Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The "P" Word

P = pandemic 

After a few months of lockdown during CV-19, along with many others who were homebound, I had developed a decent sourdough starter by capturing wild yeast in a glass jar of water and flour. That starter was shared with numerous friends - and then I neglected my starter and had to ask a friend to gift me back some starter.
Not making this mistake again, I have been diligent to bake at least one loaf of bread each week. By now the starter is quite potent and will start a loaf unrefreshed and cold out of the fridge. It has been used to make crusty rounds in cast iron Dutch ovens, fluffy hamburger buns, nine grain sandwich bread, bagels, and baguettes. When I have extra starter, instead of throwing it away, I turn it into waffle batter and/or the base of a pizza baked in a cast iron skillet.
I have not purchased a loaf of bread in a very long time.
What is your experience with bread baking & sourdough? 

 Julia Childs

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Needing to Find Groove Again

I am beside myself with having an open calendar after running on adrenaline and coffee the past two years with travel and meetings; being a lady of leisure is taking a bit of getting used to. This week the Mr. and I are making plans to add a little whimsy into the garden with the addition of a tool shed that looks like an old outhouse. Don't know why I am so fascinated with western and old timey things - but building a mini chuck wagon/cart is next on the horizon. We are gearing up for an autumn party that has the theme of Romancing the West ... complete with a campfire Dutch oven cookout. My brain is willing ... but sometimes I overthink and make grandiose plans. This too shall pass. Our days hover in the 80 and 90 F temps - with nights dipping into the 50 and 40s F. The tree leaves are starting to turn yellow and orange - fall is not far away. This summer has been a little smokey - but not as bad as past summers. Anxiety of fire tapers off once the seasons change. Random rambling thoughts for this week.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Heel Roast

Buying a side of beef each year you get some quircky cuts - and a heel roast is one of them. Roasting is my preferred method. Today I tried a new recipe - I prepared the roast by rubbing it with olive oil and garlic salt. It was then placed in a roasting pan and put into a 500 F oven for 20 minutes - then the oven was turned off, not opening the door for two hours. The roast was placed on a plate and allowed to rest so the juices could distribute throughout the beef. This yielded roast from medium to rare. I roasted the meat early in the day - and later refrigerated it. For dinner bite size pieces were sliced and added to a hot cast iron skillet seasoned with a little melted butter and some sliced onion and bell pepper. A brown gravy was made from the drippings and was served over the sliced roast pieces and a slice of toasted sourdough bread. A garden salad and homemade chocolate pudding rounded out the meal. The men of the family sure enjoyed their roast beef dinner. There are plenty of leftovers for another day or two. Philly cheesesteak sandwiches will be on the menu tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

The Time Keeper's Daughter

From the time I can remember, family heirlooms have always been passed along to me: photographs, parlor oil lamps, great grandma's roasting pan, her rolling pin, salt & pepper shakers, tea cups, dining room light, and flower vases to name a few. Mom was an only child so that worked in my favor.

Grandparent's dining room light

Growing up I lived next door to my maternal grandparents. I thought they were rich beyond my world because they had a color television with a remote clicker. I would watch Grandpa empty his piggy bank every few months - he would let me roll the coins.

Grandpa's bank

 I have always felt at home with gathered furniture, vintage dressers, different time periods blended together ... brown wooden furniture, not chalk painted. However, I do have vintage white bedroom furniture to make a light and airy room. 

Gr-gr-great Grandma's oil lamp

Braided woolen rugs, hardwood floors, shaker kitchen cabinets, pressed back oak dining room chairs .. nothing matches but everything blends and appears timeless. This year I had my grandparents wall clock restored - it pleasantly chimes every quarter hour and needs to be wound on the seventh day. With every tic-tock tick-tock it brings back memories of Sunday dinner at Grandma's - a tradition that lasted until Grandma said one day that that was the last Sunday meal she could make. 

Grandparent's chiming clock

I see the same 'Time Keeper' qualities in my youngest daughter Ann. She is even more sentimental and purposeful about making memories for her children. I suppose the person who snidely referred to my "big ole Walton style family" knew what they were talking about. We gather around the table often, make memories, and build bonds that will pass from one generation to the next.

Saturday, August 05, 2023

Grandmas Stand Your Ground

"It's an uphill battle to keep the world at bay around our grandchildren.  I want to bubble wrap them for a few years and not expose them to the foolishness of a blatantly God-less society."

This is an excerpt from a 2018 post I made that was never published. Boy, could I drone on and on and pick right up on this topic five years after penning this statement.

Friday, August 04, 2023

Garden Life

 The past two years were spent volunteering as the state leader for a national women's service organization. My elected term was for two years - leading into it was the opening up of society from the pandemic. A stressful time without leading a robust state society - even more so with large state meetings and 65,000 miles of travel around the USA! My term ended July 2nd and it has taken me until August 2 to decompress and feel like my old relaxed self again.

This past spring our fenced garden area received new raised beds and drip lines - minimal planting was done and I've started to compile a list of flowers to plant for next year. Small confession - this week I picked off some type of caterpillars (two) who had taken up residence in my borage plants - not even thinking! Turns out they were painted lady butterfly caterpillars - boy do I feel guilty! My garden is a pollinator garden and I just removed two beneficial insects (sigh)!

What's growing in your garden?

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Testing The Waters

 .... in a new phase of life ... post crazy schedule ... settling back into my quiet zone of homemaking,

gardening, and spending more time with my family. Leave me a comment if you are able.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Time Team - America's Birthplace

I have enjoyed watching the 'Time Team' (a British TV series) ... they have an episode on Jamestown.

At one time in my genealogical search, I had found a line leading to Jamestown, but my son Nathan sat down at my computer to play a silly game and closed the link.  Oh well, maybe one day I'll rediscover the lead.  Our family does have colonial relatives from Virginia ... so it's not too far fetched.

If you like history shows, take a peek at this episode.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Historical Docu-Drama

... set between 1785 through 1812 in the state of Maine, USA.  A Midwife's Tale, ..."this intimate history illuminates the medical practices, household economies, religious rivalries, and sexual mores of the New England frontier.'  Pulitzer Prize Winning Book available through Amazon (here) or, perhaps your local library.  

If you like early American history, read the book and/or watch the American Experience movie version available on DVD format from Netflix and full movie version on YouTube.

Blessings on your Sunday.

Mrs. Mac

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Fermented Pickles

My favorite fermented pickle recipe.  I use my own pickling spice blend, but follow the recipe.  Fresh grape leaves can be used instead of horseradish leaves with the same results.

Of late, the cucumbers are not too abundantly producing, so I read a tip to spray a light sugar water mixture around the flowers to help attract pollinators.  Will try as pollination seems to be a problem of late.

When I don't have sufficient cukes to ferment, I buy this yummy-licious brand from the market - available year round.  They also make a mean fermented sauerkraut!

Pickles, pickles, pickles!

"On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar."
Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

These Happy Golden Years ...

Retirement .. well, the hubby is retired, I'm a forever homemaker, honing my skills each day and learning new old ways to prepare nutritious meals with what is on hand, gardening, volunteering around the community, helping out nurturing our grandchildren when needed.

Retirement is not for the faint of heart.  It's also not sitting around from morning til night in a rocking chair.  We are always on the go whether at home or in the community.

Planning ahead for retirement can be done.  Retiring debt free is a blessing but takes many years of strategy, going without in the present to assure the means later on.

Many today are living for today and spending like there is no tomorrow.  We are not guaranteed our tomorrows, but it is best to plan for the future than to get there and be in a panic filled with worry.

How are you planning for life after career?

"There is actually no such thing as retirement .. you just put on a different hat and redirect yourself."
Mrs. Mac

Debt Free Living/Dave Ramsey

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Slimmer Pickings

Twenty months ago I joined Weight Watchers (WW) with a friend.  I had wanted to join for a long time but was reluctant and tried not to focus on the extra baggage gained in my 40s and 50s.  A year ago June I met my goal weight (actually ten pounds below goal) and have kept off 40 pounds going from a  size 12 to a size 6 (USA size).  Believe me .. this is a 'feel good' size and in my younger days would probably have been about a size 9 back in the 70s.  The fashion industry has padded the egos of American women by adjusting the bigger sizes down a notch or two in number only.

To aid in the slimming process AND develop strength during/after the weight loss I began exercising to the PBS show Classical Stretch; doing the 22 minute routine five days a week.  This is a gentle workout to help with balance, toning, and aging. 

Today is weigh in day for July to keep my free 'lifetime' membership with WW.    Free WW and free exercise show ... both good things! 
Mr. & Mrs. Mac

Guide to keeping weight off:

  • Use a smaller size plate
  • Don't take seconds
  • Eliminate sugary drinks
  • Limit snacks
  • Eat more vegetables & fruit
  • Limit starchy foods
I have not tracked my food through the WW app on my phone for two months; will probably be up two pounds so will be back to tracking this coming week.  

Feeling better in my 60s ~ priceless!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hello Summer!

Don't let the green grass fool you in the picture taken this morning at sunrise.  Smoky skies have been hanging around for a few weeks.  Things are drying up around here and elsewhere in the west.  Devastating fires covering many western states have turned into infernos.  Oldest son has been fighting fires for several months.  First in Arizona .. and now a little closer to home in Southern Idaho.

I've been filling up the hummingbird feeders almost daily ... poor little birds are swarming looking for a drink.

A trip to Sandpoint to pick up our annual chicken order for the freezer.  I don't think there is a bird under 7 pounds and many of them are close to 10 pounds.  We ordered from a different farm this year and I was so surprised to see how BIG these birds are!  Good thing I have a dedicated freezer just for chicken.  
Filling up the winter pantry.
Chicken Stock
Our sour cherry tree produced quite a bit of fruit this year and we picked it before the birds devoured our treasure!  Pie filling in the freezer ... and brandied cherries 'maturing' in the basement pantry ..oh, YUM!
Brandied Cherries

The ever labor intensive homemade Boston Baked Beans ... it's a once a year endeavor that I'm always happy to have completed.  
Boston Baked Beans

What's up in your neck of the woods?

My Other Name ...


Wee One arrived on his due date.  This grammy is in love all over again.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Reclaiming My Passion

Home-keeper at heart. The past few years I've been preoccupied with other stuff.  Getting back to my passion for all things of hearth and home is rejuvenating.  Like rediscovering a favorite comfy sweater tucked away for years in the bottom dresser drawer.

Today's goals: 

  • Putter in the garden purposely, not rushed
  • Make an awesome braised pork shoulder roast for dinner
  • Be attentive to the Mr.  Hang with him in the garage.  Conversing.
  • Read three chapters from a book mom gave me for Christmas in 2012, with her hand written inscription, " Merry Christmas, 2012, when I saw a little clip of this story, I knew it was meant for you.  Enjoy, Love and Hugs, Mom and Pops."  After reading the first few chapters of the book, A Dog Named Christmas, it is clear how much thought she put into the gift selection. 
  • Long soak in the tub tonight
  • Church service online.  
Today's inspiration comes from Tasha Tudor. 

"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is. Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!"  Tasha Tudor