Friday, August 29, 2008

To All My Friends

To all my friends in St. Bernard and Plaquemines. We are evacuating soon. We have to get a few loose ends tied up. Byron and I will be taking our girls and my In-Laws out of harms way to Bessemer, Alabama. Please Please Please be safe. My parents will be in Mississippi with my Mother's Sister.

Don't forget your insurance and personal information. Back up your pics on disc and take those sentimental and valuable ones with you. Putting them up high won't work as we found out in the past.

Please leave a comment and let me know where you will be. Keep in touch. Feel free to use my site to communicate as we know cell phones did not work after Katrina.

I Love All of You!!!! Be Safe.

To anyone else who may be interested, I will post as things progress.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Around The House and Garden - Preparing for Gustav

We're preparing for Hurricane Gustav, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Everyones nerves are on edge. But there was good news for us this morning. Gustav took a sharp left handed turn South and is jogging across the south coast of Jamaica instead of the North. That will probably shift it's path a little more westerly. We'll keep praying it hits some God forsaken unpopulated part of the coast. So, yesterday I went and picked as many pears as I could reach that were ready. I'll need a ladder to get to the tops. If you slightly bend the pear and it snaps off readily it is ripe. If hurricane Gustave hits us or is close by and sends some gusts, the pears will be knocked out of the tree. So...I figured...At least I'll get a few. We lost two of these old old trees in Katrina. These trees reportedly date back to when our property was part of Star Plantation.

Here is my pickins'. I'll can pumpkin pear butter and pie filling. I'm thinking of you Betsy. That's my friend who loves pumpkin pear butter. See the ready loofahs in the front?
Freshly planted cabbage bed.
The herb wheel is coming along. I have lavender, green onions, lemon thyme, thyme, oregano, stevia, rosemary, and flowers. The dill and basil seed I planted didn't come up. Not sure why. Maybe I planted them too late?

My panther Josephine.
The Lima beans are doing nicely.
Here is a pic of the Lima beans in the front and the purple hulls in the back bed. Both are doing well.
Peppers and Parsley
Lima's again. With my pretty stakes I found on clearance for 90% off. Eight for $1.50 each!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Full Circle

This is the book I purchased to help me learn how to knit. It's called "Stitch 'N Bleep". The bleep rhymes with stitch and basically means to gripe. The title turns me off because I don't "cuss" as they say, but it is the best and cheapest book available on the topic. Only $13.95 at Barnes and Stables. Stickers easily covered the offending title from mine, my children's and anyone else's eyes. I put the cat sticker simply because it's cute. The book is easy to read and has cute up to date projects and ideas.
Also the the author Debbie Stroller gives a short history of knitting and her background regarding the hobby. What she wrote about herself was really interesting. Her family is from Holland. Her parents moved to the US and she was born, but often visited her relatives in Holland. Her grandmother learned to knit at the age of six and from that point on was responsible for keeping the family in socks- All thirty of them. Six- SIX years old. That just amazes me. Her grandmother lived to be 103 1/2 years old, and upon her death bed she anxiously worried about the socks she needed to knit.

Debbie Stroller is an admitted feminist and at first had a hard time reconciling her ideas to the old fashioned truly feminine art of knitting. Here is what she wrote:

"After all, I had gotten a Ph.D. in the psychology of women and had started BUST, a feminist magazine --What was I doing knitting?......It made me rethink my original feminist position. After all, it had been thirty years since the feminist revolution of the 1970s and housewives as we knew them had pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur, so why, wasn't knitting receiving as much respect as any other hobby? Why was it still so looked down on? It seemed to me that the main difference between knitting and, say, fishing or woodworking or basketball, was that knitting had traditionally been done by women. As far as I could tell, that was the only reason it had gotten such a bad rap. And that's when it dawned on me: All those people who looked down on knitting -- and housework, and housewives--were not being feminist at all. In fact, they were being anti-feminist, since they seemed to think that only those things that men did, or had done, were worthwhile." Debbie Stroller "Stitch 'n Bleep"

Why must people travel so far to discover who and what they are and what they truly enjoy. Seekers constantly journey just to find that they left the answer at their starting point. In the book "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer Christopher McCandless aka "Alexander Supertramp" ventured around the U.S. to discover life unfiltered. After surviving quite a while in the bush of Alaska he wrote in his journal regarding the book "Family Happiness" by Tostoy:

"He was right in saying that the only certain happiness in life is to live for others...I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor - such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a a mate, and children, perhaps - what more can the heart of a man desire?"

Unfortunately Christopher never embarked upon his new found life meanings. He starved to death before he could escape the harsh Alaskan bush. Sadly his family with whom he hadn't contacted in two years were left with their own questions to answer.

My practice work.

I know you might be thinking, "What does this really have to do with knitting?" Well I found myself sheepishly pulling out my knitting in a doctors office the other day. Almost reluctantly. Slyly peeping around the crowded room to see peoples reactions. Some people gaped at my hands moving somewhat awkwardly with their new ability. Others openly smiled at me. I would like to imagine they have fond memories of someone in their life Knitting. A grandmotherly woman next to me smiled sweetly and said, "My you're making those stitches awfully tight." I asked her quickly, "Should I make them looser?" "Oh no, your doing fine.", she replied. .....And on and on. Until the nurse opened the door and said, "Kristi?...Kristi?" and I got up and followed her into room one.

The journey is worthwhile and seeking is fine, but I do not want to spend my life seeking deep meanings only to find that I left the treasure I was seeking at home.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Honey Girl Hybrid French Charentais Melon

This is the first Honey Girl Hybrid French Charentais Melon I actually got to eat. Due to all the rain (I believe) the first one split completely open on the vine and a bunch of beetles were having a feast. These two were beginning to split so I went ahead and picked them. It was very delicious. It smelled somewhat like cantaloupe, but the texture and taste were different. The texture was very crisp and bursting and the flavor...well...I didn't stop tasting until I had ate half of one.

This particular variety is a hybrid. Although I saved the seeds I'm not sure if I will actually plant them. The seeds from hybrids can pick up the characteristics from either parent and that might not be the good ones. Maybe I'll plant them along the fence line just to see what happens. I did buy some heirloom Charentais Melon seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed that I will certainly plant in my garden next year. Overall I loved the taste and am drooling thinking about the uncut one. But today is Byron's Birthday party so I'll share it with his and my parents.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Loofah Seed Givaway Ends Today

I can send seed to two more people if they wish. I'll send seed to the next two people who comment they desire so on this post as well. Just be sure to e-mail your mailing info.
To the eight people who would like some loofah seeds (The Quiet Life, Michelle, Tipper, Egghead, Vee, Melba, Ginger, and Betsy): Send your mailing information to me at and I will send them right out.

Plant the seeds in spring in a place where they are free to grow, on a chicken coop, a fence, a trellis, the old bus shell out back.....and you will have plenty of Loofah and seeds of your own. To eat, you harvest at about 8 inches. To use them for sponges, wait until they turn medium brown, peel the skin off, and shake out the seeds. Some people bleach them. I don't see the point. Just leave them out in the hot sun for a while to dry them completely. You can cut the long sponges into shorter lengths or rounds to use for different purposes.

Egghead - You live in a cold climate, so the vine probably would benefit from a head start in a peat pot before setting outside.

The Quiet Life - The seeds will most likely do wonderful in San Antonio.

Ingeborg - I'll have to check how much it would cost to send seeds to Europe. I've never mailed anything outside of the US. If you would like to mail me your info, I will check.

Melba, Ginger and Betsy - I'll give you yours when I see you.

Happy Growing!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sew an Easy Round Table Cloth

Don't forget to let me know if you would like free loofah seeds. See yesterday's post.
I love table cloths. They instantly change the mood of a room and bring in personality and color. Nicer tablecloths are on the expensive side and never seem to be the exact color or style you want, but fortunately they are easy to make. I found this really fun and beautiful piece of quality fabric on the decorator fabric remnant table. It was almost two yards and I paid $4.00 for it. The ruffle was made of colonial muslin. Which I paid $6.00 for. This tablecloth cost me about $10.00 to make.

To sew a simple round table cloth. Fold the cloth in half and then in half again. Figure out how large your tablecloth needs to be. If your table is 60 inches across and you want it to hang 10 inches over on the side, add 60 plus 10 X 2 (10 inches on each side) = 80 inches. Then add two inches for the hem. So your total inches across would be 82 inches. To get the radius divide by two. The radius for this tablecloth would be 41 inches. Cut a piece of string to the radius length. Hold one end of the string at the center point of the folded fabric, pull the string taunt and holding a marker at the other end start at one corner of the fabric and make an arc using the string to measure the distance. Then use scissors and cut through the fabric following the marks made by the marker. Unfold and hem. Simple Tablecloth!!!

If the fabric you have isn't wide enough for the table, you can make it wider by cutting another piece in half and sewing it onto either side of the main piece of fabric.
If you want to make a ruffle, determine how wide you want the ruffle. Then measure the perimeter of your table. Times that by two or 1 and a half and that is how long the ruffle needs to be. Say you want the ruffle to be 12 inches wide, add one inch for the hem to get 13 inches. Cut as many 13 inch strips of fabric you need to get the length of ruffle you need. Sew the pieces together and then hem the ruffle. Use basting stitches to pull the ruffles into the fabric. I used several separate pieces of thread because the ruffle was so long.
Lay the round cloth on top of a table right side up. Position the ruffle wrong side up on top of the cloth. Adjust until the ruffle is even and fits properly around the perimeter of the cloth and pin on. Then sew along the edges to attach ruffle.

There you go!! You have a cheap beautiful table cloth. In the color and style YOU want!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Loofah Seed and Giveaway.

There are little bowls, jars, packets, and dishes of seed scattered about my house. Seeds are fascinating and beautiful as well as a reminder of the potential that lies within the seed and within ourselves. For good or bad the potential is there.

Luckily for us, these seeds have all good potential. I promise this is not a seed offering to my statue of the goddess of crop fertility. It's just a jar of seeds on my kitchen window sill by my "stern woman" carving.
Here are hundreds and hundreds of seeds I harvested from only a few of these...

Loofahs! And on the vine there are close to 100 more loofahs. Once the loofahs are dry they make the perfect compostable sponges. You can even eat the fruit while it is still very young. Lord knows how many seeds I am going to get overall. So, I would like to share my abundance with you. If you would like some seeds, please leave a comment. I will mail seeds to up to ten people. If I get more than ten comments I will have a drawing. The give away ends on Friday, and I will have the drawing if necessary on Friday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning to Knit

For the past two months I have been struggling with something that is progressively getting worse. It seems to heal and then bam, it's as bad or worse. My hip. Its a burning sharp pain sensation that throbs in my hip and shoots down my leg to my pinkie toe which feels as if its on fire. I went to an orthopedist who explained I have bursitis caused by, probably, hiking. So the cure is rest or a cortisone shot. I declined the shot, and until recently I declined the rest. Now, If I am going to get well, I have to stay off of my feet. I also am examining my diet carefully and seeing if there are any supplements I should be taking. If anyone has any advice for me concerning this I would be appreciative. I am desperate. In the mean time while I lie on the sofa, I am teaching myself to knit.

The finished product from knitting is thinner and softer than crochet. To me it seems stretchier and has a nicer feel than crochet overall. This is the book I am using to learn to knit.
This is the book I bought to learn to crochet. I purchased it when we were evacuated to Maryland during Hurricane Katrina. I taught myself to crochet to occupy my mind and pass time. So what if it was a kids book! For learning, children's' instructional books are great. They tend to have larger drawings and break the steps down in language that is easy to understand. I find some instructional books assume that you understand certain things and you have to do research before you start! For my first crochet project I also used very large yarn and needle, so I could see exactly what was happening and how it worked.
I loved the large visuals.
Very simple step by step.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Around the House and Garden

My very first burgundy okra.
Collard greens coming up. The more greens the merrier. There's a saying here that for each variety of greens you put in the pot you will make a new friend. Also your greens will be much tastier. I like to put carrot tops, collards, spinach, mustard, turnip, and beet greens in mine. Very healthy and very yummy. Here is the recipe I previously posted. Greens
My four o'clocks do not know when to bloom. They bloom at 7:00 am. My mother's on the other hand are very smart. You can almost set your watch by her beautiful swath of four o'clocks that bloom each day, and the smell while you are sitting on the porch is just heavenly.
A little overview of the new front garden. Just imagine, there will be a comfy seating area among the roses soon.
Variegated ginger and Mexican petunia or Katie ruella make a wonderful pair.
Here is the coop all covered with it's loofah sponge gourd shade. The loofahs are growing huge and some are already drying out. I will do a post soon about the loofah seeds.
Pollinators love the abundance of large yellow flowers the loofahs bloom. The vine's always filled with flying insects.
Here are my early morning chickens hoping I have some additional treats. "Sorry girls and boys, Daddy gave you your treats earlier! No more til tomorrow." When I was younger, I always said I would "never" call my husband "Daddy" like all those old fashioned southern women.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chicken Bread and Bread Pudding

There's a really great place near our house. The bunny bread thrift store. You walk in and there are folding tables set up in a long line, and all on top are, for what ever reason, bakery rejects that are still good and you can buy them for a slight discount. But underneath is where the real treasure lies. It's what my children call "chicken bread". For three dollars you can lug what feels like a fifty pound bag of bread across the room and to the register to pay the lady. Then lean way back as you lift the huge bag 2 inches from the asphalt all the way to the truck and gather strength to plunk the whole pile on the tailgate and shove it in. Then repeat basically the same thing in reverse, skipping the register part, when you get home.
Then open it up and discover all the treasures. All in all, there were 30 packages of bread! That's .10 cents a package. Ten cents!!! But before we give it to the chickens....., "This bread isn't out of date! A little smushed, but not old or moldy." So, Now there are 3 loaves of organic whole wheat bread, two packs of whole wheat hamburger buns, one pack of whole wheat hot dog buns and two loaves of white bread in my freezer. I was going to put three loaves of white bread in the freezer, but instead I made "Bon Ton Cafe" bread pudding and rum sauce without the raisins (I hate raisins). This traditional New Orleans dessert was invented to make use of old bread and excess eggs and milk. I still have 21 packs of "chicken bread".

Bon Ton Cafe Bread Pudding
(This is a cafe at 401 Magazine St. in New Orleans)
5 cups French Bread cut in 1 inch cubes (I used torn white bread)
1 qt whole milk
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear the bread into 1 inch pieces, and soak them in the milk. Make certain the bread is soaked through. Add eggs, sugar vanilla, cinnamon, raisins, and stir well.
Pour melted butter into bottom of a heavy 9 X 14 inch baking pan. Add the bread mixture. Sprinkle more cinnamon and raisins on top if desired. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until knife inserted 2 inches from center comes out clean. Do not overcook.
Whiskey or Rum Sauce
(I use imitation rum flavoring)
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 lg egg beaten
1/4 cup rum flavoring
In small bowl, cream the sugar, and butter together. Cook in a double boiler until very hot, and the sugar is well dissolved. Temper the egg by gradually whisking the butter and sugar mixture into the egg. Tempering means do not add the hot butter too quickly or the eggs will scramble. Allow the sauce to cool, and stir in rum flavoring.
To serve. Cut warm bread pudding in squares (mine didn't exactly come out in squares) and spoon hot rum sauce on top.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bug Lace

Overnight something created some beautiful lace for me. Although I appreciate the effort, It's just not the right time or place. So, I started investigating....
Hmmm...Evidence. Little round balls of poop everywhere. Then....
I found them! Armyworms on my okra! No invasions allowed in this garden, members of the army or not. So I quickly picked them off and squished them!!! That's how I show my appreciation. (Not my picture, I borrowed this one. I was too busy squishing and devastating the invading troops to remember to take a pic.)
My Lima beans have sprouted! (I played with color a little.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This One's For Beppi

I took these pictures without my Epipen.

More info than you ever wanted to know about wasps and other bugs Bug Guide.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Compost Corral

Now our compost has new stomping grounds. Here is our new compost corral modeled by Talia (she'd be in every pic if I'd let her, maybe I should, she is cute (and hilarious)). This spankin' new corral, built by Byron, will keep our compost from roaming and getting into trouble. They kept busting out of the three little Rubbermaid stalls I kept them in before. They almost seem small in their new quarters.
Another view of Byron's compost corral.
Look at all the little compost!!! Give this compost collector a little time, and soon it'll be full of compost gold! I can just imagine the towering corn and waist high collards. Now I have to resist the urge to grab grass clipping filled bags off of the curbs in neighborhoods. Byron gently reminds me, "Kristi, they probably use chemicals." Rats!!! Anyway, I'll keep Dad's horse field clean. You can compost horsey poop, huh?

Here are the things you can compost:
veggie and fruit peelings and parts
coffee grinds
coffee filters
tea bags
tea bag papers
egg shells
pine needles
chicken poop
cow poop
paper (sheet and news, I shred mine and also use it for chicken bedding)
garden clippings and debris
weeds that haven't went to seed

I don't worry about speeding up the process. I just toss it all in, turn it occasionally, it rains here a lot so I skip watering it (it must be kept moist), and wait. For this compost corral design, you shovel the finished compost from underneath the bottom landscape timber. I have a video of this corral being made by someone else on a previous garden post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dishwasher Powder and First Day of School

Here it is. My first batch of dishwasher powder. The important thing first- Does it work? I washed two loads with it and yes it does work. My glasses and flatware turned out sparkly and didn't have any spots on them. The cheese grater that I grated some chedder cheese on didn't come out completely clean. In honesty, it never does, even with other brands of tabs, gels or powder, maybe it's just my washer which is on the old side. I threw the grater in with the second batch and it did come out clean after the second time.

Cost Comparison:

According to my best calculations, the batch of powder cost $1.05 to make (this price does not include the essential lemon oil). Each batch makes enough for 41 loads. So load cost is .03 cents. For comparison here is the load cost of several popular brands:

Cascade tabs- .15 (Sam's club price)

Gain Liquid- .14 (Sam's club price)

Ecover tabs- .25 (Whole Foods price)

Homemade Powder- .03 (Significant Savings)

The powder was extremely simple to make, took very little time, and the lemon essential oil makes it smell wonderful. It also does not contain phosphates like most other dishwasher soaps.

Here is the recipe again:

Dishwasher Powder

1 cup of Borax (usually can be obtained locally also can buy on internet)
1 cup of sodium bi-carbonate (baking soda easily obtained at grocery store)
1/4 cup of salt
1/4 cup of citric acid (can find at health food stores, cheese supply, soap making supply and other sites on internet-this is also used in making cheeses and bath fizzies)
30 drops of lemon essential oil (I buy mine at Wholefoods)

Mix all ingredients together. Stir well and store in air tight container. Use 1 tblsp per load.

Oh yes, today was the jittery, squealy, skipping, jumping first day of school. Look at all the groovy shoes and book bags.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today's Harvest

True signs that summer's almost over, persimmons and pears. My children love the squishy when ripe persimmon and crunchy and drippy sweet pears. The pear trees are simply overburdened with pears. If you haven't planted pears yet, do it yesterday. They are very easy to grow, take up very little space and mine have had no disease problems (unless you count termites). They are not exactly beautiful, except in the fall when the branches are practically dragging the ground with green golden sugar bombs. Then there are a few late figs and some white scallop squash.