Saturday, June 28, 2014


This past month or so, I've been concerned about the fact that our Catawba Tree filled in and shaded the last row of our tomatoes in the garden.

Yeah, not so much worry of that now. Those Worms had a feast.

Rain: It rained some, off/on, here and there this week. I didn't do good of a job keeping up with it, except I know we got over an inch on Thursday.

Thursday, we went over to Alabama to visit with my Great Uncle (my Grandmother's brother) and Great Aunt for the day.

My Uncle is (apparently not as old as I had thought, lol) a fantastic gardener, has that magic Green Thumb, and has most, at least half of his yard planted with fruits and veggies. 

He put his - garden, but specifically tomatoes - out a lot earlier than I did. I waited until after Easter and all danger of frost was past, but he put his on out and covered them when it came frosts.
Anyway, he has lots and lots of tomatoes ripe already, and sent us home with "a few" for J to eat until ours gets ready. (Me and the boys don't eat fresh tomatoes.)

There were "a few" more than J could eat before they went bad, so I left him a couple or so, and decided to can up the rest.

You can't hardly tell it by the picture, but they are some pretty large tomatoes. I ended up canning 3 pints just from these 8 tomatoes.

And in other news, we're starting to get the camper ready for our Road Trip next month.

Turned out the water heater tank had cracked. Guess it hadn't been Winterized last year, and we had an unusually cold Winter. It's probably a miracle every pipe in the thing isn't in pieces.

I ordered a (brand new) replacement water heater from eBay for about 1/2 the price as our local Camping/RV store(s).

I vacuumed, wiped all the surfaces with cleaner, washed the cushion covers, we checked out the water and gas, and unrolled and set up the awning.... It's in good shape but I'm trying to figure out a way to be able to put my mosquito netting panels to make it into a screened room so we can get outside the camper without getting toted away by the bugs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer/Camp Game(s)

I've started planning for our next Road Trip next month and, as typical, tend to get distracted along the way.

I spotted this squirt gun game on Pinterest and thought, that looks like something that might be fun while sitting around the camp during some down times.

I used to have random golf tees and lightweight ping-pong balls around here, but apparently they ended up gone during one of my get-rid-of-it spells.

I figured I'd go to Dollar Tree for water guns, so maybe they'd have tees and balls there.

I was able to find Peg Board Games with pegs that are similar to golf tees. 
They had a few different games, but me and my youngest are always playing TTT on paper or my Kindle, so I figured this one could get double play.

I couldn't find anything like ping-pong-type balls, only bouncy balls, which might work fine with this one as the board is small anyway.

I saw some Spinning Top party favors that reminded me of fishing bobbers in color, so instead of buying anything, I figured I'd give bobbers a try. I knew we had a bunch of these in J's fishing supplies already.

The tic-tac-toe board turned out too small, I think. If you hit the front (target) they all fall, and you have to go set them all back up again after one shot.

The pegs worked fine, as did the bobbers, so I'll probably find up a scrap piece of lumber, drill holes, paint, and make it more like the original version in the top photo, where the targets are lined up in a row.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Catawba Tree Fishing Worms

Earlier I was out working in the yard/garden and went over to check out the, what I feel pretty sure are, cucumbers in the Hugelkultur bed.
(They "volunteered" there, grew out of the compost dirt we used to fill the bed, so we're not entirely sure what they are.)

I was also out there yesterday - not working - and noticed that there was a Catawba (Catalpa) worm on one of the leaves. Since I read that those worms only eat the Catawba (Catalpa) tree leaves, I thought it was lost, and carried it back over and put it on the Catawba tree.

Today we (me and Ryan) noticed there were more worms on the (cuke?) vines. I lifted one of the large leaves and saw a large worm with it's - mouth? - sucked to the leaf. Some of the leaves have what look like insect gnawing, but again, I read that the Catawba tree was these worms only source of food, so - I don't know.

There were plenty of the worms on the tree itself, though.

I never really paid too much attention to the tree before. I mean, it's just there. It grows leaves and flowers and some years it gets worms, some years it don't.

Ryan had his (fancy, expensive) camera outside taking some "Nature" snaps, and called me down there where he was. He said, "Shh, listen, what is that falling out of the tree?"

I shh'd and listened and didn't hear anything. Then, a little something. I thought maybe it was leaves hitting together when the wind blew.
But then I heard/saw something hit the ground and make the noise.
I walked under the tree to see if whatever was falling out would fall on me.
Eventually I saw a tiny piece of brown something fall on a leaf on the ground, and once I saw it, I noticed that the ground was pretty much covered with the tiny brown pieces...


aka, so that's why the Rutgers tomatoes are so tall, even though they're not getting sufficient sun? (Fertilizer)

After all these years, I had no idea the tree rained worm poop like that.

The (salsa) garden is still coming along pretty well.  Almost all of the tomato plants have maters on them. (Except the Rutgers in the row in the shade. But some of them are flowering, so they might still bring some on, if a bit later.)

I mowed the garden and weeded the peppers today. 

No rain (so far) today, but yesterday we got a pretty good shower, about a 10th of an inch total rainfall. The day before that only a small shower, half-of-a-10th-of-an-inch.

Speaking of worms, unlike the Catawba tree, where we welcome worms, my Pecan tree has a case of the Fall Webworms.

They apparently aren't damaging to the tree as a whole, but they are sooooo ugly.

Other than sprays and such, other recommendations are to prune the limb with the web off and burn it, burn it in the tree where it is, or  - the suggestion I personally prefer - tear the web open with a stick and let the wasps and birds take care of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monday, or Some Random Day of the Week

Last week, I'd posted that we'd attended Ry's AEMT Class graduation.  Yesterday - or Tuesday - he was scheduled to take his National Registry test (which he passed 1st try - YaY!). He had to be in Chattanooga, which is about 2 hours from here, at 8:00 am. 

The test took about an hour or so, so it was still only around 9am when he finished. He asked what I wanted to do next (while we were up there). I suggested all kinds of fun things:
Incline Railway
Rock City
Ruby Falls
Ride the Ducks
Lake Winnie
Or even the Aquarium, even though that one isn't one of my favorites.

If you've never been to Chattanooga, you totally should. It's one of our favorite places to go.

Anyway, I was only mostly kidding - but if he had brought his nice camera it might have been a different story - but he didn't want to do fun things without his Dad and Brother there.

We decided to go find the Lodge Factory Outlet store. We had talked about going back at Christmas, because I'd wanted to buy J a Camp Oven for Christmas. We never made the trip then, and then back in March/April when we'd gone up for Ry to take his Basic-EMT test, it was too late in the day, or we were tired, or needed to get back....I can't remember exactly.

The trip to South Pittsburg took (us) about an hour. Turned out we had Highways turned off the GPS. Not sure how much difference it would have made, but we enjoyed the slower, meandering, scenic route.

The store was great - Cast Iron Heaven. Every shape and size Cast Iron pan and doo-dad and gee-gaw you could think of. We looked at everything, and then started over and did it again.

He'd decided he'd buy the Camp Oven for his Dad for a late Fodder's Day present, and how lucky, it was on sale about $30 off. They are regularly $69.00.

We didn't know until we got home and opened the box, it also came with a free "Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101" book, which was funny because Ryan was looking at Cast Iron cooking books and I kept saying, No books, no books (Cookbooks are another thing I have/had way too many of and have had to weed out), I said everything you need is on the internet. He said well we need something to carry with us in case we can't get the internet. I said well print out what you want and staple it together and you have a book.
So he was pretty tickled to discover the free book in the one he'd bought, haaah.

I have more Cast Iron pans than I use as it is, so I wasn't particularly in the market for anything, but then I saw this set of Stainless Steel pans, regularly $300.00, marked $159.99.

I had been talking about getting a set of Stainless Steel, and moving away from the Teflon coated and/or Aluminum or whatever the pans I've been using are.
Not being a very good cook, I'm not very informed when it comes to cooking utensils, like nice pans, either, but I knew I had paid around $150 for my old T-Fal set, and that I trust the Lodge name, so it seemed like a good deal to me.
That it came with a bonus Cast Iron skillet made it even better (retail value $25.00).  Plus a Bonus Silicone Handle Mitt ($6.00 value), plus when I checked out the girl gave me (2) free Hot Handle Mitts ($8.00 value).
After we finished shopping at Lodge, we walked along the main street and stopped in at Slick's Gun & Pawn shop to take a look around, and also an interesting store called Hammer's Department Store that Ryan would have no idea about, but was reminiscent to me of the old 5 & 10 type stores, like McLellan's or McCrory's or such.

The Dixie Freeze wasn't on the Main drag but I had happened to catch a glimpse of "Freeze" and the ice cream cone a block or so back from Main Street (I don't know the real street name, but it's the Main one through town, so I call it Main Street) as we'd passed through town. We were able to easily walk to it.

They had meat & veggies specials, and also Diner type food like sandwiches and hot dogs, fries, etc. We had a Pork BBQ sandwich and Tater Tots, then I had a Dipped Cone (known as Brown Derby there) and Ryan had a Chocolate Milkshake. Yum!

J was home when we got back home. I knew he was coming in from the firehouse that morning, but he didn't get off 'til 8:00, and we had to be in Chattanooga before 8:00, so that's why he didn't get to go.

When we got back, it was still fairly early in the afternoon, 3 or 4'ish, and knowing J was going to be off the next day, too, I suggested we go ahead and go buy the OSB boards we needed to cover the carport ceiling so we could get started working on that early the next morning, before it got so hot.

After getting up at 4am, our trip to Chattanooga and South Pittsburg and back, and then another trip to the home improvement store in Cartersville, I was soooooo tired, I went to bed a little after 8pm.

The next morning - which may have been yesterday morning - I woke up around 6am. J said we should get started early before it got too hot, but I didn't think we wanted to be woke up at 6am on one of his few days off, so I put in a load of laundry and read for awhile, then started breakfast around 8:00.

That's the reason I thought today was Monday - J was off 2 days in a row, and I cooked a "Sunday" breakfast with bacon, grits, eggs, and toast - and then J had to get up and go to work again this morning.
I get so confused.

Anyway, we made some progress on the carport ceiling. Not as much as we would've liked, only got 5 (out of about 12-15) sheets up, but we got the more important ones up and was able to put in the wall jack to push the sagging center point back up. 

It didn't rain Tuesday, but yesterday we got a bit of an early afternoon thundershower. Not a lot of rain, but enough to water the garden.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Accidental Chef

I am not a very good cook. I can follow a recipe alright most of the time, but as far as creating a meal, knowing what tastes good together or whatever, not at all.

Trying to get back to eating without (wheat), yesterday I decided to make a version of a recipe I found on Southern Plate .com called Steak Tips over Rice.

Instead of beef Stew Meat, I had found a package of Pork Stew Meat marked down at my local grocery store.

I put the meat in the crockpot, and poured a jar of Pork Brown gravy over it. I thought maybe the gravy was too thick, so I added another jar full of water (which wasn't a great idea, it watered down too much, if you're looking to make the original recipe and have a thicker gravy.)

I let it cook for several hours, then steamed a bag of frozen white rice in the microwave to pour it over.

I wanted another side, some sort of vegetable, and finally randomly settled on a can of mixed vegetables.
At first I fixed a plate with Pork Stew Meat in Gravy over Rice, with a side of mixed veggies, but then J came in and fixed a bowl with it all mixed together and I realized I had inadvertently cooked a

Everyone really liked it. Yay!

Otherwise, J was home yesterday; came in from working all night on the ambulance and went to bed.

I tried to get up early - I keep wanting to be more of an early-to-bed-early-to-rise type - but I only lasted about two hours and ended up falling asleep in the recliner for a couple of hours.

Yesterday was sunny and warm and the grass had (mostly) dried out, so I woke J up and told him it'd be a good day to get the yard mowed. I don't remember when was the last time it'd been mowed. It was pretty high.
He rode the riding mower, while I push mowed all around the edges best as I could (still don't have a weed-eater).

I watered my back porch plants before I came in for a shower, and then a surprise (to me) rain shower with some thunder came up.
We got .10th of an inch last night.
Before I emptied the rain gauge yesterday, we had gotten another 1/2-inch.
(No rain today, thus far.)

The Salsa Garden is coming along pretty well. Mostly. The row of tomatoes to the left are way behind in growth and production. Not sure if it's the kind (Rutgers) or that they aren't getting as much sun. (I'm betting it's the lack of sun.)

The peppers are growing soooo slooooow. They did the same last year, also, took a long time to grow and produce. I had thought it was because they didn't get enough water, or the old garden area wasn't too good anymore, but that's surely not the problem this year. I couldn't (I don't think?) put them out any earlier than I did until the freeze/frost danger passed.

The other two rows of tomatoes - Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple, and Black Russian - are coming along nicely and if things continue as they are, I hope to have enough for putting up plenty of canned stewed tomatoes and jars of salsa to last us awhile.

We also have a surprise growing in the Hugelkultur bed, volunteered from the compost dirt we had used in one of the Potato condos before moving it here.
Not sure yet if it cucumber, squash, or gourd. We've had all three at one time.
We've had pumpkin, too, but I never had any luck actually growing any pumpkins, so I doubt it's pumpkins. If it's not, I hope it's cukes. 

My Hydrangea are looking pretty good. Not nearly as good as my Mom's, but they are bigger than they have been for the past several years.
Seems like I'm okay at keeping some things alive for years and years, but not able to get them to actually grow. I guess I water them 'just enough' to keep them alive, but not enough for them to flourish. The rain has been really good for the plants and trees this year.

The first 3 or 4 Hydrangea above are the Traditional blue/pink ones (depending on the acidity/ph of the soil) you generally see everywhere.

The last 2, below, with red stems are a different variety, I forgot the name of, so I need to email and ask my Mom.
All of these Hydrangea were "trashed" plants, my Mom just willy-nilly hand-prunes her plants and tosses the excess into the burn pile.  She goes back later, and they have rooted and are growing new plants!
Kills me, I tell ya! If I break anything off and toss it aside, it dries up and dies.
She'll yank them up and stick them in a pot of dirt and they'll grow like they were babied with tender loving care all along, rather than having been broken off and thrown away like rejects.

One of my 3 blueberry bushes I've been trying to grow for the past 3 or 4 years finally grew and produced some berries. Not enough to do anything with really, no fresh cobbler or anything, but I'm able to get a small handful every so often and eat right off the bush.
They're so yuuuuummy.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Old Family Quilt

Nice and Sunny out today. I washed a load of coloreds and got them hung out on the line.

I walked around the house a little while, trying to decide what to do. I see a lot that needs doing, but seem to have a problem knowing where to start.

Finally I said, just do one thing.
One thing is better than no thing.

There was/is a box sitting by the back door I planned to take to my Mom's, but then after talking with her a few days ago, I decided some of the things in the box didn't need to go.
Some old craft type books and crochet magazines.
I pulled them out and carried them upstairs to put in the yard sale pile.

While I was up there, I compiled some Scotch and rolls of packaging tape I had laying around into one box.
There were some large pickle jars of river rock from when we were going to make Terrariums, years and years ago, so I put the rocks in baggies and relocated them to my craft stash, and brought the big jars down to put with the canning stuff. I use those for making Apple Cider Vinegar.

So I continued like that, just doing one thing, and one more thing, and I saw a (old plastic comforter) bag with a pillow, a doll, and a quilt in it.
The pillow was made for me by my Grannie, and the doll was a Cabbage Patch knock-off made by my Aunt and her MIL, who we called Nanny, even though she was our Cousin's Grandmother and not ours. Everyone's related in the South, right.

Since those were such personal items, I wondered if the old quilt was one that my Dad had given to me some years ago.
It was.
It had belonged to his Great-Grandparents (my Great-Great-Grandparents), and had been sewn for them by relatives and the Community (pretty much same difference, almost everyone was related by blood or marriage) after their house had burned down.
I emailed my Dad to ask what year that was, but I'm thinking it was in the early 1900's - 1930's.

I have a few vintage, old quilts that belonged to my family, J's family, some other body's family...
But what makes this one so special, is that the Quilters "signed" it.

Maud Burch

Lula Burch

Clara J. Ledford

Maxine Nicholson
Altogether there are 20 different signatures, out of 30 squares.

So awesome!

The poor quilt is disintegrating, I guess, so I laid it out and photographed every square and every signature, so there'll always be a record of it (as long as the digital files last).

Friday, June 13, 2014

Guess What?

Did you know? The original Friday the 13th movie came out in 1980.
The same year I turned 13.

Thirty. Four. Freaking. Years ago.
OMWooooooow.  So crazy how time flies, but doesn't seem like it. I still think last decade was the 1990's, lol.

It's also a rare Full Moon/Friday the 13th combo. 

 Awesome stuff for Horror lovers!
Maybe not so much for J at the fire dept today, or R working at 911 tonight, lol.

We're on our 3rd round of thunder showers so far.
Rainy days are awesome for two things: curling up under a blanket and reading/napping/watching a movie, or doing some inside things like cleaning/baking/crafting/de-cluttering.

I've spent a lot of days this week reading and doing not much of anything. I would like to do some useful inside things, like sorting through some stuff to get rid of, or maybe some craft type stuff, or working on a garden journal.
I just can't seem to get started. I look at this or that and think, meh, I'll do it later.

I also don't feel good. Woke up around 4'ish am with stomach cramps. Not surprised - really only surprised it didn't happen sooner, as much bread/wheat/noodles foods as I've been eating the past couple of weeks.

I'd already been having some trouble with my Sciatia and some shoulder pain, gas and indigestion, so I knew I was doing wrong and needed to go back to eating less wheat products, but lately I've been finding myself standing in front of the freezer wondering what in the world I used to cook that didn't involve bread or noodles.  Other than my Meatloaf muffins, or hotdogs/hamburgers with no buns, I'm drawing a blank.

Ugh. I feel like I need another nap. Apparently just thinking about doing anything is exhausting today.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Some Sun, But Also Rain

 The rain chances were less today than they had been the past couple of days, and the sun was up and shining nice and bright this morning. I was able to get a load of laundry hung out.

LOL, I was asked if I do laundry so often, or find laundry to do, just so I can hang it out on the line.
Nahhhh. I just do about a load of laundry a day anyway. I have piles - colors, jeans/rough clothes, whites, underwear/socks, other - and when one pile gets enough in it, then I wash it.

So here's the big Catawba tree that ended up filling in and shading my last row of tomaters.

You can see how spindly/skinny the Rutgers maters are

Compared to the Black Russians a couple of rows up

Or the Beefsteak-ers

The Cherokee Purples are doing very well (although I'm not comparing them to the Rutgers because they were older, bought from the store, not raised from seed like all the others)

They both already have some maters growing on them

As I was out taking in pics of the garden, I heard a noise over around the shed and looked up to see we have some new little additions to the non-farm

Aren't they so cuuute? Unfortunately they're feral, extremely skeerdy, so we can't play with them.

I considered trying feeding them and seeing if I could get them to be more domesticated/friendly, but decided to leave things alone. The system has worked well enough so far, no use in messing it up.

We've had feral cats in the yard for years, usually 3-4 at a time. We don't feed them - other than I throw out scraps every so often, when I clean out the fridge or something - so they are taught by their parents to hunt for their food. You see them all the time, stalking birds and squirrels. They keep the mice population controlled, and I'm told they keep snakes away. Not sure about that, but I haven't ran across any snakes in the yard or in any of the outbuildings or carport.

It did eventually rain in the evening. I checked the rain gauge earlier in the day and we had gotten exactly 1/2-inch yesterday. This evening we got a 10th of an inch.

On the way home from Graduation, there was a gorgeous rainbow. Wish I could take pictures like others can, that could actually capture the true beauty of things like that