3/27/2017

Daffodil days - finally!!!

 Daffodils at last... My favorite spring flower.  I had to buy these at the grocery store as it is still a couple weeks away before any bloom in my garden.  It has been such a long hard winter and we were having company for dinner Sunday.. I just couldn't resist setting a yellow table.. daffodils and goldfinches...
 

3/22/2017

Lily's portrait on a button

Beloved Lily is Nicki Lee's theme for CQJP2017 and she had me paint her portrait on a button... Have you ever seen a dog with such a happy smile.  It kept me smiling as I painted it... The portrait is on a antique 2" MOP button.

I'm so grateful I can still paint on buttons... In  fact it is the only stress-free  hobby I have now...  The only really useful vision I have left is the peripheral vision in my left eye.. and it is nearly impossible to keep anything focused as either things or my head shifts.  But because the size of a button is such a small field of vision and I can keep it both it and my head still, I can still enjoy painting....or course the large magnifying lamp is a godsend..



3/20/2017

Talk about nit-picky!!!


There were times when the chickens got table scraps and were glad to get them but my chickens are not only particular about their scraps, they are particular about how they are served.  I had lots of squash I grew for them last summer and every week or so bake one for them... One time it was a larger squash so I put half in their usual paper bowl and wrapped the other half in aluminum folil.   The following day I folded the foil back and put it by their chicken food.  By the end of the day they had not taken ONE bite of the squash.  I took it back in the house and served it to them the next morning in a paper bowl and they gobbled it up.

 Sunday we had breakfast out and I brought home a carry out container with grits, biscuits, and  cooked apples. Wasn't sure they'd eat the grits but I KNEW they'd love the biscuits.... Yum!  They refused to even look at it.  So this morning put it all in one of their usual paper bowl  and they were immediately fighting over it,

They  will eat stale bread but pick at it...  They prefer I put some broth or soup on it.  They will not eat vegetable peelings unless I cook them in the microwave.  I was a mom who was relentless about her kids eating everything served to them and here I am coddling these silly chickens...

And I suspect they sent me this email!....

3/18/2017

Old beloved rusty stuff...

Last summer I gather up some old iron wheels to act as a support for a clematis I planted here... Then every time I ran across a rusty broken tool I put it here along with some old rusty watering cans.

I have used this rusty old wheel barrow for about 40 years.  I liked it because it has a flat shallow bed perfect for moving pots etc. even after the bottom was rusting through..  Last fall one of the handles broke.  I thought I would make a new handle but know I won't but I will still love it forever... so it has a resting place with the other rusty stuff.  If I leave it stand alone I know DH will want to haul it to the dump... but now it is a part of a vignette.... and is officially "garden art."  Yesterday I surrounded it with dwarf iris, hardy geraniums and brunnera.  Tomorrow I'll poke in some daffodils also.

Lots of my "garden art" gets moved about.  This sign I made from an old pump has stood by the shop in the barn since the nursery days.  I gave it a fresh look-over today and decided it is due for a makeover and I'm thinking that maybe by the chicken house would be a good place.. repainted "Fresh Eggs by Happy Hens"











I found another old pump by the pond and it has   a wonderful patina and I am mulling over where it can go..  Not sure where yet but I'm thinking maybe in the peony patch.. Isn't it too gorgeous for words... DH just will never understand how I can love this old junk...

The rustier and crustier the better..












And earlier this month I mentioned that I had heard from a dear friend who I thought I had lost touch with forever... Well today she came and we chatted   for
hours and were able to catch up with all that has happened in the last few years and we vowed to always keep in closer  touch.. She had gone through many life changes since I had last seen her and I was so glad to see her so happy now.  She is the most positive person I have ever known... beautiful inside and out...She whistled bird songs with the symphony orchestra last winter.. You have to love somebody who has that talent....

3/13/2017

Lace and Stollen

It's only  three weeks until we leave for our anniversary cruise so I decided I better get back to the lace jacket post haste.. Except for the front I thought I  had it all basted to the bobbinet but on closer examination there are several areas that I need to beef up the basting.   White on white is as difficult as black on black.  As I hold all the pieces together it is much heavier than I thought it would considering it is just a bunch of string and air...and I wonder how practical it is going to be in April.  If nothing else I'll just wear it to dinner in the evening.  I was also concerned that the detail on the lace wasn't that visible but I think that is just my eyes...

Spring rains are rapidly turning our road into a sea of mud but the snow is disappearing rapidly as well.  I did get to play in the dirt (mud) yesterday to start repairing the pig damage which is overwhelming.   I had made wire guards for special plants and I'm finding  smashed wire guards and empty spaces so I'm trying to figure out what is gone. Luckily some perennials I can divide from elsewhere in the garden but most of the plants and shrubs they targeted  are just destroyed.

One perennial missing  is my bergenia cordifolio . It was among my favorites that needed extra protection and extra fussing. I say I won't replace those kind of plants but who knows if I happen on one at a plant sale. I was grateful that they didn't get any of the new clematis I planted last spring.  They were all still under too much snow... Now they are exposed and vulnerable but haven't seen pig since the sheriff went over there. 

I'm also hoping that some that look destroyed like my honeysuckles will come back from the roots.  I did order another today just in case.  One cannot have too many honeysuckle vines.



I have the scones quest pretty much mastered so I am pursuing the perfect stolen recipe. Since it was heavy rains today I  worked on that today...a cold grey day indeed. I'm looking for the recipe that will be reminiscent of the stollen my husband's beloved Hungarian grandmother made for him as a child...   A German friend gave me three German cookbooks with stollen recipes and I chose the one using the most butter and the fruit was soaked overnight in rum... we all know more butter is better...and the rum can't hurt.

Happy husband tonight!!



3/07/2017

Gerry Krueger's legendary luscious lemon sponge tart....

I guarantee that this dessert will become a legend among the lemon lovers of your friends and family.  The sponge is like eating a lemon cloud.


Put a pie crust in 10" tart pan with removable bottom (I use either a high sided 10" or lower sided 11-12" one.  Put crust to top of sides. 



Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 T. lemon zest
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 t. salt
2 cup milk
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix together the sugar and flour
Add the lemon juice and zest, eggs yolks, butter and salt.  Mix well.  Mix in the milk. (This batter will seem impossibly thin but that is how it is)

Using clean beaters and bowl, beat egg whites until firm: fold gently into batter.

Pour into prepared pan  Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 300 degrees, and bake for an additional 45 or until the top is golden and the sponge filling springs back to a  light touch

Meantime prepare lemon curd and chill it.  Spread on top of cooled sponge.  Sprinkled with slivered almonds. (optional)

Lemon Curd (This will always be your "go-to" recipe for lemon curd...the absolute best.  I make it and put it in small jars for hostess gifts.)

1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 c.  sugar
3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
6 T. butter cut into bits

Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in 2-quart heavy saucepan.  Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly until curd is thick and the first bubbles appear on the surface, about 6 minutes.  At this point I put it through a fine sieve into a bowl and chill, covered with plastic wrap  When both  tart and curd are chilled spread curd on top of sponge tart.

Tart is best served chilled and can even be made ahead, frozen, and served slightly thawed...

3/05/2017

Progress and dreaded glue gun...

 Well I have all the pages hand sewn to the spine which was an relative easy job because I had the sew lines well marked with stitching. Now I will cover this side of the spine with black felt. and then add the covers.         The 1/4" spacing I chose was about right but I could have added a tad more even.
 
The cover are done except for the final touches... "Glue gunning" was a skill I hadn't ever mastered and it has been about 20 years since I used one.. But I had to have a few damaged brain cells when I thought could see well enough to sew with black thread on black ribbon to bind the pages...

I used a glue gun (rather badly) to apply both the ribbon binding and the trim\ The glue came out in lines too thin or to heavy so I need practice for sure on my trigger control.



In the process I managed to burn about every finger, glue the glue gun to the stand, glue the glue gun to the table and even glue a block to the table.  I ended up with bits of unwanted glue several places. I'm hoping I will improve with practice..  With all the improvements to technology over the years I thought maybe someone had invented a better glue gun....NOT!!

So I went to Google to see if there were helpful tips and there were many sites... Most all cautioned not to touch the hot glue gun which I think is quite obvious and the rest of the tips were about as helpful... like: "If sitting down while working, make sure you wear long pants to avoid burns from any stray drips of hot glue. "

 However there were a few that were new to me.
1.Vaseline on the tip of the glue gun to prevent little glue hairs.
2. Try rubbing alcohol to remove unwanted glue which I will definitely need to try.
3. Store your glue sticks in a spot with low humidity to prevent glue hairs.
4.  Use a hair dryer to soften unwanted glue spots.

When I posted about my Valentine Dinner I forgot to add photo of my all time favorite dessert... Lemon Sponge Tart..  I thought the recipe was on the site but I couldn't find it so I will type it to share... Particularly great recipe if you need a mostly gluten-free dessert. If a lemon lover like me you NEED this recipe.

3/02/2017

Assembing "ladies" book progress

Because of the 3 dimensional aspect of the pages, I'm using pretty much the same technique that I used with my Morris book.  The Morris book was very thick because it had 16 heavily embellished pages and 2 covers.  Because there were so many pages I grouped them into fours and added them to a spine.  If you look at the arrow you can see the groupings... in bookmaking talk these groupings are called "signatures."



There has to be some spacing between these signatures for the book to lay flat when closed and also for it to open properly.. Again look at the arrow and you can see the inside of the spine.  Since it would show I covered it with polka dot material.

It seems like a little step but if you don't do it at the very beginning, it can't be done.










I'm using   Peltex 71F single-sided ultra firm stabilizer.  I bonded it first to the striped damask material and on the back I marked 1/4" intervals and sewed them.







When I turn it over I have a guide to attach each page at evenly spaced intervals and when the book is opened the spine will not even be noticeable. After the pages are attached I will trim the spine to size.






I also bonded the Peltex to the velvet backing of each page and they are quite rigid. Then I basted each lady block to a velvet backing, basted around it and sewed it with the machine.  The striped damask material has a tendency to unravel so I wanted to make sure it was secure before I went any further.













You can see stacked that it will be a thick book. Here it is obvious that there will have to be spaces between the pages.









If you tried to compress the edges to bind the book it would fan up like this.  Spacing the pages on the binding prevents that.













Now the next step is to put a binding on each page.  I would prefer a burgundy color that would match the velvet.... BUT what I have is about 50 yards of wide, black grosgrain ribbon that has been in my stash for years and years.  So black grosgrain it's going to be. These are 9" blocks so it will take a fair amount of ribbon.




And reaching my limit of patience I called County Animal Control about the pigs.  They do not do anything about farm animals and I had to call the County Sheriff.  An officer came out and looked at the situation and gave my neighbor 2 days to pen up the pigs securely or he will get a ticket and a big fine.  I know he will be furious and there will be fallout from this but for weeks we had failed at all attempts to negotiate with him.  It makes me so sad to have to take this step..

I have posted many times about problems we have with him.  It is really a hopeless situation.  This is Google's aerial map photo of his farm so you can imagine how unpleasant it is to deal with him and why he could care less about what his pigs do to my garden.  The arrow points to his deck.  He just throws his garbage off his deck.
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