Saturday, May 28, 2022

Catching Up!

 I don't post like I used to. I mainly post on Facebook and You Tube.

We've had a cold winter and a crazy spring. 

This year we've been visited by chipmunks, many birds, beavers, ducks and whippoorwills!

I will post a few pics and links below.


We love our little chipmunk we call Freddy. My son even made him a little picnic table to eat on.




Our robins have been nesting in the strangest places!

And we have been listening to whippoorwills every night. Click here to check them out on my you tube channel. Make sure your sound is turned up. If you want, you can click here and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It's called Janet Smart-Country Living.

 I've been writing a new book, which will soon be available on Amazon. It is the 2nd in a series. If you like Appalachian fiction, I think you will enjoy these two books. The first one being, Where the Stars Grant Wishes. You can click here and check out by books on my Amazon page. 

We've just finished getting our garden out. We have peas, green beans, corn, squash and tomatoes. Can't wait for fresh veggies from the garden.

We constructed two teepees to plant our green beans around.

I am also helping plan for our high school reunion that will be held in August. My how time flies!

I will try and remember to post more often.

What's been happening in your world?



Saturday, December 11, 2021

Christmas Keepsakes and Memories

 We finally got our Nativity up today. I love it.



I'm still in the process of decorating and trimming our tree. I don't put up nearly as much as I used to. 


My tree is a tall skinny one, which I find hard to decorate. The limbs don't stick out far enough. I've got a variety of ornaments - lots of them home made and all sizes.





Here are three things that are important to me. The old Santa hat belonged to my mom. She always wore it on Christmas. Now I wear it. The ceramic angel belonged to my mother in law and the white crocheted snowflake was made by my cousin, Vera.

This Christmas card is very special. I found it in my dad's things after he died. Grandma and Grandpa sent it to him and my mom in 1947, the first Christmas my mom and dad was married. I love it. I display it every Christmas.


These are just a few of my Christmas keepsakes. 

One of my special memories is Charley proposing to me and giving me a ring on Christmas Eve in 1977.

Do you have any special keepsakes or memories of Christmas?

 




Thursday, October 28, 2021

USING ITEMS FOR OTHER PURPOSES

 I'm always thinking of ways to use things for what they are not supposed to be used for.

I've been cleaning and organizing around the house. I found this desk organizer in the floor gathering dust. 

It's not gathering dust any more. It's the perfect addition to my kitchen table.

This is an old printers tray that I use to display my kid's hot wheels on.


I use this old sewing machine drawer to store my vintage buttons in.

This used to be an old floor model radio that that was converted into a bookcase that I bought at a yard sale for $3.


Of course, I believe this is supposed to hold wine bottles. I use it to place my rolling pins in.


I'm sure lots of you do the same as I do. 

What item do you use for something entirely different than what it was supposed to be used for?


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Making a Barn Star Quilt

 I love barn star quilts that you see on barns (and other buildings) as you travel along country roads.

I love them so much, that we decided to make one to put on the back of our building (we don't have a barn).

LIST OF SUPPLIES NEEDED:

FROG TAPE (This is really good tape. It makes very crisp paint lines)


 

 

 

 

 

 

SMALL FOAM PAINT ROLLERS


 

 

 

 

 

 

EXTERIOR PAINT (we bought sample jars at Home Depot) and white exterior paint to prime the plywood with.



 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

4 x 4 MDO PLYWOOD (we bought an 8 x 4 sheet and cut it in half)

9 galvanized dry wall screws

The first and maybe hardest part is to decide on a pattern to draw. You can google Barn Star Quilt patterns and lots and lots come up for you to look at. Then you have to decide on what colors to use. We decided to use crimson red, sunspark and beacon blue.

Put on two coats of white paint for the primer. We already had exterior white paint that we had recently painted the building with. Also paint the edge of the plywood.

After the primer paint dries, draw on the pattern you want. We used a fine point sharpie.


 





Tape off the sections to paint (one color at a time) We did the blue first. Let the first coat dry for a day, then paint on the 2nd coat. After applying the 2nd coat, carefully peel off the tape while it is still wet.

Let paint dry a couple of days before taping off next section.


   







Tape off the 2nd sections to paint. We did the sunspark next. Like before, let the 1st coat dry for a day, then apply the 2nd coat, carefully peel off the tape.

Let paint dry a couple of days before taping off next section.








Lastly, tape off the 3rd sections to paint. Like before, let the 1st coat dry for a day, then apply the 2nd coat, carefully peel off the tape.








FINISHED PRODUCT








Let dry for a few days before putting outside.

My son drilled holes about 1 1/2 inches from the outside border in the corners, one in the middle and one on each side. For a total of 9 holes. He then countersunk the holes so the screw would be flush with the plywood.

We screwed a board up on the outside wall of the building to set the barn star on while we screwed it to the wall. 








After screwing it to the wall, we got the blue paint and painted the screw heads.







Then we stepped back and enjoyed the view. I love it!








As you can see, allowing for drying time, it takes at least a week to finish it. 

But it is worth the wait.

Do you have one of these on your building or barn?



Sunday, January 10, 2021

Recipe - Deer Stew

 We had deer stew today for Sunday dinner. It is a new favorite of ours.

The last time my son got a deer we canned it. Or, I should say, he went next door to our cousin's house and they canned it. 



I chopped up a bunch of carrots, potatoes, celery and an onion.


I cooked it in a can of beef stock and 2 cups of water for approximately 15 minutes.

I added the canned deer meat and cooked it just a few minutes longer. Then I added a small amount of the liquid from the pot to 2-3 Tablespoons of cornstarch and stirred well.



I stirred it into the pot and cooked it for a few minutes to thicken it a little.


It's very good and easy! The deer meat is very tender and already cooked, so it's a quick meal to cook.

How do you like to fix your deer meat?


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

COVER REVEAL

 UPDATED SEPT. 2021

I started this story back in 2008. Go here to read my post about it.

That's a long time to be working on a book, but it has been a labor of love. They say that your first story shouldn't be published, that it is a practice of sorts. Well, instead of not publishing this book, I edited, changed and continued to add to this story down through the years.

I have three versions saved on my hard drive. One is 21,000 words, one is 28,000 words and one is 31,000 words. Thanks to one of my writing buddies, Max Price, it is now over 56,000 words. So, although a short one, I can now classify it as a novel. Max convinced me to try and write the added words needed to make it into a novel. His encouraging words gave me the confidence I needed.

This story started very early in my writing career. It came from a writing prompt. They said to take the book nearest you and take the first sentence and start your story. The book next to me was Christy. I love that book and have read it numerous times. It just so happened that it took place during the same time my grandparents got married. I was into genealogy and family history at the time, so I thought I'd write a fictional story loosely based on my grandparents. 

My only fear is that family members will read it and say, "That's not what happened" or "How do you know that's what happened?" My reply will be, "I know. This is a FICTIONAL story." I'm sure they will see similarities and say it reminds them of our grandparents, but that is fine. I want the similarities to be there. This is my humble way of honoring them. I never knew my grandpa, he died a few months before I was born, but I grew up living next to my grandma. I only wish I had asked her more questions and learned more about her early life.

The title has changed numerous times. It is now Where the Stars Grant Wishes.

The names have been changed numerous times. 

And, that first line has changed numerous times.

But, I am finally ready to share it. 

Blurb from the back of the book:

In a time and culture steeped in superstition and old traditions, Jonathan and Lucy marry. The place is Blackberry Holler, which cuts through the Appalachian hills of West Virginia. The time is  1908. Lucy, a spirited young girl, marries Jonathan even though she secretly believes his ma is a witch. During the first years of her marriage, she discovers secrets and makes wishes on stars, but will she ever accept her eccentric mother-in-law's ways? Her life, the life of her unborn child and the life of her husband's young cousin are in jeopardy. Will her wishes on stars and the unique abilities of Jonathan and his ma be enough to save them?

For those of you who may worry that this is a story about witches, it is not. It is about a time and place different from today, and people who had certain abilities were often thought of as being witches, but were not -- they were just different.

Here is the cover.

An old-fashion cover for an old-fashion story. The cover and the few illustrations in the book were drawn by me.

 





I'm a little nervous about doing it, but I am going to push the 'publish' button and release it after Christmas. (It was released on December 28, 2020) It is be available on Amazon in paperback and e book. 

I've already written one that takes place in the 1940s during WWII. But, I'm thinking of writing a sequel that takes place in the 1920s. (I am working on that sequel that takes place in 1924 now) These books will feature the same families.

I hope you enjoy reading Where the Stars Grant Wishes as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here is a link to my Amazon page.

Download it or order the paperback. I think you'll like it. Then whether you like it or not, leave a review. Reviews, (good  and bad) help sell a book. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

PUMPKIN MUFFINS with CRUMB TOPPING

 I love muffins.

I love baking muffins.

I love sharing muffins.

Before Covid 19 came into the picture, I volunteered at our senior center. My cousin and I, and sometimes Charley, conducted craft classes every Wednesday. We really enjoyed it and so did the seniors.

Almost every Wednesday, I would also bake something and bring it to the center. Usually it was muffins of some kind. 

Today I baked Pumpkin Muffins.

Here is the recipe:

Muffin Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of self rising flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup of oil

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree

2  large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup of chopped nuts of your choice (I used hickory nuts)

CRUMB TOPPING:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 up granulated sugar

1/4 cup of light brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

6 Tablespoons butter, melted


Pumpkin muffins Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 15 muffins, so prepare a second muffin pan in the same manner. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together until combined. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and milk together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the chopped nuts and then fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
  3. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them almost full.
  4. Make the crumb topping: Mix the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice together until combined. Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form. Spoon crumbs evenly on top of the batter and gently press them down into the batter.
  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for an additional 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan.
  6. For mini muffins, bake for 11-13 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Ingredients for muffins
     
    ingredients for topping
     
    fresh from the oven


I love eating muffins!
Yummy!
 
 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Busy Summer, New Book and Autumn Begins

 Hi everyone. 

We've had a busy summer and I've been putting writing on my blogs on the back burner. But, I do go out and visit other blogs when I have the time.

First off, my husband had total knee replacement surgery on September 2. We knew it was going to be painful afterwards, but . . . 

It has been almost 4 weeks, and the pain and the swelling are still there.  Otherwise things are getting back to normal around the house. 

We haven't gone anywhere, except for a quick and short trip to our favorite state park, Pipestem.

  

view from our room

 

 out and about

As with every summer, it starts with a rainy season and then a long hot drought and now fall seems to have arrived.

I've been watching and taking pictures of the critters outside all summer - chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, deer, birds (especially the charming hummingbirds).

 



 

Since I had written a picture book manuscript around 3 years ago about hummingbirds, I decided to add my pictures of the hummers to the words and create a picture book.

It is now on Amazon and I also have copies.





Hope all of you have had a nice, safe and healthy summer -- now let autumn begin!


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Wildflowers - Dandelions and Violets


I love wildflowers!

I picked them as a child and brought bouquets of them to Mom, especially Sweet Williams. And I loved the Jack in the Pulpits. I haven't seen either of these yet, but our yard is full of dandelions and violets.

Some people think of them as weeds. But I consider these colorful flowers one of God's beautiful creations.

After a long winter of drab and dreary landscapes, these yellow and violet creations pop out of the ground for us to enjoy.










What is a dandelion? It is a wild plant with a large yellow flower, deep taproot, and deeply notched leaves, that changes into a fluffy white ball of seeds.






From root to flower, dandelions are highly nutritious plants, loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.




This is a dandelion craft I made a few years ago. It says "Some see a weed, others see a wish come true. Make a Wish!"

We were told as kids,  "If you blow a seed head of a dandelion, the number of seeds remaining are the number of children you will have."

I've never tried it, but they say you can make violet jelly. If you would like to give it a try, here is a link to how you can do it. 

And, of course, here is the little poem about violets:

Roses are red
Violets are Blue
Sugar is sweet
but not, as sweet as you.
 

Do you know any dandelion or violet folklore or trivia?