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

Sunday, June 20, 2010


... once again.  But ... it meant I didn't have to get up early to water the garden as I had expected to have to do.  A wee bit soggy of a Father's Day!  We had a breakfast down at the local fire station served up by the Lions Club.  A good place to hang out with the whole family and friends.  Mr. Mac & our oldest son, Patrick, were supposed to attend a Spokane Indians (minor league) baseball game today .. but it got rained out.  Happy Father's Day to all of you dads!

pics:  top .. daughter Ann, Mr. Mac, son Nathan
bottom .. Mac family and friends

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Honey Bees

... have returned ... and the weather has warmed up.  Very thankful!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Waiting (less) Patiently For Summer

Just when I start to think summer has arrived, our local weather pattern slips back into the 'April Showers Bring May Flowers' mode.  To date, I've only watered the garden once ... and that probably could have been skipped because the warm weather only lasted two or three days ... and never reached higher than 79-80 F.  The row tunnel is covering my second batch of peppers ... the first were killed with late morning frost several weeks ago .. and a freak windstorm took out my tomato seedlings that were hardening off on the front porch; both had to be replaced with nursery plants. It may be time to invest in a small greenhouse.  Seems there are less honey bees too.  Could be a less productive year.  What's up in your garden?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wild Rose Jelly

Years ago a little old lady (probably my age at the time;) lived next door to my grandma.  She had a lovely garden and on one occasion brought over a beautiful jar of Rose-Geranium jelly.  The color was wonderful and I remember the yummy smell/taste of flowers on my toast.  A few days ago I came across a recipe on line for Wild Rose Jelly. We have lots of wild pink roses on our property so I went foraging today for the fragrant pink (prized) petals.  I added some of my red geranium petals as well because they add a lovely hint to the bouquet.  Here's the recipe:

1-1/2 cups tightly packed wild rose petals (you could use fragrant domestic rose petals as long as they have not been sprayed/fed with ANY toxic chemicals.  If you want to add geranium petals, use about 1 cup rose petals and 1/2 cup geranium petals, tightly packed ... (either way .. the jam will be pink)

2 Tablespoons lemon juice (I used fresh and strained it)
3-1/2 cups sugar (evil white sugar works best;)
1 - 3 ounce pouch liquid pectin

Make flower petal juice as follows:  Take the tightly packed flower petals and rinse well in a colander with warm water.  Spread the washed petals on a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Put petals in a large sauce pan and crush with a potato masher or the bottom of a glass.  Add 2-1/4 cups water and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the flowers lose their color (just a few minutes).  Strain in a fine sieve or cheese cloth.  This yields about 2 cups of petal juice.  You need 1-3/4 cup petal juice to make the jelly.

To make the jelly:  wash and sterilize 4 half-pint jars (or 8 one-half cup jelly jars).  Sterilize the lids and have rings available.   Open pectin pouch and have it standing in a glass ready to use.

Put 1-3/4 cup strained petal juice in a large sauce pan.  Add the lemon juice and sugar (the lemon will immediately brighten up the color).  Stir constantly and bring to a roiling boil on high heat.  Add liquid pectin and return to a roiling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and skim any foam.  Immediately fill the prepared jars 1/4 inch from top.  Wipe rims with a clean damp cloth.  Seal with the two piece lids.  Boil for five minutes in a water bath; adjust for altitude (see pectin box).  Let sit overnight on counter before moving.  Test seals.  Use within six months to retain the pretty color.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Finally ... Some Validation

and fine tuning.

Being a homemaker is finally in vogue:)  I've known the importance of tending, mending, rearing/teaching children, making do with what's on hand for the past 28 years .. that's when I said good-bye to my day job in an accounting office and put on my apron full time.  Hubby and I decided to live on one income .. where ever that would take us.  Never thinking .. 'someday I'll return to an outside job' .. just plugging along with so much work at home and never having the desire or opportunity to go back to a 9-5 job.  Now days I've discovered the 'back to basics' that my grand and great grand parents knew.  Traditions and practices that went by the wayside for more modern conveniences that were required/demanded when society wanted to take the 'easy' road ... you know the one .. working to make money so you can purchase things that are made by other people.  We exchanged knowledge and know-how for pay and ready made things.  How can society go forward if we lose such valuable skills?  Maybe we really need to go backwards and reclaim some of the old ways. 

Here are two books that I purchased this past year that have that old time flare and are loaded with time honored remedies and building methods that attempt to restore the lost arts of gardening and homesteading.  The first book was purchased used through Amazon for under $10 (including shipping) .. and the second at a garage sale for fifty cents and is available on Amazon.

Old Time Gardening Wisdom ... by Jerry Baker, is about "Lessons learned from (his grandmother's) kitchen cupboard, medicine cabinet, and garden shed!"  This is a good go to reference to help you become a wise gardener .. relying on simple remedies and practices relating to veggies, fruit/nut trees, insects, plant diseases, homeopathic herbs, etc. 

Back To Basics ... by Reader's Digest .. "How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills"  This book is full of EVERYTHING having to do with life skills ... it's easy to read and can be a springboard for a gazillion topics.  Check the link to view used copies and a great book review.

Here is what the Old Time Gardening Wisdom book says to use to control snails/slugs:  Hand picking, beer, grape juice, cider vinegar, Diatomaceous earth, aluminum foil, ashes.  I've heard to bury an open and partially filled beer bottle having the opening at ground level to attract the slugs.  We use pulverized egg shells (or Diatomaceous earth) sprinkled in a heavy circle around our lettuce plants with good success.  I'm thinking of mixing a soapy/peppery spray to take care of the spittle bugs on my strawberry plants this afternoon.  Will post the recipe later. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Veggies Gone Missing (already)

... those pesky voles!  Some of my extra onion bulbs I stuck in at the end of the asparagus patch have been pulled through the soil into Mr. & Mrs. Vole's tunnel.  Others are just limp from  having the roots gnawed off.  Seems to only be a problem at this one spot that did not get rototilled.  Let's hope they are satisfied with the excess bulbs and don't head over to the big patch of onions.