Freezing Apples, Crisp & a Happy Picture


Organic apples were on sale at our local market last week for $1 a pound. I bought 6 pounds of them and froze them for baking. They can be frozen whole but it’s a pain to peel and core them frozen or defrosted. I peel, core and slice them first, then freeze them. They aren’t good raw once they’re frozen but they are great cooked. The only thing is, they give out more liquid than the fresh ones would. I counteract that by adding arrowroot flour to the apples so the juice thickens up instead of being watery. Corn starch is another option but I prefer arrowroot. I use it to thicken gravy too.
The apples in the freezer came in handy today when my daughter called to say she was dropping by this afternoon for a quick visit. I filled an 8×8 baking dish with a mixture of frozen apples, 2T of arrowroot, 1/8 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Then I made a quick, standard crisp topping -3/4 cup brown sugar combined with 3/4 cup flour and 2t cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup butter. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients (like making pie crust) until everything is mixed together and crumbly. Scatter this over the apples and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the apples are tender. *This topping is delicious with pears and peaches too!
By the time my daughter got here, the kitchen smelled like cinnamon and apples. I made some tea and showed her the picture I finished for the nursery I’m planning upstairs. We had the apple crisp warm and I whipped up a little cream to top it off.

New York City

My youngest daughter is an art student. She wanted to go to the Modern Museum of Art so we planned a day in New York City. We took a train in to Grand Central and planned a walking route to visit some of the things in the neighborhood.  The first stop was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  There’s a lot of construction and scaffolding..inside and out.

Then we went to the Museum.  There was a statue with a live beehive for a head in the courtyard.

My fun cousin Stacey recommended ‘Serendipity’ for lunch. We had to backtrack a few blocks to get there but it was worth it!

Back to 5th Avenue..I wanted to look at the window displays and visit Fao Schwartz one last time before it closes on July 15

It was a great day image

Daffodil Days & Seedlings

There’s lots of different types of daffodils blooming in my yard now.

The seeds planted back in March are doing well except for the Milkweed.  Not a single sprout in sight.  The growing seedlings get a boost of a tablespoon of fish emulsion  dissolved in a gallon of their water twice a week.   Kale, some herbs and cabbages are set out now, during the day.  The sprouted peas are planted in a potted trellis that held black eyed Susan vines last year.

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Meanwhile, tomatoes, peppers and tender annuals continue to grow in the basement under lights. Our last frost date is in just 5 1/2 weeks and by then, everything will be planted out in the garden

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Winter Cheer

Crazy as it may seem with temperatures in the negative digits and 3 feet of snow on the ground, Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer  …it doesn’t get dark until 6 pm now and  seeds are starting to sprout.  My leeks are coming up!   I saw a notice posted in a coffee shop, offering coffee grounds to gardeners.  My husband checked in with a local coffee shop near to where he works and if we provide a bucket, they are willing to fill it with used grounds.  I finished painting another one of my masonite boards.  I got a little carried away with this one but at this point in my life it’s all about the process, not the product.  I had a bit of a laugh to myself when it was done because the cherub at the top came out looking like my Mom, totally unplanned.   Lol!  Art therapy, longer days and spring seeds work wonders to keep high spirits and hopeful thoughts for the coming days, even in the dead of winter.

Breakdown

Last night, about an hour away from home, the clutch went on my jeep as we were getting onto the highway.  Luckily, my husband was driving.   In the past, I haven’t reacted well to automotive failures and things ended badly. For about 30 minutes, stuck in fifth gear we were figuring out a plan to get as close to home as possible without having to stop.   Once the car stopped  or  if we were unable to maintain a certain speed,  that was it,  we wouldn’t be able to get the car in gear to go any farther.

We made it off the highway into a parking lot about a half hour away from home.  We thought we had roadside assistance through our insurance company but found out that we did not.   There are no taxi cabs where I live and the friends that we called didn’t answer their phones.   Finally, I called my sister who lives almost an hour away from me and she came to give us a ride home.  I’m the type of person that hates to ask anyone for help.  I  felt awful asking her to drive all that way on a freezing Saturday night.

All things considered, everything worked out really well and I  should be thankful.   I don’t know how long I will be without a car.  It’s supposed to snow for the next 3 days.  As it is, I’m beginning to feel like I live in Narnia…….Spring will never come and every day will be cold and grey.  There’s a garden center in town that has lots of green houses, tropical plants, heirloom seeds and LIGHT.  Maybe I can make a quick visit before the snow comes back.

Snow, Bees & Yo-yos

My daughter is back at school and snow is in the forecast again.  I’ve been working on color filled projects and reading about bees. I’ve tentatively decided to go with the top bar beehive..it seems easier, a little more natural and organic.   This is a big expensive.  I figure, including the bees it will be $500!   A hive  starts with around 10,000 bees.  I watched some videos on You Tube of new bee keepers  getting  bees into their hives.  I have to admit, it is a little intimidating.   I’m not ready to commit, lol.

I’ve been resourcing heirloom seed companies and I came across a company that sells heirloom fruit trees..some dating back to the 1600’s.   It’s called Orange Pippin Trees.   A lot of  the trees are sold out.  Hopefully that is a good thing, maybe a lot of people are trying to keep these old varieties going.  I’m  trying to fit a few small apple trees into my garden plan.

This is a good time to paint woodwork, mend quilts and freshen up the house.  These little yoyo’s will soon become  pillows.   My goal is to have everything inside fresh, clean, cheerful and organized  by the time gardening season starts…yayy

 

Cookies and Christmas Projects


Such a fun time of the year! The weather has been icy, rainy, snowy and overall dreary but it doesn’t matter, I’ve been busy inside baking and trying to finish Christmas gifts. This picture will be for for one of my daughters. My Dad’s 79th birthday was this week so I made a batch of his favorite cookies. It’s the same recipe his Grandmother used when she made them for him. I had a lot of felt from my Mother’s sewing room so I’ve been playing with making these ornaments. I had them all hanging in the kitchen window. My girls noticed them on Thanksgiving and took home what they wanted. You learn to share everything when you come from 3 sisters and have 3 daughters, lol! I’m glad my daughters liked them. I hope all of you are enjoying the season!

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These cookies bake from 7-10 minutes.  It’s best to refrigerate the dough,  for about 15 minutes, before rolling it into little balls.  Set them a couple inches apart onto the cookie sheet, they do spread.

Staying on Task


I would like nothing better today than to pull out my paintbox, brew up some tea and spend the day painting happy pictures. This always happens when I make commitments or have looming events that I don’t want to deal with on the horizon. I promise myself that tonight, after supper is cleared, I will paint. In the meantime, I’ll plan my pictures and  think of all the colors and cheerful things I’ll put on my boards as I get on with the tasks at hand.

Home Made

hand painted table

Table I painted

My Grandmother grew up on a farm and raised her children on a farm as well.  They had a cow and some pigs, geese, ducks and chickens and a giant garden.  Canning, churning, cheesemaking, baking, sewing, soap making, tending the garden and the children…she did it all and nothing went to waste.    She made comforters and stuffed them with goose feathers.  Any stale bread or cake was ground into crumbs and added to the next batter.   Ashes and fat were used to make soap.

I’m told the house I live in now is a lot like where she raised her children.  By the time I knew her, she was widowed and  living  down south in reduced circumstances.  She had 4 small rooms and the littlest bit  of land.  No matter.  She made it her own and she had a garden.  Behind the house was a small tin shed she called her “utility room”.  There she kept her treasures, all cast offs and rummage sale finds.  There were yards and yards of material,  neatly arranged, color coded, on  floor to ceiling shelves that lined  2 of the walls.   Glass jars filled with buttons, thread, yarn, laces and trims, were on shelves along the third wall with pots of glue, sparkles and paint. In the middle of it all was an old wooden work table and next to that, her  foot pedaled, black Singer sewing machine.

From this place, she worked her magic, transforming  her little home into a clean, cozy nest.  She did it all with her own hands.  Everything always had a fresh lick of paint.  Starchy white curtains were drawn back so sunlight filled the rooms.  Chairs and couches, plumply reupholstered, were strewn with cheerful pillows in happy colors. Chenille bedspreads and patchwork quilts were on the beds and her braided rugs on the floors. Here and there, you’d see a bit of sparkle from some old jewelry, on a soapdish she’d  made or on a picture frame.  Pick up a dishtowel, and there was a smiling duck she’d embroidered.   There were always homemade jellies and a scratch cake in the pantry, and homemade bread in the breadbox.  Her house smelled like laundry brought in fresh from the line.

This is what I aspire to, though I have a long way to go.  I have my own little workspace where I sew, paint and repurpose things to make them beautiful to me.   I’m happiest there, in my garden and my kitchen, working on things to make my home fresh, cheerful and clean, where nothing goes to waste and  I can make things that I call beautiful.  Life is not easy, far from it.   Appalling things happen, personally,  globally.   I am learning to do what I can and let go of, or pray about , those things over which I am powerless.   In the meantime, this is where I am and what I do.

Painted rocker with my Granmother's quilt

Rocker I painted with my Grandmother’s quilt

Upcycling the ‘End of Summer’ mood

Upcycled trunk I found for $20.  I painted  it and use it for storage/ coffee table

Upcycled trunk I found for $20. I painted it and use it for storage/ coffee table

This morning I started pulling my Fall and Winter clothes out of the dresser in my closet .  They’re all to be washed , ironed and  laid nicely into the main dresser where my summer clothes are now.  While they are in the washing machine I’ll be starting the process of putting some of the gardens to bed.  I’ll clean them up, feed them up and tuck them under until spring.  Feeling a little sad and a bit daunted at the thought of another long winter, I reminded myself that there is a lot of  creative time in the cold.  So much time has been dedicated to the garden and in the kitchen the past few months, and I loved it .  I do have to admit it’s wearing a little thin.  This post is just a few pictures of  what I worked on in past winters, a motivation to  get those creative juices flowing and to embrace the coming seasons.

Upcycled table, painted and handles replaced

Upcycled table, painted and handles replaced

This post was shared with Mod Mix Monday

 

 

Making Art

image     As a little kid, I loved to draw and paint.  As a teenager, I dreamed of becoming a famous artist.   I majored in Fine Art for 3 years, ran out of money and  was at a loss for direction.  I quit school.  I never could let go of that dream, though.  For years, I continued to practice, setting up Continue reading