Thursday, April 30, 2015

trees vs. deer

My husband used to keep his two horses here on our property. They kept the grass in the back field pretty well eaten down except for a few weeds they didn't like.

We never tried to plant any trees back there because the horses needed as much grass as possible to eat... and they would have just eaten down the trees anyway.

In the past few years I have put in a few small trees...but now the problem is with the deer wanting to eat them.

I have found a sort of a solution for the smallest trees with these Tubex Tree Shelters .

They are sold as a kit, with the tube and a wooden stake to drive into the ground and zip ties to hold it together. The trees I have in these tubes are doing well and they are safe for now.

When those trees outgrow the tubes I will make a surround like I've done for some of the other trees, I strung up a circle of plastic mesh stapled to tobacco stakes driven into the ground. It's homely looking but so far it's working.
This Catalpa tree has pretty much outgrown the enclosure!  I grew this from a seed from a tree at my younger son's house.

Once before, I removed the mesh from around this Sequoia. It was fine for months then one day a deer just bit off all the branches. Didn't eat them...just dropped them on the ground. The tree recovered and now I think I am ready to take the mesh off again. I can't keep it fenced in forever...that's not a pleasant sight! 

I grew that one from a seed, too.  The seed was from an old tree in front of a restaurant in Tennessee. My husband had picked up a cone and brought it home.  I tried planting the seeds and they sprouted surprisingly easy.

Maybe I will take the mesh off for now but put it back up for the winter...when the deer are hungrier.

Of course if the deer really wanted to eat this tree, that little mesh fence wouldn't stop them.  
Maybe it looks scary to a trap. Or it's just more trouble than they want to go through for a bite of tree.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

hummingbirds are back

Just like last spring, I saw a hummingbird before I had the feeder up.

I was at the kitchen window Sunday and saw a male hummingbird looking around at the stuff I have planted near the lilac bush. Nothing was blooming there so he didn't linger around long.

I hurried and made some sugar water and got the feeder filled and hanging.

About two hours later...there he was. He must have been exhausted because he just perched there eating for awhile.

Can you see him? On this side of the feeder with his back to us.

It just fills me with amazement that these tiny birds migrate thousands of miles and are able to find their way back.  This bird certainly must have been here last year to feel so relaxed at this feeder so quickly.

The next day I noticed another male had shown up too. They have been chasing and dive bombing each other.  I wish they would play nice and share!

Monday, April 27, 2015

six ears for two dollars

Kroger was advertising fresh corn on the cob this week...six ears for two dollars.  I put it on my grocery list and decided to have a "summer foods" meal for Sunday dinner.

I like to shuck the corn and roast it in the oven.
For this method, place your ears on a baking sheet and drizzle them generously with olive oil (ears of corn, that is).
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for roughly 20 minutes...shake the pan once or twice to roll your ears around.

You might notice your ears turning a bit brown in places. That's okay, it adds to the flavor.
Have butter and salt on the table for everyone to smear on their ears if they want to. 

We had corn on the cob with baked beans, assorted sausages with sauteed peppers and onions,  broccoli casserole, and potato salad (recipe here).  Apple pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

It was a nice change from the winter menus I've been cycling through.  
The corn was good. We were wondering where it might have been harvested this time of year.
Florida maybe?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

pollen protection

I thought I had some dust masks in the basement...the kind you might wear if you are sanding floors. I couldn't find them, though.
That's the way it is. You hang on to something for years but then when you need it, it's nowhere to be found.!

I wanted to wear something over my nose and mouth to filter out some dust and pollen while I mowed the grass. I ended up with this,,,,

It's a stretchy tubular headscarf. It fit snug enough to stay in place without smashing my face.
I believe it helped out some.  The downside is that I will have some unusual suntan lines!

Friday, April 24, 2015

progress on baby quilt

Yesterday, I didn't want to go outside and do any yard work..I think the pollen in the air out there is trying to kill me!
Maybe the windy days have stirred up a lot of pollen...something is different. I've been coughing and sneezing and going through tissues like there's no tomorrow! Normally I am not affected like this.

But I had a productive evening indoors and got all these squares sewn together for a baby quilt. I haven't given it a final pressing, yet.

It's going to have to be a bit wider and longer so I will be adding borders,  I was hoping to have enough of that dark blue background for an outer border with a red narrow border inside.
But, I don't have enough of either of those fabrics to do that.

I have plenty of yellow and also enough of the lighter blue checked fabric...but I'm not real happy  with those two for aa border.

Here is that combination laying beside the top (Along the bottom of the picture).

It's okay but not great. I need one of those stronger colors for borders.

I could probably find more of the dark blue print at the store.  A half yard would do it.

I will keep thinking about it but for now the grass must be mowed.
Wonder if I could wear a diving mask an oxygen tank on the riding mower? (to keep out the pollen, ha ha!)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Granny's granny squares

This Granny Square afghan was crocheted by my mother's mother, Aurora Ersel S.
She crocheted it about mid 1960's. I remember thinking how beautiful it was when she made it.

 I am guessing it was a kit, because all the colors seem to be the same type of yarn.
I brought it home from my mother's house to re-sew some areas where the thread that attaches the squares together had broken or come loose (regular sewing thread).

It's kind of an honor to work on her project and get it back in good shape. 
She taught me to crochet when I was about nine.  I am afraid I was an impatient student and once I had the basic idea I just wanted to crochet ! I never learned to hold my yarn exactly right and didn't even recognize that "neatness counts".  

Here is a close up of one of her squares...nice even, tidy stitches.

In the early 1970's she crocheted shawls for her daughters and granddaughters...and then decided to make us all an afghan as well.  She bought a couple of kits and then made others from the same pattern...but we each got to choose our own colors.

I chose pink, blue and purple...

I still like that combination and to me it looks fresh and modern even though it's 40 years old.

this looks complicated!

I still have the instruction sheet that my Granny gave me from one of the kits. 

There are instructions for three different crocheted  afghans on the back..  Even though there are plenty of free patterns on  the internet, it would be fun use these instructions to crochet an afghan one of these days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ticks - ick!

This is the second tick I have found crawling on me this week! Not stuck on yet...just crawling around looking for the right spot to bite.
We always have a big debate about how to get a tick off once he has really latched on.  Some people say to burn them with a match, put alcohol on them, cover with duct tape to smother them.
To me, the best and quickest way is just to grab them and pull them out.  Bam...done!

But it's a lovely time of year so we can't let the ticks make us stay inside. This is the view from my kitchen window... 

That's a dwarf apple tree blooming so pretty, and behind and to the left is another apple tree. With the wind and rain we're having the blooms won't last long.

Over to the left is a Lilac bush. It has such sweet smelling flowers...especially in the evening.

Yellow Iris are blooming, The purple ones bloom a bit later. 

And Red Tulips...for some reason they are coming up under the Filbert tree. I know I didn't plant them there. I think the squirrels move my bulbs around when I'm not looking!

See all that Creeping Charlie trying to take over that flower bed?  I have read online about ways to get rid of it. It can be a real challenge. I've just been pulling it out. Trying to get roots and all.  I will try this for awhile before I resort to trying to poison it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

pumpkin roll

I was so worried that I would mess up on the Sunday dinner dessert again this week. Two weeks ago is when I dumped the cake in the floor. Last week, I made Chocolate Chip cookies and got mixed up and added too much flour, then tried to make adjustments to overcome that and ended up with very buttery cookies.  Everyone liked them like that though, and said I should always make them that way!

This week everything went fine, thank goodness. I made a Pumpkin Roll.

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese,softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs for 5 minutes. Blend in sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder,salt and spices. Fold this into pumpkin mixture.

Spread batter evenly in a well greased and floured jelly roll pan (or a large cookie sheet with sides).

Bake 9 to 12 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Allow to cool slightly, then turn the cake out on a sheet of waxed paper...very carefully!

While the cake is still warm, gently roll it up together with the waxed paper...starting at one of the short sides.

The waxed paper will be rolled up with the cake. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling by blending the powdered sugar with cream cheese, butter and vanilla.
When cake is cool, gently unroll it. Spread the filling completely over the top, the sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Now re-roll the cake starting at the same side, as tightly as possible.  Of course this time you do not roll the wax paper up with it!

Place the roll seam side down on a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar. Refrigerate until serving time.

Cut in slices to serve.

Well, I just now noticed the dusted on powdered sugar dissolved into the cake while I wasn't looking!
I guess you'd have to dust right before serving to avoid that.

 This recipe came from a lady named Martha, who brought a Pumpkin Roll in to work to share...back in the late 1980s!  It has been one of my favorite desserts ever since.
Her original instructions said to roll the cake in a clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.  The waxed paper works better, in my opinion, it holds the moisture in the cake...and not as messy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

my new toy

Actually it's only new to me!  It's a Singer 221 Featherweight sewing machine...manufactured in 1948.

Ever since I started quilting, I have noticed a few quilters using these as their portable machine to take for classes and group sewing days.  
It really is a light weight machine..only eleven pounds. It's very small.  So cute!

After seeing stuff on the internet from quilters who love and praise these little antique machines, I started looking up more information on them.  The Singer Company produced over 3 million of them from 1933 to it's not hard to find one...especially when you look on ebay...and it's late at night and your husband is out of town.  It's so easy to click that "Buy it Now" button!

It's perfect for doing patchwork because it only does a straight stitch, and the stitches are neat and perfect!

The foot pedal almost looks like it's missing something, maybe a cover? But it works fine.

This machine came with it's carrying/storage case and a couple of feet and plenty of bobbins.  Also some spools of thread were in there.

There wasn't a manual with it, but I easily found it on the internet and just printed it out.

I needed it for the threading instructions. I was surprised that the needle gets threaded from right to left. I think every other machine I've used it's left to right, so I assumed all were like that.

It's going to take some getting used to, so I'm going to be using it to finish up some blocks for a baby quilt...all the while imagining who else has sewn with this machine through the years and what they might have made.

Friday, April 17, 2015

what I've been reading

I've been reading "Slipstream" a memoir by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Elizabeth Jane Howard was the author of a series of  fictional books, about the Cazalet family, that I read recently and really enjoyed.
When I looked on Amazon for more of her books, I saw this memoir, which is no longer in print, but used copies could be ordered...from England!  I was surprised to see the shipping costs were no higher than if I had ordered from a US location.

But...back to the book.  Almost from the beginning pages I started realizing that the characters in Ms Howard's fictional books were based on many of her family members and her own life experiences.

Born in 1923, the author grew up in a well-to-do family, living in central London. The sort of family that had nannies and a chauffeur.  Her parents were loving but were absent much of the time with travel and social activities.

World War II broke out when Ms Howard was a teenager. She has a lot of interesting to say about how life changed for every one in England...rationing, air raid sirens, family members going away to war, and children sent to live in the country or to the US.

After boarding school, Ms Howard enrolled in a theatre school to follow her dream of becoming an actress. During this time she met the man who would become her first husband and the father of her only child.

Actress, playwright, model, magazine editor, the author recounts her experiences in all of these career areas. There is a lot of name dropping of famous people she becomes friends with...but they are not names I recognize since they are famous in England.

There  are more boyfriends and husbands, traveling, changing houses...she is just telling the story of her life as she looks back on it in this book written in 1998-2000.

I admire this author and enjoy her writing. She ended this autobiography with thoughts on failing health and growing older...but with a positive attitude...

"I don't want to live my life with any sort of retirement, with nostalgia and regret wrapped round me like a wet blanket. I want to live enquiringly, with curiosity and interest for the rest of my life"

Elizabeth Jane Howard died  at the age of 90 in 2014.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

what else can break?

One evening earlier this week we were watching TV when we heard a loud "POP"...then the TV went dark.
 We could still hear the sound that was a clue as to what the problem might be.

I dug out the manual for the TV and handed it to my older son, who happened to be here.  Then I went upstairs to bring down another small TV so we could see the rest of the show we were watching.

Before I even finished hooking up the small TV, Chopper had diagnosed the problem and went online and ordered the part to fix it (and paid for it - including express delivery)!

Two days later we had the part.

It is a "lamp".  It was so easy to replace...just loosen 3 screws in the back...pull the old lamp out by the handle, and plug in the new one.

I am so glad Chopper was here and realized this was fixable and inexpensive.  
We've had this TV since 2008, so we probably would have assumed it was time for a new one, since it seems like things are made to be replaced rather than repaired these days.

Look! As good as new and maybe even a bit brighter than it had been.

Back to watching more "Top Gear" on Netflix!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

let's talk tuna

It seems like the quality of canned tuna keeps going down hill.

The chunk tuna that I used to use all of the time got to where it was just tuna shreds floating in I switched to Albacore tuna. After awhile the quality seemed to drop on that as well.
The tuna in pouches is nice but so much more expensive.

I tried ordering this Genova Tonno tuna from's good!

It comes in a 24 can pack. It has a long shelf life so it's a good thing to stock up on...something to have on hand in case you get snowed in...or if the electric is out and you can't cook anything.

You can actually see nice meaty tuna when you open the can.

One drawback is that it's packed in oil (Olive oil). But of course you can drain most of that off  to get rid of some fat and calories. 

The first time I ordered this tuna, three of the cans were deeply dented. I notified Amazon and they gave me a refund on the dented cans.  My next order arrived in good shape, so that first one must have been roughly handled.

Well, time to make tuna salad...with chopped dill pickles and eggs and Miracle Whip.

Monday, April 13, 2015

not again!

Below, you will see a picture of a broken mower belt...

When it finally quit raining long enough to get the grass cut - that's what happened.

It's so ridiculous because we had the mower in the shop late last summer with a lot of work done on it.   You might think they would have noticed that this belt had nicks in it...quite a few.
 It should have been replaced then (when I ran over the water meter cover by accident and broke a different belt).
This time I didn't run over anything. It just broke.

I like mowing but I am tired of all this lawn mower bad juju.

I did get quite a bit finished, though.

Some areas were still to wet and soggy to drive that heavy mower over.  It will get stuck!

The good news is that it started right up after sitting all winter!  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

tent caterpillars

Every spring we get Tent Caterpillar webs in our Crabapple trees...right at the time the trees are beginning to bloom and look their best.

The blooms are so pretty, although they never seem to cover the whole tree.

This is what the webs look like...

We have tried a lot of things to get rid if the caterpillar webs. One time my husband even tried burning them...not recommended!

It seems like the best thing to do is to try to find the nests before the caterpillars get very big, and break open the web with a stick or a rake.  Knock the caterpillars and webbing down. 
I believe they can't survive cool nights if they aren't bundled up together in their nests.

Sometimes they are just too high to reach and they hang there looking ugly for months.

But on to more pleasant things...more blooms around the yard...

The pear trees are blooming.

This is something I just put in last year, a Mahonia. Two plants actually.  It looks like they have had a rough winter but I love these yellow blooms!

This is also new. Bought last fall from the marked-down rack at Lowes.  It is a Flowering Quince.
Normally, I won't plant anything with it had better put on a good show to earn it's keep!

This is a bloom of a Sassafras tree. Usually they are so high up in  the tree you can't see them. i was able to pull a branch down a little on this small tree to get a photo.

And the Redbud trees are blooming.  We have a couple of them in the yard but I like to see the wild ones along the edge of the woods. They look so bright and pretty against the still bare branches of the other trees.

I feel like I have to go out and look around nearly every day to see what's waking up next. It happens so amazingly fast!