Monday, July 30, 2012

A Little Dinner Music

We've been making our own tomato sauce (gravy) for years out of the stuff we grow in the garden. Mike and I have always wanted to try and make homemade pasta to go with it. Gnocchis seemed the least difficult since you don't need any fancy kitchen tools. Now, I want to apologize to any real Italians who make their own pasta and might be reading this(Joan). Please be kind; it was a first attempt. The gnocchis weren't pretty, and we were afraid they would be so dense and heavy that after eating, we wouldn't be able to swim for, like, a year. The cooking fairies must've been smiling on us though, because it worked! They were light and fluffy and comforting. Since our youngest is still recovering from her knee injury, some comfort food was just the thing. So, without further ado, here's a silly little film Bron and I made to celebrate our family's culinary experiment, with homage to Rosemary Clooney:

Alla fine

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ewe win and where I've been

Ewe as in YOU - get it??? Corny, I know.

I just finished up a second week of camp, and this little wooly cutie was peeking out from the field as I was walking up the path to the farmhouse.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we've been busy waiting hand and foot on our sweetie Bron. Last week at work she was minding her own busness, when all of a sudden she heard a loud snap and down she fell. Seems her kneecap, unprovoked, decided to dislocate itself. Our girl earned herself an ambulance ride to the emergency room, and is now sporting a brace and crutches. We have an appointment with an ortho doc this week. Prayers would be appreciated. Thanks, pals.

So here she is recuperating, happily surrounded by bouquets of flowers sent by loving siblings and kind co-workers. There's nothing more cheery than a florist knocking at your door. Except perhaps a PACKAGE from the mailman. Which leads us back to the main reason for this post--announcing the winner of the giveaway.

The ever-couragous Bronwyn did not let an injury deter her from the annual duty of picking the winning name from the hat. So without further ado, this years winner is:

Aqeela of Remembering the Days... blog.Congratulations! Let me know via e-mail where to send it, dearie dear.

Dear everyone else, thank you for playing. As always, I wish I could give everyone a present, 'cause I love you all heaps.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Un, deux, trois - giveaway

It's Curious Acorn's 3rd Birthday!

Continuing in the hobbit tradition - it's my blog's birthday, you get the present. The things I give away are a bit random. Not unlike my blog. They represent the spirit of Curious Acorn and what you'll find when you visit here.

My most favorite thing about blogging is the friendships that I have made. My love languages are gifts and words of affirmation. You've probably guessed that by now. So this is my way of saying thank you for all that you have given.

The lucky winner will receive a blackboard wall sticker and retro "tea revives you" coasters brought back from my trip to New Zealand, a box of old school blackboard chalk from Germany, a tin of black currant tea, a box of black currant candies from Australia...hmmm - are you noticing a theme here? Also a lovely cup from which to sip your tea, and last but not least, my favorite lip balm--Smith's Rosebud salve. I dig the olde time pharmacy graphic on its tin. Oops, I almost forgot - the antique French postcard pictured above will also be included.

I popped in this picture of my own blackboard sticker on my kitchen wall to show you that it can indeed be written on with chalk

To get your name in the hat, all you'll need to do is leave a comment. If you're a lurker who has never commented before, introduce yourself for goodness sakes! Deadline is this coming Friday, July 20th at 8:00PM EST. I'll mail the prize anywhere - it's a small world after all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A C-ment pond for birds

I don't know if it's the same where you live, but here it's been hot as hades. The man and I thought it would be nice to craft another little bird bath for the winged lovelies that visit our yard.

I was retro-meandering the first time I talked about homemade cement birdbaths. Click the highlight if you'd like to see the original post. It's one of those projects that didn't take long to make but twenty years have gone by, and it still holds water.

We used the inside of a trash can lid for a form. The handle of the lid has an indentation which would leave a bump on the bottom of the casting. So we covered it with a piece of cardboard. This gives the birdbath a flat bottom on which to rest.

Next, we covered the lid with a trash bag. This bag will make it easier for the finished product to pop out of the lid, albeit with a little wiggling.

We cut a piece of chicken wire that fits inside the form. This will be used to reinforce the cement to keep it from cracking.

The decorating part is totally your own taste. You can use just about anything to embellish. The first time we used polished rocks. This time we used pieces of colored glass.

We bought a bag of concrete and mixed according to the directions on the bag. It took about half of an 80 pound bag.

Since the trash can lid has a handle, it will not sit flat. So we set it on top of another plastic trash can to use as a base on which to work. We filled the can most of the way with water to stiffen it to support the lid's weight. Then we scooped wet concrete into the lined lid to about half its depth.

Pressing the piece of chicken wire onto the surface of the wet concrete.

We mixed a second batch...

...and added a half inch to cover the chicken wire reinforcement.

We wanted a similar shape to make an impression. To create it, we covered the lid of a picnic cooler with a plastic bag and placed it in the concrete, pressing it in slightly. Then we shoveled in the rest of the concrete to fill the sides, and smoothed with a trowel.

After that we pressed pieces of colored glass into the still-wet cement. We let it set for about an hour, then removed the cooler lid.

In two days, it was completely dry, set, and ready to use. Now that's what I call trash to treasure--literally.

I have in mind to make another one and decorate it with broken china pieces.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Garden of Verses

Counting blessings

My parents had gotten divorced. My dad would take us every other weekend for "visitation." That's what they called it back then.
On summer weekend mornings, I would wake up before dad, sneak out back, and plant myself on the wooden steps of his yard. The morning sun had made the steps toasty. Still in my pajamas, I'd sit there, eyes closed, hugging myself, enjoying the grassy smell of the air. After a time, I'd get up and wander to the chicken wire fence that separated dad's backyard from the Browns' yard. Morning glories with their sky blue trumpets unfurled wrapped themselves all along the fence. Staring at them, I'd feel the overcoming closeness of something Holy. It eased the hurt.

Then there was the time when I was a kid that I learned to listen to plants talk. Grandmom would water african violets on her window sill. "Watch and listen," she'd say. I'd see water bubbling on top of the potted soil and hear a gurgling sound. "See," she said, "the flower is saying thank you."

With head bowed, I say "thank You".

#492 For good memories still green

#493 backyards

#493 our own grown-up patch of earth that my man and I can tend for a time.

#494 for bees buzzing God song

#495 seed that took

#496 a quiet place to consider things that neither toil or spin.

#497 Romans 8:19

Joining Ann today

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The recipes, or ...

receipts, as they were called back in the day. As promised, here are some more pictures and how-tos of what we made at camp.


two ounces of powdered ginger root (or more if it is not very strong - I used fresh grated ginger),
half an ounce of cream of tartar,
two large lemons, sliced,
two pounds of broken loaf sugar (I used 1 cup of granulated sugar.)
two gallons of soft boiling water.

Put all ingredients into a kettle and simmer them over a slow fire for half an hour.
Remove from heat.
When the liquor is nearly cold, stir into it a large tablespoonful of the best yeast.
After it has fermented, which will be in about 24 hours, bottle for use.

* source: Gaspee Days Colonial Drinks and Recipes

I have heard it is better to store the fermenting ginger beer in plastic 2-liter soda bottles rather than in glass. Apparently the carbonation can cause the glass to explode. I poured the drink into the glass bottle pictured here after fermentation was complete and it was ready to serve. I always wondered why the old ginger beer bottles that my husband likes to collect were made of stoneware. Mystery solved?

Noodles from scratch

1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsbp vegetable oil
3 tsbp water
flour for rolling and dusting

Mix ingredients together in a bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Let rest for at least 30 minutes. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Let dough rest again for another 20 minutes. Cut into thin strips. Sprinkle with flour as needed to keep the dough from getting sticky. Place strips on a floured tea towel to allow them to air dry. This can take up to 2 days.

The noodles we made never completely dried like store-bought noodles do, but they cooked up just fine. Boil in salted water for 9 minutes.

When finished, drain off water and toss noodles with butter and herbs of your choice.

Two of my co-workers taught the kids how to use a cider press. Very cool.

Colonial ice cream

1 qt table cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 heaping tsbp cherry jam

You have to watch this little 1 minute video. Using this method, it took about 45 minutes of constant spinning to make solid ice cream (and muscles). It was delicious. The kids all took turns spinning. They were sweetly rewarded for their labors.

Next camp we are going to attempt cheesemaking. We'll see.


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