Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Reading

I read all the time, but certain books seem made for summer. Have you ever read anything by Luanne Rice?

Most of her books are set in New England by the beach. Very good stories. This one isn't new, but I hadn't read it yet. Quite a tearjerker!

I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. If you like vampire stories, you'll love this! It is really a good love story. And since Ms. Harkness is history professor, there is a lot of interesting factual history thrown in. Makes for a believable story - but not scary.

Right now I'm reading Hiss of Death by Rita Mae Brown and her cat Sneaky Pie. I know, weird, right? But her books are great mysteries, and if you like cats, dogs and horses, you'll love them. The only problen I have with this author's books is that she gets a little preachy about whatever topic she is into at the moment. Fine if you agree, easily overlooked if you don't.

So, what are you reading? I'm always on the lookout for a good book!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Like most crafters, I go through phases as my moods dictate. And I do so many different crafts, sometimes I can't decide what to do next! But when I have new pictures made, I want to scrapbook them.

I am more than a little obsessive about my scrapbook albums. I am up to # 23 in family albums. (That is 30 years worth.) I also have albums for each of the boys, and my husband and I have childhood albums. Plus wedding and heritage albums. That's a lot of albums! I have trouble finding room for them in our small house.

Anyway, here are a few pages I have done lately:

I have so much fun digging through my supplies and finding just the right embellishments.     

Friday, July 22, 2011

Beating the Heat

I thought I would show a few things I have been working on, crafty-wise. It's too hot to even walk in the garden these days, though I do it to water and pick veggies and fruit. So I've been inside, sewing and crocheting. I can't work upstairs in my craft room because it isn't air conditioned. I can't bring all my paper crafting stuff downstairs, (way too much!) but I've brought my sewing things to the kitchen/family room and set up a work space for the duration.

I made up these pillows earlier this summer. I am redecorating our kitchen from dark country colors to lighter cottage/farmhouse colors. It was fun working with a different palette. They actually match the sofa better than this picture shows. I will be posting about the new kitchen soon.

I made this bag from an Annie Downs book. The panel is made with felt, then added to the patchwork bag.

I'm using it to store this work in progress, a ripple afgan, from a pattern by Lucy from Attic 24.  Again, the colors are for the kitchen, they perfectly match the new rug we bought.

This set is from patterns in a Country Threads magazine, which is from Australia. I love all the stitchery projects in this magazine. I haven't chosen a closure button for the bag yet, but I'll enjoy going through my collection to find the perfect one.

I will continue to work on my afgan this weekend, and I've got a few more projects in mind. What are your crafty projects this summer?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Backyard Nature Center

We are a family of nature lovers and have tried to make our property inviting to all sorts of creatures. We have a barn full of bats and swallows. A small pond that's home to frogs, toads, and fish. Several birdbaths, feeders, and houses for different types of birds. Lots of fruit and berry producing bushes and trees. Uncleared areas that provide homes and protection for all sorts of critters. And LOTS of flowers.

So, we decided we should put out an official welcome mat:

We put these signs on the fence by the pond and butterfly garden. Though I saw several monarchs today, I never had the camera with me. I did get a few pictures of this tiger swallowtail on the oregano:

The flower beds are in full bloom and looking better than ever.

We are busy harvesting, canning, freezing and eating the produce from our garden. And the tomatoes are starting to be ready. Yeah!


Acorn squash and tomatoes 

Green beans

Different peppers

Today we had Andrew, Alison, and Tad over to celebrate Alison's birthday. I made Texas barbecue sandwiches, coleslaw, green bean and tomato salad, and cherry cheesecake bars. Andrew brought a loaf of his good homemade bread. I didn't take any food pictures because I was too busy with this little guy:

Isn't he a cutie-pie?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Our family loves dill pickles. In fact, our oldest son can eat a whole jar of Clauson's in a weekend visit, including the juice! I used to can dill pickles and water bath them every year. But my niece Sheila found a recipe for refrigerator pickles that stay so crisp because they are not cooked. Yum!

If you would like to try these, here is the link for the recipe: 

dan koshansky’s refrigerator pickles — A Way to Garden


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lavender Days

I don't know what it is about herbs that just enchants me. It could be their history, or their usefulness. But I think it is more the plants themselves. I love the way they look, whether in flower or not, and the varied fragrances. I just feel good walking through my herb garden. I pick one leaf and then another, sniffing and sometimes tasting. Watching the insects they attract and checking for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars on the fennel.

I do use some herbs for cooking, especially dill, sage, rosemary, basil, and thyme. And through the years I have done quite a few crafts with herbs; wreaths, potpourri, and sachets. My favorite herbs for crafting are lemon verbena and lavender.

I've got the lavender picked now. (I do leave a some for the bees.) Then I spend some time rubbing the buds from the stems. Now I've got a few jars of lavender for the embroidered sachets I will make this winter.

Sometimes I make lavender wands, but they take a lot of time. I love the look and use them to scent my linens.

We are having a weather- perfect summer weekend. Planning to do some swimming, gardening, and maybe a hike. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Family Fun and Flea Market Finds

 We had everyone here for the 4th for swimming and a cookout. My niece and her family came over from Illinois, Andrew and Alison brought baby Tad, Justin came down from Chicago and brought his new girlfriend, and of course, Eric. The weather was perfect, and we had so much fun just being together. It can't get much better!

Tad was the center of attention.
Justin and his friend Lizzie. (Justin got stung by a wasp and had ice on it.)
Alison and Tad.
Sheila and Davin.
Orion and Alexander really enjoyed the pool!
Rick manning the grill.
My attempt at Martha's cookies.
We ran out of matches for the bottle rockets and snakes, so the boys used a magnifying glass!

On Sunday we went to the monthly flea market. We didn't get much, but I did find a cute spice cabinet, some Eloise Wilkin books, and a great old game.

I hope everyone had a good holiday with family and friends. We sure did!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Year of the Frog

We have had our pool for 15 years and have never had the problem we are having this year. FROGS! It started when we were late opening the pool and had bullfrog tadpoles in it.

So we got the tadpoles into the pond, and refilled the pool. It's nice and clear, and chlorinated. But the frogs keep coming. Every night there are at least 3 frogs singing in or around the pool. At first we didn't do anything and woke up to find frog eggs in the water. Now we have "Frog Alert". Our son Eric goes out every evening and catches the frogs using a flashlight, and takes them over to the pond. EVERY NIGHT!
Eric seems to enjoy it, but I'm wondering if this is going to go on all summer.

We love wildlife, but sheesh! Give us a break.