In the Fall

In the Fall

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Unique Craft Sale Purchases

I went to a craft sale last weekend and love what I bought.  I am always amazed at the talent some people have.  Dylan's other Grandmother has a yearly sale, and I am always surprised how she comes up with different unique ideas.  My purchases included a bowl made out of a rhubarb leaf.  She uses a mixture of  Portland cement, sand and a conditioner and mixes it together with water.  Then somehow uses the leaf as a form.  When it is dry, the finished product looks like the leaf.  It is painted and sealed.  I will use it indoors for a bowl, but it can also be used as a bird bath or other outside decoration.

I also bought a smaller one to display with my other fall decorations.  This one is made from a Grape leaf.  She had some made from a Hosta leaf and a Canna Lily leaf.  She said next Spring she would show me the process.  I am looking forward to seeing how this is done.  If I am still blogging in the Spring, I will share the technique.  If you want to see more of what she makes check out her Facebook page.

I asked her about where I could get some bittersweet, and I was given a big bunch and a couple plants.  I hope they grow.  I put some sprigs in my pine cone wreath.  I haven't decided what to do with the rest yet, but I think it is beautiful.  It was a very nice thing for her to do.  Maybe next year I will be harvesting my own bittersweet. 

I bought this saying she painted on canvas too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Someone Is Duck Hunting

Today turned out to be a very nice fall day in spite of the rainy, foggy conditions of yesterday and this morning.  We had a strange thing happen yesterday about dinner time.  The door bell rang, and it was a policeman.  He was wondering if I had heard gun shots.  I was outside earlier and the geese were being very loud.  They were coming in for a landing in large numbers.  Suddenly I heard a very loud gun shot.  The geese became totally silent.  Then in a few minutes they started honking again.  Apparently someone was duck hunting nearby.  Most of our land is in the city and hunting isn't allowed.  The police asked a few questions about property lines.  I think he figured out quickly that we weren't the ones doing the hunting and that we wanted to protect the ducks, geese and Sandhill cranes.  He told me to keep an eye out for anyone who was illegally hunting.

Geese at dusk.  They land in large numbers the darker it gets.  You can hear them honking into the night.

Other than that incident, I enjoyed the day.   Also I was happy to discover who was eating my outside decorations.  I have lost several small pumpkins and a couple cobs of corn.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"D" is for Drugstore

This is my 500th blog.  I wanted to write something about the number 500.  I couldn't think of a thing.  I have never been to the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500.  My parents used to play the card game 500 and wanted my sister and me to play in the worst way.  Neither of us ever enjoyed playing card games.  She wanted to read, and I wanted to knit.  500 is how old Noah was when he had children, but I have nothing in common with that.  The Roman Numeral letter for 500 is "D".  D could stand for a lot of things.  One of them is Drugstore.   How is that for only two degrees of separation from 500 to Drugstore.

Last Saturday we went to Rosholt, Wisconsin.  It is a small town in Central Wisconsin.  Our middle grandchild Sam was playing a youth football game there.  The interesting part is that my husband Mike spent many many hours in this town when he was young.  His uncle owned a DRUGSTORE in this town.  They also owned the home next door to the pharmacy.  He has a lot of fond memories traveling with his parents and brother and staying with their aunt, uncle and cousins several times every year.  During the summer visits his brother would work at the county fair. When Mike got older he too became a temporary Carnie.  It was a special time and place.  So after the game, we went downtown to see if we could find the old drugstore and house.  We did.  The pharmacy is now an antique store called Jackson and Louie's.  We went in and talked to the owner.  She didn't know much about the previous owners so we told her about how the building used to be a drugstore many years ago. 

A Vintage and Antique Store in Rosholt, Wisconsin

We wanted to go into the house.  The house is now a Pizza place and Brewery.  The antique owner said the pizza is wonderful.  We were too early, and the place wasn't open yet.  Apparently the house has been remodeled except for the original staircase.  My husband wants to see it so we will be returning someday, even though pizza is not my favorite food.

Pizza parlor and Brewery.

We drove up into the sight of the County Fair.  My husband said it hadn't changed that much in 57 years.

Beautiful fall view from the Rosholt park.

The best part of the day was yet to come although we enjoyed Sam's football game too.  As we were leaving town I heard from Mike's cousin's daughter.  Although we have never met in person, she is a Facebook friend.  I had messaged her with a question about the pharmacy.  She told us to stop and see her dad and mom.  He was one of my husband's cousins who he spent family time with.  He was also a pharmacist who continued the pharmacy in Rosholt after his father retired.  He had moved the store across the street.  So on the way home, we had a much over do visit with Mike's cousin.  It was so nice.  I don't know why people get so caught up in life that we fail to contact people who were so important in our lives and memories, or maybe it makes these impromptu meetings more special.  You don't have to see someone everyday to have a connection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Make Your Own English Muffins

It was time to make bread again.  I have been making the same kind for a very long time, so I decided to try something different.  We only use bread for toast in the morning and a sandwich once in a while.   Since English muffins are meant to be toasted, I decided to make English muffins.  It was easy, and they turned out pretty well.  I buy bulk yeast, and I think it has lost some of it potency.  The English muffins didn't rise quite as high as I had hoped, but still acceptable.  They are made in a mixer.

English Muffins

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons honey (we get unfiltered honey from local bees)
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 Tablespoons softened butter

In your mixer, mix together water, milk, honey and salt
Add 2 cups of flour and the yeast.
Mix until you have a soft batter.

Cover the bowl and let it rise for an hour or so.

Add the butter and the rest of the flour.  Mix until well blended.
Roll out dough about 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface and cut into circles.  Let these circles rise until doubled.
Then cook on a buttered electric griddle set at 350 degrees.

When brown flip over and cook the other side.

I wasn't sure the center was done this way, so I put them on a cookie sheet and baked in the oven at 350 degrees
for 15 more minutes.  It seemed to work fine.  Perhaps not using the griddle and baking in the oven for twenty minutes or so on a greased cookie sheet would do the same thing. 

The honey we get.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bluejay Peanut Feeder

On one of our trips to the thrift store, I saw a familiar item.  One of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a slinky-like wreath full of peanuts.  She had bluejays lining up one right after the other to grab a peanut.  I looked these wreaths up, and they were pretty pricey.  They were at least $20.  The one I found was in the craft section of Goodwill, and I'm pretty sure they didn't know what it was.  I was so excited and it cost $1.99 minus my senor discount.  I brought it home and filled it with peanuts.  I hung it on the side of the bird feeder.  Nothing even came close to eating those peanuts.  It rained and they got wet a few times.  I thought getting wet might be a good thing in case the peanuts were rancid.  Still nothing.  Once in a while I would see a bluejay try to jump from the ground, but they couldn't make it work.  I thought they would be perching on the wreath and grabbing the peanuts that way.  I finally gave up and put the slinky wreath away in the garage.  Then a few days ago, my friend mentioned that the bluejays were busy again.  I bought a new bag of fresh Unsalted Peanuts, specifically for birds and animals.  This time I hung it from a shepherds hook.  I put a few peanuts on a platform feeder to attract the birds.  The bluejays lined up and ate the peanuts.  Within thirty minutes the peanuts on the platform were gone.  I watched as the bluejays eyed up the slinky.  They were scared of it.  The next time I looked out the window, there were at least ten squirrels in the yard.  They weren't scared of Slinky.

I put a rod through the slinky to provide a perch for the bluejays.  All it did was give the squirrel a pivot point.

Yum, yum, yum.

Notice the rod was knocked out immediately.


I guess this method isn't going to work.  It's hard to out smart a squirrel, so back to the drawing board.  The Bluejays aren't going to starve and seem perfectly happy sharing regular birdseed with the other birds.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making a Pine Cone Wreath

My hydrangea's are dry.  I wrote about drying them a few weeks ago.

When they are dry, I usually remove the old flowers from the vases and replace them with the newly dried flowers.   Then I take the old ones outside to my grapevine wreath.  I just stick them in anywhere in the wreath to get a final use out of them during the fall season.  As fall draws to a close and winter sets in, I take them out of the wreath and put them in the compost pile.  One hydrangea blossom gets a lot of use.

This year as I was decorating for fall, I remembered one of my past projects.  When my daughters were young, we didn't have social media or computers or cell phones.  They didn't watch TV from morning to night.  They played with friends and used their imagination.  We often did projects together.  I remember a project we did in the fall with my friend Judy.  It was a fun activity.  We made pine cone wreaths.  To start with we would go on adventures to find the pine cones.  We liked looking for all different kinds and shapes of cones.  We would separate them into the different types.  It was an inexpensive activity.  The only thing we had to purchase was the wire ring and some wire on a spool.  I imagine I have a picture of one of those wreaths somewhere, but I have no idea where.  I decided to recreate one of those wreaths this year.  I didn't have my partners out in the woods collecting cones, but I had fun searching by myself.  I discovered I had every kind of cone I needed right on our own property.  I guess I knew I would make another wreath some day because I kept one wire ring.  I moved it to Princeton, and it has been sitting in the garage waiting for me for twelve years.

After sorting the pine cones into long, round, small, large and the ones that need to be thrown away, I started shoving them into the wire ring.  First all around the outside and then the inside.

When that is accomplished it is time to fill in the spaces.  I usually wire a cluster of two or three cones together and start anywhere on the wreath.  I put the wire through, pull it tight and secure it in the back.  I sometimes wrap the wire around some of the cones that are only held in by tension.  I shake the whole thing when I'm finished to make sure nothing falls out.  If it does, I just put it back and secure it better.

  I work my way around, filling in as I go.

Pine cones make pretty rosettes if they are cut apart.

It's starting to take shape. 

The last step in the process is to glue small cones, acorns, walnuts or chestnuts in all the gaps.  I use a glue gun.  It's fun to walk around the yard to find things.  I was very disappointed this year because it is an off year for the oak trees.  I couldn't find any acorns this year.  Some years we have so many that we can hear them bouncing off the roof.  I had to use what I had.   We brought back some gum tree pods from South Carolina.  I am going to glue some of those on this wreath.  When everything is in place, flatten all the wires in the back and tuck them in.  Attach another piece of wire to form a hanger.  Sometimes I spray the final wreath with clear varnish.  If it is going to hang outside, that is a good idea.  Otherwise, the rustic look works well too.  Now I have to find a place to hang this one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Different Technique For Browning Ground Beef

I'm not posting a recipe today.  Instead I want to talk about a technique I use for browning hamburger.  Years ago, whenever I would buy hamburger on sale, I would freeze it in one pound packages.  Then I would have to thaw the meat on the counter or thaw in the microwave which resulted in cooked meat on the outside with a frozen center.  If I wanted to make a recipe with browned hamburger in a hurry, this didn't work very well.  Soon I discovered that if you fry out the whole package of beef and freeze it, a meal can be made in minutes.  So many recipes use browned hamburger.  Frying in a frying pan works fine, but you have to stand by the stove and tend to it until it is ready.  If the heat is too high, the grease splatters and makes the stove a mess.  My daughter told me that she uses another technique.  I have been doing it every since.

The first thing you do is get out your slow cooker.   Put the raw ground beef into the cold cooker.   I also add a chopped onion.   I usually do three to ten pounds of meat at a time.  Turn the slow cooker on high and chop up the meat a little.  Put the cover on and go about your business.  No need to add any water.  Then about every hour give it a little chop and stir.  After about three or four hours, depending on the amount of meat, the meat is crumbly and perfect for any recipe.  I drain the meat in a colander to get out the excess water and fat.

When the meat is cooled and drained, I divide it into one or two cup containers and put the containers in the freezer.  Then if you get home late and need a quick meal, the meat is all ready.  It thaws very quickly.  I wrote about making meatballs and meatloaf ahead of time in a previous blog, but this method of browning the meat works very well.