Chit chat & a kitchen sneak peak

Wednesday, July 21

After work I had planned on sanding the kitchen shelves and getting them ready to stain. CountryBoy and I found boards in the scrap wood pile and he cut them to size and carried them to the barn. I sanded one board with 80 grit sandpaper and that was that. The hook and loop pad on my orbital sander no longer had any hooks or loops and the sandpaper just flew off when turned on. I found a universal replacement pad online and it will be here Friday. So much for those plans. I wound up painting the trim piece to cover the gas lines and while there was paint on the brush I painted the pony wall at the back door and kitchen. I spent the rest of the evening knitting dish scrubbies.

Thursday, July 22

My focus today was on getting my items ready for the neighbors little country store grand opening which is on Saturday. I’ve been making dish scrubbies all week and today I needed to update our farm logo and product tags. CountryBoy also picked up some bar mop towels after his golf game this morning so I spent the afternoon and evening machine embroidering kitchen motifs on them. I managed to get 10 out of 12 done. Before I could do any of that I had to find my work surface in the craft room. Luckily it didn’t take long to clear. It has been so long since I’ve done anything in the craft room that my poor embroidery machine had a thick layer of dust on it. I’d say after sitting so long it sure got a work out today.

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Our hummingbird population has suddenly tripled. We filled those busy little buzzing bird’s feeders twice yesterday.

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While I was finishing the last bar mop towel for the day CountryBoy was breaking in the new fire pit. He had a nice little fire going by the time I came downstairs. It was a crisp, cool evening so we sat around it and waited for our guest to arrive.

Friday, July 23

I feel as though I’ve lost two days of my life trying to get a few things ready to sell at our neighbor’s country store. Every time I sat down over the past week I’ve been knitting dish scrubbies but yesterday and today were spent indoors behind the embroidery machine and the computer – simultaneously. I updated our farm logo…

… and created new product tags with the new logo. Most of today was spent making the last two bar mop towels (which took WAY longer than it should have because the thread kept breaking on the one design AND I broke a needle on that same design, sigh) and working on the product tags and tagging everything. I loaded everything into a three tiered tower we used to use at the farmers market and we headed to the neighbors in the side-by-side to drop it off. CountryBoy bought a few of his favorite candy bars, Zero’s, some Butterfingers for me, some fireballs, a cantaloupe, and a box of peaches. I’m sure he’ll buy something else tomorrow, ha!

I set up my display and helped with a few last minute things but otherwise I believe she’s ready for tomorrow. I’m so excited for her and pray she does well. From the way things are already flying off the shelves even before the grand opening I’d say she’s off to a good start.

We hung out till 8 o’clock and visited with them and all sorts of other people and neighbors that stopped by. It was a fun evening. It wound up being a very busy day overall with lots of various stuff going on. Right after coffee CountryBoy left to do the trash run, stop at the bank, and pick up LizzieBelle’s blood pressure medicine at the vets office. While he was gone our guest left and shortly after that the propane truck came and filled the tank. Yay!!! We can finally do some cooking!!! As soon as he got home he mixed up a batch of artisan bread and left it to rise while he tackled the countless cucumbers that had begun to take over the kitchen. He pickled four quart jars of kosher dill hamburger slices and two quarts of kosher dill spears. Almost as many cucumbers had turned yellow and were fed to Mabel with the chickens pecking at the seeds. There’s still plenty of cucumbers on the vine. Of all the times to not have a stove but we’re finally back in business and cookin’ with gas, baby!

Once the jars were out of the canner he baked the bread and started on one of his favorite suppers – spaghetti. I’d say he broke the new oven/stove in today. I’m so very thankful that he knows his way around the kitchen and enjoys cooking. Doing so frees me up to do the many other things I’ve got going on.

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In trying to get my items made for the grand opening work on the kitchen as come to a stop. Now that I have handed the goodies off to the neighbor I can get back to work and hopefully get this kitchen finished up sooner rather than later. As I mentioned before, this is a busy time of year putting up food for winter and my kitchen needs to be somewhat in order at all times. You just never know how big a harvest you’ll have and all flat surfaces in or near the kitchen become precious commodities as well as functioning appliances.

Saturday, July 24

I’m so thrilled with the weather we’ve had so far this summer. There’s been a few hot and humid days sprinkled in here and there but for the most part we’ve been able to enjoy lots of time on the front porch. We also have a lot of large trees around the house that provide plenty of shade and is noticeably cooler when in the shade. A welcome relief from the sun’s rays.

Our hibiscus is in bloom…

It’s the last plant to bloom and always reminds us that summer will give way to fall and winter and that we need to start getting some wood in the wood shed for the upcoming cold months.

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Today’s the big day – the neighbor’s grand opening of her little country store…

Isn’t it adorable? It started at 10 o’clock with food being served around noon. Before we headed over there we had to get the cabin ready and I also wanted to do some sanding on the barn wood shelves for the kitchen. The part came in for my sander yesterday and I wanted to make sure it would work. It’s not an exact match but it’ll do. whew! Now let’s get to it.

Meanwhile, CountryBoy decided to put up the yellow wax beans that have been accumulating while we were without a stove.

He’s still giving the new oven/stove top a workout! I had to laugh at how backwards we are – me in the barn sanding and staining boards and him canning vegetables in the kitchen, ha! We are very traditional in a lot of ways but when it comes to something needing to be done I’m thankful that we can switch things up when necessary. Now to find a place in the pantry for the beans!

Canning the beans is not a difficult process but waiting for the canner to decompress naturally takes forever. Especially if you’re waiting to go somewhere! It was almost 1:30 before we finally headed over to the neighbors. There was still plenty of food and plenty of people. Two of my dish scrubbies sold and I’d say she did well overall. Here’s my tower of goodies for the store…

I know the neighbors are excited about having a little country store nearby. Sure beats driving to town if you’re out of oil or flour or when you need that chocolate fix, wink.

We didn’t stay long since we didn’t know when our guests would be arriving. After they checked in we watched a documentary on the Reformation and the Amish and I did some reading. Although after spending every spare moment for the last week with yarn and needles in my hand I honestly felt at a loss as to what to do when I first sat down tonight. I felt as though I should be doing something. That’s when I picked up the book I am reading. Eventually, as I was reading, that feeling passed and I was able to relax.

Sunday, July 25

Mercy, what a day! Immediately after my last sip of coffee I got the tea kettle out and made a batch of hibiscus green tea and left it to steep while I refilled the hummingbird feeders. All of a sudden our hummingbird population exploded and we’re having to fill them twice a day. It’s a good thing we buy 25 pound bags o’ sugar at a time! After a hearty but not healthy breakfast of pancakes and sausage I headed to the barn to put the first coat of polyurethane on the kitchen shelves. By the time I was finished it was time to get ready for church. We even made it to Sunday School this morning. After church CountryBoy dropped me off at the barn where I did a quick light sanding on the shelves and applied another coat of polyurethane before grabbing my water bottle and bag ‘o eggs and flying out the door to go to work. It was a long, hot day of ironing. Six and a half hours worth to be exact. I came home, hopped in the shower then ate a little bit of leftover baked spaghetti.

Meanwhile, CountryBoy spent his afternoon canning the peaches we bought from the neighbor. They were starting to go bad and when that happens something has to be done with them sooner rather than later as we can’t stand seeing food or hard earned money go to waste. He wound up with a total of eleven beautiful quart jars.

Today certainly was not a day of rest but we’re thankful for bountiful harvests, the ability to work, and for the opportunity to preserve food. Now for a bigger pantry!

Monday, July 26

It’s been a hot, busy Monday. There was the daily filling of the hummingbird feeders first thing this morning. While CountryBoy made breakfast I cleaned the braided rug from the cabin. After breakfast he picked, snapped, blanched and froze more yellow wax beans while I wandered around the garden taking photos. I contributed by picking a jalapeno while I was out there, ha. Here are a few shots from the garden…

I started giant Marigolds from seeds this year and somehow one of the seeds wound up being a Cosmos instead. I’m so happy because I love Cosmos and I didn’t start any this year. This one was a pleasant surprise!

I interspersed the Marigolds amongst the tomatoes and placed the Cosmos in the center. It’s a nice pop of color in the garden.

The garden is literally a food jungle now.

While I was taking photos CountryBoy picked an ear of corn…

He’s determined to stay on top it in order to hopefully beat the wildlife. We split the cob and ate it raw. It was sweet and delicious. Lately my favorite way to eat corn is raw – on or off the cob. I like the crispness of the kernels and the flavor can’t be beat. I foresee lots of fresh, raw corn salads in the upcoming weeks!

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Last night I brought home a goody bag for the chickens and Mabel. A bag full of watermelon rinds, half a honeydew melon, and half a tomato kept in the fridge overnight making them a nice, cool treat for everyone on this hot day.

I threw in the corn cob we had just eaten and gave it to Mabel. She was in hog heaven! I’m thankful the cooks at the B&B enjoy saving the scraps for our motley bunch.

On my way out of the barn I grabbed two of the three kitchen shelves and brought them indoors. They were dry and ready to be put up. Once they were up I was able to put a few of the things that have been scattered around for a couple of weeks on them and it felt good. Now to take down another original shelf, sand, stain and polyurethane it and get the rest of the kitchen painted then the rest of the shelves back up. Here’s a sneak peak…

Bit by bit it’s getting there. Of all the times to tackle a kitchen refresh – right smack dab in the middle of summer when a) it’s hot and b) it’s harvest time.

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Each day the hibiscus has more and more flowers on it…

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We were almost a week overdue from bottling our homemade wine so we thought we’d better do it. This one is a sour cherry scuppernong wine (both grown here on the farm) and is a beautiful bright red color.

This afternoon we went to my great-niece’s to see their new house. It’s a great house with mature landscaping and a fenced in backyard with a playground. It’s perfect for them. We grilled hamburgers & hot dogs and corn on the cob, and CountryBoy made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. I’m tellin’ ya – he’s giving the new stove/oven a workout! We played a few hands of our favorite game, Nertz, then we headed home. CountryBoy wanted to harvest a few more ears of corn before the coons or deer got to them. His few was 21 ears!

Tuesday, July 27

Painting, sanding, staining – that was today’s agenda. It took me most of the day but I got it done. Meanwhile, CountryBoy shucked his corn and put some in the freezer and left some out for supper. After that he did a trash run for the B&B and he got started on a shelf unit for beside the oven. By late afternoon we called it quits for the day.

Supper was a true farm fresh, or farm to table if you will, meal. I took some of the corn CountryBoy had put in the fridge and I added a jalapeno, some radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and English Thyme freshly picked from the garden and sprinkled some salt, pepper, and rosemary garlic seasonings then drizzled grape seed oil over all until it was well combined. The filler part of the meal was bruschetta made with slices of CountryBoy’s homemade artisan bread drizzled with grape seed oil and topped with diced tomatoes, chopped basil and English Thyme all fresh from the garden, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with mozzarella. We broiled it until the cheese was melty and browned.

Summer is a busy time of the year but the fringe benefits are delicious!

After watching a cute movie, ‘Greenfingers‘ (a British comedy), we decided to check the cucumbers thinking we wouldn’t be picking very many. We were wrong. We picked about fourteen more cucumbers, lots of tomatoes, a jalapeno, and more corn.

We just had to check, ha! No sooner’n we put up what we’ve harvested and have gotten all the baskets and buckets out of the kitchen and mudroom more show up. It’s a great problem to have and we’re so thankful for the bounty.

Wednesday, July 28

How is it we are already nearing the end of July? How pray tell?! It’s been a decent July with evening temps in the fifties and sixties and day time temps in the eighties with a few ninety plus days here and there. With folks out west dealing with triple digits we are not complaining and are grateful for all the days we’ve been able to sit on the porch or work on projects without being too miserable.

Speaking of miserable though, today was another long, hot day of ironing sheets and napkins. I went to work early again to get a jump start before the heat of the day. With preparations for breakfast and a luncheon it didn’t take long for me to break out in a sweat. Seven and a half hours later I headed home to hop in the shower. But, before washing the stickiness away, CountryBoy and I took the kitchen scraps I had brought home and the corn cobs he had shucked today (yep, more corn in the fridge and freezer!) out to the motley crew in the paddock.

While out at the barn I decided to put a coat of polyurethane on the shelf I sanded yesterday. I was still in my work clothes, a skirt and a Snug Hollow tee shirt, which meant I had to be very careful so that I didn’t get any on me. Luckily I managed to keep clean.

I finally hopped in the shower and I came out feeling like a new person. In fact, we ALL got cleaned up – LizzieBelle got a bath also.

Speaking of LizzieBelle, she is doing good with her CHF, blood pressure and thyroid but we are still struggling with finding a food that doesn’t bother her. She breaks out when she has any sort of chicken, chicken meal, or chicken by-products in dog food. (Real chicken is OK, go figure.) Have you ever read the enormous list of ingredients on a bag of dog food? It seems there’s all sorts of unnecessary stuff and most of them have some type of chicken even though it may be advertised as beef or venison or turkey or salmon or, well, you get the idea. I’m beginning to ponder making our own dog food for her. I’ll research nutrition for dogs, make some and test it out on her and if she does OK I’ll make a big batch and can it so that it lasts. My poor girl.

CountryBoy readied the cabin first thing this morning while it was still cool then spent the rest of the day making and canning two types of pickles – Spicy and Zesty Bread & Butter. He was wore out! With our busy days we are sleeping pretty good at night.

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This evening I was able to get the second coat of polyurethane on the shelf so tomorrow evening or Friday it should be ready to hang – yay! I’m more than ready to have my kitchen back.

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Last night I finished the book I was reading, ‘A Thousand Tomorrows’ by Karen Kingsbury. Tonight I’ll be starting ‘Bookshop by the Sea’ by Denise Hunter. It’s one of the books I picked up at last week’s Sam’s Club excursion. The title had me at ‘bookshop’ and ‘sea’!

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