Once, I drove through a gateway at the farm and scraped the door. Dad was so upset... not mad, just upset. So he took it to a body shop and had them buff the scrape out and wax it that same week.

One day, I jumped in the truck and headed off to the feed store in town. Leaving town, there is a long, gradually inclining hill. I was driving up that hill when suddenly there was a loud clanging and thudding noise and the truck just quit right there in the middle of four lanes of traffic. I got as far over to the side of the road as I could, and put it in park so I could find my phone and call home for rescue. But when I took my foot off the brake.... the truck started rolling backwards down the hill into oncoming traffic. I stomped on the brake as hard as I could and scrambled for my phone. I called up and Dad was there!
"Dad!" I said. "Something happened and the truck just quit and it's rolling down the hill even in park!"
My parent's house is about 25 minutes from town, and the whole time I was waiting I was pressing my foot as hard as I could on the brake. After a little while my leg stated getting tired, and I was switching feet on the brake pedal, hoping I didn't loose all my strength, sending me rolling backwards down the hill into all that traffic.
Before Dad got there, some other guys stopped, because they thought I was ill or something. I explained that If I took my foot off the brake pedal at all the truck rolled back, so one guy took a look underneath my truck, and made several loud exclamations. He said my drive shaft had broken at the universal joint and was wrapped around my new exhaust system I had just paid to have installed. Which explained the rolling .... even in park. It was an older truck, after all. None of today's high tech safety stuff.
A policeman showed up; for which I was grateful. I was beginning to wonder if someone was going to run over me, sitting in the middle of traffic like that. With Popo there maybe I wouldn't get run over after all.
Dad and mom came, and Dad called for a roll back tow truck. Then I very carefully slid out of the driver's seat while Dad slid in, so there was no rolling backwards. The policeman and the other guys that had stopped pushed the truck the rest of the way up the hill. The truck got towed to a shop and eventually they found a part (apparently it can be hard to find parts for classic trucks).

When I finally got the truck back, it came with an offer.........

Pickup Truck Adventures, Part 1

We recently bought a new (used) car, for gas-saving purposes. For me, it was my first car.

Yep. All my vehicles, previously, were trucks.

I started driving late; I think I was in my very early 20s when I got my driver's license. I was terrified of driving; and was convinced I was going to end up a statistic in a Reader's Digest article about young people and traffic deaths. And I was bad at driving. It took me three or four tries to get my license, because I would get nervous when taking my driving test and mess up.

I have wonderful and generous parents who gave me my first vehicle to drive: a late 80s model Mitsubishi truck; one of those tiny little things. At the time I was teaching riding on our farm full-time, and working on another horse farm as well; so a truck was the most practical choice for me. It was silver, and it has no power steering. I got a great upper arm workout driving that truck.
It wasn't expensive, cute, or flashy; but it became apparent that my parents had made a wise choice in giving me this old truck, because even in my early 20s, I had the typical first-time driver / vehicle owner scrapes.

The first heart-pounding scrape of my driving career was with this truck. I had been watching a neighbor's cats, and one evening, I took my 18 year old brother with me to her house to feed them. The neighbor lived on top of a sloping hill, and I parked my truck on the quiet, one lane street that sloped downhill from there. At the bottom of the hill, the street ended abruptly next to some trees and a creek with steep banks.

You can tell where this is going, right? Heeheeheeee............

I parked, we got out, and started heading up the beck steps, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the truck start rolling. We both took off running as the truck rolled down the street, headed straight for my neighbor's new SUV! Apparently I had not put the truck in park; or I had not done it all the way and it slipped out of park. My athletic, soccer champion brother took a huge risk to his safety and jumped in between the vehicles just as they were about to collide, stuck his hand in the window, grabbed the wheel and steered my truck away from the SUV with inches between them. The truck instead scraped by a utility trailer that was parked behind the SUV, and ripped off the trailer light.

But the truck kept rolling as the hill got steeper, and my brother was running after it with everything he could muster, me not far behind. the truck went about a block and just as it went to crash into a wooden fence containing some goats and a mare and foal, my brother wrenched open the door, jumped into the driver's seat and stomped on the emergency brake.

The driver's side door was gouged; but the side of my brother's face was cut and bleeding all over the place from his close scrape between the vehicles, and his arm was bruised and sore as well. He had been somewhat crushed as the two vehicles had brushed by each other. We drove home (just down the street a few blocks) and confessed to my parents. I remember my Mom scolding my brother for risking his life jumping between the vehicles. She stressed that "it could have been much worse than just a cut and scraped head; he could have been run over and crushed; we should have just let the truck go and crash into the creek; the truck was replaceable; think of how close that was...!" And of course she was right. I felt really guilty as she drove off with him to the ER. (He was bruised, scraped, and cut, but was ok.)

I drove the truck for several months after that, and up until I killed it. Yep, I killed it. I was driving to a student's house one day to give her a riding lesson on her horse, and as I was headed up a tall hill on the highway that went through a huge game preserve in the county, it chugged, sputtered, clanked, and then..... stopped. I got it parked next to the road. No signal on my cell. Stranded on a barren 2-lane in the middle of a game preserve. Yay. I hopped out and walked up the road a little ways until I got some signal on my phone; and got Mom on her cell. She was pretty far from me, picking up my sister and brother from their high school debate club. I'd simply have to wait. And wait I did, for an hour. Mom showed up, followed by a tow truck. The tow truck driver looked under the hood and said "Yep. Motor's froze up". Mom looked at me and said, "Have you been checking your oil?" Of course I had not. I had never opened the hood. I assumed my Dad was doing it for me. The truck was destroyed; we sold it to the scrap people; and I had to borrow my parent's vehicles for a while.

My truck adventures were just getting started, however..........

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vintage Kitchen Utensil Stash.

I popped in a local charity's thrift shop and they had a box of jumbled up old kitchen stuff; it looked like someone just dumped out all their kitchen drawers into a box and donated it. I LOVE that! It's not the first time I have encountered boxes of dumped out kitchen drawer contents.

So I found these old 40s - 50s wooden handled utensils.




I think this thingy (above) is some kind of noodle, or pastry cutter. But I am not real sure.

I got each of them for $1!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tea Dyed Lace

I love the "tea dyed" look of certain fabrics; especially laces and linens. Tea dying is a way of artificially aging textiles, and I have done it on several occasions.
Of course, some items are just naturally aged, and have the tea-dyed look. It is basically a brown-ish hue; or kind of a real life "sepia". Ecru. Off white. Ivory.

I just call it all tea-dyed.

You can age a white garment or linen - or any textile - by brewing a good pot or two of black tea and dipping and soaking the item in the tea; then drying it. Instant "age".

A hat box of my great Grandmother's lace scraps from the turn of the century - 20s. One of my most treasured possessions.


More laces from my Great Grandmother; except I organized these into bundles, and display them in a wooden tray.

Blouses in my closet:






100% Silk. I love this blouse. It's my "Downton Abbey Blouse".

This Gunne Sax Blouse is for sale here.




I salvaged these old ruffled cuffs from the hat box of linens and lace from my Great Grandmother, and sewed them into a new, but vintage styled, Levi's jacket. It gives a little vintage femininity to an otherwise masculine-inspired garment. I wear it all the time.

This vintage lace bustier/corset is for sale here.

This vintage wedding dress is for sale here.

To me, nothing says vintage romance like tea dyed lace.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ruche Holiday Guide Feature!!

I am so thrilled and excited that my recipe and photo were chosen to be featured in the Ruche Homemade Holiday Guide. You can see the recipe (and photo) HERE. There is a lot of cool stuff in there!

I am so excited and thrilled! Thank you, Ruche!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Views From Our Farm

We finally got Fall here. One day it was 70 degrees out and I was picking green beans and canning tomatoes. The next day it was 40 degrees and we cut firewood.


Most of the leaves are finally changing but there are still green ones too. And not many have come down yet.


Our pond from the top of the hill

Our pond from the bottom of the hill



Corn Dog. Heehee..........


The pumpkins are finally ripe and just in time, as the frost got the leaves. Next year we're planning a large pumpkin patch for selling to the public (hay rides, mums, the whole nine yards) so we planted these to get a better idea of exactly how long they take to mature.


Bears discovered the pumpkin patch also; and dug their claws into these, then decided they weren't as tasty as they originally imagined.



(Yep, that's a gun in the photo; when we started getting bear activity on the farm Kevin said I had to carry one when I walked on the place, just in case a bear came after me or Dodge. No one is hunting bears here....)