The Gift of the Season "Trust and Believe"

The Season -- Family, Traditions.  Many years back my very best friend at the time lost her grandmother who had raised her.  The very next year at christmas my friend and I gathered to decorate my friends home for the holidays, her grandmother had several holiday boxes that were marked and stored in her attic that said CMAS DECORATIONS with various years. (Along with extra crap, depression era folks threw nothing out,,,). The holidays were a very special time for her and her GMA.  Well, we started to open the boxes and we soon discovered that her GMA had dated and written about certain ornaments.  If I could take you back to the moment when my friend read a note  from her late GMA that said, "Mo, I have surely passed by now and when you read this know how much I loved you, this ornament was given to your mom from your dad before you were born, please treasure it like I did, know you are loved and you have another angel in heaven watching over you.  ...Goose Bumps...  Another ornament said, "Mo, please be happy, the holidays were always such such a joyous time, love GMA". What a gift!   Several year later, I started to collect special ornaments, dated them and tried to write a bit about each one.  My plan is that one day, hopefully living, I can give my son a box of treasured memories for his family.  It is not about the gift, but the meaning, their impact on our life's, much like Christ tried to do.  Remember, it is the season of miracles .. the best time for them really.  It is not about what we have, but about love, who we love and care for and who loves us.  Many of us have family ill this year, Please remember who really is in "Charge" and loves us, his plan no matter the outcome is the best plan, sometimes hard, and we don't know all we should--but I have come to learn..... this is the season for "Trust and Believe"

Baking this Thanksgiving

We had our first snow fall yesterday, so I get an extra day to stay home and bake.  Work is planning a cookie swap, and I have made my first 3 of five different types of cookies, Gee, signing up for the swap was so easy, but when you have to produce cookies in a few days it makes me feel under pressure.  I choose my favorite shortbread cherry cookies as my first to bake, it freezes well and needs the longer time to cool...nothing goes without a 'hitch' in hooterville...  I had my last batch in the oven and the power went out!  (came back on - but now I am scared) Yikes... I'll hold off on baking the others...which are the classic sugar cookie, I found the secret to the thin sugar cookie was nutmeg, and candy cane cookies - peppermint our course

it is just me and my husband this year, we have a light dinner planned, I did make a nice pancake breakfast to start our day before we headed out to shovel. 

Wish you  all a blessed day!

Being Thankful in Hooterville

Being November, I am trying to focus on being Thankful, I take too much for granted, I have a job, I am healthy – I married a kind and patient man, my kids are happy, they too have good jobs and are moving forward in life – I guess that in itself is a success – I don’t think I would want to be a parent of small children in this time. 

Winter has set in, (not so thankful) the ground is frozen and the leaves are all off the trees; got the hens a water warmer this year and I have put straw around the cage, to keep the snow at bay.   I lost a hen this week, I split up my hens with a neighbor 2 years ago – last year the neighbors quit coming home – staying with their parents about 100 miles away.  Recently I asked for them back – and one was just not healthy enough – the lack of water and food was too much for the poor baby.  The other two are better, and seem to fit in and enjoy their dirt baths and being “free”.

Things have been quite around Hooterville, just tending to the girls each week and the Hounds – Dale and I get to enjoy the hot tub at night, we open the door and enjoy the outdoors sitting in the hot.. hot tub – this is life..., the stars as so pretty here.  –

I do have a plan for my December blog, I am putting some good thought and planning – stay tuned.

Fall or autumn – which is it for you?

I say fall, and was criticized by a co-worker, who tried in vain to get  me  say autumn,… Oh well.  With each approaching season I have a happy remembrance from my past.  It seems that fall is by far my favorite season.  Sure I love the spring, the flowers the warm air.
There is something about fall that makes me happy.  This is my backyard - what is not happy about that!

Old Wives Tales, Folklore and Old Timer Talk

An old timer from our community told me to start planning on a cold, long winter last summer 2013, he said, “you see them darn hornet’s nest up there on that tree, “ well that’s a sure sign we are headed for some trouble.  Old timer was right; it was a winter that kept on giving….

I noticed that the yellow jackets are building their nests in the ground this spring of 2014 and this tells me, according to my old-timer, we might have a mild winter this year.... as last summer 2013, their nest were above ground and guess what type of winter we had!! - Awful. 

Now, here in the East Blue Ridge our spring/summer weather is starting out hot, humid and unpredictable, this week we received another 3 ½ inches of rain in one night -  now I am not one to complain about rain but I fear we might be in for a rough season.

What does it mean when it rains all spring and summer, does this mean a mild winter, low hurricane season, (less stink bugs (I can dream))?

I can’t find any tales or folklore on this – but I am a searching.

Rearranging Hens Living Quarters.

Rearranged the coops, put the 5 little ones in the bigger and the 3 older in the smaller one. 

Since I rearranged the hen houses… baby chicks into the larger coop and the three big birds to the smaller coop…… the older ones are not happy… fussin, squawking and peckin… laying their eggs in the yard by the clematis plant.  They meet me at the gate each day I return home from work, telling me about how I wronged them.  Oh well.. Soon (hopefully and not next year) all will have their nice big coop to share and be all warm in fuzzy… On the brighter side…the hens have left my flowers be… my creeping phlox, lily’s and peonies.   –

Mother’s Day Treasures…

My most treasured mother’s day gifts are homemade, something as simple as a photo book with pictures that captured a holiday I could not attend - bring me joy still... I have a box of these ‘books’ that I have in an old hat box… I occasionally get them out – a gift that keeps on giving… My second is the wooden tray, where pictures were taken and made into a collage.   Nothing wrong with flowers, I love them too.  I wonder how many mothers have a ‘hat box’ like me?  Happy Mother's Day!

Letters, a handwritten thank you, howdy and good buys...

A group on Facebook had a letter swap recently and I thought about joining in on this.... but I was just not in the spirit at the time, now I wish I had…. I recently received this letter from a law clerk that left our agency for a job in New York City.

The letter Bruce wrote is a bit silly and unique, but so special and thoughtful.  Bruce took the time to write it and print it out… I think he would have hand written if time was not so scarce for him. 

A note I can keep and cherish! 

Blooming in the Blue Ridge

Apple trees in bloom, this year I have put in place my pest control... Chickens...I moved my chicken area to where my some of our fruit bearing trees are... they have been hard at work pecking away around the trees.. I also have my new Apple picken Apron, Oh I can't wait to try this out.... Thank you Dolly!   I found a new group that discuses all things canning, freezing and preserving, so many things for me to learn.

Recipe: this is from Nesco..(the machine I use) peel, core and slice apples - I use a mandolin.

Place slices in a bowl, spray with a good amount of lemon juice I like to spray the apples vs soaking.. Helps in the drying.

Arrange the apple slices or dices on the dehydrator. Make sure not to overlap.

Recommended temperature for drying is between 125f and 135f. Dehydrating times depends in thickness 4 to 10 hours..

I  slice with various thicknesses, so I can use in various recipes. 

Preserving - Alternative Method

Old Timers Method

While researching an alternative to freezing and canning - I wanted to share what mountain old timers who forged out an existence without electricity, running water and in most instances a limited cash flow.

Leather Beans:  Using a long needle with a strong thread, push the needle through the center of the bean, pushing the beans together.  Hang the string in warm air, not direct sunlight. Let them remain hanging until dry.  Store in a bag until ready to use.. I would think they used cotton bags...

Peas:  When ripe lay them in the sun to dry, after thoroughly dry, place them on a large cloth or sheet outside on a windy day, and beat the hulls off with a stick. The wind will blow the chaff away and leave only the peas.  Store the peas in sacks in a dry place.   Again, to store I think they may have used old flour sacks....

Not sure how they dealt with humidity or how they beat the peas, on the ground, or hanging?  I guess I will find out.

I will be trying the leather beans this year and I will update the post.

Learning Lessons

I started this blog to chronicle my existence in Hooterville...and only Hooterville...then my job interfered.  I work 5 days a week outside of Hooterville...but I start and end my day feeding hounds, hens and a husband.  I love being home tending to things.  Retirement is not that far off, thankfully.

I have been struggling with certain "other" coworkers, who inherited me, and "these coworkers" preferred method of help is to give correction and not direction...Plus much more crap.

I get upset, and try to figure out a way to deal, and I joke about ducking the flying monkeys and I hope I am out to lunch when the house falls...humor really helps!

On a serious note, I found myself feeling frustrated.  It started to affect me; how I treated my husband, how I reacted to things, and how I was dealing with life. I said to myself....this has got to end; I don't want to live that way.

See if you let some crappy coworkers, or anyone for that matter, assign your worth - they will - and you won't be worth much - I am so tired of dealing with bullies and unpleasant people.

My problem is still there, but my attitude has changed.  I don't want to be preachy, and I am no way a saint, and the Lesson Learned that took way too long to learn was ... "To let go and let God handle it".

No matter what we do, who we deal with, at work, the feed store, on the road...we will encounter nasty, unpleasant people - take a deep breath, and say God, this one is for you.  Wish I had learned...really learned this lesson years freeing this has been for me! 

A big smile is one my face as a type….and it makes me so much more appreciative of the opportunity for my home, raising the chickens, working the bloodhounds, and endless the possibilities for my gardens and cultivating an organic existence….


I few years back someone referred to our community roads as “goat trails” I don’t know what goat trails are, but our roads were and are still pretty bad – I was reading my journal notes from when I first moved out to Virginia - I have come a long way from that that angry lady!  Life is funny like that - you end up where you are supposed to be - and when I quit fussing, I gained valuable insight on myself and learned to be more appreciative and accepting.

LIPS! Easter Basket idea for the ‘older’ ones….

Summer is sure to come eventually, and one thing I always remember to do is use my sunscreen, hat and a neck scarf.  Take a bandana, like an old outlaw and tie around your neck, this is a super way to protect your delicate neck skin…My new find for the lips is the EOS… handy to stick in my pockets and my winter coats are full of lip balm.  The EOS is easy to use and I like it better than the stick ones.  The flavors are good too.

Scalloped Potatoes

I remember having these when I was younger, I have made them throughout the years, this is by far the best one to my liking… I tend to like more salt and pepper..


Scalloped Potatoes (Picture is not mine, but this is what they look like)

 I will post my picture  this coming Sunday though

 Services 8 – 10
I slice the potatoes in the food processor –
2 tablespoons unsalted butter - I use more like 4
1 small onion minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 springs fresh thyme leaves – I bake with and remove before serving
2 bay leaves – I bake with and remove before serving
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 pounds russet potatoes cut into ½ inch-thick slices
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat until foaming subsides, about 1 minute.  Add the onion and saute until it turns soft and begins to brown, Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream, milk, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and potatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cover, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a light simmer, and cook until the potatoes are almost tender – about 15 or so minutes.
Transfer the potato mixture to a 3-quart gratin dish and sprinkle with cheese.  (I actually bake in the Dutch oven I cooked in) Bake until cream has thickened and is bubbling around the sides and the top is golden brown,  about 20 minutes… I sometimes bake the day before.

Coop Planning it is now a WE thing!

I have wanted chickens for a very long time, but we moved so much, and once it became evident we were here to stay in Virginia until we retired, I thought now is the time for a few chickens!  I started with 6, gave away 3 (big mistake) and recently added 5 more with 2 more coming soon (Dominiques, my husbands addition)

What is interesting is my husband, He is trying to steal my chickens... he started researching different breeds / coops and has taken an interest in my chickens… I have to tell him, we only have an acre, and we cannot add more chickens until we can secure a bigger coop with an enclosure.  I think what it is with the chickens -  they are friendly, they greet us when we come home, sit by us when we are on the front porch and give us endless amounts of entertainment.  

I love researching coop ideas and getting my inspiration from many of the blogs I read; some of you  have some fine coops!  We pretty much have settled on the cedar type of shed looking coop as it match's the house, one that is not too expensive, I can enter and clean easily, plus it has curb appeal -  being our coop is in the front yard.   All we have to do now is design the enclosure and find a good handyman to build the enclosure once the coop is in, fortunately the coop comes with assembly!   Coop is planned for installation Spring of 2015, we have to deal with some irrigation issues first.




Thrift Store Finds

I was searching for an iron gate, as the one I have is too big for my purpose. Well, I stumbled upon an old iron Crib and an old metal school desk… The desk was $20.00 and the crib was 125.00 – not a real good deal...bed came with all parts and boy is that sucker heavy!
For now, these two items will be on my front porch, no plans yet to repaint; I like the shabby chicness of worn off white paint.   I'll be making a cushion for this in the next month.   I'll use this for a seat and I'll use the other rail for something, perhaps a flower backdrop.

Spring in the Blue Ridge

This month finally has calmed down; I am working on a permanent place for three raised bed gardens.  I plan to incorporate another wildflower garden too - Living on a hill does pose it challenges.   My 5 young chickens are getting so big, and I think this weekend I will have them outside a bit each day, and on Sunday, I’ll let them coop it overnight it not too cold. 
Hanna, one of three older hens, she is the leader.  I can’t keep her out of my gardens!   I have to do something quick, or I won’t be able to harvest a thing!

Today I walked outside at about 4:4 0 am, yeah, this is the time I leave for work. I thought how beautiful, peaceful, serene.   Though are mountain poses it challenges in inclement weather – I love it!   

Hen Vs Rooster

The Story: Don’t judge a hen on their appearance.

The Hen vs the Rooster:

My husband recently had a contractor out to give us a bid on our cement pad in the back yard, and the contractor made this comment about our ‘roosters”….He said, how do you get away with having roosters,? my dear husband said, those are not roosters, sir, those are hens… The contractor, said, well, I grew up on a farm and I am telling you those are roosters! My ever so quick thinking husband said, okay, roosters they are; let me show you the only roosters I know that lay eggs! Of course, the contractor followed my husband to fetch the eggs. Certain my husband did not know a darn thing about chickens….My husband opened the coop and took out the eggs, the contractor had this funny look on his face and said,, ”They certainly look like roosters,”.. Anyway, don’t judge a hen by its appearance