Thursday, July 28, 2011

Giveaway from Bede Sisters

I received an email this morning, reminding me that Black Friday is only 121 days away. If you are a business owner, that likely made your blood pressure go up. For those of you who aren't business owners (or hard core shoppers), Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US. It's the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season.

Loads of businesses have huge sales that day and many brick and mortar stores (meaning they have a building, not just online) open early. As in really early. Think 4am early. They want you to come to them first, while your wallet is still full and your credit limit hasn't been reached.

Since I have to be ready for the fall and winter shopping season, I have already been thinking ahead to what will be in the Bede Sisters shop in the next five months. One of the things that I'm working on is a line of small baskets. They are great for seasonal decor, as well as wonderful gift baskets. Fill these with goodies for a teacher, boss, friend, and you'll have a gift to remember.

So, here's the giveaway:

For each of two winners, I'll send you one of my first two fall baskets (pictured above). I'll select a winner (using a random number generator) on August 19, 2011. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me how you'll use the basket--as a gift, to perk up your fall table, candy holder for Halloween, whatever you have in mind.

You can also have an extra entry if you are a follower of my blog. Leave me a comment telling me that you are a follower or have just become one.

I can't wait to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Seeds Are Sprouting!

Seeds are sprouting! I'm so excited that some of the seeds have already started to come up. I love gardening, but I'm really bad at it, so every little success is cause for celebration around here.
Here's a pumpkin seed thinking about coming up. Come on, little sprout, you can do it! The thyme is doing the best. Lots of tiny little leaves are showing up in the egg carton. I'm looking forward to having fresh herbs this winter, so I hope these plants continue to grow.

Any triumphs in your life lately?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Don't Mess with Me, Big Dog

I captured this scene yesterday morning. Abby, the big dog, was trying her best to get Frodo to play. He, apparently, wasn't in the mood for games.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Morning Routine

My morning routine is getting a bit of a rhythm to it these days. I try to get out of the house as early as I can since it heats up quickly. Abby is my companion for chores, although she can be fickle. Today my son came out and she left me to get a rub down from him.
First on the list is feeding and watering the chickens. I head to the coop and say good morning to the girls. There are 19 others, but these two ladies posed nicely for me this morning. The first one is a Rhode Island Red (RIR). The one below that is a black sex-link, which is a RIR cross. They both are reliable layers of large brown eggs.Here's the waterer, waiting at the faucet to be filled. Later, I'll turn on the sprinkler to keep the chickens cool while it's so very hot outside. Chickens can't take the extreme heat. Last summer, we lost two on one day, so this year I'm determined to keep them cool. Next, I move on the the goat pasture. There's a shocking lack of goats there. For now, I just refill Abby's water and food bowls. But as soon as the goats' shelter is built, there will be more chores to do up here.Last, I water my container plants outside. The lantana is enjoying the hot weather, both in containers and in the butterfly garden. At least somebody likes the heat!

Do you have a morning routine?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baked Pork Chops for Dinner

Last night, I baked pork chops for dinner. I put them in a baking dish, with pineapple juice, pineapple pieces and some fresh pineapple sage from my herb garden. The whole thing went into a 350 degree oven for a little over an hour, covered with foil.
The pork chops came out nicely browned and very tender.
We also had appetizers, sliced gouda (my family's new favorite cheese) and crackers, topped with Laughing Cow cheese, a fresh basil leaf and a slice of tomato. Yummy!

So, this was dinner: pork chops, broccoli, homemade pickles, fresh cucumber slices and a roll.
What did you have for dinner last night?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Starting Seeds Indoors

My new mudroom has been turned into a greenhouse and I think I like it. After running some errands in town yesterday morning, the children and I started some seeds indoors. We used old egg cartons, seed starting medium (from Lowe's) and herb seeds as well as pumpkin.I filled the cartons with the seed starting mix and dampened it slightly. The children added the seeds. Then I topped off the seeds with a thin layer of the mix and we moved the egg cartons from the kitchen to the mudroom. I'm hoping to have some herbs growing in the house for the winter. The pumpkins will, if they sprout, go into the garden for the fall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Item in Bede Sisters Shop

I've been making fabric baskets for a year or so now, mostly in small sizes. I've even done a few custom orders for large baskets, but recently I made and listed for sale several, ready-to-ship, large tote baskets.

Large Floral Tote for the Beach, Market or Park

This beautiful basket is made in a gorgeous cotton from Amy Butler's Love collection, called Bliss Bouquet. The colors include lime, magenta, coral, white and peach on a teal background.
The tote is approximately 11 inches high, 11 inches wide and 17 inches long.

Here's another one, in a fantastic, mod flowers print:

Any new projects at your place?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reorganizing the Pantry

Okay, I know, reorganizing a pantry isn't the most exciting way to spend an evening, but hey, I live in the country. What else was I going to do? It actually became a fairly big project for us, since my husband bought new shelving units to put in the hall closet.
Andy, my husband, spent the evening putting the shelves together while I cleared out the closet and removed the old metal shelves. The old ones are in great shape, they just weren't working well in the space, so they are moving on to new lives (one in the new mud room).

I like a well organized pantry, so I can find what I need quickly and hopefully, not waste something because it got lost in the back somewhere. I'm not sure if you can see this from the photos, but my cleaning products are on the left--bathroom cleaners, mop pads, air fresheners, etc.

The back shelves have toiletries and light bulbs, as well as plastic platters and serving pieces for summer parties. The shelves on the right have food and baking necessities, like baking soda, brown sugar, cake mixes, pasta, all that sort of thing. I think of this closet as my "store". When I run out of rice in the kitchen, I can go down the hall to my store and get what I need.

This has also been a great opportunity to inventory what I currently have on hand. Turns out, I have plenty of toilet bowl cleaner, but I'm completely out of brownie mix. Clearly, a trip to town is in order.

I really should tackle my bedroom closet next, but it's scary in there.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Weekend in Atlanta

My husband called me last Wednesday and said, "I could use a couple of days off. Let's take a little vacation." So much for my stay-at-home July. He decided on a weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.

We actually had a nice time. There are loads of fun, family-friendly things to do around Atlanta. We went to the Atlanta Medieval Times, where my daughter had a great time. She cheered our knight and booed the bad guy. For two hours.

Did you know that Zoo Atlanta is one of only four zoos in the United States that has giant pandas? We didn't either, but when we found out, my son could hardly wait to get there.

One of the pandas is an eight-month old baby and did a few acrobatic tricks for the visitors. How cute is that?

We also spent a day at Six Flags Whitewater, a big waterpark. The children weren't into the big slides, but they loved the lazy river.

There are lots of other things we could have done, like the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the Coke Factory tour, not to mention going to a professional sports event. Atlanta has Braves baseball, Hawks basketball and Falcons football.

How's your July so far?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

On the wall behind me is a beautiful wooden case, holding the flags presented to me at my father's graveside. It has been a bit over four years since then, and I still miss him every day. My father was a National Guardsman for 40 years, 38 of those years he was full time.
I learned a lot from my dad, like how to drive a stick shift and "always bring a sweater". My father also taught me about patriotism. Three things stand out in my mind:

1. Stand up when the National Anthem is sung.
2. Obey the rules when displaying the U.S. flag.
3. Show respect for those who serve in our military. They're the good guys.

Thanks, Daddy, and thank you to all those who have served and those who continue to serve. You are my heroes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday Around the Homestead

There was lots to do around our place today and some of it actually got done. Andy mowed grass, around the house as well as down the driveway. He also fixed a faucet handle and one of the children's games.

I brushed down the pool and added chlorine, weeded about half the vegetable garden, made pickles and a yummy supper. The children and I made and decorated cupcakes for the holiday weekend.

The pickles were the big project of the day. My nine-year-old son helped me cut up cucumbers on Friday, in preparation for making bread and butter pickles today. The cucumber slices soaked in salt water overnight.

This afternoon, we combined sugar, vinegar and spices on the stove. We then added the cucumbers, simmered them for a few minutes and put them in jars. After a quick trip through the water bath canner, we now have pickles!
The cupcakes are red, white and blue in honor of Independence Day. The children had a great time adding the sprinkles.
Any plans this holiday weekend? Or non-holiday weekend, if you're outside the US?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Putting Up Corn

I was the lucky recipient of a tub full of corn. Corn is not difficult to put up, but it is a bit of work to prepare. It has to be shucked and then the corn cut off the cob. Since it would have to be pressure canned (and my pressure canner is in the storage barn at the moment) I decided to freeze it.

I shucked, cut and blanched all afternoon and ended up with about 7 quarts of corn in my freezer. It will be easy to prepare this fall and winter, either as a side dish on it's own or in soups.

I love seeing that shelf in my freezer. It feels like I got something done today. Any projects at your place today?