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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Deer

The deer used to come out only at night and visit under our apple trees. The adults came with the young ones and ate the many apples that had fallen upon the ground the day before.

They got braver. . . Recently we could set our watch by them. Every evening, around 7:30 they would appear from around our house and gather under our apple tree for a visit and a snack. Of course, we would never have our camera handy, and when we did it just doesn't take good pictures in the early twilight, so all we would see were their big deer eyes looking at us.

They got even braver. . . and they are arriving earlier, now. But only two young ones continue to come.


They are so pretty.


But, I'm afraid our friends will soon disappear. . .


and we won't get to watch them any more. Our apples are almost gone and they don't like our few pears laying on the ground. But, as you can see, they tried eating them.



So, they may soon be leaving our yard in search of greener pastures and more apples.


We harvested the few pears from our pear tree. The frost got all the blooms last spring except for these few.

We love watching our deer. There is a field in front of our house and across the creek where a herd of them graze and frolic every evening. Of course, I won't mention deer season in Jackson County. You would think it was a national holiday. So at least for now, I will try not to think about it, and I won't mention it any more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Has Anybody Seen . . .

a lamp like this?


Isn't it beautiful? I love the way the light sparkles and reflects off the wall. I only have a 40 watt chandelier bulb in it. I got this at an Estate Sale this morning. I didn't even see the add in yesterday's paper, I just happened to glance at our local paper again this morning and saw the ad when Charley got in from work. So we drove to Ripley real quick to take a look. I'm so glad we did.

It is not glass, it is made of plastic. I'm wondering if it was hand made or not. What do you think? Unfortunately, the top 'shade' has a couple of cracks in it, but you can't really tell unless you look at it up close. It looks like to me that it was made of those plastic bowls from maybe the 40s or 50s. The shade looks like a large bowl with a hole cut in the bottom of it. But I don't know what the bottom could have been made from unless maybe a candle holder. I've never seen plastic candle holders before, though. On the bottom of the large bowl it says, A & A Plastic Corp. NY.

Here is a close up of the bottom of it.


And here is a picture of it without the shade.


I looked around on the internet and couldn't find any like it, but I really didn't know how to google it. I didn't know what to call it.

So, help me out if you can, have any of you seen a lamp like this before?

I just love it, cracks and all. I only paid $2 for it and I think it is just lovely when it is turned on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Work and Pleasure

We've been working around the house, trying to tidy up things before winter creeps up on us.

Over the weekend my son and I cleaned the front porch and siding and we took down the shutters.
As you can see, the shutters are home to wasper and mud dauber communities. We cleaned their communities from the siding and from the shutters and even had a quick run from the mad insects a time or two.


I have these vintage metal chairs that I love. I purchased them at a yard sale a few years ago for around $3 each. I love them, but they needed a paint job.


My son pressure washed them and yesterday I placed them under the apple trees and painted them.

.
I was joined by the bees feasting on the fallen apples. A word of advice, don't walk barefoot under apple trees in the fall. No, I did not step on one, I wore shoes. I've learned the hard way before. Click on the picture to see the bee.


We still need to paint the shutters and put them back up, but the chairs are finished and I now have the pleasure of sitting on them again.


A local CEOS held a poetry contest which was open to amateurs. I entered my poem Hills of West Virginia. I had forgotten all about it until I received this in the mail today. I repeat it was for amateurs only, that was the reason I entered and probably the reason I got 2nd place. A simple pleasure on a beautiful fall day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Giveaway on my Other Blog

Just thought I'd let my readers know that I have a giveaway on my writer's blog.
A lot of you probably don't know that I'm a "wanna a be" writer. I mainly write stories for children, but I also write short stories.

I just received my contributor's copy of this book in the mail. Needless to say, I'm very excited.


My name is in print. . . finally! I wrote my short story, which is on page 36, about two years ago and it has taken this long for it to be published. You have to have patience to make it as a writer.
Patience and persistence. An amateur can't quit or they will never become a professional.



I put the announcement on my side bar, but I don't think anyone noticed it.

Go to my writing site and comment on my giveaway post to be in the drawing for a copy of this book. I've read a lot of the stories in the book and they are very good. They will give you ideas of Christmas traditions your family might want to start.

You have to comment on my writing site to be in the running, though.

So, if you want a chance to win, get on over to my writing site!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bean Day at the Smart's

Before I got married and left home, I remember my dad cooking pinto beans. He always cooked a big pot and we had left overs for days. Some people like them better when they are a few days old. I personally like them the first day.

Now that I'm married, my husband Charley, is the one who cooks the big pot of pinto beans. He makes a huge pot when he makes them. I always tell him that he makes enough for us and all the neighbors.

We've come out of the dark ages and bought a Crock-Pot! Believe it or not, it is our first Crock-Pot!

Here is our pot of beans that he started last night before we went to bed.


Here is the chef tasting his beans. He gave them a thumbs up!


I'm going to fry some of our red potatoes. . .



. . . and make some stuffed jalapeno peppers. Then, I'm going to make a big pan of cornbread and put a bowl of my fresh made apple butter on the table. I love to eat apple butter with my pinto beans.

Supper's going to be good!

Since this is our first attempt at cooking in the Crock-Pot, can you tell me what your favorite and easiest recipe in the Crock-Pot is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Uh - Oh

I went for a stroll with my camera. I came across some things to share with you.

Some were pretty. . .








One was interesting . . .



Some were scary. . .



But, the last one was down right horrifying. . .




You know what this is don't you? It is the larvae of the Isabella Tiger Moth.
It is the furry woolly worm. It can be spotted in the fall months in great numbers inching along the ground.

They have 80 - 85% accuracy rate for predicting the weather.

More BLACK than brown = Harsh Winter
More BROWN than black = Mild Winter

I guess we'd better get out our warm coats and stock up on the firewood!
What do you think?

Monday, September 14, 2009

What to do with Apples

We have apple trees in our yard. There's lots to do with apples in the summer.
You can pick them off the ground and take a bite out of them, you can fry them (yum!), you can make apple pie jam, you can just let them be and let the deer eat them or you can make apple butter.

I made stove top apple butter today. And let me tell you, next year my husband is going to spray the trees, because if you don't you will end up having to cut out more of the apple than you can keep. My apples have been falling off the trees every day and I go and pick up the best ones and take in the house. Here's a bunch with bruises, bad spots and all. They were pretty small this year, I think it was because the trees were loaded.



After about 2 1/2 hours of peeling, slicing and cutting out bad parts, I ended up with a big bowl full. As I peel the apples, I toss them in 4 quarts of water with 2T of salt mixed in the water so they won't turn brown. I'd been debating on whether or not to make apple butter out of them this year, I dreaded it because the apples were all bruised and messed up inside, but I did it. If you have nice big apples, this is a lot easier and quicker. If you want it to be even quicker, just buy unsweetened apple sauce and use it instead. That's what I do sometimes. Buy enough to equal 8 cups of applesauce.


I put them in a big pan and cooked them until they were soft. I added a little water (about 1/2 cup or so). Usually after cooking them, I put them in a blender and blend until smooth. Today I did something different, I mashed them with a potato masher and then used a hand mixer. It's a lot chunkier this way, but I think it will be fine.


Measure out 8 cups of the applesauce mixture. Add 5 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of cinnamon red hots and 1/3 cup of vinegar.


Stir together and boil for 20 minutes.


Don't forget to add and stir in a drop of cinnamon oil after it is finished boiling.


Put into sterilized jars and listen for the ping when they seal. Aren't they pretty?



It's supposed to make 5 pints, and it usually does. But, this time I had leftovers that I put into a bowl and put in the fridge. So, if you want to be on the safe side you could sterilize an extra jar to have on hand in case you need it.

So that's it! I'm finally through canning, jelly making and freezing for the summer! No more! It's time to rest!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sam the Scarecrow

You remember that pretty little scarecrow Halloween out fit I got at a yard sale about a week ago.




I told you I had plans for it. Well here is what I made. First I got a couple of dowel rods and duct taped them together for the body and arms. I pushed them into an empty flower pot.


I pushed the shirt and coveralls down through the stick. I had to unbutton the shirt and do a little maneuvering with the sleeves. The pants were for a toddler and had snaps along the inside leg seems, so I was able to put the rod through them easy.




To make Sam's head I used a Styrofoam ball (which I already had in my craft supplies. I had gotten it at a yard sale for 10 cents) and a piece of muslin. I wrapped the muslin around the Styrofoam ball and tied a brown pipe cleaner around the neck to hold the cloth in place.



Here is his head pushed down onto the dowel rod and a straw hat on top.


I used embroidery thread to make "X" eyes. I started up high so the knot would be under his hat and not show.


I made his mouth and nose with buttons. I put thread through the holes and knotted it and I glued the buttons onto his face.


I went across the road and 'borrowed' some loose hay to put at the bottom of his legs. Grabbed a pumpkin for decoration and glued some leaves onto his hat.



How do you like my Sam the Scarecrow?

All the materials I used were what I had on hand. I had just bought the hat at a yard sale for 25 cents. You can improvise and use whatever you have. Styrofoam balls that large are expensive if you buy them at the store. You could maybe stuff the muslin with stuffing or use something else you have on hand. You can go to a yard sale or thrift store for the clothing and use real leaves for decoration if you don't have the artificial ones.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Apple Pie Jam

I bet right about now you all are thinking that I stay in the kitchen.
Well, you're right. This week I have been in the kitchen all day, every day.
I sometimes wish there were two of me, one to sit out on the porch and enjoy this nice weather and one to stay inside and do all the work.

I'm not going to take credit for this jam. I found the recipe over at Coleen's Recipes. Since I was in the kitchen anyway, I just had to try it out.

6 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples

I used these little rusty yellow apples
that fell off of our tree.






1/2 cup of water
1/2 tsp butter
3 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar packed
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 small box powdered fruit pectin


Cook apples, water and butter over low heat, stirring until apples are soft, but not mushy. Stir in pectin and bring to a boil. Add sugars and cinnamon and stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil again. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam (if there is any). Pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. This makes (7) 1/2 pints.

I spread it on toast this morning for a taste.



Is it good? Does it taste like apple pie? Would I recommend it?



Yes, yes and yes!


These would be good to put in a gift basket.

Have you ever made apple pie jam before?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Concord Grape Pie

Concord Grape Pie, oooooh. . . it is so delicious!

I told Granny Sue about this pie last night at our Appalachian Wordsmiths meeting and she wanted the recipe. So here it is.

There are many recipes on the internet for this pie, I notice that they don't vary much, so you can look around for one or follow the recipe I give you below. It's from an old paperback Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I've had it since the early 1980s.

I've got lots of concord grapes and I didn't want to make any more jelly, so I thought I'd make a few pies. I made the filling for two yesterday. I baked one and put the other filling in the freezer. I saw on line where you could do this. I'm going to make some more fillings to put in the freezer so I can enjoy the pies this winter.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of concord grapes
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 T lemon juice
2 T butter

Slip the skins from grapes (this is very easy to do) and set the skins aside.
Bring pulp to boil; reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Sieve to remove the seeds. Add skins and mix together. (It doesn't tell you to, but if you want, you can cook this mixture for a couple of minutes)

Stir the sugar, flour, salt, lemon juice and butter into the grape mixture. Pour into a 9" unbaked pastry shell. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

CRUMB TOPPING:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

Mix together the flour and sugar and cut in the butter until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of pie and bake an additional 15 minutes.

I noticed the crumb topping did not get very brown, so if you want you could put the topping on sooner.

You could also put a top crust on if you prefer it over the crumb topping.

COOL BEFORE CUTTING, no matter how much you want to eat a piece. If you are like me and can't wait to sample it, it will be runny. It thickens as it cools. But let me tell you, even though that first piece was runny, it didn't hurt the taste a bit!



Here is the pulp cooking, while the peels are in another container waiting to be added.


Sieving the seeds from the cooked pulp mixture.


Pie ready to be put into the oven. I don't make my crusts,
I don't have the time, so I just use store bought ones.
Be sure to set it on something in the oven to catch the run over if there is any.
(We all know it will spill over, so don't forget this step)




It's not a very pretty picture, as you can see it did spill over the crust.
But I did wait to take a picture of it after it cooled.
If you put on a top crust instead of a crumble topping it would probably look nicer,
but I like crumble toppings.


Hope you enjoyed this recipe, give it a try if you have some extra grapes.