Blue Sky Farm

My blogging posts and photos are part of me . I think of this as a scrapbook of my life. The names have not been changed.. they are real people who have crossed my path along my journey. Some I know intimately, my family and friends. If their names are mentioned it's a sure sign they are special to me and I love them dearly...come along see for yourself, perhaps you know some of them too..

January 31, 2009

Comforting Sense...Time for me

A walk on the beach..sit watch the waves beating the sand. Take a drive in the country, have a massage, do your nails. Spend the day in your pajamas, a walk through an antique store, a picnic in the park, curling up with a book & a cup of tea, fly a kite, take a long bubble bath, walk the dog, visit a friend, watch a movie, start a scrap book, or journal, play solitaire,
Let your mind wander. Listen to some soothing music, or Do nothing...
I know that sounds very selfish, but in truth it is what I call “Comforting Sense,” or Self Care ..
For several years I taught self -care classes to women who were in a shelter because of Domestic Violence in their lives. Many of these women were like me years ago, when I had no idea who I was, what I liked or what I wanted. Oh, I knew what I didn’t want and that list went on & on and I had no problem knowing what others were expecting of me. Does this sound like your life? It doesn’t have to be this way!
I would like to share with you once a week here on my blog some of the things I learned. These suggestions are not going to come easy for some, they will take practice..
This is the beginning.. The time is now. This is “Comforting Sense.”
#1 …taking time for yourself. (Time? I’m to busy. Where am I going to find time for me? ) The stressful cycle starts: you are too busy to nurture yourself, but without it your life threatens to become one boring and stressful day after another.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Are you doing what you want? Are you getting what you need? Are you loving and caring for yourself?
Everyone needs balance. Start with Relaxing, Take a break, Stop doing, sit, drop your shoulders, and breathe and be still. Start with 15 minutes a day. You may have to get up earlier, commit to finding the time…ideally ½ hour would be better..plan a whole day to do what you want.
Taking time off allows you to be more efficient when you return to doing whatever you were doing.
Relaxation is not a treat. It is necessary for your physical and emotional health. If you value your time and set limits on what you do for others, others will value your time and treat you with respect.
Remember : Before you can take good care of others you have to take good care of yourself. Sometimes it is necessary to say NO! without justification, explanation or defending.

January 30, 2009

That Big Game!

I woke up this morning thinking about what I could say today in my blog...I don't know why my thoughts ran to Football, I do not watch the sport just because I do not understand a lot about of the game. I know it looks like it might hurt to play it, otherwise why do they wear those helmets and pads covering their bodies? but, For football fans, winter means only one thing: The Big Game and Sunday February 1st,2009 will be no exception. Arizona vs. Pittsburg. Will it matter which team wins? Some have never watched these teams play but I am sure in family rooms people will gather, the game will be on and when a touchdown is scored, or when a player gets hurt, cheers will ring out, and replays of that great or not so great play will be repeated over & over until the next. That’s another thing about sports I do not understand …why so many repeats. Isn’t once or twice enough? But It is a wonderful time to do what people love to do ..Eat, drink and be happy.

Sadly I do know that statistics show that this Game day is the biggest day for Domestic Violence, and alcohol is one of the contributing factors and I know the beer companies will pay the price to advertise their brews . Oh, those great commercials, Some of those I do like, some are quite funny, but not for 3million dollars for a 30 second spot. Who said our country was in economic trouble? I have no doubt there will be many companies that will pay that too, along with some of the things I enjoy the Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Freito- Lay and other chip companies as well.
I do not mean to be so negative on this subject, I just do not understand the hype. I think a lot of other people maybe think like I do with so many people out of work, and our country is in this horrible state. On a brighter side, I suppose for some it boosts their moral to think that we are lucky to have what we have and Just think, Monday February 2nd starts a new week and for those who care…its Ground Hog Day…but do I hear Cheers and Celebration plans?

January 29, 2009

A bag of PopCorn is good for you.

I love Popcorn.
I cannot go to a movie theater without buying a BIG bag. Especially when I the nice looking young man behind the counter asks"" Would you like to get the Large size for a quarter more?"and of course if you buy the Jumbo size you can come back for a free refill... and "would you like butter on it?" Why of course I do..and lots please! I wonder though why do they do that to me? They must know I am a popcorn push over.
To be honest though I never buy that Jumbo free refill size... but I don't know why, except people already look at me with raised eyebrows when I walk away trying to balance that Large butter soaked bag , a Jumbo Dietcoke ( it was a quarter more too) a handfull of napkins as I realize that I am dropping tender popped kernals of popcorn and my movie ticket is with my husband and he has already entered the darkened doorway to the movie screen.

It's hard to believe a snack food that tastes so good can actually be good for you! With suggestions from organizations such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), there's no doubt popcorn is a perfectly sensible snack. Does that mean good for a meal too? I think so..infact I do that often.. eat it for dinner..and always while watching a home movie...I have to share it though with "Buster" because he loves it too and he likes to catch it when I toss it to him a popped kernal at a really I think a bag is a single serving.
I now buy it at the store in the 10 pack size or sometimes by the 24 pack. Why so much? because you never know when you will run out...and I don't have to pay that extra quarter for a bigger bowl and Buster will clean up any dropped on the floor.

January 28, 2009

In a cock-a-poo's opinion

Hi again, I’m Buster incase you forgot…and I am a cock-a- poo, I am just one cute dog. I am 2 ½ years old and 18 pounds big. My mom said I could tell you what I have been doing since I was on here earlier this month.
She put up my pictures for you to see..
"Well, see now I am a real farm dog.
They brought home 4 silly chickens to live in the box my dad & mom were building.
They have their own fenced yard inside My big fence yard. Those chickens are fun to watch, they sure do run funny too. They eat bugs and some other stuff that is in my compost pile..
I like to run up to them and tease them. Then mom shouts at me to “leave them” and I usually do, but I do like to see them run. I only want to play with them.
They do not bark like me ..they squawk at me. That’s how my mom knows I am bothering them and that’s how I get into trouble. I get in trouble also when I try to eat their "poop" or roll in it. What can I say, I am a dog.. and that's what we dog animals do.
My dad says I am going to be a herding dog, someday.. I think that will be fun, but I don’t really know what that means. I hope it means I get to chase those darn chickens into their big box house that my mom calls their studio. I just want to do that to show them I am the boss and I lived here first. So what if they lay the eggs that sometimes I get in my dinner bowl. Well, it is time for me to go have my nap now in my dad’s chair see ‘ya next time…when I will tell you about the ducks & geese that I saw at the lake."

January 27, 2009

Tuesday's Herbal Wisdom : The popular sachet flower

Lavender (Lavandula) from the Latin Lavare,
meaning “to wash”
(Also known as True Lavender & Garden Lavender)
As far back as the Middle Ages, This shrubby plant was
used as a popular home remedy for stress, hysteria, menopausal problems headache, and even palsy convulsions, and fainting . Even in modern times, lavender is an important ingredient in smelling salts.
Researchers have found that the fragrant, volatile, oil in lavender blossoms which contains more than 100 chemical compounds. Lavender does calm the nervous system.
Lavender is an incredibly versatile herb, for cooking. In today’s upscale restaurants ,
edible flowers are making a comeback as enhancements to both the flavor and appearance of food.
As a member of the same family as many of our most popular herbs, it is not surprising that lavender is edible and that its use in food preparation is returning.
Flowers and leaves can be used fresh, and both buds and stems can be used dried. Lavender is a member of the mint family and is close to rosemary, sage, and thyme. It is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory.
Lavender has a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying. In cooking, use 1/3 the quantity of dried flowers to fresh. The key to cooking with lavender is to experiment; start out with a small amount of flowers, and add more as you go. Adding too much lavender to your recipe can be like eating perfume and will make your dish bitter.
Dried culinary lavender can be used to make flavored sugar, dressings, Herbs de Provence and lavender lemon pepper. Cooking with lavender is one of the ways to bring the sparkle of summer back into eating.
Lavender Ice Cream
3/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon dried lavender placed in a tea ball or gauze
1 cup half and half
2 cups heavy cream
7 egg yolks
Pour the half and half and the cream into a heavy sauce pan. Add the lavender to this mixture and warm for about 5 minutes. Remove the lavender flowers. Wisk the egg yolks in a bowl until they are frothy. Slowly pour the about half of the warm cream into the mixture of egg yolks as you wisk continuously. Combine the remainder of the yolk and cream mixture into the saucepan and continue to heat on low (stirring constantly) for about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl and wisk in the honey. Chill the mixture and then freeze according to the instructions on your ice cream maker.

January 26, 2009

Yes, A good Idea Chocolate Cake

I knew better than to think about baking a cake.. but, I was craving chocolate... I even left one end unfrosted for Clay per his request..
A good thing to make on a cold day. I chopped cashews too and tossed them on top. Lets see, I can probably eat 1/2 of it this week..if I sneak out for a midnight snack with a tall glass of milk....and there is always breakfast tomorrow.. You never throw away chocolate know that...and besides
Chocolate is good for you, research has proven it. It's Dark chocolate too.. and It has good Diet stuff in it like Organic white flour, cocoa, eggs, milk, sour cream, ...water, yes it has water..thats the Diet part.
Sure wish I had some company coming over......

Winter is still here

Yesterday Clay &I went out to the Lower Klamath National Bird Refuge. We saw several Tundra Swans, a few Bald eagles , Canada Geese, some unidentified ducks, & Snow Geese. It was cold with a few tiny snowflakes falling. Buster had a great time running and sniffing every hole and bunch grass he found.
I think this picture is one that captures "Winter stillness" Today I am going to practice stillness. I am anxious to get the garden ready to plant and know full well Mother Nature is not going to be be rushed. Today will be a planning day. Making plans for Spring planting, wait for seeds to arrive and read. I might even bake a cake.

January 25, 2009

Favorite Breakfast on Sunday Morning

Scrumptiously Delicious..

Bring this spectacular breakfast or brunch dish to the table as soon as it comes out of the oven for a lot of oohs and aahs. The Dutch Baby or A German Pancake is a cross between a soufflé and an omelet - it is a light, airy pancake with sides.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sifted bread flour or all-purpose flour**Bread flour is a high-protein flour. The high protein helps the pancake rise. All-purpose flour may be substituted but the results won't be as spectacular
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 teaspoons butter
Freshly squeezed lemon Powdered or confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, (It is very important that you preheat your oven.) Place oven rack on the middle rack of your oven. Place a large, heavy ovenproof frying pan or a cast Iron skillet (I like to use 2 of my 6-inch cast-iron skillets), in the oven until hot and sizzling. While pans are heating, prepare your batter.

Use a shallow pan, not more than 3 inches deep (pie pans, cast-iron skillets, oven-proof fry pans, baking dishes, paella pans). Like I said before, I prefer using a cast-iron skillets because it acts as a heat reservoir, retaining the heat and distributing it evenly.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy; add milk, flour, vanilla extract, and cinnamon; beat for 5 minutes more. The batter will be thin, but very smooth and creamy.
Using a pot holder, remove the hot skillet from the oven; add the butter; tilting the pan to melt the butter and coat the skillet. Pour the prepared batter into the hot skillet, all at once, and immediately return the skillet to the oven.
Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown (bake until the pancake puffs up around the edges - it may puff irregularly in the center).
Remove from oven and serve immediately. Either bring the pancake to the table in its pan or slide it onto a serving plate. Once out of the oven, the pancake will begin to deflate. For a classic German Pancake/Dutch Baby, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and dust the top with powdered sugar. OR Top with your favorite topping and serve immediately.

January 24, 2009

Using the fancy cup....

It is raining and will be raining today, the weather report states. The birds are all chirping outside my window gathering seeds between showers. My chickens are out in their yard scratching the muddy ground in search for a tasty bug hibernating for the winter. There is a sense of peacefulness in the house, I think I will have a cuppa tea. I rarely use my Country Roses China, instead reaching for a coffee mug but today I think it will lift my spirits to sip from a dainty cup. I would serve tea to company in these beautiful cups, so why not just for me?
I bought my first piece of Royal Daulton as a memento of my first trip to England. I love England and would like to return someday.
My thoughts return to the months I spent there. Infact it was this month in 1989 that I lived there. I remember walking into this china shop and immediately loved the delicate roses with gold trimmed cups sitting elegantly on the shelf. I could not afford a whole set but vowed to get more someday. I have added to my collection over the years and now they sit in a glass cupboard displayed nicely in my diningroom. There is something special about drinking tea from a fancy cup. Reflecting back on my history and appreciating where my life's journey has taken me, over the paths of laughter, tears, regrets, and promises broken and made anew. I think I am the happiest now, right here this very minute sipping my tea from one of my favorite cups. You know I should do this more often.... even when it is not raining.

January 23, 2009

The Useful Dishtowel

I was ever so surprised to receive these beautiful embroidered dishtowels from my mom for Christmas. She has made many handmade gifts and memories for me over the years. She will be 80 the end of March and my first thought was to keep these towels for "special times". I can remember the first set she made me, and it was not my birthday or Christmas. Unfortunately they have gone by the wayside, holey & worn out. She gave them to me one day when I was feeling kinda overwhelmed with life, raising babies, no money to buy myself anything special. She said her mom gave her these things from time to time for no real reason . Things that "she could use" that perhaps she could not afford, and she knew I could use these. They not only made me feel special they brightened my mood when I took them out of the linen drawer and use them in my kitchen. I used them mostly for holiday time or when I had company (to show them off giving them proper respect, you know how you do that too ) but I eventually used those towels for more than dishes. They made a great seat belt when my babies were old enough to sit at the big dinner table and needed support to sit there in their high chair (because the belt had broken) and haircutting capes around their necks when I cut their hair. I even used them for almost everything in an emergency when you just grab a towel. I know they were used to cover bread while it cooled right from the oven. They slowly became stained with food, grease, even Easter egg dye, paint, blood, sweat & tears. Eventually they went to the garage as rags for other messy cleanups. I better not put these away in the linen drawer for she told me to "use them." I think my mom knows best and they are very useful, I will be careful so they will stay pretty and now that the kids have grown up and moved away they may not get stained so quickly. Maybe I will even embroider some memories for them someday too.

January 22, 2009

Is it A Chicken Obsession or a just a Collection?

I am hooked...I admit, but I do not have a problem.. I can stop anytime...(I think).

Actually I started collecting "Chicken stuff " a long time before I actually owned real live with feathers chickens. I do have a lot of chicken things in my kitchen and in my diningroom. To name a few I have several straw & paper mache' chickens, a nice ceramic Rooster that my mom gave me for my birthday sits proudly in my kitchen window. Wooden placques, tin prints, a vintage glass candy dish, salt & pepper shakers, even chicken embroidered dishtowels. The beginning of a collection. One of my favorite possessions is this vintage wooden chicken crate that my sister in law surprised me with. She bought it on Ebay and had it delivered to our home in Arizona. You cannot imagine the size of the box! I raised live chickens when my children were younger, but that was years ago. ( I had a cow collection at that time.) Today my collection grows, chicken plates on the wall, chicken placemats on my kitchen table that my sister made me, My very dear friend painted a three legged stool with a chicken. That rooster in the picture is made of styrofoam & feathers, I purchased him last summer, He looked so real, (well you know, I had to have him and afterall I only had one) but those two will probably be the only roosters I will own because you can have too many know that. Another sister gave me a really nice tray for Christmas this year and my son & his wife gave me a new wire chicken egg basket. (I collect baskets too, but that's another blog story) It will be handy to collect those precious eggs in. I guess I really am just "chicken hearted". I do love them, I could sit and watch my four hens for hours. A dear friend in Washington called me last Sunday, (the one who painted the chicken stool, ) she is changing her kitchen decore.. so guess what? Yep, She offered me her collection...of course I could not refuse such an offer....I am going visit her in March, now I must find display space and I may have to rent a truck to get them all home....

January 21, 2009

Future in progress

Today I dedicate the entry to my newest grandson Charles. age 3 months.
My son sent me this picture of Charlie yesterday, He is asleep during a party his parents attended in celebration of our new President.
Charlie has been a supporter since October when he was born & his daddy made his shirt. Charles is doing very well since his illness the begining of this month. He is strong and starting to rollover, cooing, and showing his parents what a great little guy they have. I cannot help but wonder what Charlie will be when he grows up. What great opportunities await him and what possibilities that open to him. Our country is in as much progress as Charlies' life is. Many changes that will happen in the future years as Charlie takes his first steps, goes to school, and becomes whatever he sets his mind to do and I think this is a good thing...

January 19, 2009

Tuesdays Healing plant

I am posting this early so I can watch the Inauguration Speech of President Obama Tuesday Morning.

Tuesday's simple herbal plants & wisdom is The passion flower (passiflora incarnata)

The Passion fruit flower and the passion fruit besides being a pretty flower, the fruit is high in Vitamin C. The fruit tastes tart and fruity.

Also known as Maypop, passion-vine. It grows in partially dry areas, and along fences and woods of the United States.
Description: It has a long vine which grows for 30 feet in length and bears alternate, serrate leaves with finely toothed lobes. The flowers are white with purple centers developing in the leaf axils, blooming from May to July. The fruit is a smooth, yellow, ovate berry containing numerous seeds.
Passion Flower benefits:

Passion flower is helpful in some people in reducing restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness. It also has mild anti-cough properties
Anti-anxiety: Passion flower has a tranquilizing effect, including mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects. In studies conducted since the 1930's, its mode of action has been found to be different than that of most sedative drugs (sleeping pills), thus making it a non-addictive herb to promote relaxation.
Insomnia: The sedative effect of Passion flower has made it popular for treating a variety of ailments, including nervousness and insomnia. Research had indicated that passion flower has a complex activity on the central nervous system (CNS), which is responsible for its overall tranquilizing effects. Also, it apparently has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the body, including the digestive system, promoting digestion. Passionflower is taken as a tea or tincture.

The dried herb is available at health food stores. It is best used in small doses as the herb influences the central nervous system.

I really would like to see if these will grow here in Klamath Falls, and train it to arch over an arbour in my back yard.

Change is about to happen

This hand crafted picture I bought years ago. Today I feel is a great day to post it.
In honor and celebration of Changes ahead for our country I like it. Though not a true flag of our nation . It was hand made with ribbons & buttons and framed in a cute window frame.
Tomorrow Barrack Obama becomes our President. What a historical day.
Barack Obama's inauguration marks a profound manifestation of the Rev. Martin Luther King's dream which is marked with today being Martin Luther King Day.
Inauguration Facts:
The swearing-in traditionally takes place at noon on Inauguration Day at the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. with the Chief Justice of the United States administering the oath using the form mandated in Article II, Section 1of the United States Constitution. The 44th President will take the same oath as the many presidents before him who also had visions of making a difference.
The Oath
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The newly elected or re-elected President traditionally adds "so help me God" to the constitutionally mandated statement.
I hope our new President can make the American dreams happen, He is only a man and he will need the help of all Americans. This is a change for not only America it’s a change for the world

January 18, 2009

History of Aprons

My brother in law passed this on to me . I do not know who to wrote it so I cannot give proper credit but thought I would share for today's entry:

I did make this apron for my daughter. I know I had posted it earlier.

The History of APRONS

I don't think our kids or grandkids know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath. Because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and, on occasion, was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes. Grandma used to set her hot apple pies on the window sill to cool, now her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw after taking them from the freezer.
Some people today would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron....... I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron though........but love!!

January 17, 2009

Sourdough Bread, The Mary Jane Way

Mix, Stir, Wait then Bake ... That's it. Healthy Homemade Bread.
Not so long ago, bread was made using only two ingredients: Flour & water. Naturally leavened bread. without chemical rising agents was the authentic staple of grandmothers generation, referred to as the"Staff of Life". I remember as a child eating a warm slice of bread cut right from the oven ( the end piece was my favorite) dripping with butter & honey that my grandmother made. Here I have attempted to try my hand at it too.
Mary Jane Butters has the recipe and instructions in her Feb-Mar issue of her magazine "Mary Janes Farm". I started my bubbling alive sour dough "mother" on Wednesday and it is resting on my counter. Her recipe is very basic consisting of purified water and organic flour. No Kneading necessary. I simply placed the flour & water mixture in a ceramic bowl, added a bit of water & flour & stirred with a wooden spoon daily, then covered with a wet dish towel to rest on my counter. My "mother "will be ready to make into a loaf on Tuesday when I place the healthy dough in my cast iron dutch oven to bake.
Can't you smell it now? Nothing smells better than fresh baked sourdough bread fresh from the the oven.

January 16, 2009

It all came out in the wash

For my friends & family who have not tried this I highly recommend it. I made a batch of dry laundry detergant yesterday. I am trying to make changes in my life by going as natural and organic as possible. Some of my "Mary Jane Farmgirls" friends are making their own so I thought I would try it, after reading that
Comercial Laundry detergent contains chemicals that are harmful to the environment and there is often a harmful residue on your clothes after you wash them with regular laundry products.
To check and see if your laundry detergent leaves a residue, wash your clothes, Repeat again with just plain water. Check the water when it's in the wash cycle. If you have residue, you'll see suds in the water. The detergent that didn't get rinsed out, stays on the clothes and comes in contact with your skin. The residue actually will trap some of the dirt and keeps it stuck in your cloths. Your clothes can actually come out dirtier when you use more detergent then you need.
I used white vinegar also in my fabric softener dispenser this time, another helpful hint, and my clothes were as soft as when I used the expensive commercial softner. ( No, my clothes did not smell like pickles.) This discovery will not only help save the planet, my septic tank it will save me money. Try it.. You will be only spending about $.01 a load. The Boarax and the washing soda boost the cleaning action. Baking soda deodorizes, Fels Naptha removes the stains. I found all the ingredients in my grocery store. You could add lavendar or another essential oil for fragrance but I really liked the freshand clean smell as it was.
Aunt Jenny's Laundry Detergent Recipe
(Makes about 2 Gallons dry powder)
3 Bars Fels Naptha Soap (grated)
1 Box Borax
1 Box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
2 Boxes Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Grate the soap with a cheese grater
Mix all ingredients together.
For lightly soiled clothes use 1 Tablespoon
For heavy or heavy soiled use 2 Tablespoons

January 15, 2009

"Free meals come one come all.".

I suppose these birdies call to one another, as they gather quickly to our feeder. "Free meal , all you can eat". The feeder is full. Do not be late."
These sweet sounding sparrows wait each morning for the sun to rise so they can find their way back to our window feeder. We hear them chirping, and see displays of sometimes hostile behavior as they fight to see who gets to have the best spot to peck through the mesh for their favorite seeds. They fly away with a beak full only to return to find their spot has been taken. I love to see them flying in, and they seem to not mind sharing with the House Wrens and a few Chickadees and even a Junco or two. Their biggest problem I think are bigger birds like the Hawk or Scrub Jay. During the day the Jays take control of the feeder, only to knock the seed to the ground but, the other birds like the doves and quail get those dropped morsels. The Jays are big & beautiful inspite of their bully behavior pretty shades of blue & gray. I wonder where these sparrow sleep and if their nests are warm and protected from the Hawks that sometimes watch from a distant fence post. I can see him lurking and the sparrows can to as they quickly fly away all at once to hide in the tall grasses and low scruffy branches of the juniper trees. Whatever their purpose is I do not know, but they are welcome at our lunch counter without an invitation and I could watch them for hours..

January 14, 2009

Still cold & winter

The temperature outside at 8:00 this morning, depending on which thermometer I look at reveals "COLD". I suppose they could all be correct...since they are located on different sides of the house. The front porch get first sun. One says 25 degrees and this one on the back porch is 22degrees The National weather report says it is to be 53 degrees today and sunny. I can see heavy frost on everything and as the sun comes up things are starting to glisten. It is definately warmer in the chicken studio, I checked there it was 32 degrees and they seem to be not bothered. I don't think however that Spring will be coming quickly, so the planting of starter seeds will be a project started inside. Yesterday I planted some paperwhites hoping they will soak up the sun rays in my kitchen window and give me a show of their flowers within a few weeks, I am sure that will make me feel like Spring is getting close. Forcing flowers inside is one thing, waiting for mother nature to hurry up is another afterall it is only January.

January 13, 2009

Not just for beer

Simple Herbal Wisdom & Plants Sense
The Hop
(Humulus lupulus)
The plant is a climbing vine, which gives out scaly and cone shaped fruits called hops from which the name for the whole plant is drawn. Harvesting and collection of the hops is normally carried out during the month of September when the fruits ripen and following a drying process, these are marketed and used mainly in the brewing industry.
Healing potential:
Hidden inside the ripe conelike fruit of the female hop plant are tiny yellow grains called lupulin that contain the active substance bete-humulene, beta-mycrene,beta-caryophyllene and farnescene. These chemicals help the body secrete bile and digestive juices. Some herbalists believe that hops' antispasmodic action make it a good choice for easing stress related digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulcers. The estrogenic powers of fresh hops makes a good remedy for menopause. The medicinal and tonic properties of the hops was also apparently known to traditional herbalist even if the primary use of the hops has been in the manufacture of beer, with which it has been associated for close to a 1,000 years now - the hops has been valued for its bitter taste and preservative action
Using the hops: The herb is usually taken as a tea or in capsules. Hops are also used in baths
and in" dream pillows to induse sleep.
Part used: the fruit of female plants.

January 12, 2009

Memories of my paternal Grandma

It's been many years since she passed away,
every precious moment we had I will always treasure
and in my thoughts and my heart she will be forever.

I look around at the things I have of hers and with each there is a story to tell. The many hours I sat at her kitchen table as she rambled on and on, now I wish I had listened closer. I am quite sure someday these things will be passed on to my children. I hope they remember what these things meant to me when I am gone. I do remember she always wore her hair cut short with a bit of a wave here & there. Sometimes she even had bobby pin curls tucked under her brown hairnet that she always wore and a handmade apron with pockets that she made herself. She spent a lot of hours, making aprons, potholders and even cutting out triangles & square shapes of brightly printed fabric using cardboard templates to make into quilts. My Grandpa made her a quilting frame and I have vivid memories of my mom & aunt stitching through layers of fabric stretched over that wooden frame with her when we went to visit. The faded now quilted fabrics matched the dresses that my cousins, sisters and I wore as a children. When we would go to her house we would find her often sitting at her kitchen table with a crossword book or find a word puzzle book and always a cold cup of coffee. I would ask her to bring out the album of pictures of my dad and his brother & sisters when they were younger. She would shake her head and open the cabinet drawer where letters from her sister in Kansas, laid neatly wrapped in a rubber bands and she would say "OK, but for just a few minutes I have supper to cook. " Grandma had a lot of buttons too that often we would sort through at her kitchen table matching colors, shapes and patterns as she told stories of her own childhood, of the things she used to do. She talked of people I never knew "back in Kansas" she would say. She was a quiet lady spoke softly and very kind, she only wore red lipstick and her hands were not soft but weathered from her daily labours, she lived a simple life and never seemed to complain or tire of my asking questions about my dad and how things were back when he was young.
Grandma had pretty flowers around her yard. Zinnias, Cosmos, Roses, beautiful Iris and orange & yellow marigolds, chrysanthemums, bachelor buttons & hollyhocks too and a big chestnut and a sycamore tree shaded her back door....everyone used the back door even the milkman. I guess because it was closest to her driveway. My cousins were lucky they lived in the house right behind hers on their 1/2 acre. I was often jealous of them. They could run down to her house anytime they wanted, I wonder today if they remember the things I do, like the time we sneaked down into the cellar and opened up a jar of grandmas home canned dill pickles and ate them right from the jar.. Ya know I think she knew we were there, all along.
At Christmas time grandma made the best divinity and suet puddings and mincemeat. I wish I had all her recipes that she kept in a wooden box in a cupboard on the second shelf next to her butter dish. I think my grandpa tossed them...Oh, that is another story to tell. The mixing bowls she used often are another of my favorites. At the time when I was young I didn't know were pottery called "yellow ware" quite popular now for some collectors. I used to have all three but one got broken sometime ago and I cried and one has a little hairline crack so I don't use them anymore. My sisters don't have tangible things of my grandma's and sometimes I do feel guilty but I was the first grandchild and a girl and I think I am entitled to these treasures I asked my Grandpa if I could have them when she passed away, because of the many stories she told and I remember some of them well. I hope someday my children and grandchildren will have fond memories of me and my stories of their great grandmother and remember my stories as well.

January 11, 2009

Valentines Day is coming

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I know I am ahead of the Holiday a tiny bit, but I have some really wonderful Farmgirls from Mary Janes Connection that I want to make & send cards and since I signed up for the Valentines Card Exchange. I thought I had better get busy, I drug out all my crafting supplies so there is no reason for me to lag behind. I think it's nice to receive something nice in the mailbox besides bills and unsolisited junkmail & flyers. Valentines Day comes at a perfect time to lift our spirits from thinking of days & days of snow, rain, and cold , wet and dreary. It is another time to think about others to make them feel special . A simple show of acknowledgement and appreciation need not be extravegant or pricey. A simple heart drawn on a piece of paper or remember how we as kids made heart pictures on a steamed up windows with arrows drawn through them ? I think those the 3 simple words "I love you" we often forget to say to our loved ones.
Although there are many Valentine Day poems & quotes that I am aware of sometimes those words just don't say what I feel. Some are too sappy and some just don't say enough. I think it might be better to throw myself into action and speak of how I feel about my friends & family throughout the year. I think first I will dig out my heart shaped cake pan and make my loved one a sugar free chocolate cake. That would definately be a nice thing to do. You better get busy you only have 34 days to think of a nice way to show your loved ones how much you care about them and wouldn't they like to get a Valentine in the mail?

January 10, 2009

One of my favorite lunches

I didn't know what I was going to post today, but then decided to make it easy. I realized it was after lunchtime and I would like a a simple peanutbutter & jelly sandwich. Quick & easy.. But I started thinking if it was really a healthy low calorie choice, I just started to total the numbers and it really isn't really a low cal lunch. But who cares, right.
Once I started adding, I had to stop.. because already with only
2 Tbls of peanutbutter which =190 calories & which I always use more than that, (why skimp when you are a choosy mother?) add to that
2 slices of oatnut bread =200 (you cannot make a sandwich with only one slice) and I have to butter one side before slapping on the peanutbutter.
1 Tbls butter * Yes I use Butter = ?
2 Tbls Peach jelly * made by me=? plus add
1 cup of Earl Grey tea, w/ 1 Tbls honey=? Well I know there are no calories in the water..and well the honey? Does it really matter? Peanutbutter has to be Jiff extra crunchy and jelly peach one of my favorites also and yeah I made it with 100% sugar so that add some more to the calorie count. I can't win but oh how wonderful it tastes. I am sure there is something good about a simple peanutbutter & jelly sandwich..otherwise why would moms around the world put it in their kids lunches?

January 9, 2009

A special Thanks

This is the Thank you gift given by one my new Buff Orps .
I just went out to make sure they were going to be warm in their new studio & lookie here. Now that makes me real Proud!
I can only hope the others will add to the basket. I better go have a pep talk with them.

Hen Studio now Occupied

The rental sign is down the girls have moved in finally. We actually brought home two buff Orphingtons, one Rhode Island Red and one Barred Rock. We think they are perfect for us. They endured their 25 mile ride home in the back of the explorer in a cardboard box. Their old home was a lot larger but they had to share the space with about 12 other birds of mixed heritage. So they have moved up in the neighborhood.
I think my favorite today is the Barred Rock. She is fluffy and so brightly colored. I think I will have a good time naming them. They rode home very quietly probably wonder "where are we going?" This farmgirl chicken mama is very happy. Now we see how they adapt to their nests and how many eggs they share with us.
Buster is not sure what to think. .He has been given the house rule to "Leave them alone".. and that he is their protector.. but I wonder how much of that he understands?

January 8, 2009

Our dog Buster

My name is Buster. This is my Life here on the farm.

I am a dog, thats what they tell me, although I think I am more than that. I have a human "mom & dad". I think I am my dad's best friend. It is my job to make him smile but sometimes he doesn't. He has an angry voice, but that's only when I don't come the first time he calls me, when I am outside playing. I like my mom too because she bought me for my dad, even though he really didn't think I would be a "Real Dog" cuz he thought I was a "girlie dog when I was a puppy. "Whats a dog to do when you have such a cute face & I was all fluffy?" I am now 2 1/2 and that makes me a teenager. My mom takes lots of pictures of me, I think she thinks I am more than a dog too...and she will let me tell you what's on my mind here from time to time...Right now my life here is pretty good. I get to sit in "my "dad's "chair ( this is my favorite place) to watch the birds outside the window and occassionally I see a few jack rabbits and deer out in the field. I have tried to catch them, but they can run a bit too fast for me. I get to ride in the car with my dad almost everywhere he goes. I think he likes my company, but he rarely lets me get out until I get back home. Then of course I have to go check out all my favorite holes to see if anything has been trespassing on my turf. My dad took me yesterday to the spa for a clip and shampoo, I think she cut my hair too short but dad says it will grow in a few weeks,and I will be fine. My hairdresser is "Rhonna". She is really nice, but she puts me in that cage to wait for my dad to come get me. I don't mind it too much if I dont have to wait too long. When I see my dad at the door I get real excited and my dad smiles and I know he missed me. I like the peanut butter biscuits my mom made me, they are really good. I am kinda picky when it comes to treats. I only like the small ones, those that the people at the bank & gas station give me are too big, but I don't want to hurt their feelings so I pretend I like them, I have quite a stash in the car. I am saving them for "my new brother or sister"I think I am going to get one, thats what I heard them say, but I don't know when, All I hear them talk about right now is "chickens"and I think they are birds.. and I cannot chase them. I hope they don't bring them inside & let them sit in my chair.

January 7, 2009

Durch Ovens old & new

Old 1870 ~ New 2009

I always wanted a Dutch Oven and now with so many new models and prices. I had quite a decision to make and I was unaware of the history until I started researching. I used to have a old cast iron pot for roasting meats & cooking stews. Where it disappeared to I have no idea. After Christmas, I decided to purchase a new one and found this one with my name written allover it. The price was still a bit heafty but I love the color and now I can better prepare soups, chilies, stews and roast, chicken, any meat I choose. Not that I did not do this before. It is just nice to have new appliances & cookware don't you think? I think it makes me feel like a great cook, special & to be honest , it kinda puts a "me in the mood" to cook that is...& I am sure my recipes will taste even better. I did noticed Emeril and Paula Dean, Rachel Ray all have these pots and look what great cooks they must be the pots they use and I now have one so I can put on my apron and get started creating some terrific meals.
I'd like to share some things I learned about Dutch Ovens. Did you know:
No one knows for sure where the name 'Dutch Oven' originated. Some speculate it came from Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania who used and sold the ovens. Others think it may have originate from the cast-iron sand mold casting method used by the Dutch.

Today, a century and a half after their appearance, Dutch ovens are being used more than ever.
and this was quite interesting to know,
Utahns own more Dutch Ovens per capita than any other state. Nearly every county fair and city celebration features a Dutch Oven Cookoff or demonstration of some kind.
In fact, the Utah Legislature named the Dutch Oven Utah's official "State Cooking Pot" in 1997!

Now if I can just decide what to cook in it. Stew, soup, chili or a nice beef roast? It is so pretty I hate to get it dirty but if I know you are coming for dinner I will take it off the dispay shelf.

January 6, 2009

Simple Herbal Wisdom & Plant Sense

I have decided to educate myself about the healing powers of plants and herbs. I will be learning and posting bits of "Herbal Wisdom" on my blog every Tuesday. I love flowers and plants and have plenty space to grow them. I am studying currently from "The Woman's book of Healing Herbs" by Sari Harrar and Sara Altshul O'donnell. The book is published by Rodale. Both authors are editors for Prevention magazine. I want to know simple ways to use medicinal herbs to treat everyday health problems, relieve stress, and beautify my skin, hair & nails. This book looks like it will provide me with that knowledge.
Today's bit of " Simple Herbal Wisdom " a pretty purple flower
Echinacea (eck-in-AY-see-uh) is the most popular medicinal herb, just as it was 100 years ago.
It stimulates the production of infection fighting white blood cells. It combats colds, flu,infections, slow healing wounds and inflamed skin conditions.
Echinacea can be taken as a tincture sometimes (called an extract) or in capsules. Herbalists recommend using it at the first signs of a cold or flu. The part used for its healing properties is the root. Before taking any herb or other medicinal plants be sure to consult your doctor.
I am going to add this plant to my garden this spring.It is my understanding that deer do not eat purple flowers so I will give it a try.
Echinacea is a hardy and easy to grow perennial that likes fertile well drained soil and full sun to light shade.

January 5, 2009

Barn Door Creations "Ginger"

By request I am posting my latest creation " Ginger" to this site. She is posted on the Barn Door Creations blogsite if you want to know more about her.
She is a cutie don't you think? Right now while she is waiting to be adopted, she is enjoying her place in the red recliner, watching what's going on in the front room and even "Buster" stops to check her out.. he sniffs at her everytime he walks by her . He doesn't like it when she is in " his place "(which he shares with Clay) in the big club chair, so she had to be given her own place. I hope to create another after I get some other projects completed, so keep checking back.

Need something to read?

I have plenty of reading material to keep me busy when I have nothing else to do.. Yeah right.. I am sure with my other interests of sewing, crafting, cooking, decorating, these winter days will be full . I wonder what magazines the mail man will leave in the box today? I'm waiting anxiously for the next issues of "Mary Janes Farm" & "Living the Country Life" & "Country Living"
I just sorted and put away the other magazines, travel brochures ( we wont be need those for awhile) and cook books realizing I am actually waiting for two more books from Amazon and a few seed catalogs to add to the "library of things to read when I have nothing else to do.." I love magazines and get lots of decorating, recipe, and gardening ideas from them. I started to read a few pages nightly of a novel but have really fallen asleep after two pages, so I am behind on that too. I am making a personal goal to keep the books & magazines purchases under control as much as possible, but it is difficult when so many offers come in the mail with lower renewal rates. How can these publishers do that to me... It is a budgeting issue and I will not order another magazine ...until spring. By then I will have twice as many to read, I will get started thumbing through them again with the weather outside being snowy & cold....or maybe today it will be nice to curl up in my chair with a nice cup of tea and read...or maybe I will just put them aside for a rainy the Spring when I sort through them again .

January 4, 2009

A New sign of our time

My son Dennis & his wife Michelle made me this great gift for me for Christmas. I know they put many hours into designing and constructing it. I am very please to share the fruits of their labors.

In the beginning , Clay & I had a dream own a small place of our own where we could have a few chickens, a place where the dog could run and play. Clay could pursue his interest in bee keeping and we could live a simple life and still be free to travel and enjoy our remaining years together. We were fortunate to find this perfect place for us.

Now we have a real sign to claim the property as ours and to declare just what we are doing here besides enjoying our farm life.
We are reading a lot about gardening, soil textures, composting, organic seeds and saving seeds, bee keeping including honey & making candles & soaps, lipbalms, chickens, coops & egg production. This small place could turn into something BIG , to say nothing of a healthy lifestyle.

There are a couple more signs to hang under the BlueSky main sign which may or may not be displayed along with these at the drive way entry like "sleigh rides," "u pick blackberries" Happy Holidays..but you never know our tiny begining could become a local landmark. That's what happens when you dream.

January 3, 2009

Cute one Room Studio * furnished*

With dry, sunny & cold weather ,
We spent the better part of the day working on the Hen House Project.
Let me give you a tour of the interior. Stepping inside you can notice the decor is inviting and warmly done in rustic country. The interior walls with designer knot holes are of pine plywood untouched naturally in earth tones. The Natural daytime lighting comes from the warm sunshine and the late evenings in crisp calming moonlight. These "girls" will enjoy the southern exposure shelf for longer hours of laying or a quick escape from "Mr. Rooster" when they have that occasional "headache" the top of a short 4 foot reproduction Navajo Kiva ladder to reach their nests. The dry golden yellow straw is waiting in the garage to carpet inside their dwelling. During the cold winter nights the heat lamp furnace will be sufficient for the 4x8 ft construction. The ceiling is an off white colored fiberglass sheeting. A extra large wicker basket will make a comfy nesting accomodation to be shared by more than one hen and Clay has donated a favorite retired box for another. I plan to paint the outside when the weather warms up. We have to install the roosting pole and cut out the little entry door below the window yet and eventually build the outside fenced yard for protection against those pesky hawks & coyotes who may think they are at a "fast food joint". With just a few last minute decorating items the studio will be habitable for an early occupancy if our "chicken nanny" contacts me to come get the darlings! Now tell me what would be more suitable for few laying hens and a rooster?

January 2, 2009

Budgeting.. Start with groceries

We need to see where our money is going and that means budget time. Starting with Grocery buying. Today I inventoried the freezer and we have plenty of "Food" frozen. I think enough Meat,Vegetables and Fruit to carry us through the next months. I am planning meal menus by the week and trying my best to budget what money is spent on food. It seems we go to the grocery store a bit too often, and although we set out to get stuff needed on our list we are bringing home more than we went for. I have checked the pantry and will organize that tomorrow. We certainly are not going to go hungry. I am making a goal to spend less than $100 a month grocery shopping. We do shop for bargains and Safeway prices are usually higher than our neighborhood "Sherms Market". We are not skimping I think we are being more frugal and since we both like to cook we can share the duty. Eat more left overs and start using the food we have canned & frozen. Today is the start of a Great Plan....but
I see a problem brewing if we decide we are not in the mood to have what is planned for the meal on any given day. I think Flexibility is the key here and making sure we three well balanced meals. Gosh maybe we will lose some pounds around our midsections if we can comply.

January 1, 2009

Another Birthday

When you have three kids it keeps me hoppin to make sure nobody's feelings get hurt.. Especially my daughters. Pj is going to be 38 on the 5th. I did not make her an apron for Christmas, while making 5 others as gifts. Well wouldn't ya know it, her "older" sister had to tell her thinking she was "special" that I made her one for Christmas. "Thanks Nancy".
PJ it's a joke You were not your siblings like to say of you.. You deserve an Apron too. So Happy Birthday!

It is January 1st today and that was my first project of the year. I think I am caught up with Birthday wishes for my children, now to start on those sweet "grandbabies" they all have given me.. Lets see next birthday is January 26th . Peyton will be 8years old. Where does the time go? I am fairly certain he will not want an apron..and I already sent his Kid National Geographic subscription for the year, to be delivered to mail box. Kids love mail don't they? Now I want to get started sewing on my cloth Prim Doll.....while the mood hits me...