Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Preserving The Garden Produce

The garden vegetables have been rolling in.  Let the blanching and freezing begin! :)  I've been picking green beans for some time now, but they are starting to slow up a little after the heavy rains.  Although we have eaten them with dinners, I have still managed to blanch and freeze 4 quart bags full of them and might end up with a few quarts more.  My son only planted a few rows this year, so I think that they did pretty good.  This years garden was kind of experimental.  We tried a smattering of different things.  Then we can decide which items to put more in of next year, and where they will be placed.  The green beans are a hit, so there will definitely be more rows next year. 

The green peppers have been very sluggish.  The high wind storm really took its tole on them.  I find that the green bell pepper plants are a heartier variety for our soil.  The multi colored varieties are just sitting stagnant.  I have been chopping up those that were harvested and flash freezing them on a cookie sheet.  So far, I have filled 1 1/2 quart bags.  I hope that the plants will come out of their funk to produce a few quarts more.  I definitely will buy more of the green bell variety next year.  During the winter months, I add green peppers to a lot of my main dishes.  Yum!

I haven't planted jalapenos in years, but it sounded good when the kid and I were purchasing our plants.  The three little plants in our garden just love to grow!  Here is the first pickings.  My initial inclination was to freeze these little guys, but I have many other items to fill my freezer with before the snow flies.  So, my other option was to string and dry them.  Don't they look pretty?  I can't wait to pick some more.  They add some spice to my decorating as well! ;)

My greatest success so far was training my cucumbers to climb the corner trellis.  They just haven't wanted to do it in subsequent years.  The first ones that were picked were long and skinny.  I almost thought that they needed to sit on the vine longer, but after tasting one, I knew they were ready for a recipe.  There were three cucumbers in the first picking, so they were turned into bread and butter pickles.  Since there wasn't many cucumbers, I found this recipe to make a small batch in the microwave.  How crazy is that?  They were a hit with my family.  Next year the garden will see more cucumbers, and you'll find me canning some bread and butter pickles!  I hated these as a child but love them as an adult.  Mmmmm... :)

If you are interested in the recipe for the microwave bread and butter pickles, they can be found here at All Recipes.  They really taste great and come in handy for a quick batch. 

The tomatoes are just starting to turn a reddish orange color.  I only planted six of these.  My family is not big tomato eaters.  Salsa use to be a big hit, but even that has lost its appeal.  There are some squash vines growing like crazy and some eggplant.  We have never eaten egg plant, so it should be an interesting adventure.  The three plants are covered in flowers, and there are six baby eggplants already growing.  I will have to look around for some recipes. ;)   My rhubarb is having a long growing season with 6 quarts cubed in the freezer, and another pile of stalks waiting to be preserved.  I see some strawberry rhubarb freezer jam in my future... ;)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Second Antique Tractor Pull for the Minneapolis Moline U

See the hazy look to this picture... It wasn't just due to the fact that I was shooting into the sun.  It was hot and humid at the tractor pull in Elizabeth.  It definitely could have been worse.  Thankfully,  the pull started at 5 pm.  This is the first one that we have been to that began in the evening, but as you can see, the sun didn't set until around 8:30.  My son competed with his Minni U that runs on LP in the 6000 and 6500 farm class.  Due to the lack of trailer space, the poor Minni Z hasn't seen a pull yet this year.  But I am sure, it will make it to our local pull. ;)  

The Minni has a lot of power.  There is plans in the works for a front bracket to mount more weights, but it didn't seem to hurt the pulls this weekend.  The decision has been made to compete in heavier classes the next time.  I think that they are going to try 6500 and 7000 or 7500.  The heavier she is - the better she seems to pull.

This is what happens when the kid finishes to close to where Mom is standing.  Yikes!  It is the only time that I have seen this tractor with its tires up.  These photos were from the 6000 class.  The sun set on the 6500 class, and I did not have my camera set for it.  Rats!  It made for some very dark shots. :(    Live and learn...

How did the kid do?    Well, there were 15 tractors in the 6000 class, and he wasn't in the top three.  We actually lost count on his standing in that pull.  In the 6500 class,  there were 13 tractors,  and he placed third in a tight top three.  So now back to the drawing board with plans on how to improve the weight issues before the next pull!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Another Birthday is passing by on an extremely hot July day.  I haven't checked to see if the heat index broke 100 degrees today, but it sure felt like it.  After 43 years of celebrating on this day, I have learned to be thankful not to have a major storm and happy to have central air! :)

I promised in an earlier post to share my little birthday friends.  This collection began with a present from my sister a few years back.  She knows how much I loved "Fraggle Rock" as a child.  The group has grown with each passing birthday.  Jim Henson was an absolute artistic genius in creating these magical little creatures that encompassed all of the traits that human beings covet and distress over in their own persona's.  From the left you have the adventurous Gobo who leaves the caves of Fraggle Rock to explore the outside world inhabited by humans.   Then there is his friends:  the worrisome Boober, the little working Doozers, the indecisive Wembley, and the energetic Red.  The show encompassed life's lessons into each episode and inspired children to stretch their imagination and horizons.  I was lucky enough to also receive the first season on DVD.  The episodes are timeless...  

Here is this year's addition to the group.  She found me a cool t shirt, and Sprocket, the dog that Gobo must get past to go into the outside world.  It is always a good thing to keep a few mementos of childhood within reach.  It stops me from taking my life or myself to seriously. ;)

I keep this pinned up on the bulletin board  next to my drafting table.  It was part of a stamp collection produced by the US Post Office.  I just love the silhouette of Jim and Kermit the Frog.  What an amazing man!  Where would we be without PBS and "Sesame Street", "Fraggle Rock", Kermit the Frog, "The Muppets", and all of his glorious movies.  My Christmas favorite is "A Muppet's Christmas Carol" that was created by his son, Brian.  The music and script are brilliant.  The quote on the card from Jim reads:  "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world.  My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."   This man has been a great inspiration to me in life and in my art.   I love that his creations are still a part of my life, inspiring me to never loose my creativity, integrity, and values. :)  

What a wonderful life it has been so far... I look forward to growing more in the next year with my new adventures with Etsy, stretching my creativity to involve more of the fiber arts, and watching my graphite and fine art expand.  Thanks for those who take the time to share my world through my blogs, and for those whose blogs make my world expand across the globe.  Now I must go... there is a big piece of cake waiting for me!  :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Antique Tractor Pull for the Minneapolis Moline U

Northern Illinois is getting hit with some incredible heat index numbers this week, just in time for the county fairs.  My son has been waiting for the Antique Tractor Pull to try out the Minneapolis Moline U that runs on an LP tank.  Due to the high temps, I almost bailed on this one but couldn't miss the U's debut.  Thanks to the generosity of the announcing staff, that let spectators sit up on the large roofed stage, it wasn't too miserable.

Here is my son going for his weigh in.  He entered in the 6200 and 6600 pound farm class.  For those not familiar with pulls,  the tractors have weights hanging from the front, sides, and back to make their pound total.   The competitors shift them to different weight brackets on the tractor to get better traction on the track. 

Here is his first pull with the Minni U.   I was so happy to see it out and pulling.  There has been many a night and weekend spent getting this tractor ready for this moment, and so many great friends made along the way.  :) 

Captured in mid pull... He has to lean on the throttle while going down the track.   What can I say?  The kid lives for this moment.  ;)

The moment of truth... when that green flag is about to go red as the tractor digs into the clay.  With the Minni Z, the front wheels usually rise a little to give a sign that the show is about over, but this heavy girl stayed stuck to the ground.

And the finish...   I was thrilled for my hubby and for my son.  He placed third out of 8 tractors in his class.  Very respectable for his first pull.  In the 6600 class, he finished second. Yay!  My hubby was already making mental notes of where the weights have to be placed for the pull that takes place this coming weekend.   Thank the heavens that pull is suppose to be held at night.  No burning hot sun!  :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Electricity Anyone??

I woke up to the alarm from the weather radio on Monday that we were under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.   The main focus was on strong straight line winds.  It was way to early for me to get up but not enough time for me to go back to sleep. LOL  So, I laid there like a slug until the sky got darker and darker.  We didn't get much rain or lightening, but for about 5 minutes, we had some unbelievable straight line winds.  Needless to say, there were trees down everywhere.  In our little town, almost every tree seemed to be drawn to the nearest power line.  Aaargh!  Lights Out... Cable Out... Internet Out... and with the help of my trusty non cordless phone, the calls to our tree business began to trickle in.

So what have I been up to since Monday?  The first day, after surveying the damage to all the power lines, we decided to hook up our generator.  Com Ed informed the town that we could be out for three days.  We were blessed by having our power restored by supper time.  (Unfortunately, over half the town had to wait until Wednesday night.)  That night, I headed out to do tree work with the guys.  The second day, I worked at my day job and came home to a very quite house with our cable and Internet still non-existent.  I hurried to get a bite to eat before heading out for a full night of cleaning up fallen trees.   Yesterday was a repeat of the day before but came home to find out Mediacom had restored out cable and Internet. Yay!  Unfortunately, it was way to late to enjoy them.  Drat!  So now on day four, I am able to come home from work and explain my absence from my blogging friends.  Due to a well timed Stephenson County Tractor Pull that my hubby and son are currently attending, I am not needed to drag and chip brush and can catch up on all the wonderful happenings of the blogging world.   

I finally remembered my camera last night.  This was taken in a town 10 minutes to the east where the storm wasn't as bad.  Under the power lines is a toppled over little tree.  We were working in the yard on the right where the head came out of a pine tree.  Sorry, I didn't get any  pics from our hometown work, but it was way to hot ... and I was way to scummy to handle a camera!

I hope everyone is enjoying better summer weather.  I am grateful that there wasn't any harm to anyone  or their homes.  Now the weather man is calling for severe heat for the next week or so.  Ugh!  It should start heating up on Sunday... just in time for my birthday! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Winnie the Pooh ~ Stamped Cross Stitch Baby Quilt

I am back in style with this old quilt kit!  Disney is coming out with a new Winnie the Pooh Movie.  Yay!  Love that little bear. :)  As you can see, I have made some progress since the last post.  Other stitching projects are getting most of my attention right now, but I try to fit this one in here and there.  The blue on this quilt is so jumbly (must be a Pooh word?? ;) ) that it can be a chore figuring out the X's.  The Disney quilts do not have much for color change which can be refreshing and redundant all at the same time.  I love the feel of these vintage cotton quilts.  They are so soft and wonderfully oversized.  

I will be going through my collection of quilt kits this weekend and weeding out duplicates.  I've decided, that even if I should get twin grandkids in the future, I do not want to do the same kit twice.  Takes the pressure off my son! LOL  They will be getting listed on my selling blog if anyone is interested. ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

#2 Nine Patch Block ~ SBS

I finished block number two!  Yay!!  Look at those seams.  To be honest, I have never had seams that lined up with such perfection on my first quilt top.  Thanks Leila!  She threw in the small suggestion to mark or know where your 1/4 inch seam line is on your machine.  Unfortunately, a cheap ruler made for an incorrect marking on the start of my first block.  Yikes!  But after measuring with one of my quilting rulers, I haven't had any problems.  It shows that a little suggestion, that some quilters would take for granted,  is golden to a newbie.  And thanks to the delivery of my quilting supplies, I know that my rotary cutting with the new mat has drastically improved and is more accurate. :)

Excitement was mounting last week as I waited for the announcement of the next block.  My answer was posted Friday... It is to be the "Churn Dash" block.  And I must say, it is a very impressive looking block.  With other commitments arising first,  I had to wait on beginning this block. Grrrr!  So, my cutting will commence tonight.  I am hooked on quilting and welcome tackling the challenge!

I thought I would share with you my partner in crime... my Sears Kenmore sewing machine.  This steel bodied beauty was what helped to create my first quilt top and will help me create this sampler quilt.  It was a find for $5.00 at a garage sale.  The moments that it has brought me are priceless.  I checked the background on this machine on line, and they say this serial number was manufactured in 1968.  You would never know by looking at it.  Of course, that was a great year.  Ooops, did I just give away my age! ;)

I have browsed through the newer machines and really like the Janome DC 2011 and Magnolia 7330.  Maybe some time in the future, one will grace my sewing room. Of course, it will have to share space with my current machine!

 For right now though, it is me and my trusty Kenmore... 

Happy 4th of July Everyone!! :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pumpkin Hollow Flea Market ~ Selling Blog & Etsy Store

As you all know, thrift shopping is my passion.  My inventory is a menagerie of all of the sales that I have attended in years past.  My tastes are continually evolving, along with the plans of displaying or crafting with these items!  ;)  So what is a girl to do when the sales keep showing up in the local paper, but the shelves in the basement are beginning to buckle???  Well... my hubby said to have my own garage sale.  (Like I would ever get organized enough for that!)   My son wanted to scrap my metal finds.  (Perish the thought!)  So with no other suggestions, I was left to come up with my own solution.  Hmmmm... How about my own personal flea market?  I mean blogosphere flea market.

My hubby and I have friends that set up at flea markets every year, and of course, we always attend! :)  I had mentioned that it would be fun to be on the selling side once.  But after thinking long and hard about it, I knew all the preparation (packing and unpacking) would be too much for our busy schedules.  So that is when it popped into my mind to have my own flea market.  Or better yet, a blog that was dedicated to selling some of those items found on my adventures.  And as promised in the beginning of this blog, my Etsy store has been created, could still use a little refining ;), but  is currently waiting  for me to list my handmade creations.    

By the Fourth of July, my intention is to have my first listings at  Pumpkin Hollow Flea Market on Blogger and begin listing handmade and vintage items at the Pumpkin Hollow Store on Etsy (I will also post my Etsy store on each of my blog's sidebars, when it is up and running!).  

Listings will be made weekly,  so click to follow or sign up for email updates.  There will be some great bargains that will be a first to email first served set up.   Most items will be one of a kinds and will range from the items pictured... to fabric... to stitching kits... to some of my thrifty finds.  Just about anything and everything!   If anyone is looking for something in particular or an item viewed on this blog, feel free to drop me a line. :)

It has been a long week of preparation for these ventures.  (I will be glad to get back to posting my projects and travels. ;) )   It will be fun to evolve and learn the ropes as all of my blogs grow, and I hope you will enjoy popping in on all of my sites! :)