Monday, September 28, 2009

Slowing Down Time

It is the end of September. I literally cannot believe that the end of the month has come so quickly. In light of this realization, I have decided that I sincerely want to find ways to slow down time. I have been evaluating my life and the activities that keep me so busy. My conclusion is that the hurried pace that I seem to keep is really all my own doing. No one is pushing me telling me that I need to accomplish thirty things in one day. No one is requiring me to write out a list each morning that is virtually impossible to accomplish. I have simply set my goals too high; and as a result, I hurry around all day long trying to get things done. I don't think that God really intends us to run from pillar to post each day at a hurried pace. He wants us to be effective and organized. After all, that is the kind of God that He is. Everything is in order, organized, systematic, and peaceful. A couple of weeks ago, one of my daughters saw my daily to-do list, and suggested to me that if I should accomplish one or two things off of the list, I should be happy with that. I have been thinking about that advice, and she is right. Lists will still be made, but I just won't think I can accomplish everything all in one day. Instead, I will be focusing on one thing at a time. After all, that is all I can accomplish anyway. Yesterday I actually put this thinking into practice. I took my time with my chores, spent some time outside gathering seeds from my flowers, and picked all of my tomatoes and peppers (at a leisurely pace) from my garden. At this point I began thinking of other chores I could do, when I looked outside, saw the sunshine, and decided everything else could wait. I got my new book, a chair, and sat outside in the sunshine for a while, just enjoying the afternoon, and slowing down time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hollyhock Dolls

Among the many flowers that I love, hollyhocks are right up there at the top; and one of my favorite ways to display them is by making hollyhock dolls. One of my daughters stumbled upon the directions years ago, and we all immediately fell in love with them. They are just so sweet and elegant, and just make me smile.

Here are the directions just in case some of you have some hollyhocks to enjoy before the frost puts an end to them. The necessary items you will need are a blooming hollyhock, an unopened hollyhock bud, and a toothpick.

Step 1: Find a pretty hollyhock and cut it leaving a very short stem - about 1/4" in length. This will be your doll's skirt.

Step 2: Now choose an unopened bud. I have some black hollyhocks, and like to use those because the color of this hollyhock will be the hair color of your little lady.

Step 3: Peel back the green foliage on the bud, revealing the color of the flower underneath.

Step 4: Continue peeling back all of the foliage until you get to the stem of the bud:

Step 5: Insert a toothpick into the stem of the bud, making a hole large enough for the flower stem to fit. And then insert the flower stem into the newly made hole. (Do not leave the toothpick in the flower, as I previously posted)

Step 6: Stand your little doll upright, and admire her beauty.
Step 7: Find a pretty glass bowl, fill with water, and gently place your doll on top of the water. Once she is placed on the water, do not try and lift her up because the flower will then collapse, and will not re-open.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zinnias, Part 2

Zinnias are such a long lasting flower. Unlike other types of annuals, the blooms seem to last for weeks. They also make the prettiest bouquets. I haven't actually counted up the number of different colors of zinnias that I have this year; but my variety is wonderful. There are so many different shades of pinks, reds, and oranges. In the next few days I will begin collecting seeds from all of them; sorting them by color and storing them in brown paper bags in the garage until next spring.

The bees are even enjoying them:

And in black and white, you can really admire their texture:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zinnias, Part 1

In September it seems like my flower gardens are at their best. One of my favorite flowers this year are my zinnias. A couple of years ago I was at my brother, Pat's, house admiring his zinnias. They were a larger variety, and he had so many different colors. I asked him if he would save me some of the seeds. That fall he presented me with a quart sized baggie filled with zinnia seeds. The following year I started some of the seeds, and enjoyed his zinnias all summer long. This year I came across the baggie of seeds, and wondered if they would still be any good. It was too late in the year to start them in pots, so I just sprinkled zinnia seeds all over one of my flower beds. As you can see from the picture, the seeds were obviously still good. It is now time for me to start saving seeds from these flowers for next year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise

This summer while attending a picnic celebrating a cousin's birthday, I was chatting with my sister, Kass. It was getting near the end of the day, and she had reached down and picked up her purse. It was such a cute red purse that I immediately commented on it. Without even pausing, she asked me if I would like to have it. I really didn't quite know what to say. I have never in my life (and probably never will again) have someone offer me their purse. She told me that when she had originally purchased it, she had thought of me. But that is just what kind of person Kass is. Extremely generous and thoughtful. So at the end of the day, Kass went home with her belongings in a brown paper bag, while I went home with a cute new red purse. I thought that because of the unusual nature of the gift, a special thank you was in order. I traced out a purse design on cardstock, decorated it with glitter, and wrote the thank you note inside. Now every time I pick up my purse I think of Kass, and her kindness. She's the best. Thanks, Kass!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Our growing season is nearing an end. The mornings are now dipping into the very low 40 degree range, and that means it won't be long until I wake up to our first frost. Of course when the frost arrives, that is an end to the garden. And typically my tomatoes just get going good about this time of year. That is just part of life though here in north Idaho. The bright side of this news though is that it is time to make salsa!! I love to eat it fresh; however, I do have people in my household that don't care for fresh tomatoes (I know, it is hard to imagine). So to accommodate them, after I am sure to hold some to the side for those of us that love fresh tomatoes, I cook the remainder down until it is just the right consistency, put it into hot sterilized jars, put the lids on the jars and let them cool. At this point I usually just put the jars into the freezer because there is not enough acid in the recipe to can and store on the shelf. The nice thing about this recipe is of course you can change it however you like.

5 lbs. of fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups of chopped sweet onions
2 7-oz. cans of diced green Ortega chilies
1 cup of snipped fresh cilantro
1 cup (approximately 10) of Anaheim chilies that have been roasted in the oven and peels removed. (I also use a variety of whatever chilies that I happen to have growing in the garden)
6 cloves of chopped garlic.

Remove skins from tomatoes, core and chop. In a 6-quart saucepan, combine tomatoes and remaining ingredients. (At this point you can just enjoy it in its present state -- yummy!!) Or, you can bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer to desired thickness.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


With school beginning once again, I can't help but think about new boxes of crayons. Through the years, I've always made sure that my kids have had brand new boxes of crayons to begin the new school year. Even though I have home schooled them, I still thought it important to not forget this one important detail. I'm really not sure at what age I acquired a fondness for new crayons; but it has stuck with me my entire life. I think one of the things I enjoy most is just being able to gaze at all of the different colors in one place. I still like crayons even for myself; and yes, I openly admit it, I have my very own brand new box of 24 crayons in my pencil box with all of my colored pencils.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Chocolate Entries

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my daughters and I enjoy entering the chocolate contest at our local fair each year. We didn't win any ribbons this year; but I thought I would share with you what we entered anyway. The winning entry was a brownie type of cake with Reese's peanut butter cups in it. I have to agree with the judges, what could possibly top that!

One of my daughters made some delicious orange/chocolate chip bars. They were from a cookbook published in 1967 entitled, "Our Favorite Desserts. Favorites from Home Economics Teachers". After making them however, she decided that they just weren't chocolaty enough for a chocolate competition. So we immediately tasted them, and enjoyed them at home. Sorry, no pictures though, we ate them too quickly.

Another daughter made a double-chocolate bundt cake. This recipe included adding instant espresso powder in the cake, as well as in the frosting. She chose this recipe from the "Good Housekeeping Great Baking" cookbook.

And my entry was a chocolate walnut crunch cake, from the "Death by Chocolate Cakes" cookbook. In my cake I actually made a type of walnut brittle which I used in the decorating of it; but also, the walnut brittle (or crunch as the book referred to it) is actually chopped back up in a food processor and added to the frosting. Very tasty!!

We can now spend the coming year finding just the perfect chocolate recipe that might take the prize next year. What a great task!!