Thursday, November 30, 2006

Simmering Soup for a Cold Day

A big pot of vegetable soup, simmered all afternoon. It sure tasted good !
With all the ice on the wires we keep loosing internet connection. There are times when dial-up seems
frustrating and today is one of those times.

Winter Weather Arrives in Texas


Last night there was a feeling of anticipation, as if an important guest was due to arrive at our house. We were waiting for winter weather to come in from the north. People were poking out their doors and looking out their windows, watching the sky, waiting.
It was 80 degrees for the high yesterday and now 24 hours later it is 26 out with a wind chill much lower.
In the early morning hours, heavy rain fell as did the mercury. By 8 am, the roads were icy and dangerous. Since I have the experience of driving in ice and snow, and don't mind it one bit, I drove Emery and Casi to work. I decided to take Melanie with me and after dropping the men off we went out for breakfast . The roads were almost empty.
The wind was cutting, it was so cold. Ice was building on the windshield faster than the wipers could keep up with it, but we managed just fine.
After a delightful breakfast, Melanie and I bundled up and headed out to take pictures of the ice and snow.
We had such fun, but it was wonderful to walk back into the house and be greeted with the warmth of the woodstove. Soon enough, hot chocolate was made, whipped cream topping it off like a snow capped mountain.
Melanie is napping on the sofa. The wind howling all around the house. Which conjures up thoughts of the great blizzards I have experienced in the Northeast.
Vegetable soup is simmering on the woodstove, filling the house with mouth watering savory smells. Homemade bread, warm on the counter.
Its wonderful to be inside, just looking out the window is enough right now. Snow is blowing off the roof top, making it seem like a white out. Children are running down the road, school is out and they are in a hurry for home.
Winter has arrived, at least for a few days.

blogger was not very co-operative today and only let me upload a couple pictures. I will try to post more later.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Book Give A Way

Since this is one of my all time favorite life changing books I thought I would give one away.
Just leave me a comment telling me why you would like this book and a winner will be chosen from the entries. A panel of judges, (the family) will help me decide the winner.

Shopping for the Grandbaby



Rather quickly, I am realizing that grandchildren are meant to be spoiled. Its natural.
There are so many adorable things out there for wee ones, and often some fantastic bargains. Ebay is full of them.
This last week I decided it was time to hunt for the perfect pram for Grandmother to walk this new bundle of joy that is on the way. I will be watching this tiny one after its arrival when Melanie is working.
So, I need a pram. Simple really.
For my girls I had big Silver Cross prams, but I also had purchased an Emmaljunga when we were trying to have more children. I loved this pram and with having it nearby, it gave me hope that we would have more children.
When we moved to Oregon, we had no room on the moving truck for it and asked my mother in law if we could store it in her garage and we would pick it up on a visit. Hard to imagine, but when we came back for it, it was gone. Emery's brother and his wife had taken it. Never asked us, just took it. When we asked for it back, they got angry at us. It has always been a sensitive subject for Emery and I.
So when this Emmaljunga came available on e-bay, perfect condition and RED, which is my all time 100% favorite color, he said we had to have it for this first grandbaby.
I am so excited that we won the auction. This morning, much time has been spent thinking about the perfect pram pillow and blanket to make. I have been imagining little red themed quilts too.
And last week I could not pass up these darling little Italian toddler shoes. Yellow patent leather is a must I am sure.....right ? Of course I had a baby girl in mind when bidding on them, but if Melanie and Casi have a boy, there is bound to be a girl grandbaby at some point.
I have always been a firm believer in dressing babies up nicely. Its probably some left over from my own spoiled childhood.
The world is a funny place, it is true that well dressed children and adults are treated differently, better actually. Its maybe a side of society we hate to accept but it is a truth. I saw early on in raising my children that they were given extra privileges by people when they were dressed lovely and of course it didn't hurt that they were well behaved. It doesn't need to cost a fortune to have children dressed nicely and I certainly am not in favor of tiny adult clothing on children. Some of the little girl clothes on the market now, make me cringe. They look like little "hooker" clothes if I can be blunt.
My old fashioned side, loves tucks and eyelet, smocking and lace. Boys in bubble suits and girls in dresses. Beautiful shoes and Italian knit socks.
Its rare to see a child in this part of Texas dressed nicely. Stained, gray onsies and uncombed hair seem to be the norm. No one pays any attention to dirty babies except to show a bit of pity.
Soap is cheap, as are pretty baby things at thrift stores. Separating colors from whites in the wash is not hard. Combing hair is not difficult when done daily and the child understands it has to be done.
I say bring back the well dressed baby and children !

And I say three cheers for Grandmothers spoiling grandbabies : )

Hard not to love yellow patent leather toddler shoes

The new RED Emmaljunga pram, has both the carrycot, and the stroller

Goodwill Shopping

It was a banner day for shopping Goodwill yesterday.
Someone with my taste in clothing and my size took in a bunch of brand new things, still with tags on many of them.
I had a measly $13 in my purse so had to run to Emery's office, just a couple miles from the store and get the check book !
Since my size is changing I need some clothes and honestly I felt like the Lord just made these things available to me. A couple examples, Evan Piccone shirt, tag still on it $68, I paid $2. A fun Laura Ashley hippy looking shirt and a delightful gold holiday top all new with tags still on them. Came home with 6 new tops, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of jeans, a jacket and a Ralph Lauren purse, and then my favorite purchases. A brand new Rare Edition, little girls dress, and a toddler boy outfit, new with tag of $59.95. Got both for $2 each. My total....$40. I did some research on the things I got and it would have been over $600 if I bought them new. That my friends, was good shopping ! Thrift store shopping at its best.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gathering Herbs and Roses before the Frost



With very cold weather on the way, I had to go out and gather the herbs before the frost killed them.
I came in with armloads of wonderful smelling bundles.
Rose geranium, lavender, mullein, comfrey, and since there was an abundance of rosemary, I picked lots of it. It was also time to harvest my fennel seeds.
There is something very soothing to the soul in gathering in herbs to scent the house for the cold winter months and also use them as needed.
I hang the herbs from the beam that spans the living room. The heat from the woodstove dries them quickly.
With Christmas just around the corner, it will be time to make my rosemary wreaths. I love this time of the year. Apple and orange slices rolled in cinnamon and hung to dry, making a fragrant garland to be hung throughout the house. Oranges covered in cloves and filling a basket on the hearth. The stoves heat intensifying their spicy smell. Simple delight !

Fennel seeds ready to be gathered
Bundles of herbs waiting to be tied and hung to dry
Falls last roses, heavenly scent !

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Spirit Arrives at the Lockwood House



Feeling a bit better late this afternoon besides its always hard to keep me down too long. I put on my favorite Christmas CD, Wolfgang Petry's Freude ! (sung in German for the most part) which never fails to make me feel in the Christmas spirit. The music put me in the mood to decorate a bit.
Worked on the dinning room decorations first. Its my favorite room in the house which might explain why it received attention first.
I love the Christmas season, so full of fun and good feelings and it is the time when we choose to celebrate the birth of the Savior.
The nativity is set up now too, but baby Jesus has not been put in the manger, we will place him there Christmas eve after midnight mass. It always feels special to place him in the manger and reflect a bit on the whole meaning of Christmas.

Melanie and Casi have their tree up already. Steven is wishing he could have one, but its not allowed. Melissa will not be home for Christmas so not sure if they are putting one up or not.
We always wait until its December to put up our tree, so not too much longer.

Dinning room decorations are colonial in style, my favorite look.

Changing Colors, Changing Seasons

After a morning of strolling the land, some sort of stomach bug invaded my body, making me feel less than energetic and really quite crumby feeling.
The late morning found me laying on the sofa, trying to read, but not finding any book interesting enough to put the strength needed to hold it up. I surrendered and just laid there looking out the window, watching leaves fall from the sky, carried on the breeze so easily, like feathers or huge golden snow flakes.
The colors of fall this year are quite amazing for Texas. Yellows, gold's, reds and oranges. Usually it is mostly brown and dull.
I am reminded of how kind God is to give us such a show of colors each season. I am sure He didn't have to do that, but chose to delight our eye and heart with splashes of color each season. The emerald green of spring, the bright flowers of summer, the palate of autumn colors, and the rich and thought provoking white and grays of winter.
Each seasons colors evoking different emotional reactions in us. We have a "wintry mix" in this weeks forecast. All my life I have prayed for snow in winter. I love the stuff, and don't even mind shoveling it. This week there is a bit of hope for something to fall in the frozen variety. This news of cold coming has me scrambling to prepare for all the things needed to make a cozy winter night. Popcorn, hot chocolate, lots of wood and kindling for the stove. Sweaters handy, woolen hats hung on their hooks. Warm gloves sticking out of jacket pockets. Ingredients on hand for cold weather comfort foods.
Warm winter curtains now hang where valances were all summer long. The Christmas decorations find their way down from the barns loft and fill the living room with chaos until they are all unpacked and put in their proper place.
Strings of Christmas lights waiting to be untangled and then hung outside. We put them away so carefully each year but by some great mystery, they tangle in the box all by themselves.
Its all part of the wonderful cycle of the year.
Many trees are bare now, preparing for a blanket of snow to fall on them, hopefully anyway.
I love the simple pleasures of life, the things that can be enjoyed no matter if some "bug" has grabbed hold for the day and is not willing to let go.
As long as I have a window nearby, my life is filled with joy.
A cup of chicken soup awaits. Chicken soup is good medicine.

An Early Anniversary Gift

























































In about less than two weeks, Emery and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. In so many ways it doesn't seem nearly that long, but on the other hand, I can't seem to remember life without him. He is my gentle-man in every sense of the word. He took me shopping yesterday and gave me three things to choose from as a anniversary gift. A laptop, an ipod with Bose speakers or a new digital camera.
Oh it was tough to decide. I walked back and forth from item to item weighing my choice.
When it came to the final choice, I decided we would get the most enjoyment from a new camera that would do the things I wanted.
What fun I have had with this new gift. Of course I had to take a couple hours to read the manual to know what was what first.
He also got me a huge memory stick to go with it. 2 gb ought to hold plenty pictures.
With a new grandbaby on the way, a better camera will certainly be a good thing.
Yesterday I took these photos with the new camera and am really happy with the quality.
Emery has been planning this for some time without letting me have any hint. I love surprises !




A busy bee
A blue flower
A red rose

all taken yesterday with my new camera on our land

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Homestead Heritage Craft Fair Woodworking


Some examples of the furniture made by the young men of the community. All made with non-electric hand tools.
This is one time I wish I was rich, my house would be full of their furniture.

Homestead Heritage Craft Fair Weaving


Beautiful weavings by the young people at the community

Homestead Heritage Craft Fair Knitting







Here are some items the young people knitted and Crocheted for sale at the Craft Fair. I loved the knitted and felted handbags. The yarn was their own homespun.

Homestead Heritage Craft Fair Pottery




Here are some examples of the pottery done by the young people of the community. I have been collecting pieces with a wheat pattern , every year for several years.

Homestead Heritage Craft Fair Quilts








One of the most outstanding features of the Homestead Heritage Craft Fair, is the fact that most of the items are made by children and young adults.
The quilting done by young girls is amazing. The stitches perfect and most are hand pieced.
Its wonderful to see the careful work of such young people. Parents take seriously the work of training children to do a thorough, and careful job of whatever task the child is set to. Hand work is valued in this community and it shows. The women make most of their clothing, feminine and modest. Yet not frumpy or drab. Careful attention to detail is shown in every aspect of their life. Their faces glow with good health and peace shines from within.
As you look at these quilts, remember they are made by young girls. In a time when most young people are so self absorbed, hung up with the want of the latest style, the latest cell phone, computer, I pod, car etc, this life of simplicity seems so foreign. It is refreshing to me. Gives me hope that the good things of the past will not be lost for ever. Small girls running to help mother, braids flying. Little boys carving out wooden spoons and making rope. Young ladies gardening, gathering herbs, making soap, spinning and weaving, throwing pottery, knitting socks and making baskets. Young men, farming with horses, building furniture or instruments. A shoemaker sharing his knowledge with a young man at his side. Gentleness that comes from simple life is evident all around. Babies being held instead of plopped into an infant seat for hours. Home cooking, cheese making and all made with healthy home grown ingredients.
Voices raised in song of praise at the end of the day. Just seemed right. Gives a person a good feeling to see life this way.

More Soap Talk





Yesterday Emery got off work early to take me to Homestead Heritage Craft Fair and once again it was a delight. This was our 14th year attending the fair.
I watched the soap making demonstration so I could get a couple pictures to add to my soap making photos.
This morning I decided to add a couple more soap recipes for you to try.
Lye is getting almost impossible to find in the stores these days. I hear it is used in illegal drug making so that is why stores do not want to carry it.
Ask at your hardware store to see if they can get it for you. Its used to clean out drains so they often have it.
Soap making is so satisfying. I have been making it for 15 years and sold it for many of those years.
Give it a try !


One of my favorite soaps is Goat Milk Soap, its the first soap I ever made and has never let me down.

Here is that recipe

Goat Milk Oatmeal Soap

6 cups fresh, cold goats milk
12 oz can of lye = 1 1/4 cup lye
11 cups rendered beef tallow, room temperature which makes it white and somewhat solid. Cut into 2 inch squares
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups finely ground oatmeal. (I put my oatmeal in the blender and blend until fine)
4-6 tablespoons essential oil. I like to use Rose for this soap or peppermint.


In a large stainless steel bowl pour in the goats milk and slowly add the lye, USE LYE SAFETY ! Rubber gloves and goggles are recommended.
The milk will turn brown and heat up to about 140 degrees, do not touch the sides of the bowl !
Stir gently and avoid the fumes. Working in a well ventilated area.
Carefully add the chunks of tallow and stir until they are melted. Its hot so be careful !
After the tallow melts, which takes about 5 minutes, add the olive oil and the coconut oil. Stir well.

Stir in the two cups of ground oatmeal. Stir continuously as this can clump up.

Let the soap sit for 15 minutes. It should be thick like pudding at this time. It should "trace" at this time.

Add your essential oil and stir another 3-5 minutes.

Pour into your mold, spread into the corners. After about 15 minutes, trowel it nice and smooth. You can use a cement trowel or a cake decorating tool that is used to smooth frosting.

Cover soap with a piece of cardboard and then put a big towel over that to keep the heat in.

Leave undisturbed for 24 hours or until set enough to remove from the mold and cut into desired size.

Photos:

These are two of my personal favorite books for soap making along with a batch of my oatmeal goat milk soap before it is trimmed and shaved into uniform bars.

The two books here were purchased at Homestead Heritage and have recipes I use often in them

My soap being stirred the other day. The one picture I took !

Soapmaking at Homestead Heritage, she is making the goat milk soap recipe given above

Adding the oatmeal to the soap

Soap packaged pretty and for sale at Homestead Heritage, they sell so many wonderful kinds. Its a soap lovers heaven

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Soap Making Day





Its hard to take pictures of soap making with no help, so to make my life easier I am using pictures from last year when my sister was here to help me.
The house is filled with a licorice scent from using the anise oil. I love it.
Next week I hope to make some baby soap and my laundry soap.

The pictures......
Soap mold ready to be used, lined with a plastic trash bag

Fats being melted in a pot on the stove

Lye water mixture cooling in a cold water bath in the sink, ice cubes help. Lye gets very hot when mixed with water so it has to be cooled down

Lye water has been added into the fats and stirred until thickened, at this point my sister is adding in the essential oils

The soap is poured into the mold

After 24 hours of being in the mold, the soap can be removed and cut.

In 3 weeks the soap can be used.

The Recipe ......

Anise Olive Oil Soap

5 cups chilled soft water. Rainwater works fantastic but if you don't have any, use bottled distilled water

1 1/4 cups 100% lye crystals, 12 oz by weight
5 3/4 cups 100% olive oil.
3 3/4 cups coconut oil
3 cups palm oil

4 oz anise essential oil

Do not use aluminum utensils or pots when making soap. Aluminum and lye don't work well together.

Use Lye safety. Its caustic and will burn your skin, eyes etc. Make soap when small children are NOT around.

Make soap in a well ventilated area.

Prepare your soap mold by lining with a single layer of a plastic trash bag. Smooth out any wrinkles and tape in place.
I put my mold on a large old bath towel.
Put the mold someplace where it can stay safely undisturbed for 24 hours. Keep it out of reach of children and pets.

Soap making requires mixtures be just the right temperature so have a good dairy thermometer handy.

Before you attempt to make soap for the first time, do some research.
There are some great instructions at
http://members.aol.com/oelaineo/directions.html
Soap making is fun but you must use safety precautions. Please read the instructions in the web site above carefully if you plan to try this recipe.

I try to have my oils at 92 and also have my water lye mixture reach 92 degrees also, and then I slowly drizzle the lye water mixture into the oils, stirring briskly with a whisk. Be very careful to NOT splash the mixture as its still very caustic !


Sunday Blessings

Soft music, the gentle kind of music that makes you feel content with life... the view from the window as I sit and spin at the wheel makes ...