Sunday, July 28

Two Cookie Recipes For Sharing

This weekend, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  We were invited to a hog roast, and had to bring two side dishes to share.  I love doing things like this--it gives me a great excuse to do a lot of baking!  I love baking, but don't get to do large amounts because, well, it's just the two of us, and if I try to give away baked goods to friends and neighbors anymore, they usually don't want them.  Everyone is either on a fad diet or trying to avoid certain foods/food groups.  Remember the good old days, when women had cookie exchanges at Christmas, and you could always get rid of extra cookies by sending them to work with your husband for his co-workers to eat?  Those were good times.  But I digress.

The reason I mention all of this is because I came across two great cookie recipes for just this purpose, and after trying the recipes, I wanted to share them.  I can't take credit for them, and there are so many versions of these floating around in Interspace, but I can tell you the two recipes I tried were delicious!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles (click on the title for the recipe that I used)
These are a great cookie, and especially good in the fall.  I will mention, though, that I used more cinnamon and spices than this recipe calls for, because I love fall spices.  They taste a little like pumpkin pie, but have the look of a snickerdoodle.  Mmmmmm.

Chocolate-Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies (click on the title for the recipe that I used)
These cookies are good--they have a slightly different texture than your run-of-the-mill CCCs, but are still very tasty.  They stay soft even after several days, thanks to the instant pudding.

I also made a giant pan of my mom's baked beans.  It was a rainy day here, so it was great baking weather!

Thursday, July 25

More Than I Can Chew

Update: Thanks to Adorned From Above for featuring this post in their blog hop (#62)!

Yes, I've bitten off more than I can chew.  I do it often.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Please, please tell me I'm not the only one.

The problem is that my brain works a lot faster than my body.  I'm not an old hen, but I'm also not a spring chicken, either.  My mind comes up with all kinds of ideas that my body just can't keep up with.

Here is one project that has yet to be touched:  a simple mantle runner.  Just one yard of homespun fabric.  All I have to do is cut it in half lengthwise and sew it all closed.  It would take me about 20 minutes to make.  No batting, no quilting, nothing that is even remotely complicated.  But it's not done.  It's just staring at me, laughing.
Another project: produce bags for grocery shopping.  I thought it would be a great idea to get some mesh fabric and make some produce bags for the store, instead of using the plastic bags on the little wire racks.  Again, this is a 20 minute project, maybe 30 tops.  I bought the fabric, and there it sits.
My sleigh bells.  While I sent out the large set to be finished professionally, I did some research on my own about refinishing bells and purchased these two small straps at the antique store.  Then I went out and bought everything I would need to clean and refinish the bells, including professionally-made replacement straps.  I had planned on working on these while my hubby was gone on a trip.  He's been on several trips since I got all of these why haven't I gotten around to this?
Here is my fabric for making a new dress for the McKinnis house.  I have the design drawn, but this is a fairly complicated project; it will take a while from the time I draw out the pattern to the last hand stitches in the hemline.  This project, I give myself a bit of leeway on, due to the complexity.  But I've been planning on starting it for about a year now.  Not a whole lot of room for much more leniency.
My husband's scarf.  Pretty self-explanatory.
My work bag.  So many little sewing project in there that I can't keep up.
Here's a piece of Roseville pottery that my neighbor kindly gave to me.  It just needs some cleaning up--a soak in soapy water and maybe a little scrubbing with a toothbrush.  Still not done.
Honestly, this list is just the tip of the iceberg.  I have a bunch of ideas in my head still.  I am also working hard on new items for my Etsy stores (I opened up a second shop just because I was getting too wide of a selection of items in my first one) and am trying to prepare for the upcoming holiday sales.  Right now, I'm concentrating on fall, but it takes up a lot of time.  I spend my evenings on the couch with the hubs, working away, putting all other projects aside.  Whether it'll turn out to be worth it, we'll just have to wait and see.  I'm looking forward to some down time...but I don't think it's coming!

What are you working (or not working) on?

Friday, July 5

How to Harvest and Store Your Potatoes

After digging up my potatoes, I had to find a place to let them cure for the night.  This poses a problem, because they need to be in cool, dark place with higher humidity, and we have neither a basement nor a cold storage area, and our crawlspace isn't exactly ideal in terms of access or use, so I had to figure out what to do with my bounty.  We do have a laundry area and an unheated pantry room off of our garage, so I came up with a kind of makeshift solution.

I spread newspaper across the top of my washing machine, then laid the potatoes out in a single layer, making sure that none were touching each other.  I then covered them completely with another layer of newspaper to keep out light but still allow air circulation.  I let them sit out all night to cure and dry out a bit.

The next day, at the grocery store, I nabbed a paper bag from a checkout lane and brought it home.  I then put all of the potatoes in the paper bag and loosely folded the top closed.  I placed them on the shelf in our pantry room to continue curing.  I labeled them with the date of harvest so that I could keep track of the time that's passed.  In about a week, I'll move them to a bin in the fridge.

In an ideal world, I would have a cold storage area in my basement, with large lidded storage tubs drilled with small air holes and filled with sand or sawdust for all of my root veggies.  Then I could just grow veggies in the summer and store them for the rest of the year.  Someday...!  But for now, this system will work just fine.  Life's really about making the most of what you already have anyway!

Wednesday, July 3

Yard Critters: 1, Me: 10 (pounds)

I didn’t want to do it.  I didn’t plan on doing it.  But the creatures of the urban forest forced my hand.  

I dug up my potatoes tonight.

It was either this, or sit on my back stoop 24/7 with heavy artillery and vaporize all offending critters that enter the yard.  Ain't nobody got time for that!

It’s a little early, but in my defense, they are an early variety.

Something has been gnawing on the stalks of my potatoes, digging up potatoes near the surface, and chewing on the potatoes.  Not the whole potato, mind you, but just a little nibble in one spot—enough to render them unusable for humans.  I have found four potatoes dug up and used as a chew toy in my bed, and after finding another one tonight, I decided enough was enough.  I can’t confirm my suspicion, but I suspect either the squirrel posse that terrorizes our neighborhood or the rabbits I’ve seen scoping out my backyard.  Fortunately for me, the plants were yellowing anyway, so I called the potato game on account of animals and took a shovel to the bed.  I had nine plants, and this is what I got:

Ten pounds of potatoes!  Would have been more if the furry fiends hadn’t dug some up to snack on.

We've finally been getting some decent rains lately.  It's really helped everything growing outside.  Here's a flower to brighten your day!

Monday, July 1

The Art of Primitive Decor

I've had an idea in my head all week, ever since I saw an old wooden crate with a really neat label at our local antiques store.  I wanted to get the crate when I saw it, but was unsure what I'd do with it, because the crate itself was really unstable and wobbly.  But I loved the label on it, and hadn't been able to get it out of my mind since first seeing it.  Then I realized that it would fit great in the kitchen with my vintage seed packet wall hangings, and maybe I could take the crate apart and make a wall hanging out of the one end!  Now, it goes against every fiber of my being to destroy something that's old and has a lot of character, but the label was the only thing that made this crate stand out.  I told myself that without it, the crate was nothing more than some old, dry wood and rusty nails, and would have served no purpose.  Thus began my project.

I returned to the store, hoping that the crate was still there, two weeks later.  I quickly navigated the booths until I saw it--in the same place as before, on top of an old piece of furniture, too high for the line of sight of most people.  Happily, I got it down and marched back up to the checkout, purchased my crate, and went home, eager to start on this piece of art.
With my husband's help, we carefully took the crate apart.  It wasn't too hard to separate all of the pieces, and we did no damage to the panel I was going to display, so that made me quite happy.  It's not often that a plan comes together exactly as I had imagined it in my head.
After I had removed the stray nails, I gently wiped the wood down with a damp cloth to remove dust and cobwebs.  I did not go over the label because it's already deteriorating and I did not want to damage it further.
After the crate was apart, I found some old handwriting on the back of the wood:
Best I can tell, it says, "Bay City" and either Wis. or Wash.  I'm leaning more toward Wisconsin, due to its proximity to Indiana.

I attached two picture hanging hooks on the back and strung picture wire for hanging.
Then I took the piece outside and sprayed it down with several layers of acrylic sealer on the front, back and all four sides.  Over the label, I sprayed additional coats of the acrylic for added protection.  The acrylic sealer is made for use on wood and paper, and will not yellow over time.  I allowed the piece to dry in the garage for 24 hours, as per the instructions on the can of spray. 
The label was put on over an existing graphic that was applied directly to the wood.  I'm not sure what it is underneath, but the label on top is for canned peas from the Brookside Canning Company in Kokomo, Indiana, Grafton Johnson, Proprietor.  In doing a search for information on this company, I was only able to find an excerpt from the book A History of the Canning Industry by Arthur Ignatius Judge.  The information I found at the bottom of the page is as follows:

"In 1886 a canning factory was built at Kokomo, Ind., by the Charles Bros., under the name of the Brookside Canning Company, and was operated until 1901.  The plant was sold to Grafton Johnson, at Greenwood, Ind., who operated it until 1904."

Based on that info, I know that the label was placed on the crate sometime between 1901 and 1904.  It very possibly covers the original label of the Brookside Canning Company that dates between 1886-1901, but I'll never know because I don't plan to remove the label.
I just love this label art
The original label is exposed under the top label
I absolutely love this.  It really only took maybe an hour of work plus drying time for the acrylic.  But the vintage label just adds so much character to the room, and I'm so glad I was able to get this.  I think it looks great!  And the best part was that the whole project cost me under $15.  Score!