Wednesday, November 26, 2008

let us be grateful

Thanksgiving 1 Pictures, Images and Photos

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
~ Marcel Proust ~

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
~ Melody Beattie ~

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
~ Epictetus ~

"Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life."
~ A. J. Cronin ~

thanksgiving Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Favorite Molasses Cookies

vegan chewy ginger molasses cookies Pictures, Images and Photos

My mother was a most excellent baker. I remember my very favorite cookie as a kid was her molasses cut outs. I was never able to duplicate her recipe to make them quite as perfect as hers. Finally, I tried a recipe from an old church recipe book I purchased in the late 70's. It has now become a favorite with my family. The recipe is easy and one you can mix ahead and refrigerate. I hope you'll enjoy these cookies as much as we do! Psst...the original recipe didn't call for black strap and you can use whatever you have, but I think the secret to their true molasses goodness is in using dark, rich black strap molasses.

Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses - preferably black strap
1 egg
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Melt shortening in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg; beat well. Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Add to first mixture. Mix well, then chill. Form into 1" balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. (Check at 8 minutes as that is how long I usually bake these.)

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Xylitol dangerous for dogs

A sugar substitute found in a variety of sugar-free and dietetic cookies, mints and chewing gum is proving highly toxic, even fatal, to snack-snatching dogs.

Xylitol, popular in Europe for decades but a relative newcomer to the U.S. alternative-sweeteners market, can be "very, very serious" to dogs when ingested, says Dana Farbman, spokeswoman for the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"It doesn't take a whole lot (of xylitol), and the effects are so rapid that the window of opportunity to treat the dog is extremely small," Farbman says.

The ASPCA sent an advisory to veterinarians last August warning them about the potential for serious harm or death. Veterinarians have used a variety of means to get the word out, including posting signs in their offices and making copies of the bulletin for clients to augment the caution the ASPCA has posted on its website.

Concerned that millions of people are still unaware of the risk, veterinarians with forums for widespread public announcements are spreading the word that way as well. Among them: Miami veterinarian Patty Khuly wrote about the problem on her blog, and Colorado Springs veterinarian Anne Pierce devoted her entire weekly newspaper column a week ago to xylitol.

Within 30 minutes of consuming a small amount of a xylitol-sweetened product, the ASPCA says, dogs can experience a dramatic drop in blood sugar, and they usually begin vomiting, become lethargic and can have difficulty standing or walking. Some have seizures, develop internal hemorrhaging and lesions and suffer liver failure. As few as two or three sticks of xylitol gum could be toxic to a 20-pound dog, the ASPCA says.

Immediate and aggressive veterinary treatment, which includes glucose drips and IV fluids, has proved effective in many cases.

The ASPCA's poison control unit is aware of 10 dog deaths from xylitol since 2002, and it has received scores of reports of dogs becoming gravely ill. But only a fraction of veterinarians and consumers alert the ASPCA when a dog becomes ill or dies from toxins, and there is no national clearinghouse tracking xylitol-suspected toxic reactions.

Moreover, it's not always entirely clear what caused the problem when a dog arrives at a veterinarian's office with seizures or liver failure. "I suspect that there are more cases than we know about because they come in with liver failure, and the owner is not aware of what has been ingested," Pierce says.

She believes that xylitol ingestion is "an emerging problem" and that the number of cases probably will increase with time, "depending on how widespread xylitol as a sweetener becomes."

Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute derived from beets, birch tree bark, corncobs and other natural sources. It's as sweet as sugar but has 40% fewer calories. Unlike sugar, xylitol does not require insulin to be metabolized.

Right now, xylitol is used mostly in cookies, candies, cupcakes and other sweets developed for people who have diabetes. It's also sold in bags of crystals for baking. Because of its bacteria-killing properties, it is put into some oral care products, including Tom's All Natural and Biotene toothpastes.

It also is beginning to be used in a broad assortment of products intended for the general public. Among them: Jello sugar-free puddings and a wide variety of sugar-free gums, including Trident, Orbit, Stride, Icebreakers and Altoids.

Makers of products with xylitol say their products are designed for people, including diabetes patients, who are seeking an alternative to sugar; they were never recommended for dogs and were never intended to be ingested by dogs. Owners should be careful because some dogs, Khuly says, "get into just about everything and eat everything they find."

There is no indication that any of the other sweeteners on the market adversely affect dogs. And there is no evidence so far that xylitol is toxic to pets other than dogs. But cats, for example, don't scavenge for sweets as dogs do, so it's possible there are risks that have not yet been discovered. For now, veterinarians advise pet owners to keep xylitol away from all animals.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

this place has gone to the dogs!

Timmy (my dog), Kandice with Cubby Bear on her lap and Stetson.

Well the place had gone to the dogs, but now the grandogs have headed home with their people and the house is quiet again. The dishes are caught up, the house straightened up, Coop is watching tv and the animals are all napping. Kandice is improved as for the pluerisy, but on medication to ease the symptoms. I'm hoping she shows much more improvement over the coming week.

This is Stetson, the rescue dog the kids adopted at the same time they found Timmy for us. He's half German shepherd, half Shar-Pei and one big baby. But when he barks it rattles the nerves because he's loud and sounds so fierce. Helluva watch dog. Then there's little Cubby Bear (below), a rescue dog as well. He's small but with a ton of personality. He's a chair thief, too, at least when it comes to my chair.

I got to spend all day yesterday with my daughter and grandaughter (and grandogs) while Tom went in to the hospital to spend the day with his mom. Good news, his mom is ok and did not have a stroke. My understanding is that it was an erratic heart rhythm and blood pressure drop (not sure about what brought it on). She is on medication now that seems to be working.

More good news! My sister got her results this morning and there were no signs of cancer or abnormal cell change. Reason to celebrate! I'm so thankful for the good news and also want to thank those of you who sent good thoughts and prayers regarding the family's well being. You know who you are. :)

Tomorrow we'll be attending the memorial for Coop's dear brother in law. I imagine it will be a time of catching up with family as well as a time of mourning. It's a shame that so often it takes a death to gather the family together. That is something Coop and I have talked about recently ...taking the time to stop in and visit sisters and brothers more often, an early New Year's resolution I guess.

This white tail was just outside the kitchen window this afternoon. A site we're seeing more regularly now that the view through the woods is clear. We saw three beautiful buck just beyond the creek the other day. Just one of the gifts winter brings. I love this country life.

brought to you by the Letter "H"

I know, I know, what the blogging community needs is another meme. : ) This one is voluntary. I picked it up over at A Cowboy’s Wife. She gave me the letter “H”.

The rules if you want to play along: Leave me a comment so I can assign you a letter. Then list on your blog ten things you love that begin with that letter.
It’s just for fun and no one is obligated.


1. Husband – he is probably the one and only man that could have put up with me through the past 29 years. (and vice versa, lol) We have been through it all and then some.

2. Hugs – everybody wants them and needs them, too. When I was younger I was never much of a hugger, growing up in a home where affections were not outwardly shown. It took a lot of years for me to become a hugger and now I try to make up for it.

3. Home – it’s where my heart is and always has been. Throughout the years I worked outside the home, all I ever wanted was to be home. Now home is where I am and that makes me very happy. I have been accused of being reclusive. What’s wrong with that I ask?

4. Harvest – growing and gathering and experiencing the result of all our homesteading efforts.

5. Herbs – I love all aspects of herbs, from growing, gathering and drying to using them to enhance cooking, to aid healing, …I just love herbs!

6. Homosapiens – some better than others, but for the most part I love us!

7. Heartland of Ohio – truly, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be. Yes, we get the cold in the winter and have occasional tornados, but we get to experience all four seasons in dramatic ways plus, we don’t get killer earthquakes, hurricanes, (well, not until recently), mudslides, large forest fires, tsunamis, monsoons, etc. We don’t have too many poisonous snakes or bugs, either. Plus we have fireflies and glow worms!

8. Hearing – knowing what I would miss, I would not want to never hear music, the sound of a baby laugh, the song of a bird or the rustle of leaves.

9. Honesty – I place a higher value on this than most morals. You can hurt me in a lot of ways and I can forgive, but I find dishonesty a hard one to let go of.

10. Heroes – not the glorified super star kind but the everyday kind; firefighters, stewards of the land, moms who struggle against the odds, REAL heroes.

I really liked this meme. It certainly gave me a moment to reflect and consider some of the things that truly matter. Thanks Barb!

Friday, November 21, 2008

simple woman’s daybook

For Today...

Outside my window
the sun is shining and a heavy blanket of snow has softened the landscape. It’s beautiful.

I am thinking of family and hoping all are holding up; my husband’s brother in law passed away this week, my daughter was in the ER the other night suffering from a bad case of pleurisy, her mother in law is in ICU this morning with a presumed stroke and my twin sister is awaiting results to confirm she doesn’t have cancer.

I am thankful for everything that makes life what it is, because without darkness, we would not know or appreciate the light.

From the kitchen I smell the spiciness of apple pie filling just made.

I am wearing my blue thermal nightgown and an apron, lol!

I am reading my “to do” list

I am hoping the weather warms up a bit and the roads stay clear.

I am creating pies; Dutch apple and apple cranberry.

I am hearing the refrigerator humming and the dog snoring.

Around the house... I am waiting for my daughter, her DH and my grandaughter to arrive with dogs in tow for the weekend.

One of my favorite things is not thinking too hard.

I am looking forward to a nice warm shower and a piece of pie and seeing my family.

A few plans for the weekend…attending BIL’s memorial service, feeding and housing the kids.

Hope your weekend is filled with love and light.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a little craftiness

I've opened new etsy shop by the name of Homestead Hippie. Well, to be honest there's nothing there just yet, but these are some of the things I've been working on.

This bag is completely lined with off white canvas and amply sized. The handle and side gussets are one piece and made from macrame' cord so it's sturdy, strong and won't stretch out.

The poncho is a one size fits most. The colors are not true in the photo. It's actually turquoise, coral and sand and much prettier in person. Very southwestern.

This is my favorite bag, made from bits and pieces of yarn in a classic granny style. The handle is 4 crocheted chains woven together to make two, then the two are bound into one with hemp cord for strength and a rustic look. I added a flap pocket to the inside. I love the big, vintage button closure.

The tie died look of this cotton bag is quite hippie dippy and the cool things is...

you can use it as a shoulder bag or a hand held bag with dual straps.
Again, the colors aren't quite true, it's not as bright as picture shows.
The bag is actually bigger than it appears.
I love the way it forms a natural gusset affect when closed.

That's all. Just wanted to share. :) Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Odin finds a home

When the man saw me curled up on the road in the snow, I got scared and ran from the big sound. But he stopped and got out of the car and he knew the secret words, "kitty kitty." That's when I knew he was my savior, so I ran right to him. He took me to his house and this nice lady fed me and bathed me and now I am happy to be safe, full and warm and have a lap to curl up on. Heck, they even gave me my own potty because I couldn't get into the big one. But even with all the good, I sure do miss the familiarity of other cats like myself.

These people are real nice but their other animals don't seem too sure about me. I feel happy but still kind of alone so I cry a lot. All I want is to be friends and play and curl up together. See what I mean? Arther (that's what these folks call this big guy) won't even look at me.

I just couldn't take it anymore, I had to try and in doing so face the possibility of complete rejection. Arther wasn't too sure about it when I nuzzled up next to him...I thought he might take a hike...

and he was kind of taken aback, but I didn't give up...nope, not me...

and pretty soon the big guy gave in and said it was ok if I slept there with him.
I guess he just couldn't resist me. I notice I have that affect on others.
Now I am feeling real comfortable here, real comfotable.

p.s. They named me Odin.

it's all about meme

First Tracy over at Is It A Full Moon or What? presented me with the Kreativ Blogger award and tagged me to reveal 6 things about myself. Thank you Tracy! I am honored. And I must apologize for being so lax in responding.

Then both Granny Sue from Granny Sue's News & Reviews and Country Wife over at Country Life with Country Wife tagged me to post 6 things. So does that mean I have to think of 18 things about myself??? :) I'll do my best to comply.

If you're reading this, consider yourself awarded and tagged if you haven't been already. I just can't pick a handful of ya when you're all so creative, talented and interesting. Just post a comment and let me know so I can read your 6 things. Go ahead, pick up that award for yourself, ok?

Here are the rules that I'm bending:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

And here are my revelations. By golly I actually thought of 18!

1. I've never owned a dishwasher in my life.
2. I only wear a bra when the occasion demands and that's not often.
3. I lust in my heart for Johnny Depp.
4. I have a thing about pink...just in case you didn't know.
5. I kicked the Pepsi habit twice, the second time for good.
6. I'm a compulsive list maker.
7. I absolutely love fresh pineapple.
8. I love words, books and writing for the sheer pleasure of expressing myself.
9. My first job was as an apple picker at the age of 14.
10. I don't do seafood except for the occasional fish sandwich.
11. I loathed being a teenager.
12. Before my children were born (and prior to the days of ultrasound) I knew (without a doubt) whether they were a boy or girl. In fact I dreamed about my son before his birth and knew exactly what he would look like and he was identical in every way.
13. Both times I gave birth it was in the spring and on a Thursday.
14. I have always had a desire to sky dive, but...
15. I'm also afraid of heights, go figure!
16. I had my picture in an automotive industry magazine back in the early 90's. Yeah, all suited up like a Hazmat official and painting a door panel.
17. I suck at the drums when playing Rock Band.
18. I have a guitar but have never learned to play it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hand Made Soap the easy way

This is a small batch "blender recipe" that will give you 5-6 bars of castile soap. I have made this several times and it has never failed me. Credit for this recipe must be given to Phill at city mouse country house. The directions are copied and pasted from the original from Phill who says this is a recipe he developed by learning from friends like Peggy at Hidden Haven Homestead.

Lye is the active ingredient in home made soap making unless you are using the melt and pour recipes or kits. Lye is a caustic chemical so it must be properly handled. Don't be afraid, but be safe and take precautions such as wearing latex gloves and avoiding the fumes.

Castile soap is Olive Oil soap. Some say the blender and the containers that you use to make the soap should not ever be used for anything else. I tend to disagree here as it’s just soap. Safety goggles are a good idea too. Do not allow lye to come into contact with anything because it corrodes. DO NOT use metal measurers or containers for the very same reason.

Soap always contains three things - a fat (olive oil, in this case), a liquid (water, milk, tea), and lye (sodium hydroxide). Lye is available from online suppliers. It is usually very difficult to find locally. Believe me I have tried. Where it once used to be a common hardware or grocery store item, it has been removed from the local markets because of its use in illegal drug making. This is the same reason crystal drain opener is not made with lye anymore. I was fortunate enough to have an Amish neighbor provide me with lye for my soap making.

my latest batch...lavender with oatmeal

Basic All-Natural Castile Oatmeal Soap, Blender Batch

3/4 Cup Water (put it in the freezer until almost frozen)
4 1/2 tablespoons Lye Crystals (I measure ahead and place into a small glass ramekin until ready to use)
2 Cups Olive Oil (not evoo, just cheap olive oil. Again, measure and have at hand)
1/2 Cup Ground Oatmeal (I use closer to a cup)
1/2 Ounce of Essential Oil Scent (optional)
Some sort of mold

1. Grind your oatmeal in the blender beforehand. You can decide how chunky or powdery you would like it.

2. Put your 3/4 cup water in a heat-safe container (I use pyrex so it's an automatic measure). Place this in the freezer until the water just begins to freeze around the edges.
Add in your 4 1/2 tablespoons lye crystals slowly and carefully. No splashing. Best to do this in a well ventilated area or perhaps outside - there are fumes. Stir well, very gently for a few minutes. The liquid will seriously heat up. Let is sit, well ventilated until it cools down a little. I insert a glass thermometer but a good indicator is waiting until the liquid is clear and the cloudiness disappears. You want to let the lye mixture cool down to around 100 to 120 degrees. Again, wear gloves, and do not touch it.

3. While the lye/water mixture is cooling, pour your 2 cups of Olive Oil into the blender. When cool enough, carefully pour the cooled lye/water mixture into the blender and put the top on. I cover the top with a towel for extra safety. On low, start blending the mixture together. It will reach "trace" in a minute or two. "Trace" is when it starts to thicken, the consistency of thick cream. Wait ten seconds before you take the top off - you know how a blender sometimes "burps" after it stops. Take the top off and add your ground oatmeal and essential oil "at trace." Put the top (and towel) back on, and blend for a few seconds to mix in the scent and oats. Don't go nuts and don't blend it too much - Once you reach trace, this stuff will thicken quickly, and you need to be able to pour it. Ideally, it's thin enough to pour, but not too thin. The consistency of a cake batter would be good.

4. Have your mold(s) ready beforehand. You can use anything flexible. They sell soap molds in craft stores; you can line a cardboard box with piece of a tough trash bag, or use old yogurt or sour cream containers. Could be anything as long as it is plastic and you could pour roughly the size of a bar of soap into it. If you used small plastic yogurt cups, pouring about an inch of liquid in each would make about six or seven. Or you could pour it all into one larger plastic thing (like one of those glad containers) and cut it into bars later.

5. Again, wait a few seconds before taking the towel and top off in case the liquid "burps." Carefully take the top off of the blender and pour about an inch into each mold.

6. Soap has to cure. Put it up out of the way and let it sit for three weeks. Most folks say the longer it sits the better it gets. Do not use the soap before it has properly aged. If you used one big mold and need to cut it into pieces, pop it out after a few days and cut it up, then put it away to cure. If you used smaller molds, pop it out after a few days and put it away to cure. Place the bars on something that will allow them to breathe, or at least stand them on end with a little space in between - they need air.

7. Keep the gloves on and carefully wash everything up.

This whole process takes about ten/fifteen minutes per batch. I've found the natural soap is wonderful and has been a miracle for dry skin. I find that rose essential oil goes well with thus oatmeal recipe, although most often I make it without scent.

Additional notes from city mouse- I've found really inexpensive olive oil/soy mixes in the dollar store. They work fine. Don't go for expensive olive oil - It doesn't matter. Also, you can mix oils. I've melted cocoa butter and subbed that for part of the olive oil (cocoa butter makes an extremely hard bar). You can melt down shortening and use that. Old timers used lard. Each oil has a different property, and you can combine the properties by combining oils. I've tried different combinations, but I honestly prefer the plain old olive oil. It seems to be the best for moisturizing. If you use a different oil, use an online lye calculator to check the amount of lye - different oils require different amounts of lye.
Here's a description of what each oil does -
Here's an online lye calculator-

Sunday, November 16, 2008


On Friday homemade pie fillings (apple, cherry and raspberry as well as pumpkin) were made and nine pies baked. (I forgot to take pics of the pies but then you have seen my pies before.) Yesterday eight pies were delivered and one was eaten. Last night the customer called me personally to thank me and tell me (after sampling the cherry) that it was the best pie and flakiest pie crust he had ever eaten. That was so thoughtful and nice and sure did make my day.

Outside the kitchen window evidence shows that old man winter arrived last night and left a sampling of greater things to come.

Today I will take a break and not overtax myself. The cold along with a lot of dough making and rolling has my hands suffering a bit from arthritis. My main objective for today is to stay warm and count my blessings. Wherever you are I hope you are safe and warm and counting your blessings as well.

Ohio Amish Country part 3 - the final episode

After leaving Kidron and heading further into Holmes county to Mt. Hope and beyond, we stopped by a bulk food store where I was able to purchase a couple beeswax tarts I will grate and use to make salves or balms. Although I didn't take a photo of the store, I couldn't help but photograph these beauties who were in the pasture at the edge of the parking lot out front of the store.

All our stops were in strictly rural areas as that's about all there is in Amish country. And on every road you saw the corn shocks gathered the Amish way. I love seeing these every fall. I had to snap these from the car, but you get the picture.

Our next stop was further south at Heini's Cheese. We got to sample every kind of cheese they make and let me tell you, that is near impossible as there are dozens and dozens. They also make fudge, so we sampled some of that as well.

We came out of Heini's with a log of smoked cheddar and a pound of Lebanon good.
Then across the road to this Amish bakery...

where we had coffee and some cookies. As I think I've mentioned, the Amish are more liberal in these parts than they are in my home area. Proof is in this gal driving the mower to haul her wagon of supplies. I even saw an Amish girl on a cell phone at one stop. But being in business, they are more worldly and these modern conveniences go hand in hand with that.

Here's just one side of the bread aisle. There were samples here as well. :)))

I wasn't about to buy this shirt, but sure had to take a picture of it. Not only is it funny in and of itself, but I find just as much humor in the fact that the Amish are the ones selling it. But, they are pretty savvy business folks around the area and a dollar is a dollar.

Our journey through the heartland was about over with the exception of a stop at a health food store that sold bulk goods and cheeses as well. A pound of colby and a half pound of pepper jack later, along with some herbal capsules we were back in the van and heading home.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ohio Amish Country part 2 inside Lehmans

Lehman's storefront. Even on a Thursday the place was pretty busy. I'm thinking it's busy jut about every day. I spent a whole $6 that day, but oh how tempting it was to purchase more.

Here we have your choice of dutch ovens.

And here is just about any type of cookie cutter one might want.

Then there were vintage style signs.

And Amish baskets. Check out that pot bellied stove...fancy!

High above this display was this display of old wash tubs.

And then there was enamel ware...

and more enamel ware. Oooh I just love this stuff, probably because I grew up with it.

On to the pottery...

and some from Germany that was just too beautiful.

We ate lunch inside the hardware at the Cast Iron Cafe. J got bread and water since she was locked up. :)

Who wouldn't love a good warm soak in this copper tub? Ahhh, but a girl can dream.

Wood cook stoves...this is maybe half of those on display at Lehmans.

and of course I had to include a picture of my dream stove.

On the way out this Smart car caught my eye. Smart!

Part 3 with more of Holmes county to come!

Ohio Amish Country part 1 of 3

Yep, about a week ago we were invited on another trip to Kidron, Ohio to visit the world famous Lehman Brothers Hardware and venture further into Holmes county. As mentioned this time I took my camera with me, so pour yourself a cup of coffee, or maybe some hot tea or cocoa because I have pictures. Actually I'm not going to get them all uploaded tonight, so look for parts 2 and 3 in a day or so.

One thing, I'm warning you now before you get to the last picture, if you are squeamish about seeing dead critters turn back now. If you want to see the strangest thing I came across at the flea market, then by all means look. Don't worry, there's no blood and guts, just a critter.

Heading down Kidron Road we saw this...a rare sight in these parts.

After parking the van we decided to head over to the flea market before browsing the hardware. It was Thursday, auction day at the Kidron livestock auction. Here we have an Amish buggy pulling a cow wagon.

Buggies with wagons lined up for the auction.

and more buggies

a plethora of pumpkins

and other Fall lovelies

There's the guys taste testing apples

Sorry buddy, you're going on the auction block.

I just liked this picture...

and this one of these fellows waiting for the auction to begin. I also found humor in the guy lighting one up. Notice the no smoking sign to the right?

I walked by this coyote once and just thought it was just a sleeping dog. The second time around I realized it hadn't moved so I had to check it out. It just seemed weird to see a dead stuffed coyote laying there. Makes me go, "Huh!?"

That's it for now folks. I'll be back soon with a look inside Lehman's Hardware. You don't want to miss it!