Thursday, July 30, 2015

Coincidence or Not?

Before going into my post, I wanted to first welcome a new Blogger friend, you know who you are.  Thank you for attaching your name to my blog.  Sit back and enjoy the ride, I promise it will be interesting!

Butterflies have always been special to me, even as a little girl.  I remember right after my grandmother passed away many, many years ago a butterfly, a Monarch butterfly, circled around our house, I thought it was an Angel relaying a message.

Years later, my boss, a dear friend, lost her life while leaving work one day (a long story on what happened).  She passed out in the middle of the walkway at work, and then stopped breathing; several employees’ tried to revive her while waiting for EMS to arrive, she lost her life. 

When I returned to work the next day, I had to walk on the same walkway where my dear friend passed away, in order to get into my office.  While walking toward the door, a Monarch butterfly flew around my head as if to say, “It’s going to be alright”. 

Fast forward eleven years, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. He was able to beat cancer, but ultimately, the cancer treatment took his life.  Immediately after his passing, and cremation, I returned home to Oklahoma.  The next day, I went out to work in my flower garden, and to be alone; when a Monarch butterfly buzzed my head, and then flew onto a flower next to me in the garden.  What were the chances this butterfly was relaying a message?

Fast forward again, present day 2015, while working out in my vegetable garden. I was thinking about my Dad; when out of the blue, a Monarch butterfly flies toward me and tries to land on my head. The butterfly buzzed my head, and I put my hand out over the top to prevent it from landing on my head.   The Monarch butterfly landed on top of a sunflower.

I was getting ready to clip the stem of the sunflower with clippers, because the birds keep eating the seeds from the flower. I’m trying to save the seeds for next season’s plantings.   What are the chances this Monarch butterfly was here relaying a message to me from my Dad?  Your thoughts……………………..

Here’s a picture of my very first Pink Brandy Wine Tomato harvested this season from my garden, along with a couple of cucumbers, and a handful of Sunrise Bumblebee tomatoes.

I’ll have you know that Pink Brandy Wine tomato had my name on it.  I love to make tomato sandwiches for lunch, and two days in a row I made myself a tomato sandwich for lunch,  and I didn’t share any piece of that tomato……………….YUM!!!!!!!!!!

This morning, I harvested 3 more cukes, a handful of Yellow Pear tomatoes, and 4 strawberries.  The strawberry plants have started to provide more strawberries like back in the beginning of spring. 

Even though I’m just starting to really harvest cucumbers, I’ll need to get my jars prepared and ready to start making pickles.   

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hot & Safety

In this part of Oklahoma, temperatures are in the high 90’s with a heat index, bringing the actual temperature up to 109+ degrees.  In order to do any work out on the property, or in the garden, we find ourselves getting up early in the morning, or waiting until after dinner when the sun starts to go down, to actually do any outside work.

I was up early, weeding my garden, just as the sun was starting to rise.  I finished relatively early, and didn’t run into any snakes, scorpions, or spiders. 

Here’s a picture of the garden when done weeding, it doesn’t look bad.  I did think to myself, “I should have placed brick all around the entire garden instead of just the front and sides”.  Having fencing on the back side isn’t a solid base to prevent the grass from growing into the garden bed.

Before Weeding
After Weeding

As you know from one of my previous posts, I’ve been trying to prevent worms from eating all of my red cabbage.  To do this, I’ve been spraying each plant with a water, alcohol, and dawn soap mixture.  Only 3 cabbage plants survived out of 4 planted.

Here’s a brief look at them, notice several of the leaves have been cut off.  The leaves cut were those eaten by the moth worm, making them look like pieces of Swiss cheese.  Daily, when I go out to my garden, I check the 3 remaining cabbage plants for worms; so far, knock on wood……. they’ve stopped eating my cabbage.

The Third Cabbage Had To Be Pulled Because The Only Thing Left Was A Short Stump,
Here's The Fourth Cabbage.

My cucumber plants have started to grow, and climb the feedlot panel turned vertically to be used as a trellis.

My first harvest of potatoes was of Yukon Gold potatoes; my second planting was with red potatoes.  Notice they’re starting to grow seedlings nicely.  

I’ve sprayed the leaves of the new red potato plants with an alcohol, water, and a dawn soap mixture to help keep the bugs from eating the leaves off of the plant.  Also, since potatoes don’t like extreme heat, I make sure to provide the roots and the leaves with enough water to help keep it cool, and to help it grow.

Here’s a first at our homestead, the growing of Tomatillo’s.  The seeds took off really nice, here are a few plants……notice I have a blossom already formed.  The feedlot trellis was placed here to help keep the birds away from the bed when the plants were small.  I’ll need to remove it before the fruit of the Tomatillo appears.

I planted Dwarf sun flowers along with giant sun flowers.  The Dwarf sun flower is so full and pretty, I thought I would share a picture of the flower with you.

And finally, just some friendly advice; when working in temperatures over 90 degree’s please remember to drink plenty of fluids, wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and take plenty of shaded breaks. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Piddling All The Time

This is the first year I’ve grown red onions, and wanted to find a recipe on the internet to make a sweet jam/marmalade.  While searching the internet, I came across a recipe from Canning Homemade! Sustainable Living and Preserving the Future!  The recipe is called Canning Red Onions – A Marmalade!  . 

This recipe was very easy to follow, and the marmalade turned out really good.  If you have red onions and can’t figure out what to make with them, I would recommend trying this recipe.

Over the weekend, we went up into the Oklahoma City’s farmers market where I picked up some squash.  My plans were to cook this squash with dinner; instead I canned it and put it up in my pantry.  Over the next several days, I will revisit the market and pickup more squash to can; because, our squash plants failed to provide vegetables for harvest due to the excessive amount of rain and squash bugs.  

We had several fresh peaches, blueberries, and raspberries left on the verge of being overripe, and I decided to make a fruit crumble instead of letting the fruit go to waste.  While the crumble was baking, our house smelled amazing………fresh baking fruit always smells amazing.  Once out of the oven, I couldn’t wait any more I had to make sure and spoon out a couple of bowls to the guys, and myself.  Now, most people will top a fruit crumble or cobbler with ice cream, we didn’t!!!

With our first harvest of tomatoes, several blogger friends said they would be more than happy to take my Sunrise Bumblebee tomatoes off my hands.  So sorry………you’re too late!!!  I made some eggs, with my tomatoes and had a handful of grapes for lunch right after I picked them.

Here’s yet another wonderful harvest of tomatoes (these are already claimed so don’t ask), jalapeños, and beans!!!

Speaking of tomato plants, remember I mentioned a volunteer tomato plant was growing out of my raised compost bin?  Well here it is, doing really good for itself.  Notice, there’s a second plant coming out of the bin.

On to creating things………

While hanging laundry out on the clothes line, my clothes pin holder fell off the line.  Because it’s been exposed to the weather, the holder actually ripped when it hit the ground.  

Instead of buying one, I decided I was going to make one; with some material I had on hand, from a yard/estate sale I went to last year.

I pulled out the material, folded it over, making sure to double the material, and started to cut out the shape I wanted. Once done, I pinned it together, and sewed it by hand.  Yes, I said by hand; that’s because I was too lazy to clear off my old singer sewing machine cabinet to access my sewing machine.   Bulldog Man has been using it as a desk for his computer which is tied to his ham radio; truthfully, I didn’t want to disturb my husband’s stuff, because he had it setup just the way he left it the night before. 
Here’s what the new handmade clothes pin holder looks like, a quick and easy project complete :-)

Ever get annoyed trying to find a coaster to put your drink down on a table?  Well I have, more than once!  Each and every time I go to look for a coaster, there’s none available. 

We had two complete sets of beautiful hand painted clay coasters.

In the move to Oklahoma several of these coasters went missing or were broken.   Instead of buying coasters, I decided to make some out of our son, Tank’s old jeans.

Periodically, Tank will come up to me and say “mom, I have jeans which I no longer can use because they’re too worn, or too big….do you want them?”  Of course I want them! Instead of throwing them out, I will take them apart and use what I can of them.  Now we would donate good jeans but these jeans were worn out; terrible to give to someone. 

I cleaned up each ripped out seam, using scissors to remove unwanted strings and excess material. 

I then put them aside until ready to start the rolling process. After every seam was cleaned, I heated my glue gun, and pulled out two seams to start making my coasters.

To begin the process, take one of the seams and place glue on the inside of the seam, then start to roll the seam up like you would a cinnamon roll.  

Continue this process until you no longer have a seam to roll.  Now add another seam to the rolled seam, make sure the ends are against one another, and repeat the process making a large coaster. 

Once the glue dries, you have a coaster to place your hot or cold drink on.  The coasters come in handy, because they absorb any liquid your cup leaves behind. 

Flowers and Critters………

My sunflowers have started to show their flowers.  As you can see this bee is really enjoying the pollen found on this flower.

Here’s one of my flower beds at the front of the house with gorgeous Zinnia’s growing like crazy.

While working on another upcoming project, which I will share with you very soon, this dragon fly decided to hang near me on one of my clothes lines. 

Finally, I wanted to share a picture of Beans looking at me as if to say, “I wasn’t anywhere near the bird mom………trust me!!!!”  As one can see, there’s a parakeet feather on his nose. Do you believe he wasn’t anywhere near the bird?


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Playing With Kids Toys (Antenna)

Bulldog Man here.

First, I wanna thank all you kind folks for the thoughts, prayers, and kind words while I was laid up after my most recent surgeries. Although I am still not back to 100 percent, it amazes me that I can feel my hands and feet, I can feel heat and cold, and I can move my head without the agonizing pain of pinched nerves in my spinal cord.  It was far worse than we thought, but the doc is hopeful for a full recovery.  Life gets better day by day.

While I was laid up, I did some studying, and picked up on the idea of building a slinky shortwave radio antenna.  If I can find the source again, I will be happy to give credit where due. Update, found the site credit goes to Frank Dorenberg

First, I took a 1 ½” PVC “T”, three plugs, some eye hooks and associated hardware, and an SO-239 connector, and built the basis for the antenna. I drilled holes to mount the eye hooks.  The one on the top of the “T” is used to connect to a tree or mast.  The other two are to support the slinkies and the rope/cord/paracord to hold the slinkies up in the air.

I soldered some 12 gauge wire to the SO-239.  After that, I screwed the SO-239 connector into the bottom plug of the “T”.
I pulled the wire through the open holes in the side of the “T”. 

I bent the end loops of the slinkies to be able to connect them to the eyehooks.  I soldered them to the 12 gauge wire. I then taped the soldered connections up to minimize Oklahoma eating away at the connection! 

I then sat down with a yard stick, and drew out 20 yards of mason’s line (twice).  These lines hold the slinkies up in the air, and gives the user a line to secure the slinkies out in any direction you need them spread out to. The end result is the slinky antenna, minus the connecting cable as shown.

Then came the fun part!  Since I still can’t work above my head, or lift more than 10 pounds, Tank came to the aid of the old man.   He beat the far end of an antenna mast that I picked up (actually it was the top rail for a cyclone fence) into a nice flat surface. He bent over the top to minimize the chance of rain getting into the mast.

We drilled a hole, put in another eye hook, a clip, and a pulley.  I’m lazy.  I don’t want to work hard enough to take down a mast.  A little untying of a piece of paracord and the antenna is down at my level.  I attached the coax using a PL-259 connector, and stripped and dressed the other end for the shortwave radio.

We tied the antenna up on the mast; I tied the slinkies out as far as I comfortably wanted to pull them out (about 13 feet). I pulled the “T” up the mast, tied off the paracord, and now I get far better reception on my shortwave radio.

This antenna is more of a permanent but mobile device.  I removed the green telescoping antenna to use for camping.

There you have it folks a better antenna made out of children’s toys, costing less than $20.00.