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Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Day Superstitions

I thought I'd better get this post out today - you know just in case you want to do or not do any of these things.  (just kidding folks)

New Year's Day is full of superstitions. Many differ, depending on what part of the country you live in.

Now for us, you just have to eat cabbage on New Year's Day. There's just no getting around it. The stores in our area always put cabbage on sale this time of year. I've already bought me a big head of it. When I was growing up, Mom used to put a silver coin in it (usually a dime) and the one who spooned it out with their helping was sure to come into money that year. I really think it was just a way to get us kids to eat cabbage, though. We all wanted that dime!

And, as far as my grandma went, you had to be a male or you weren't entering her house first on New Year's Day! They said she had her son who lived next door come to her house bright and early. I guess it didn't hurt that he was also tall, dark haired, and handsome, which is another superstition people had about the first footer.

There are lots of superstitions I found on the internet. Some of the more prevalent ones were:

Wear new clothes. This would mean receiving new garments throughout the coming year.
Avoid crying if you don't want to continue the pattern throughout the new year.
Be nice and refrain from using foul language.
Don't let money leave the house. Don't pay bills or loan money on New Year's Day. Or for that matter don't even take out the garbage or shake out a rug! This will ensure that nothing goes out of the home during the new year. Some soften this rule by saying it is okay to remove things if something is brought in first.
At midnight, all the doors must be opened to let the old year escape.
Make sure your wallets, purses and cupboards are well stocked on New Year's Day and it will bring prosperity.
Do not do the laundry on New Year's Day! It will 'wash away' or lead to a death in the family.
Pay your bills or loans before the New Year so you won't have any debt left for the New Year.
Make as much noise as possible at Midnight - you are scaring away evil spirits. Evil spirits hate loud noises, this is also why church bells are rung on wedding days.
Babies born on this day will have luck on their side.
 If a girl looks out her bedroom window upon rising and sees a man walking outside, it is said she will be married before the year is out.
And, be sure to kiss at midnight! This will ensure that those affections will continue throughout the following year.

So there you have it. Be sure and pay all your bills today, go shopping and stock up on groceries, do your laundry, put money in everyone's wallet or purse(even if it's just a few pennies), kiss the one you love at midnight, and then proceed to make a lot of noise!
Then on New Year's Day be sure and wear new clothing you received for Christmas, be nice and polite, make sure a man comes into your house first, then proceed to make a big pot of cabbage for dinner!

That shouldn't be too much to remember.
Do you have any more to add to my list?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Thought I'd post my column I wrote for Two-Lane Livin' magazine's December issue.

Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas 
 by: Janet F. Smart

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents? Silent Night!
Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with all its sights, sounds and smells.
Add some old-fashioned Christmas sights to your house by popping popcorn and making strands to string on your Christmas tree. Hang cookie cutters on your tree, string them across your mantle or use them as napkin rings. Sprinkle powdered sugar on large pinecones and make a small grouping of ‘snow covered pinecone trees’ to set on a placemat and put it in the middle of your kitchen table.
Add some old-fashioned Christmas sounds to your house by hanging jingle bells on your front door and playing Christmas music on your radio or CD player. Light your fireplace and listen to the crackling of the warm fire on a frosty morning.
Add some old-fashioned Christmas smells to your house by baking sugar cookies, lighting cinnamon scented candles, making cinnamon dough ornaments to hang on your tree and, of course, putting up a piney smelling Christmas tree.
Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, said, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
You can visit a neighbor and present them with a plate of cookies or read a Christmas story to a younger family member or friend. Some good holiday books are:
Berenstain Bears Old Fashioned Christmas, The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas, The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, God Gave us Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Olivia Helps With Christmas, Snowmen at Christmas and Bear Stays up for Christmas.
The spirit of Christmas lives in your heart. Give the gift of love and friendship. Make homemade gifts; share your voice by going caroling in your neighborhood. Have a family fun night each week. Pop some popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.
But, most of all, remember what Dr. Seuss said in The Grinch That Stole Christmas. He puzzled three hours till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought…“doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps …means a little bit more!”
And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!
Merry Christmas!

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Memories and Wishes

Christmas is almost here and our mind drifts back to memories of past Christmases.

We are sad at first, but we should remember them with happiness and joy. We cannot step back, even though we sometimes wish that we could. So let us try and remember with a smile while we make more memories.

I remember Grandma's cedar tree that she put in her living room for a Christmas tree and Aunt Gracie's big Christmas tree covered with icicles, put on with perfection. I don't think there was a limb on her tree left uncovered and I remember her large waxed pine cone. I had never seen a pine cone that large before and it amazed me. And we always went in the woods and cut down our tree. We never had one of those aluminum trees, thank goodness. I remember stringing popcorn and putting it on the tree.

We always had hard Christmas candy and those chocolate balls. Mom put them in her milk glass candy container. . . and the nuts! We always had a big bag of mixed nuts that was put in a bowl for us to crack and eat during the holidays.

I remember the church Christmas plays I was in. One program I remember from when I was in grade school was when the upper grades sang Twas the Night Before Christmas while other children acted it out on stage. And I remember all the Christmas programs my kids were in when they were in grade school. I am lucky to have many pictures and movies of most of them.

I remember crafting with Mom. We made Santa from Readers Digest books.

I don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa, but I always remember when I was older we opened our presents on Christmas Eve night. After I married and had children, we started opening the presents on Christmas morning.

I remember when my oldest son was three years old, we found out he needed glasses. It was during the Christmas season and when he came home and saw the lights on the Christmas tree, it startled him and his eyes got real big. Before, I guess the lights were all a blur.

Mom used to wear a Santa hat on Christmas. I have her hat now and display it during December. . .and try and remember her with happy memories, but a tear always wells up in my eyes.

I do not know why some memories stay with me and others don't. I led a normal and uneventful life, so I think the memories that stayed with me are the simple memories of the things that we always did and the fact that we did them every year made the memories stick in my mind. We never did anything or received anything spectacular, so I don't have those kind of memories. . . only the memories of the simple things.

But they were special! They were special or I would not remember with such fondness.

I wish you and your family a simple, yet special Christmas this year.
Make memories for you and your family to remember in the years to come.

Comment and tell us about some of your memories. I'd love to hear them.

God Bless you all and Merry Christmas!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Book Christmas Tree

My son asked me if we were putting up a Christmas tree.
I don't think he had this in mind.

I have books everywhere in our family room. Piles of them here and there, plus book cases full of them.

I thought I'd make good use of them and make a Christmas tree.

It's different, but I like it. I just hope no one knocks it over!
It is really pretty in the dark with the chaser lights on.

Have you put up your tree yet?

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Few Updates

Wow, it has been a while since I have posted over here.

I have been busy at the house. We are finally moved into our new dining room!
The only thing that is not finished is the trim around the windows. . . and the curtains hide that for now. But that could be a bad thing. If you can't see what needs to be done, you are more likely to put it off.

Here are a few pictures that I took about a week ago. I have since put up more decorations.

 I hang my Christmas plates every year in the kitchen. I love them, I have ones for 1974, 1976, 1978(the year we were married), and 1980 and 1981(the years my first two sons were born). They are Avon plates and I got them at yard sales for $1 each.

 My Christmas aprons are hanging on the fridge.

 This picture is taken in our new dining room. I painted the walls yellow!

Back inside the kitchen, this table sits where our old dining room table, which is now in the new room, used to sit. It takes up a lot less space. The shelves against the wall are located where the china cabinet used to be. We have a lot more room in the kitchen now and more space for my dishes, with the extra shelf space. This table belonged to Charley's mom. It is old and has two drop leafs and I love it. I think it used to have another leaf in the middle, but I don't know what happened to it. We have no chairs to match it,  but that's okay. I like how it looks in our kitchen.

There is a story behind our chandelier. We couldn't find one we liked for the longest time. I finally found this one at Lowes in Kanawha City, but they only had the one on display. And they wouldn't sell it. They searched on the internet for us and said there was one in Athens, Ohio! We just happened to have a friend who lives in Athens, and he brings his parents down every week. He was happy to get it for us and. . . it was discounted down to only $50. The discounted price in Kanawha City was around $120!

I am blogging over on my writing blog each day this month about Christmas Picture Books! Go over there and take a look. Picture books are not just for kids, parents are usually the ones who read them to the little ones. I just love them. If you aren't yet, I bet a Christmas book a day will get you in the mood for Christmas.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Wishes, Memories and Recipes

Here is wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.
I hope you get the chance  to slow down and enjoy this day with friends and family.

Thanksgiving would not be the same without our favorite foods.

Click here to find a recipe for this cheese ball.

Click here to find a recipe for sweet potato casserole.

Click here for a recipe for pecan pie muffins. This is a good substitute for pecan pie. And if you can't afford the pecans, click here and try a recipe for poor man's pecan pie!

My mom passed away in 1996 and I still miss her dearly, but she still lives in my heart.

She made the best turkey dressing! I try to make it like she did, but mine will never be as good as hers. She never had a recipe she went by, she just added this and that and it came out delicious. My husband and kids loved it and my kids ate spoonfuls of it before it went into the oven. If I had my druthers, I'd eat it without baking it, too.

What did the dish consist of? Mainly bags of herb stuffing mix/croutons (she sometimes used toasted bread and sage, too), chicken boiled and stripped  from the bone and cut up and cooked celery (and maybe onions). And be sure to add the delicious broth the chicken was cooked in. Stir. She cooked it in the oven for approx. 30 minutes or so. Cover it with foil 'til the last 15 minutes or so to brown lightly on top.

As you can see, the above recipe is filled with words such as approximate, or so and maybe. My husband's best advice is to be sure and make it moist. He loves moist dressings! So I make sure I put in lots of the chicken broth.

How do you make your dressing? Do you use oysters, cornbread or something else that makes it special?

Click over to my writing blog and read my kid's column for the November issue of Two-Lane Livin'.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Turnips Anyone?

In the early summer you look forward to the first squash. In the fall you look  forward to the first turnips.

But, just like squash, you can only eat so many turnips. After satisfying your taste buds with a few raw ones and a few cooked messes, you grow tired of them.

When Daddy was alive, he always wanted us to plant a turnip patch. He'd sometimes bring out the seeds himself and we'd work up an unused section of the garden and spread the seeds. The seeds were tiny and he'd tell us to mix the seeds with sand and scatter them upon the ground.

Daddy passed away last spring, so he wasn't here to help, but we planted a patch in our garden and thought of him while we did it.  But, after enjoying them for a while, we promptly forgot about them.

Wow, they have grown!

We have some whopper turnips! 
Daddy would be proud!

I think it is kinda weird the way they push up out of the ground and end up above the earth. It is amazing how they grow.

Usually they are not good, when they get this big. But this one sure was. I brought it to the house, peeled it and cut it up. Wasn't a thing wrong with that gigantic turnip.

I think a person could make a meal out of just one. What do you think?

Are your turnips getting out of control, too?

They are good cut up and cooked, but I also like them raw. Just peel 'em, slice 'em and shake a little salt on 'em. Yum!

What is your favorite way to eat them?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Cactus - Suggestions?

Christmas Cactus plants are so pretty!

Especially when in bloom.
Mine never bloomed last year.

Any suggestions? I need something to brighten my holidays.
Someone told me to not water them after November 1st.
Do I need to transplant the large one into a larger flowerpot or will that hurt it at this late date?

I need your help. Any Suggestions?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Roll

For some reason, I got in the mood for a pumpkin roll today and it is not even November yet.

My cousin, Vera, has a great pumpkin roll recipe that has been around for a long time. It is in our family cookbook that I put together in 1996. I have since put together another family cookbook.
I am bragging here, but I have a family of great cooks!


3 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup flour
1 t. soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t.  salt
chopped nuts (whatever amount you wish to use - just a handful, 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup)

INGREDIENTS for filling:
Cream together: 8 oz cream cheese, 1 t. vanilla, 2 T. butter and 1 cup powdered sugar.

DIRECTIONS for cake:
Preheat oven to 375
Grease a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 jelly roll pan
Line with wax paper
Grease wax paper
Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar

Beat eggs, add sugar and gradually blend in pumpkin. Add salt, soda,  cinnamon and flour. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with chopped nuts of your choice. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Turn onto thin, cotton kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Peel off wax paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool. Carefully unroll and spread with filling. Re-roll cake and wrap in plastic wrap.

Keep  refrigerated -  Freezes very well.

Doesn't look like any of those small, nice and neat pumpkin rolls 
you buy already packaged up in the store, does it?

Believe me when I say it is delicious. 
I ate two pieces before I stopped.

 I am in the process of putting together another cookbook. It is filled with recipes,stories and memories.

I have many food memories, good and bad!
Do you have any food memories you would like to share with us?

  Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Easy Quilting

This is a re-post from waaay back in September 2008. That was the month I first started blogging.
According to my stat counter, this post gets many, many visits. Surprisingly many of the visits are from Turkey! It seems someone on a blog over there found my post and posted it on her site. I wish I could read their language so I could read her post and the comments it generated.

I don't have the time to sew like I used to, so I hope you enjoy this re-post about my quilt and Teddy Bears.

By the way, I have a winner from my last post. FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK. I haven't heard from her yet, so Barbara, please let me have your address so I can send your apron to you.

Gather pieces
Watch it grow
Piece together
In long rows.

Make it useful
Make it bright
Start it right now
Start tonight.

The jeans and dress
Are now gone
They made a quilt
To lay on.

When I have time, usually in late fall and early winter, I like to quilt, craft and sew.
The winter of 2007 I made a blue and pink blue jean quilt. This is the 5th blue jean quilt I have made. The other ones were different shades of blue and the blocks were smaller. I back them with flannel and you don't have to put batting between the layers. I knot them with embroidery thread. They're easy to make and durable. I like the bigger blocks, because I am impatient!

The leading character in my Middle Grade story Family Treasure (which I have received numerous rejection letters on) made a quilt just like this.

Here is a detailed picture of some of the blocks. The pink block with butterflies on it came from a jumper and the small flowers were on the leg of a pair of blue jeans. I also left the pockets on some of the blocks.

Here is another picture. The large flowered blocks came from a large skirted dress. The pink blocks came from pink blue jeans!

I also had enough material from that flowered dress to make a matching teddy bear.

The teddy bears are another story. I have been sewing since I was young. I made my clothing when I was a teenager, my wedding gown, and Halloween costumes for my children when they were young. But the hardest thing I ever learned how to make were teddy bears! When I first started making them I made many mistakes until I finally got the knack of it. Needless to say, I don't make them any more. Below is what they look like. The one on the far left was the flowered one from the left over material I sewed in the quilt. The others were made out of an old tablecloth, a chenille bedspread and a very old quilt which was too tore up to save.

As I stated above, the quilts are easy to make. They are an easy way to get rid of the old blue jeans that the kids (or you) have outgrown. Or if you don't have any you can buy them at a yard sale or thrift store. Cut out the squares, sew together, put flannel on the back, then knot them together and put on the binding. Voila! You're done.

Happy sewing!

Have you ever made a blue jean quilt before? Or maybe a Teddy Bear or two?

Posted by Janet Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dressing up the Goose & Giveaway

UPDATE (a new prize) . . . Look Below
It sure has been cold outside lately.
Especially the last few days.
We've had to get our coats from the closet.

I decided it was time to dress the goose. She never had any attire for fall, except for an old, faded one that I had got at a yard sale. It was in very bad condition. I decided to take it apart and make a pattern with it.

Cut your choice of material 42" x 14"
 Hem the top and bottom of material.

 Two inches up from the bottom hem, sew on a large ruffle. 
If you want, you can also sew a ribbon on top of the ruffle, but this isn't necessary.
Put elastic through the top hem to make the gathered neck.
Fold material with right sides together and sew down the sides to make the dress.

For her hat cut an eight inch circle out of two pieces of material. With right sides together, sew around the circle, leaving a small section open to turn. Turn material, iron and go in about an inch and sew the inner circle. Insert elastic, sew together the outer circle. Cut two ribbons and sew on each side for her chin straps. 

Isn't she pretty?

As you can see, these are very easy to make. In fact, they were so easy, I made two of them.
Now my goose doesn't need two fall outfits, so I am giving one away. 
Do you have a cold goose?
Do you know anyone who does?
If so enter my contest to win the extra outfit I made.

Comment and let me know if you want entered in the contest. Post about my give a way on your blog and get another entry into the contest. If you are a follower of my blog you will get another entry. Twitter or put on face book about it and you will get another entry.

Good luck. I will announce the winner one week from today.

Well, so far it seems that no one owns a Goose. I have decided I will give away something else I have made to the winner, if they do not own a Goose. Let's see, how about one of my homemade aprons --- your choice of one of my denim aprons or one my calender dish towel aprons. I've posted about these before. But, you have to comment in order to be entered into the contest! 
You can go here and here to see these aprons.
Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stairway to the Stars - vintage shelf

I have learned so much by researching this vintage crescent moon shelf.

Did you know it was a pattern designed by A. Neely Hall?
Did you know there was a song by Glenn Miller called, Stairway to the Stars?
Did you know that it was thought to be a wood shop project from the 1950s?
Did you know there are many different versions of this shelf and there was usually a wooden star as part of the pattern?

Well, I didn't know any of that. All I knew was that I remembered them from my childhood. We had one hanging on our living room wall. Ours did not have a star.

This is the only picture I could find with our crescent moon shelf hanging on the wall. 
Seems Mom used it to hang Christmas cards on one year. This is not me, but my niece posing in front of our mantle.

When I saw a dilapidated one on a pile of stuff to be taken to the dump in my neighbor's pull behind trailer, I knew I had to snatch it and try to restore it. With their permission, of course. I try not to take things from my neighbor's trash without their permission, though it may be tempting at times.

It has been sitting in my garage for a number of months, with nails sticking out and the landing unattached and a dangling stairway.

this is a cleaned-up version of it. It was quite dirty and cobwebby. The nails were loose on the staircase, the landing was unattached with nails sticking out everywhere.

I found a small can of stain in the garage and stained the plywood on both sides.

Isn't it pretty? It looks like new.

I love knick knack shelves. Especially vintage ones. 

I also love new ones. . . 

My son made this scroll-saw knick knack shelf for me. I just love it.

Do you remember the Stairway to the Stars knick knack shelves?

Posted by Janet Smart at Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall is Here - Easy Place Mats

Fall is in the air.
The season brings with it 
the spiders, the cobwebs,
the grasshoppers, the pumpkins,
the crisp mornings and the
quick sunsets that creep up on us 
in the evening. 
Fall  is here and who am I
to try and stop it.
I welcome it with open arms!

I got in the sewing mood and made four quick and easy fall place mats.

 pick out some material 
I picked out a print and a solid

My beginning measurements were 16" x 12"
You can make them any size you want.

 I placed quilt batting underneath the top layer and sewed curly, squiggly lines all around.
They don't have to be quilted. If you want, you can leave out this part.

I pinned the right sides of the two pieces of material (printed one and gold one) together and sewed around the edges. Leave a space about 3 inches un-sewn, so you can turn the place mats. Turn, iron and sew all the way around the border about  1/4" away from the edge.

 Here is the finished product.
They will look so nice with my fall colored Fiestaware, don't you think?

I was just getting used to the fall decorations in the stores. 
I was just getting in the mood to put out my fall flowers, fall potholders and fall place mats.
We went to the store yesterday and they had their Christmas stuff out!
Boy, am I behind.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer Survivors

We have had quite a summer. We have survived a derecho, sweltering heat and a drought.

This sweet little sunflower survived and grew where a flower shouldn't grow and survive.
It sprouted all by itself between the sidewalk and the 4 x 4. It is a survivor!

A few weeks after the derecho, we had a  viscous lightning storm. The day after, we saw what the ear piercing lightning hit. Our beautiful sycamore tree was struck at the tip top and the force went down the entire tree and out the earth around it.  Since it happened, the tree has deteriorated more and more each day.

Will it survive to live another year? I really don't think so. I will miss it, I've watched it grow from a very small tree to the majestic one it is today.

If you go here, scroll down the page and you will see what our sycamore tree looked like a few winters ago with it's perfect shape. It also might make you feel a little cooler in this hot weather we're having.

Posted by Janet Smart at Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fruits of Our Labor

The gardening season is winding down. 

We have thus far canned 27 quarts of green beans, 6 jars of salsa, 11 jars of peppers

I have frozen 17 containers of spaghetti sauce

24 quarts of tomatoes (love, love, love fresh juicy tomatoes from the garden)

and, approximately 20 quarts of blueberries

I have also put blackberries in the freezer, and we have had oodles of squash and cucumbers. Our watermelon plants were a bust and I'm not sure if our pumpkin vines are going to survive or not. Our potatoes did great! Most of them are still in the ground. We leave them in the ground and dig them as needed.

I am going to make jelly out of some of the blueberries once things are a little less hectic around here. I love blueberry jelly!

I am not a big fan of peppers, but those canned peppers are delicious!

I know a lot of you out there 'put up' much more than I have, but we put back enough for our needs.

I made the salsa last night, now I'm off to the kitchen to 'put up' more tomatoes in the freezer.
I always try to freeze a lot of tomatoes. We use them in chili, soups and creamed tomatoes for breakfast.

What have you 'put up' this summer? Are you glad that autumn is around the corner?
P.S. A note to my writing friends who read this blog. Don't forget to go over to my writing blog, Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch  to follow me there and read my writing posts.

 Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Friday, August 10, 2012

Boxes Full of Color

We went on a trip today to Flatwoods, WV, to another Fiesta Tent Sale.
I came back with boxes full of color.

Here are some pieces I came back with.

I didn't need a lot. Well, really I didn't need anything. But I can't resist the huge discounts at the tent sales.

And they are so fun to go to. You always make friends in the checkout line. It is a very long line and you have a chance to talk to people and get to know them.

Everyone talks about how they use their Fiesta and what their favorite pieces and colors are.

I was still unable to get any spoon rests, but I did get a couple of jam jars, utility crocks and large prep bowls. I love my large marigold and turquoise bowls.  I like the red water pitcher, too. I think it will be very pretty at Christmas.

If you don't know much about fiestaware, you can go here to find out more.
I've also posted about it before. You can go here to see these posts.

I love the bright colors, they brighten my day!
If you get the chance, buy a piece or two and it will brighten your day, too.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.
©Janet F. Smart

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mushroom Yard Art

I've seen on the internet lately people making mushrooms out of cheap vases and crystal bowls.
Well, I got a few things at our local thrift store for a quarter each and made my own smaller versions.

I painted the tops white. I used a couple coats of acrylic paint, then spray painted on the top coat. Two of the 'tops' didn't have to be painted - the little enamelware cup and the glass custard bowl.

I glued them together. On line they say to use waterproof liquid silicone as a glue.

Here they are in my pitiful excuse of a flower garden in front of my porch. . .

and here are three more. . .

I know some of you may think  they are kind of silly. But I think they are cute!
My favorite is the larger one in the top picture with the top knot on it.

You can do whatever your mind can imagine. Check for items around your house or go to a yard sale or thrift store for items. Buy the clear crystal items or the white ones. You could even use colorful ones for a whimsical look! Go small or go large.

Now all I need are a few little blue Smurfs to stand along side them.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.
©Janet F. Smart

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beautiful Rose of Sharon

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
Song of Solomon 2:1

The Biblical reference almost certainly does not refer to what is commonly known today as a Rose of Sharon and what I have in my yard. . . but isn’t it a beautiful bush! When the blooms fall, it creates a halo of blossoms on the ground beneath.

 I walked outside this morning and counted. I have six bushes. They have purple and pink flowers. One of my bushes at the corner of my house is a combination of purple and white. Not on the same bush, but two bushes that grew side by side.

These plants are so easy to grow. I read somewhere where a person just stuck a branch into the dirt until it took root. The seed pods can be a blessing and a curse. If left to nature, these pods drop and reseed the bush. This is great if you are looking to plant new bushes and/or trees in different places.
But they can take over. The only place in my yard where they 'take over' is at the corner of my house where I have a large one. It is planted inside of  landscape timbers. Their seeds fall and grow. This does not happen to the ones out in my yard because the grass is always mowed around them.
You could take the pods off in early spring before they have a chance to drop and repopulate. But if you have a large plant, there will be many,  many seed pods to remove.

I walked in the back yard of my neighbors house yesterday, hunting down my walking partner. I found her at her flower garden. I didn't realize she had so many Rose of Sharon plants . . . all started by my over abundance of plants. One is a gorgeous white!

They are very easy to grow. They love the sun and a well drained soil. They are a late bloomer, so you can enjoy them when other plants and flowers have lost their early blooms.

The bees and butterflies love them! Who couldn't love them? They are so beautiful!

Do you have a Rose of Sharon plant? What colors? If you are ever by my way in the summer, I could give you a little sprout and you could watch it grow into a gorgeous plant.

Posted by Janet F. Smart at Writing in the Blackberry Patch.
©Janet F. Smart

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Attack of the Killer Squash

It is that time of year again.

It is when your garden attacks you with many, many squash.

You fill your refrigerator (and extra refrigerator) with them, you give them away (or try to give them away) and you see how soon your family gets sick of eating them.

I have made at one time or another squash cakes, squash muffins, fried squash rings, sliced squash on the George Forman Grill, mix diced squash with your fried potatoes, dice, mix with flour or corn meal and fry them, squash bread, squash croquets, squash cubes/tomato and onions and last but not least the squash casserole!

The only thing about a lot of these recipes is that you make a low fat, good for you squash into a fattening, but delicious dish. The Forman Grill recipe is the easiest and least calorie one of the above. And, I love it fixed this way. I peel them and slice the squash longways into 6 pieces or so (depending on the thickness of your squash). I spray butter on them and sprinkle corn meal and seasoned salt on each one. I then cook at 350 degrees for five minutes on each side. Very good.

Here is my favorite casserole recipe:


2-4 yellow squash
1/2 onion, diced
can of cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cube squash. Cook squash and onion till tender. Drain water. Put squash and onion in casserole dish and add cream of chicken soup and sour cream and stir together.

Mix together:
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup corn meal mix
1 egg
2T melted butter
milk and water
 (in other words make a small batch of cornbread)

Mix together the cornbread ingredients and pour on top of squash mixture. Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven about 30-35 minutes. Put on broil and brown cornbread on top if you wish.

Now you have your vegetable and your bread for supper.

Go here for my squash cakes and squash/tomato/onion recipes.
Go here for my squash bread recipe.

 Have I left any squash idea out? Tell us your favorite squash recipe --- please!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch
©Janet F. Smart

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting Things Done

I haven't been posting much this summer. But, I have been busy.

We had a yard sale and I got rid of lots of stuff. The stuff that I didn't sell my sister filled up the back of their pickup truck with and took to their church for their yard sale. The truck bed, behind the front seat and the front seat was full.

Can you believe all the stuff we have that we don't need. I hate clutter, yet my house is filled with it.
I was very happy the first years of our marriage and we didn't have much at all. Compared to now, you might say back then we had an empty house. But we were perfectly content.

The garage is now empty enough that I can go in and straighten it out, get rid of more stuff and organize what is left. Who knows, maybe this winter we will be able to fit one car into our two car garage.

We took our swing off our front porch last year when we had new siding put on our house. I put it in the garage and hadn't put it back up. We have a glider on the porch, two vintage yellow metal chairs and an iron  piece of furniture. There was no room for the swing. I decided to take the iron bench off the porch and put it in front of the sliding glass doors where our drive way is. Now we have room to get the swing out of the garage and back on the porch. I am painting it today a barn red, it will  match the bricks on the front of our house. I found the almost full can of paint when I was cleaning out the garage.

It is amazing the things you find that you forgot you had, when you de-clutter!

Little by little we are getting things done.
Our garden is coming in good, the deer have enjoyed snacking on our green beans.
My berries are getting ripe. They have had a rough time of it this year. The storm that went through a few weeks ago damaged some of them and then the very high temps and drought are taking a toll on them.

I must admit the source of a lot of my clutter is yard sales. I still go to them, but not as much. I've also become more selective about the things I buy.  I have gotten very good things at yard sales before. The above swing was bought at a yard sale, a refrigerator (which is handier than an extra thumb), Fenton at a very small price and clothing.

I had a relapse a few weeks ago, though. I bought this antique milk can. Our next door neighbor had it in her yard sale. I didn't need it, but I wanted it. It is a little rusty on the outside, but the inside is very nice and clean. It was only $5.

Can any of you nice people out there give me ideas as to what to do with this milk can? I look forward to your creative ideas and suggestions.

posted by Janet F. Smart at Writing in  the Blackberry Patch.
©Janet F. Smart