"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away?"

Author: Unknown

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Amish Country, Ohio

    Well, we have been here since Thursday. We find this area fascinating. Kind of envy their simple way of life. Often looking at the farms, sometimes with 4-5 homes located together, and this this is the way it should be. Keep your children and grandchildren close. One shouldnt have to wait weeks or months to see a loved one. Amish country abounds with wonderful farms. Everything is spotless and well manicured. Absolutely heavenly country.

I noticed an older child sitting on a riding toy, usually meant for younger children. This made me think about how our children are exposed to much to much,way to young, forced to grow up before they are ready. Older children didnt need their video games, TV,and other ways of the modern life to entertain themselves. They  seem to depict a simpler, more innocent moment in time. The way children should live. No worries, safe and secure, not bothered with crime, drugs and alcohol. Happy & Healthy!
This is such a wonderful shot of the children playing in the yard.

I am absolutely obsessed with the Amish buggies. love everything about them. especially the clip clop of the horses heels on the roads and they made their way briskly along. Sharing the road with the fast paced, modern life racing past them with all their modern day worries. Not appearing to mind as we intrude on their life.

      Yesterday afternoon, while traveling up a back road, we came upon an open buggy with 3 young Amish girls with faces aglow with their beautiful, happy smiles.
        Another thibng, that probably seems a little odd, is that I loved seeing the clothes hanging on the line, waving in the breeze. Their simple garments, hung with care.
The first time we pulled into the local Walmart to get a few groceries, I couldnt believe the sign facing me stating "Hitching post" with an arrow pointing the direction to  a row of open stalls to park the buggies and horses. This struck me as kind of humorous. Almost like I suddenly fell thru a time warp into the old west.
And "Yes", McDonald's has intruded as well. Here is a pic of their "hitching posts": Would you beleive they actually have blinker lights? How cute is that?
While traveling along on a back road today on the motorcycle, we rove to the top of a steep grade and while sitting at the intersection, we waited while this buggy was going by. i loved how it was silouetted against the skyline since we were sitting downhill from it.
We also drove by a fenced in petting range with exotic animals. This slightly blurry shot shows two large elk ( maybe), both white:
Also some albino deer
First thing this morning, we stopped at a local Amish roadside market and bought a bushel of the best looking Golden Delicious apples for $25. 
As you enter the campground we are staying at, there are two gorgeous trees that have turned a bright golden yellow for Fall.  It is not quite peak color, but getting pretty close.

More Fall color:

More sklyine views:

Nothing like a beautiful reminder, that this really is God's country.

Everything closes up earlier around here. So here we are enjoying a wonderfully warm campfire at the trailer:
A cool evening, warm fire, and the comfort of a loving man. What a  wonderfully satisfying way to end the day.
And here is a little video clip with more buggies, and that special "clip clop" sound.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vacationing in Amish Country, Ohio

    This is our first time to visit the Amish areas in Ohio. Its just a little 3 day weekend mini vacation. The Ohio settlement is supposed to be the world's largest Amish community. We brought the new Cyclone toyhauler to a campground in Berlin. Its Scenic Hills. A very nice, clean campground with generously sized sites. Its within walking distance to sveral nice shops on main street.
     On the way out of the campground we already had our first sitings of those traditional black Amish horse drawm buggies.

     We visited a large antiques mall, and just ate supper at Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant.  It started in the 1930's as a grocery store. It still had the wonderful charm of a time past.
     My husband had their chicken dinner, and I had the chicken salad. Both of us had the warm, and fresh homemade bread and butter. we are usually too full after eating a meal to buy dessert. This was the first time since we have been married that we actually made room. Thankfully so. We both ordered the banana cream pie and it was fabulous. I dont care for meringue, and this was topped with whipped cream.
     We also drove past this great old courthouse. i love the stonework.
        More to come. We arent heading home till Sunday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Perpetual Vanilla

      A few months back I decided to find out what all the fuss was about with homemade vanilla. so I ordered some Madagascar Vanilla Beans over the internet. If you value your budget, dont buy in your local Walmart. They may be cheaper in a lot of things but definitely not in vanilla beans. One jar from McCormicks had ONE single bean in it for a whopping $9 and some change. I bought about 45 beans on Ebay for roughly $13 and change.
     I bought a bottle of Vodka from the liquor store. I cant believe they didnt card me,lol. I asked, but I dont think the clerk got the humor in this coming from a 50+ year old woman,lol. Since I am not a drinker, and wasnt sure I would like the vanilla made with bourbon, I only bought one of the 1 oz bottles.

   Once you obtain the vanilla beans, lay one out on the counter and using a sharp knife, split the bean thru one side down the middle. From tip to tip. Dont cut all the way thru. Then place 4-5 beans per cup of liquor in a bottle. Preferably a dark glass bottle. Or keep in a dark place. I stuck mine in a bag and back into the back of a lower cabinet. Let these steep for about 3 months.
     As you start getting a little low in vanilla, just add more liquor. Eventually you may need to add a few more beans as well.
    For my small bottle of Jim Beam, I just split and folded one bean in half and placed it in the bottle.

    I have been smelling this new pantry item off and on, and tasting it. I couldnt decide if I liked it or not. But I guess since I had not actually tasted store bought straight from the bottle, I didnt realize there might be a difference when actually cooking with it. Until last night.
     We just got back from a 2 hour drive home on the motorcycle to watch my grand daughters play soccer. I hadnt really dressed warm enough for the 50 degree temps, and was pretty cold by the time we got back. not to mention the cool night air was aggravating my fibromyalgia causing some aching as well. So i immediately took a hot shower then fixed me a cup of hot chocolate. I suddenly decided to get a little creative. After mixing my hot chocolate, i then placed slightly less than a 1/2 tsp of my bourbon vanilla into the cup and stirred, then I dropped in a dollop of marshmallow cream, and a slight pinch of cinnamon. This was the most fabulous cup of hot chocolate I have ever tasted. as i noted before I dont drink. other than an ocassional sample of wine from Olive garden etc. I could only taste a hint of the bourbon in the chocolate. just enough to be a wonderful drink to warm the tummy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

We Have Applesauce!

   My husband has access to a couple of apple trees. I dont know what kind of apples they are, but they are good to eat fresh, and great to cook with .He brought me in two large ( I think 10 gallon) buckets full on Friday.

I managed to work up 1 and 1/4 of buckets.

This mess got buried into my  make-shift compost pile behind the garden.
I ended up with 28 pints of applesauce. !3 pints of cinnamon applesauce, and 13 plain. I think I will put up some sliced apples for apple pie filling with whats left.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tips From Farmer Pat

    I was talking to my sister today and she telling her how poorly my vegetable garden did this year. She was bragging about how well her husband Pat's garden always does. She said his peppers are always huge and very productive. Out of 4 plants this year, I got a grand total of .......are you ready?.........wait for it.......
4 small peppers. So I called her house later today and since he wasnt home, I left a message. Farmer Pat, as I have teasingly started calling him, called me back later. I am going to note the tips he gave me here for future use. I write notes everywhere and can never find them again. I seriously doubt i can lose them from here. I hope!
     His very first recommendation was to get a Soil  Sample. So I plan on checking with my county extension agency next week about this. His further recommendations are based on what he has learned from gardening that have helped him in his soil in our area.
1. Lime the garden area this fall
2. Since last years garden did so well with the addition of a large amount of mostly composted Horse  
    Manure, I am going to do the same for next yr.
3.Plant Garlic in October.
4. Lime again in March or April
5. Plant Onions and cabbage in March or April. Cover cabbage with a milk jug if there is to be a heavy
6. Pull garlic in July, then plant beans there.
7. For the green beans, sprinkle on bone meal over planting area, then plow under, or just sprinkle on top
    after planting. Also prepare the area now in the Fall by applying bone meal.
8. For Bell Peppers, he recommended applying Epsom Salts and Potash at planting about 6" out from  
    plant, around it in a circle during planting, then once a month. Or use a 5-10-10 fertilizer instead. First
    number being nitrogen, then sodium, and then potash.
9. For the corn, he said to use a 10-10-10 fertilizer 2 times during growing season. Also he said to dig a
    small hole about 1/2" to 1" deep, and plant 3-4 seeds. Then later thin to 2 strong plants. Also he has
    waited till corn was up about a couple of feet, then plant half runner beans around them.
10. He said for any underground bulbing type veggies use Bone Meal. Such as for Beets.
11. For the strawberries, he recommends covering them with straw for the winter, and then in spring,
      pulling it back some from each plant and applying nitrogen. Also to mow over the June bearing plants as
      soon as they are done producing.
12. For blight on tomatoes, he said I could use Sevin Dust, or mix a 1 capfull of bleach, and a gallon of
      water to spray the tomatoes.
He also generously offered to help me out next year if I needed. Farmer Pat, be prepared for a call or two...or three.

Homemade HE Safe Laundry Soap

  A few months ago  I read a post on StoneGable blog about homemade laundry soap. I still had some bottles of bought soap put back that I had bought cheap with coupons, so didnt do anything with the information.  A couple of weeks ago, i started buying a few of the ingredients each time I went shopping. I thought about making half a batch to see if I liked it, but after dumping one whole box of the washing soda in my bag without thinking, I figured I would cut down on cost, till I see how it goes.
      I have made liquid laundry detergent before but it was too much of a pain in the butt to make. Now I have an HE machine and didnt think I could use powder detergent. So I did a little research online and found that the Duggers used a homemade powder detergent. I have to admit, I have only seen the show once or twice, but I figure if it works for them, why not try it. I also read comments by several that this was safe to use in an HE machine. Most advised to just throw the soap directly into the tub. From what I understand the reason for special detergent with HE is because the regular detergents suds up too much for these machines. I found that out once the hard way,lol.  These ingredients also do not suds up. Even so, I have read 100's of comments about how great this stuff cleans. Some have said it helps with the odor buildup in the HE machines. (that and keeping the door open when not in use). Some have commented that their clothes had begun to have a smell because of the HE machine, but this detergent has stopped that problem.
    Since I hadnt gotten quite all the ingredients, I also researched other recipes. Only one I have read (on Stonegable) called for Downey Unstoppables or similar product. I liked this idea so wanted to keep it. However I only had one bottle, but figured if others were having such good results without, one bottle should be fine and help keep the expense down. StoneGable also had Oxyclean in hers. another fantastic idea which I didnt find anywhere else. But again, I only had half of the recommended amount. So same as before, if it worked well without, I used half.

                                I also borrowed the label that Stonegable found and used.  
Here is the recipe that I adapted:
4 bars fels Naptha soap.........97 cents each at Walmart
             Note: I have since found Zote soap at Big Lots for around the same price, but it is twice
                       the size, and a pretty pink, with a nice smell.
2 jars Downey Unstoppables.......$4.76 at Walmart
1 Box 4 lb, 12 oz  Borax.............$3.38 at Walmart
1 box 4lb baking soda.......$2.12 at Walmart
             Note: I have read that Walmart has this in the pool section in large boxes cheaper
1 jar approx 1.5 lb jar of Oxyclean........$3.86 at Walmart
             Note: i have since found a "Sun" brand knock-off at Big Lots for only 2.50 
1 box 3 lb 7 oz Super washing soda.....$3.24 at Walmart
      Grate bars of soap. I used by hand grater since I couldnt find a part to my food processor. Then dump all ingredients into a garbage bag to mix thoroughly. Then pour into your special container.
total cost for materials was $21.24. i didnt figure up actual cost per load but someone on Stonegable using all the ingredients in her original recipe stated it worked out to .07 cents per load. a bottle of  27 load Gain detergent from Walmart costs $9.97. This works out to LESS  than (with my recipe) $1.89 (costs for other recipe) for same number of loads. I have already washed a load, and brought a handful of the towels in for my husband to smell. With the HE washer we occasionally have problems with a musty odor. I didnt tell him why I wanted him to smell them. he commented they smelled very fresh. THEN  I told him why.
By the way, I use 2 tablespoons per load. you gotta give this a try.

Another poster also mentioned that if you have hard water, add some epsom salts, or kosher salt to mix to soften water and help the detergent work better.

I am also going to use vinegar for fabric softener. once clothes are dry there is no vinegar odor. I also want to get some essential oils to add a little to the vinegar. Maybe even make my own by soaking some vanilla beans in the vinegar, or even lemon rinds.

UPDATE: I recently found Zote, laundry soap at Big Lots for .90 a bar, and these bars are twice the size as the other. Also, i found Sun brand  oxyxlean for $2.50 a tub at the same place.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Clingman's Dome, NC....Where's The oxygen!

        Today we rode the motorcycles to Clingman's Dome, NC. It is about 20 miles from Pigeon forge,Tn. The trail to Clingman's Dome is a very well maintained blacktop trail to the top of the mountain. it is only about 1/2 mile to the peak and observation tower. However it sure feels like much more. The air is thin, and with the exertion of climbing up the side of a mountain, it only takes minutes before you feel it. I am ever so grateful for these placed all along the edge of the path:
And believe me, I think I warmed up almost every one. I think between me and the couple in front of me, we made a pretty good tag team making sure every bench was visited,lol. The peak is 6,643 feet high, and the observation tower adds another 45 feet. It is well worth the trip and effort. Just take your time, make frequent stops if needed. I seen some people on their way back down that had to be in their 70's. Here are some more of the views:

This is the observation tower up ahead.

 This is a peak of the beautiful view from the tower.

Monday, September 10, 2012

More of 2012 Car Show

 I finally got a quick shot of the radio Flyer. Still got my fingers crossed for a better one:
And here some more shots to enjoy: