Wednesday, September 28, 2011

~Farmhouse Cupboard Vignette, Part One~

Several years ago after building our new home, there was a little nook in the breakfast area that needed to be filled.  I had an idea of how I wanted it to look. One, I was looking for some type of antique, shabby looking cupboard to go in that space; two, it had to have the right dimensions; three, it had to be in the price range that I was willing to pay, and four, it had to be yellow or white.  (My kitchen and dining room are creamy shades of blue and yellow.)  Now, that wasn't too much to ask for was it?

I had been searching for only a few months going to some of my favorite antique store haunts.  Lo and behold, I walked in a store, had one of those "lights shining from heaven" moments.  I swear I could hear the angels sing.  I saw this yellow cupboard, which is actually a darker yellow than the pictures give justice, sitting on the floor!  I had my handy dandy little tape measure with me ( a must for serious shopping), fit the space, it was the right color and, you guessed it.  it was the right price!  I think those guys were kinda shocked that they had made a sale with a customer who had been in the store maybe five minutes.
The cupboard was a perfect fit, I think.  If it had been any larger, I don't think I would have been able to keep the cabinet doors open all the way, which is what I was wanting to do to show off my collection of antiques, precious family pieces and gifts. I didn't care that there was warping and alot of peeling on the doors.  It added to its charm.

Even on the inside of the doors, there is peeling of paint, stain and warping.  Having my home built and decorated with all the blemishes that make up an old home was what I was going after, which gives it such character and charm.  I feel very at home with this type of decorating.

Having the doors open to show off everything made for great conversation with my bed and breakfast guests and family.  I could explain that this item came from an antique shop or this one came from an auction.  A couple of pieces are very special in that they were given to me by bed and breakfast guests who came back for another visit and knew what I liked to collect.  Several of the pieces were items that were on my wish list of things to own someday.  The pieces I most cherish are the ones from my grandmother, which I will point out later.  :)

I didn't realize I had so many vignettes going on until I dusted and cleaned my normally hodge-podge look.  Most of the items in my collection are things that a farm wife would have in her kitchen and I liked the idea of arranging them according to some kind of theme.  With so many items to look at, I thought it best to break my 'tour' down to two maybe three posts.

My handy-dandy son-in-law installed the cupboard for me (I made sure he had it secured really, REALLY well since I knew I had lots of things to put in there.)  I was very glad that there was plenty of space on the top to display some of the taller items.  The butter churn and coffee grinder were items that were on my wish list.  I had only one rolling pin in my collection originally and decided it looked rather lonely all by itself, so I got a couple of more and then needed someplace to store them.  What better than an old crock?

I love having the beautiful blue canning jars on the top shelf.  It adds a little burst of color.  The gadget in the back with the large handle is a fruit/vegetable masher used to puree such items for canning purposes.  The item in front of the masher looks rather menacing, doesn't it?  I 'think' it's a dough cutter.  I knew at one time, but have forgotten.  I need some help on this one.  Anyone know?  For a flash of pizzazz, I added this glass door knob.  Mr. Bill gave it to me one year for my birthday along with some other little antique knickknacks.

I love my little collection of metal tins.  I may have picked up a piece here and there.  A couple may have been gifts.  I honestly don't remember (effects of the meds I'm on :/ )  Most of the brands, I've never heard of.  There's Rumford Baking Powder, Royal Tudor Cocoa, Country Club Black Pepper (I don't think this one was ever opened as it is quite full!), Steero Bouillon Cubes and the well known Calumet Baking Powder.  The white enamel lid in the back goes to a large pot that I am using to house a plant in a bathroom.

 Years ago, when our children were younger, we went through a period of making our own butter and I used this butter mold and paddle (again, given to me by Mr. Bill).  The tinware in the back is a strainer and then the tinware coffee pot.

I love my collection of antiques.  It's almost like having my own mini antique store!  I'll take you on more of a tour tomorrow.  So, what do you think?

Hope you have a sunshine-filled day today ~

Update:  I am participating in a blog party at Laurie Anna's Vintage Home

Friday, September 23, 2011

~Best Ever Banana Bread~

I love banana bread. A simply stated fact in my world.  I love it almost as much as I do banana cake, which is absolutely to die for.  At least my recipe is anyway.

I am a sucker for a new banana bread recently and since Missy, from My Cottage Charm, stated that hers was "the best ever", well, I had to put it to the test.

You'll find the entire printable recipe at the end of this post.  But for the sake of conversation,, here are your ingredients....
     * Flour                                            * Nutmeg
     * White Sugar                                 * Butter
     * Brown Sugar                                * Egg
     * Baking Powder                            * Vanilla
     * Baking Soda                                * Milk
     * Salt                                              * Bananas
     *Cinnamon                                     * Walnuts (I didn't have any so I used
                                                                                pecans instead)

A quick explanation of the process:  Blend together the butter, white and brown sugars.  Add your egg and vanilla mixing well.  Mix in the bananas.  Note:  I very rarely measure the bananas.  Usually more than the recipe calls for, I believe, gives a moist strong banana flavor.  Pour in the milk. **I used half and half as we use skim milk for our daily use.  Besides, I think it gives a much richer flavor. :)  After the wet ingredients have been blended well, slowly add  the dry ingredients that have been sifted together.  Stir in the walnuts or pecans.  Note:  Again, I very rarely measure the nuts.  Since I love them, I just throw in however much I want.

Using a 9 x 5 loaf pan that has been greased and floured (or use Pam generously), pour in your banana mixture.  It should look like this.  Be sure to lick the bowl, the spatula and even the beaters if you are so inclined.  But you have to lick the bowl and spatula for sure.  You want to make sure it tastes good, don't you?  Heaven forbid that you find out later that it don't taste so hot.  Trust me on this one, it's really good!!

Bake at 350 degrees for at least 75 minutes.  I took mine out just a tad too soon and it was still a little gooey on the inside.  Doesn't it look delish?  Can you smell the wonderful aroma?  Oh my, I know I can't wait until it completely cools!

Okay, I couldn't wait until it completely cooled.  I burned my fingers as I tried to get it out in one piece but failed ever so slightly.  But it was worth it.  Can't you just almost taste it?  Spread on a little a lot of butter and enjoy.  And I mean ENJOY! This is one moist and heavenly banana bread.  If I'm lucky, there will be enough for breakfast!!  Thanks, Missy, for sharing your recipe.

Click here, Best Ever Banana Bread,  to print this recipe. 

Ummm good! ~

Monday, September 19, 2011

~Is It a Farm or a Ranch?~

When you pass by a place that is obviously an agricultural environment, do you call it a farm or a ranch?  Does it depend on what you see happening?  You know, growing wheat or cotton....raising sheep or cattle....growing corn and raising pigs?  What do you call it...a farm or a ranch?

For years, I always based my label on whether a crop was being raised or whether I saw animals being raised.  If it was a place that raised wheat, then it was a wheat farm.  If it was a place that raised cattle, then it was a cattle ranch.  But then I got to thinking.  Okay, usually one calls a place that raises pigs...a pig farm not a pig ranch.  If it was sheep, it was a sheep farm not a sheep ranch.

It is usually is the same for crops....corn, soybeans, pecans...they are all called farms.  But why is raising animals different...some are called farms and some are called ranches.  Then you have animals such as cattle that are used to produce milk and it's called a dairy farm not a dairy ranch.

Then, again, what if they raise both crops and animals... is it a farm/ranch or is it a ranch/farm?  I tried to come up with a combination of the two words, but it made my brain hurt.

So, to settle this dilemma, I went to doing a Google answer I found said:
"The difference is a rancher raises livestock for consumption and/or it's by-products, and at times also grows the feed for them.
A farmer works with the soil, growing crops for both people and animals.
Usually farmers have some livestock, but not to the extent that a rancher does."

Several dictionary definitions of a ranch said:
        "1. An extensive farm, especially in the western United States, on which large herds of cattle,        sheep, or horses are raised.
2. A large farm on which a particular crop or kind of animal is raised: a mink ranch."

Several definitions of a farm:
1.  a tract of land, usually with a house, barn, silo. etc., on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.
2.  land or water devoted to the raising of animals, fish, plants, etc.; a pig farm, an oyster farm, a tree farm.
3.  a similar, usually commercial, site where a porduct is manufactured or cultivated; a cheese farm, a honey farm.

According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary 2nd ed., (c) 2004:

Farm:  noun (1) an area of land, and the buildings on it, used for growing crops, rearing animals, etc. (also attributive: farm machinery, farm workers).  (2)  A place of establishment for breeding a particular type of animal, growing fruit, etc. (fish farm, mink farm).  Verb (1a) a transitive use (land) for growing crops, rearing animals, etc.  (1b) transitive be of a farminer, work on a farm.  (2) transitive breed (fish, etc.) commercially.
Ranch:  noun (1a) a cattle breeding farm esp. in the western US and Canada. (1b) a farm where other animals are bred (mink ranch, aquaculture ranch).  Verb (1) intransitive run or work on a ranch.  (2) transitive breed or rear (animals) on or as on a ranch.  (3) transitive use(land) as a ranch.

And then I found this answer....
"What really seems to set the words apart is where it's localed. People rarely have a farm in the west and there are very few ranches in the east."

 So, now that you've had your agricultural lesson today and you may or may not be more bumfuddled (that's what happens when I start thinking...sorry) than ever, what do they call these places in the area where you live?

Wherever you call home, be thankful for farmers and ranchers today ~

Monday, September 12, 2011

~Short But Sweet~

An old catalpa tree in our yard is dying
It has been an extremely hot and dry summer here in Oklahoma.  And I do mean extremely!  We broke an all-time record cumulative days of having 100+ degree temperatures...over 60.  That is SIX ZERO plus days!!!  Many of those days were well over 110 degrees.  We had several days of 115 to 118 degree days.

A new tree that I planted last year had been doing well, but couldn't tolerate the extreme heat.  It did not survive.
These are not fall colors on a neighbor's tree.  This is a mature oak tree that looks like it isn't going to survive either.
The vegetation on, several silver maple trees lining our drive, is thin and sparse
Trees, large and small, young and old, are affected by this heat and drought.  Many trees have died.  I didn't get pictures of flowers and vegetable gardens, but they have been drastically affected as well.  Many gardeners have given up as the vegetable plants just are not producing.

This is not a path going through the woods.  It is a creek bed.  A dry creek bed.  A creek bed that normally has a fair amount of water flowing through it.

From an upstairs bedroom, you can see the pond near our house.
See that pipe sticking up out of the ground?  It is our overflow pipe.  The water is supposed to be at or near the edge of that pipe.  Looks to be at least 3 feet below normal.
And to make matters worse, our state has also been in an extreme drought!  Creeks are drying up.  Ponds are drying up.  Statewide average rainfall is 11 inches below normal.  Fortunately, this pond close to our home is deep and still has a fair amount of water in it.  Better than many around the area.  

A view of one area of our pastureland.  This is normally nice and green.  It is brown and drying.  If only it could survive like the weeds!

You can see the dirt through the very sparse vegetation of a neighbor's pasture.  Normally, he grows wheat on this parcel of land.
The planting of wheat seed normally starts this time of year.  If we don't get any rain, there will be no planting of wheat.  Unless, you are very optimistic and that would be a huge gamble to take.
Experts are predicting that the 2011, because of La Nina, drought conditions will most likely continue making this the driest year on record.  This is not Arizona nor is it the Sahara Desert.  This is Oklahoma!

To make matters worse, several large grass fires occurred burning over 6000 acres and destroying over 30 homes.  We've been under a very strict burn ban for several weeks...not even charcoaling on the grill.  Some intentional, which is way beyond my understanding as to why.  One or two, though unintentional, by people just not thinking, by throwing out a cigarette and burning a mattress (??)

Now I realize that this is not huge by some other out of control fires that have raged across the country, but it has been said that one fire was started by a lawnmower hitting a rock and causing a spark.  Another was started by a bulldozer or some large piece of machinery hitting a pipe sparking a fire.  Conditions are extremely dry and humidity extremely low for fires to start like that.

Now you ask, what is so short but sweet about all of this?  Well, after weeks and weeks of people praying for a break in the weather, it finally happened.  Temperatures dropped to the low 70s to low 80s.....LOW 70s and 80s....that's reason to celebrate around here!!!  Woohoo!!  For about a week, we've enjoyed these wonderful temperatures.  Some areas have even had rain!!  Not us though.

A week of cool, open the windows, enjoy the breeze days.  This weekend, the thermometer started creeping back up.  It will be creeping back into the high 90s.  Today we turned the air conditioner on.  The reprieve was short but sweet.  That's okay, because it is supposed to be dropping again towards the end of the week.  A sign that fall is coming.  Something that looked like it was never going to happen.  But it will.  It always does.

We are thankful for the break in the temperatures, but we are so desperately needing the rainfall.  Farmers and cattlemen will not be able to continue their livelihoods if we don't get rain.  So we are still down on our knees.  Praying that the experts' predictions are wrong.

Praying that conditions are not as bad where you live ~

Friday, September 9, 2011

~There's a Skunk in the House!~

Well, there's not actually a skunk IN the house.  I have a tendency to exaggerate when something exciting happens.

We have, what I call, a lean-to attached to the back of the house where we have an interior faucet, store the grilling supplies and also houses our water treatment thingamajig.  The other day, Mr. Bill was out doing his usual chores.  He needed to fill our horses' water trough and went to attach the hose to the faucet in the lean-to.  When he opened the door, lo and behold, there was a skunk sitting there staring up at him!!  That sent Mr. Bill into backup that was a sight!  *snort, snort*

The skunk had to have been in there several days.  You can see the damage he did trying to get out.  Pulled off some drywall and then proceeded to dig out the insulation....sigh.  Backing up here a night when I was getting ready for bed, the sudden onset of a skunk spraying near the house was so bad I just about gagged!  Something that happens in the country quite regularly.  We didn't think anything about it and went to bed trying to stifle the awful smell that was permeating the house.  Lovely, huh?

That big tall cylinder is the water treatment thingamajig.  So moving into the present...the poor little guy had been shut in there for several days and it's amazing he survived the heatwave we had going on.  He is fairly young and was either too scared or too weak to do his thing on Mr. Bill.  Whew...good thing!

He had me come over to see what caused that skunk smell.  I couldn't believe it.  It was just too funny and sad at the same time.  Of course, I had to run and get the camera to get proof of our little story. The little guy was still in there during this time and we were staying a safe distance away in case he decided to venture out.  We figured he must have meandered in there one night when the door was left open during watering time and then got shut in when the water hose was disconnected.

What can I say?
The door had to be left open so the little skunk could come out when he was ready to (probably at nightfall since they are nocturnal) and so the lean-to could be aired out. Good news is that little skunk left the premises and the skunk smell is pretty well gone.  The bad news is that some repair work needs to be done.  I don't think we should report it to the insurance company.  I don't think they would believe us.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

~We've Got A Winner!~

We have a winner for the digital scrapbook software!!  Congratulations to Rachel S.

Rachel, please contact me with your email message so that I can send you the instructions as to how to download your new software.

Have a blessing-filled day~

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

~Last Day to Enter the Giveaway!~

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day to enter the digital scrapbook software giveaway.  You can click on the My Memories logo above to go directly to the comment page.

I know my blog is fairly new so there are just a few entries right now.  Pass this on to any one you know who loves scrapbooking or is interested in learning how to scrapbook.  It's easy and it's fun!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

~Digital Scrapbooking~

A few days ago, I shared with you my first experience at scrapbooking.  One of those was my favorites, A Day at the Farm, and I wanted to share how I took photos and elements from the scrapbooking kit to create the finished page that was shown here.

Shortly after we bought our 160 acres, Mr. Bill bought our first real herd of cattle.  This is shipping day!
 As this is something Mr. Bill has dreamed of doing for a really long time, I had to get out the camera!

 As so much of our family life is centered around these cows and their offspring, starting here with the scrapbooking was the ideal thing to do.  I went through each picture cropping them as necessary, getting rid of any unwanted space and then rounding the corners.

I had purchased a kit called A Day at the Farm from My Memories, the scrapbooking company that I was reviewing.  It consisted of several different backgrounds, word art, animal pictures and miscellaneous pictures.  I thought this blue "denim" paper with the lines around it was really cute and would make the pictures stand out.  Oh, I forgot to add the brick red paper that was used to create some matting behind the photos...oops!  The word phrase was perfect.  All elements are of various sizes but resizing them wasn't a problem.  I could go back and forth between any or all of them to make the changes I wanted.

Since this was my first digital scrapbooking page, I ended up going back and forth between the elements and photos, moving them around, layering them as I wanted (as in moving each one to the back or to the front).  Once I got them all in place, I was able to "lock" them in place, just in case I accidentally moved one.
This is the final result!  It wasn't really that hard and I am very pleased with it.  What do you think?

Have a wonderful Labor Day~

Update:  I'm participating in these blog parties:

  Metamorphosis Monday ~ Between Naps On the Porch

  Farm Photo Friday ~ Farm Chick's Kitchen

  Before and After ~ Thrifty Decor Chick


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