Monday, April 30, 2018

T Stands for Tuesday & A Very Fun Filled Week

Hi Everyone,
   Another Tuesday is upon us, where we share a drink related post with our hostess Bleubeard and Elizabeth. You are most welcome to visit and or join us. Link in my right hand column.

  Wow, we have enjoyed a long weekend with our Wisconsin friends.  Our upstairs little mini room that I shared last November for our visitors worked out well for the two couples.
   We have known one couple for probably 25 or 30 years now and the second couple-we had met him from deer camp and now we got to meet his wife.  These two couples have been long time friends and do allot of traveling and partying with each other. Ever since we have moved here, the long time friend's couple have drove down to visit us in April. 
   Hubs and I are over 20 years older than they all are so we were their base "camp" while they went off and did allot of fun things together. I had dinner ready for everyone when they returned (I enjoy cooking so I enjoyed that) 
   Sunday, everyone went fishing in Hubs boat while one of the women slept in and then came over to the house. I decided to bake a lemon meringue pie in the dutch oven so I was just setting it up when she came over.  We then decided to make a loaf of the Irish Soda Bread (the recipe I shared a couple weeks ago) and bake that in a dutch oven over and under the coals as well.  
    We were enjoying the process so much and visiting that I totally forgot to take photos. I did get a couple afterwards photo. The meringue on the pie got a bit more done than I like but it did not taste burnt at all and was so delicious.  The bread turned out excellent too.
    Also on Sunday evening for the third year in row we grilled up a feast of filet mignon, shrimp, asparagus and I also made a fresh spinach-mandarin orange salad, and I made foil packets of potatoes that we tossed on the coals. I had also invited 3 other people. The food was just so delicious. Such good eats and so sorry no one thought to take photos.

Before retirement our friend always baked up cheesecake for Hub's birthday. When we retired to Missouri she continues to bring cheesecakes in April and also sends two more in November for deer camp.  These were a swirled raspberry and lime cheesecakes-both super awesome. Baking cheesecakes from scratch with different flavors is one of her specialties.

Out of the dutch ovens and what was left this morning of the bread and lemon meringue pie

I did the 5k virtual race for Earth Day and just got my swag in the mail today-this one was quite different for a finishing medal; these were handcrafted by Swazi Khutsala Artisians which is an initiative for creating Hope through beauty, design and  excellence. Not sure yet but I may add this one to my journal pages

Over the weekend we were seeing a Baltimore Oriole or two. This morning I switched up the fruit to those juicy very small halos-All day today after our friends left for home in Wisconsin; we have been enjoying the beauty of these birds. I changed the oranges twice today. We were getting up to 3 pairs at a time.

These photos will blow up to larger for better viewing.

I received my next bag of bison roving for spinning in the mail-she had gotten snowed in and couldn't get off of her ranch to mail I love this roving.

    Wednesday our other friends and us did go and visit the rest of the museum in Springfield-this was the wildlife one and dedicated to conservation. I enjoyed this area so much more. The Native American section was amazing as was the three room Lewis and Clark exhibit. Again we were not allowed to take photos with flash. I got in trouble after trying to take this one--this spot was really awesome. When we first entered the museum we saw a movie with the founder Johnny Morris after that the screen opened up for us to enter-that took us to an escalator surrounded with the bison displays-I totally loved that. The photo is not super clear just look close. Most of the very large displays to showcase these taxidermy animals was dark like this. I just did not like that. They must do this to preserve the animals from lights.

My friend Barbara photo shopped my photo for me-how cool is that? Now you can see the buffalo better. thanks Barbara

For my drink today I am sharing a Manhattan. I had purchased this bottle probably about 9 months ago and decided to try it. It was very good-just add ice cubes.

Today is April's Full Pink Moon-more information here  and Happy Full Moon

Happy T Day everyone!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cast Iron Fridays

  Hello Everyone and Welcome,

In this sharing event we post about cast iron. Cooking, baking, grilling, indoors or outdoors. This cookware also includes enameled over cast iron. You are most welcome to link up your Cast Iron Fridays at end of this post.  Tips with using cast iron and recipes are most welcome in our sharing event.

This is a busy week for me, the weather has been very up and down with lots of rain, and I have getting ready for two Wisconsin couples coming down for a long weekend early early tomorrow morning (in the middle of the night ha ha)  I have not had the chance to prepare any fun things this week. 

However, I have found some very yummy looking recipes in my Southern Cast Iron Newsletter this week that I want to share with you.

I think desserts/breakfast foods bake up so nice in cast iron, and they also make a fun presentation as well.

This strawberry skillet cake recipe is on my list soon when the 
fresh berries arrive

Honey Nut Sweet Rolls

Raspberry Jam Coffee Cake with pistachio Streusel 

In the newsletter they also linked me up to some very delicious looking breakfast meals-I am getting hungry looking at all the photos. find here There are potato recipes and cornmeal pancakes too worth a look for something a bit different for breakfast.

Now it is your turn to share your post

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Laundry Soap Recipes and Recipes with Dandelions & Violets

  Good morning,
        Instead of waiting til next week's T party I thought I would share recipes now, and also some other really nice simple recipes to make with some of mother nature's gifts to us. ( I will post a link to this post on the next T post as well)

   Around 2008 when the economy crashed we were hit hard and were stuck with not being able to sell our Illinois home which had very very high taxes. So we had to really pinch pennies for several years. This is when I looked into making laundry supplies. I always thought I wanted to get into making lye soaps but I decided No- me and chemicals are an accident waiting to happen ha ha  and I also discovered for some reason my skin did not like homemade lye soaps even when they were cured properly. So, no I needed to look into another way to make laundry soap.
   Back during this time period I learned from reading on the web (this had become quite popular too). For me it was fun to make and saved me soooo much money and I also did not need to recycle those plastic bottles. We had also bought a new washing machine when we retired here and it needed a low suds soap and for me I also needed no perfumes added either-so the laundry soap was just really expensive.

   Many recipes were calling for the fels napha bars of soap to grate up into laundry soap. Do Not use this-it is way too strong for every day laundry soap and is rough on the skin as well.  Instead look for an old bar soap like Kirks

Laundry Soap Recipe

   I double this recipe to fill up a 5 gallon bucket to the top

1 quart boiling water
2 cup bar soap grated very fine
2 cups borox
2 cups washing soda
2 tablespoons glycerin

What I do is fill a pan that holds around a gallon or so of water and bring to a simmer or slow boil

Then gradually add in the grated soap stir slowly to melt-try not to create soap suds

In the 5 gallon bucket which is placed where I want it to stay in the laundry room-add in the borox and the washing soda-then pour in the hot water with melted soap and stir til all dissolved. Then with very hot tap water add and stir-when the bucket is half full add in the glycerin and stir and continue to add hot water and stir til you are to the top of the bucket. Keep the lid off and then let sit til the next day-You will then have a bucket of gelled soap.(then put the lid on to keep clean)  Depending on the wash load I use a half cup to a cup.
   The only "hard" part to this recipe is grating all the soap-to double the recipe you need 4 bars of the kirks bar soap

   I used to also make my own bleach but it really only works well if you are hanging clothes outside on the line in the sun.  Now when needed I add a dry bleach.

In the past I have also made my own fabric softener which works pretty well, but then I switched to just adding vinegar, sometimes I use a store bought fabric softener now.   If anyone is interested in the homemade bleach and fabric softener recipes let know and I will post them.

I do want to also share the dry soap recipe which you can make and use instead of the gelled recipe.  I use fels napha bar soap in this dry recipe to use for washing my throw rugs and or soiled laundry that needs a good soak first. This is such a strong product that my husband used it in the tanning process (there are many references online for using fels napha in tanning-so thought I would link to one) for hides  So I would not use this bar soap for your regular laundry

   Dry Laundry Soap

1 cup grated bar soap
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borox
You can also stir in a few drops of essential oils too

Stir all together and store in air tight container
I use 1 tablespoon for regular laundry or 2-3 tablespoons for very soiled.

With the Dandelions blooming I wanted to share some recipes from the Nerdy Farm Wife-she is my go to site for making my own salves, balms and more. You can find her in my blog list.

She has a wonderful collection of dandelion recipes. There are several I want to make. One of them are these dandelion lotion bars I want to make these for sure.

(photos found online)

With the wild violets coming up she has several recipes on her site for those too and I love making violet sugar-it keeps well and is so pretty to add on top of frostings or even cream cheese or yogurt.  This is one method-just layer the sugar and violets in a clean jar. Or you can blend sugar and violet flowers together in a blender  here  
These make nice gifts too.

Monday, April 23, 2018

T Stands for Tuesday & My March Fabric Journal Pages

   T Stands for Tuesday is where we gather together with friends with a drink related post. Our hostess Bleubeard and Elizabeth can be found in the link in my right hand column.

  Sunday was a nice lazy day for me, it rained all day long. I worked on my journal pages, and read more of the large book Sacajawea (Lewis & Clark Expedition) This has been on my want to read list for a very long time. I had no idea she had lived such a rough life as a child-most of her family had been killed and many children including her were taken as slaves by another tribe)
    We have two couples from Wisconsin that will be driving down for a long weekend visit. They will be arriving around 2 am in the morning, so when they wake up it will be Friday. Looks like perfect weather too by then.  So I will be cleaning up the house and getting ready for their visit. 
  On Wednesday our local friends and us will be going back to the Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, Mo (where I posted about the aquarium) to take advantage of the free tickets to see the wildlife area of the museum. In this post  I explained that we Did get a call back about our concerns, and I also told him that we were not able to see both parts which we had paid for. So am looking forward to seeing the rest of the museum.

     Over the weekend I have been working on finishing my March pages for my fabric art journal. I needed to stitch everything down and also make up a couple more event pieces. This morning I just finished sewing the first half of the March pages into my journal-loving it!  I noticed though I need to go back and correct one of the sewn in pages as I sewed over the line I needed to-for turning the pages. Other than that I am loving my book so far.

I made a couple videos of my work on these pages. The videos are fun to make but with my very very slow rural internet it takes forever to upload a video and these are just 2 minutes or less. So I will rethink that and go back to more photos probably.

  If I can believe the weather people, then this coming week we will finally see no more freezing and very cold temps. I am sure hoping so. We really needed this good soaking rain today as well.
      How is the weather where you live??

I have been getting back to walking when weather permits. The wild violets are up-I love those. I have used them in all sorts of ways in the past. Healing salves and lip balms, in salads, candied flowers, and one year I blended up allot of the flowers into sugar-violet sugar-it's awesome and very pretty on frostings, and it lasts a long time too. The sun was really bright so the violets look a bit faded

 Up near the house I love to let them grow-here is Miss Calico amongst the violets

I will see if can get some better photos of these violets when it stops raining.

This is the time of year, actually earlier, mid April but we have had much colder weather this year-when we only see a very few deer come up for the corn. Things are starting to sprout out in the woods and many of them are having their babies. This past week we have had this group of 2 or 3.  I usually stop putting out corn now but since the ducks and geese are here I will continue for them.

   I made a fresh batch of my handmade laundry soap last week. I have been making my own laundry soap for over 10 years now.
       I had gotten down to nothing so I needed to motivate myself to fine grate 4 bars of soap-after that it goes super fast. I make up a 5 gallon bucket full-it turns into this nice thick gel when set up.  I save so much money doing this and washes clothes well, no plastic to recycle and safer for the environment especially here in my woods.

   I tried a new cream for my morning decaf beverage. This one is all real no added salt or other unknown stuff haha

Happy T for Tuesday!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day Recycle Projects

  Elizabeth's post inspired me to search out more recycle projects.

20 Creative Ways to Reuse and Recycle empty plastic bottles
     allot of really neat things to make in this one even a trash bin

Plastic Bottle Trashcan

50 Easy DIY Projects From Your Recycle Bin
     Lots of useful projects

Lot of Ideas with glass for your garden  
    This one is eye candy with glass over 5100 photos of glass art for your garden

and one more-68 DIY Projects

   These are very unique and worth a look

This trampoline turned hanging bed recycle DIY is so GENIUS! I want this!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Happy Earth Day Everyone

  Sunday is Earth Day here in the States.  Happy Earth Day Elizabeth and all of you that celebrate.

      This is one of the virtual races I love to do. 
Since tonight and most of tomorrow we are suppose to get rain, I walked my 5K late afternoon today. I was proud of myself as I finally got it back to under an hour again this year. I did my 5K in 55 minutes, which is good for me.

     Today was such a lovely day, warmer and more sun than they said which was nice. I finally was able to work in the garden a bit too. I hand disked over the soil so I could plant some onion sets and pea pods. I also got in some perennial flowering bulbs too that will be nice for the butterflies.  I need to pick up several bags of the miracle grow soil for gardens soon. 
   This past week we saw our first couple of hummingbirds. They seemed to be passing on by though Usually April 15th is when they start arriving but this year April has just been so cold and winter like.

Happy Earth Day

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cast Iron Fridays & Sourdough Bread Baked in Dutch Oven

    I have started up a cast iron sharing event.

    You are most welcome to join in with a post (new or old) just link up back to here to help spread the word. 

    If you no longer use cast iron but still have a favorite recipe or method please feel welcome to share. This is a learning and sharing event for all of us interested. 

   Also if you see a recipe or information for cast iron that you think sounds good you are most welcome to share as well.
    Any of you that have used your cast iron at events or camping are most welcome.
   This is for anything cooked, grilled, baked indoors or outdoors in cast iron. This also includes cast iron dutch ovens with the legs and special lids to hold the hot coals.  This event also includes cast iron pieces enameled 

                  Welcome to Cast Iron Fridays

   This week I wanted to share with you another bread baked in cast iron.
    I have two sourdough starters in my frig. an Austrian Rye sourdough and one from King Arthur using unbleached white flour. I have been promising to share the rye starter with a friend, so I just decided to refresh the other one and make a sourdough loaf for my Hubs.
  He likes his sourdough breads really strong so I went an extra 12 hours on the starter before separating it out to save back for starter and for the recipe.

   I decided I wanted to make a no knead bread and bake it up in my dutch oven.  It was ready to bake up around 10 am or so this morning but I visited with my friend an extra hour-so this dough got even more sour. 

     This is the sourdough dough after proofing 12 hours over nite.

 This morning I took a spatula (very sticky dough) and got it out of this bowl onto a heavily floured board  I kneaded in a bit of flour til most of the stickiness was gone

And added the dough into my dutch oven that I had sprayed the bottom with olive oil and sprinkled a bit of coarse cornmeal  I also used a serrated knife and made some slits into the dough. I also sprayed a little olive oil on top-covered and let rise.

  I was about an hour late getting home so this to me was over risen and was not sure how it would bake. 

   I placed it in a hot 450 f degree oven with the lid on and baked for 40 minutes.

it came out of the dutch oven very easily. the crust on the outsides is crunchy-perfectly baked inside.

This bread I thought was a very strange shape as it spread out to the sides of the pan. Actually it turned out perfect for slicing. Hubs says it tasted perfect, it smelled so delicious, like it came out of a bakery. I was soooo tempted to take a bite.

If you do not have a sourdough starter going-that's fine too as I found several recipes with yeast baked this way for similiar results-you just will not get that sourdough flavor. This is a very easy way to bake up bread with excellent results and gorgeous loaves.

Dutch Oven Crusty Bread

Dutch Oven Bread by Le Creuset 

From King Arthur Flour Bread Baking in a Dutch Oven

The last two links especially are full of information and techniques and if interested well worth the read. I pinned these to my bread board on Pinterest.

  and if interested in sourdough this is my most favorite book ever. I may have shared this in the past. I have been baking from this book for many years now-probably over 20 now.  He also has excellent sourdough starters I bought the Austria Rye from him. Back in the day when I did not know I had celiac (gluten intolerance) I was baking all of our breads and had four different sourdoughs in my frig.  His method of handling your sourdough is the best-I realized this again last year when I bought a new starter from King Arthur along with their very awesome crock for sourdough storage - and was reading their recipes. They had you adding yeast-no way-and they had you throwing out half your starter each time. So wasteful and just is not how sourdough is handled-that's my story haha

Now it is your turn to share your Cast Iron Fridays Post

One of Those Weeks & Just Stuff

Good morning everyone,
   The last cold spell over this past weekend that gave us 3 mornings of hard freezes-low 20's F just got to me this time. It seems impossible to get the spring seeds and plants in the ground this month. I am glad I did not plant the onion sets or they would have been ruined during the hard freezes. We are usually getting blooms on the pea plants and eating lots of fresh salad-nothing even sprouting and with all of these freezes or frost I have not planted the peas.
   On the positive note we seem to be getting one maybe two days of warm 70s that reminds us that this is April and this is suppose to be Spring.
   I have not had the worst of it though as many are still getting snow as I type.  Usually the weather is no big deal to me but this last freeze just got to me, and we are still waking up to just barely at the freeze mark.  I am not sure if any of my seeds will sprout in my mini bottle greenhouses, but I do have one full of cabbage sprouts.
  OK enough complaining. The weather is nothing we can change to our liking.

   Sunday I received a phone call from Wonders of Wildlife-the aquarium we visited. He said as he was reading what I had wrote he just needed to call me, and I thanked him for that.  He told me he was so sorry and that he would be re training the staff-as they do have a plan in place. She should have sat us down and then gotten my husband a scooter or a wheel chair. I also had written that the first staff person never should have told us to use the exit doors as those were not for this situation-they led you outdoors for a fire emergency-no steps etc to walk down.  He was a good listener and thanked me several times for letting them know what happened. I also mentioned that we paid for both sides of the museum (which is expensive) but was not able to go back and tour the rest of it so could we be credited back for that. He offered a way for us to get free tickets to see the rest.  I also asked him if it was true that there was no elevator from top to bottom and he said yes-but depending on where in the aquarium a person is located and needing help-they had plans in place for getting you back to the main floor.  I definately felt better that I got a call back, and he sounded very sincere about re educating the staff.

   The second moller that I had pulled has been much slower in getting healed. It finally is feeling better today and I no longer have that gaging feeling from the empty space of those two teeth-thought that was weird too. In a couple weeks I will get a crown on the fractured bottom tooth. and hopefully no more dental woes this year. I did splurge-at least for me the expense was a splurge-and bought a quality water pik. My gums have not been good for a couple years now and after doing allot of reading online this sounds like a good thing. It is probably something I should have looked into much sooner.

   Somehow this month I got some dates mixed up, I think it was because I was not feeling good. Next week we have two couples from Wisconsin coming down for a long weekend visit. Hoping the weather will finally be nice by then. They love to golf and weather permitting we all love to grill outdoors-so looking forward to their visit.

  My fabric journal project has been on my mind but just have not had the chance to work on it. This afternoon and evening I am hoping to get my March pages finished.

  I wanted to mention that last weekend when winter was back I turned it into a movie event with the Twilight saga. I really enjoyed all the movies much better the second time around-I think Edward "grew" on me a bit more-he was just so different than what I imagined when I was reading the books. Then first part of this week I went through all the discs and watched all the extras and special features. There were even music videos. I really really enjoyed how they made the wolves and all of the other special features. After seeing all of those I am ready to soon watch the movies again from a different perspective. One thing that was cool too-several clips with the author. So I got more insight from that and also she wanted to be in the audience for Bella's wedding so I will look for her next time I watch the movies.  I am glad that I waited for this latest Twilight saga set. It is presented really nice too in book form. If you are a diehard Twilight fan I think you would love this set.

   I needed to refreshen both of my sourdough starters yesterday. I split the rye to share with a friend so will be dropping that off this morning. I also have a loaf of bread rising in my dutch oven as I type and will be baking it soon in a hot oven.  I will be sharing the results at Cast Iron Fridays 

Happy Thursday everyone

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Wow Mother Nature is Out of Control & Tech Help for my Friend Plus Videos

Good morning friends.
   First off I am hoping everyone is safe from the crazy weather going on in the States. I am thinking she must have chosen Friday 13 for all of this.
   Elizabeth I am hoping the tornadoes missed you too and also Deb I hoped they missed you as well. We got the very very strong winds, rains but no hail. and we are to get below freezing again especially Monday morning with temps in the low 20's f again. It is colder and still very windy now as I type.
   I also just read about major snow blizzards in the plains-South Dakota, Iowa, northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Bad weather all the way down to Louisiana. I am hoping this is really the last of winter. My author friend now lives in Yellowstone Park-her husband is a master carpenter for vintage and his year round job will be the Old Faithful Inn  I am thinking they are getting lots of snow too.

   Also my dear artist friend Barbara just sent out an SOS on her blog. Any of you with blog tech knowledge she needs help. All of her photos have disappeared on her blog even her profile photo. I hope someone knows how to help her. She is just now feeling better to blog and create art again.

I also want to thank my friend Carole  who made a tutorial for me on a better way to load videos.
   I have been on You Tube for years now following different artists and others but never thought of using it to make a video. Also I can make a long video there and then link it from there to here which saves data on my blog-which I never would have thought of either.
   Here are the videos I did that day on my walk and playing with making videos-since You Tube is part of Google it uploads pretty neat-I just hit the video link then clicked on my You Tube Videos and just chose the ones I wanted--easy haha
   The background noise is the howling winds that day, and a look at some of our ponds.

Happy Saturday everyone

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cast Iron Fridays & Upside Down Cakes

Welcome everyone to Cast Iron Fridays,
   I love and still use mostly cast iron in my every day cooking. I thought I would share one of my loves with you on Fridays.
   This event is also open for you to link up with your own cast iron cooking-baking post. 
    Anything cooked, baked, grilled in cast iron or enameled over cast iron indoors or outdoors is welcome. If you take your cast iron on your camping trips or other outdoor events you are most welcome to share as well.
   I know several of my readers have used cast iron but no longer are able to use it much any more. You are most welcome though to join in with tips or your recipes.

   Cast Iron Fridays is for sharing "Good Eats" with each other.

 This has been one of those weeks so I have not done any fun baking in my cast iron. Tonight though I decided to bake up an upside down apple-pear-plum cake. I rarely bake this late in the day but I decided to save time and bake tonight-great for breakfast too (smiling)

   Upside down cakes turn out so well in cast iron. You can pretty much use any fruit you like on the bottom. Even canned fruits bake up well just be sure to drain well.  I had never been a fan of box cake mixes, but they do work out really well for gluten free cakes. Tonight I am using a new to me cake mix by Bob's Red Mill. I also loaded up the bottom of the pan with lots of fruits, this way some of the fruit will also bake into the cake as well.
   I grabbed a deeper Wagner cast iron skillet which I also have the lid for. The photos really show up the rusty outside which I will remedy this summer. The inside though is seasoned very well. I have used this pan allot in my outdoor cooking

I took this photo so you can see the depth of the pan on the left compared to a regular skillet

These are the ingredients. the cake mix, coconut oil instead of butter, coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, and 4 smaller eggs instead of 3 large ones I also melted a little butter around two tablespoons.

I melt just enough butter to cover the bottom of the pan-most recipes call for allot more but I have found you don't really need it if you care not to add all that butter in

Instead of brown sugar I now use coconut sugar. I sprinkle a good amount all over the bottom

I used fruits that I peeled and diced. I ended up with too many apples so I am thinking I used 4 apples, one pear, and the three plums I added in some plums to add some juiciness

Over the fruit I sprinkled cinnamon and added about 4 tablespoons of homemade maple syrup that our friend from Green Bay Wisconsin brought us last November

Sorry I totally forgot to take a photo of the fruit on the bottom before I added the cake batter. The fruit was pretty thick on the bottom guessing over an inch deep

  The directions for baking the cake was for 325 f degrees. I thought that sounded pretty low for this After the recommended baking time plus a few more minutes my cake is still not baked so I just upped the temperature to 350 f degrees.

The cake is in the oven while I type my post.

Since it is getting late here I am going to post this so if any of you wish to link up tonight you can.

   Do stop by again though to see the results.

It's almost 10 pm here now but the cake is out of the oven-and it smells so delicious, the maple syrup is coming through

The cake came out of the oven an hour ago so the cast iron is warm but not super hot. Don't know how I managed it but I did get the cake flipped over. I used a big cookie pan and thought positive haha

This cake smells even more amazing now

and with a well seasoned cast iron pan the cake came right out no sticking

Of course I needed to reward myself with a warm slice-soooo delicious the maple syrup really added to the cake. (no this is not my piece-what is missing was haha)