Sunday, December 1, 2013

This is more or less how it was..

December's Nablopomo theme is more/less, which lends itself to more or less everything.

We attended a second family Thanksgiving dinner today, and I ate more food than was necessary.  I wish I'd eaten less.

We had more or less the same people there, but next Thanksgiving there will be another little one (my nephew's wife is expecting in the next couple of weeks.)

Our Clay seemed to enjoy his time visiting with family. He listened to an elf on a rocking sleigh sing "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" about 50 times--less of that might not have been a bad idea either.

But, it's all good--more memories, more good times, more reasons to be grateful.
 I think Clay would like more piggy-back rides.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Flavorful, sweet local tastes of fall

We've still got a few winter pears from the tree out back, and, because I've been super busy this year, I just bought a quart of black walnut meats.  They have a pungent, earthy taste and smell unlike anything else in this world.

I was given a quart of wild honey harvested from Drip Rock a weekend or two ago.  I swear it's the best honey I've ever eaten...tastes like golden rod, apple blossoms and clover...smells like the lazy-sounding drone of busy bees... runs golden like humid summer mornings.

In the back of my mind, I've been wondering how to combine those flavors. In a fruit salad, perhaps?

This morning inspiration came from out of the blue, and I decided to make pancakes.

I mixed some self-rising flour, a big tablespoon full of cold leftover oatmeal from another breakfast, a bit of yellow cornmeal, some baking powder and salt, an egg and some milk. I chopped about half a ripe pear and stirred that in, then I coated a griddle with coconut oil.

I spooned the batter out to fry, then sprinkled chopped black walnuts on the pancakes before I flipped them.

I didn't measure the ingredients, but my "recipe" made about four small pancakes. When they were golden brown and done, I topped them with a pat of butter, then I drizzled some mountain honey over them and plowed through them with my fork.

Ummm, they were good.  And I didn't have to wonder anymore how the combination of pear, black walnut and honey would taste.

The flavors were sweetly earthy, grown from the same dirt I came from, and very satisfying.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fun times lighting up the Rivertown

Clay really, really enjoyed the horse-drawn carriage ride today at the Light up the River town event.

He wasn't too impressed with Santa, though.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm loving the muted colors of fall

I don't like it getting dark so early on these late autumn days, but there's something very beautiful about the soft greys and browns of a bare Kentucky landscape.

I like this photo that I took today.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First snow of the season

 It's a bit early for snow here, but we had a pretty dusting this morning.  I stopped and took these two photos on the way to town. The hills look like a winter wonderland, but the roads were clear, so the kids still had to go to school, much to the disappointment of some of them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Evoking "home"

I'm probably nuts, but I'm gonna give it another shot.  I either attempted or completed the National Blog Posting Month challenge the past two years, and I have the itch to try it again.

Never mind that I've already spent approximately 50 hours staring at a computer screen this week.  Never mind that my mind is numb after production day is done at the paper on Tuesdays.

One of the daily prompts said to post a picture that evokes home for you.

That's pretty easy.  It would have to be food--or the hills.  Maybe I'll do one of both, hills and food.

Homegrown home-prepared food definitely evokes home.
And if that doesn't do it, then the sight of these hills in front of the house will.

Note the sugar snap peas growing in the foreground. Maybe, just maybe, they will yield before they freeze.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Chicken man

The leaves hung on longer than usual this year, but the wind and rain stripped many of them away the last day or two.

Still, there are enough bright ones left to make the hills beautiful.

I drove to a place called Crowe Hollow today, where I was told that the last man hung in Estill County on the court house square once lived there.

My plan was to take a few pictures of an Old Time Arts and Crafts Gathering for the paper, and while I was driving between the railroad tracks and the river to get there, I thought how the valley looked like a giant stained-glass bowl with the patch-work hills surrounding me.  

The river bottoms roll on and on along that stretch of two-lane road, filled with soybeans and corn ready to be harvested.

I wish I could have taken pictures between the tracks and the river, but the road is narrow through there and to do so could have been hazardous to my health.

Instead, I got a picture of a sunlit tree.

And here's Chicken Man, with one of his pet Bantams perched on his head.  

Chicken Man said the trick to getting his chickens to obey is to treat them with dried mealworms.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

First trick or treat for this dude!

Cowboy Clay didn't want to wear his cowboy hat...or his cowboy boots...or carry his six-shooter, but he was still stinkin' cute when we took him out trick-or-treating tonight.

I'll have to admit it was a better night for it than last night would have been, with the wind batting the leaves around and howling through the hills...Mmmaybe.

Anyway, we had a good time checkin' out all the other little kiddies in their costumes and just walking around town in the cool fresh air.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First raw days of fall are great for being cozy--and grateful!

I've had a pretty busy day considering it's my day off.

Yes, Wednesdays have become my new weekend since I began this news editor gig at the Citizen Voice and Times.

You see, Mondays and Tuesdays are long days as I finish several news stories and we prepare the paper for sending to the press.  Because these days are so long, the office is closed on Wednesdays.  I'm learning to allow my brain to relax on this day of the week, at least.

One of my favorite ways to restore my mind, body and soul is to spend time in the kitchen--and with Clayton Cash, WHO WILL BE TWO TOMORROW!

Thinking back to a much warmer fall day just before the day Clay was born, we had no idea what a ride his arrival was about to launch us on.

A rollercoaster ride it's been, full of highs and lows and twists and turns. But you know what?  The little booger has been worth every second of pulse-pounding fear and mind-numbing worry.

His irrepressible personality has brought joy and love and delight to so many people.

So, while Hannah and I messed and gommed in the kitchen all day, making pepper jelly and drying apples and cooking a big homegrown supper, I enjoyed the heck out of singing him silly songs while we "worked" and taking plenty of play breaks to read him stories and such.

Clay's rebounding quickly now from that last surgery and the respiratory infection.  He seems to feel good and is obviously happy--and he is no longer throwing up!

These pictures are from his birthday party last Sunday.  

 Yay!  New books!
 A cake by Aunt Pam...
And a big boy who's growing up so fast.

Thank you, thank you, Lord, for every good and perfect gift.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stop and photograph the flowers

We've been very busy in the vegetable gardens, so I hadn't really taken the time to pause and watch the many butterflies that have been feasting from the row of zinnias I planted a few months ago--until today. 

The blooms and flutterbies were so bright, but butterflies are a bit of a challenge to capture because they'll take off about the time you get your camera focused. 

I did manage to snap a few shots that I'm pretty satisfied with, though. 

Here are a few, for your viewing pleasure. 

I was a bit surprised at how many of the butterflies have ragged wings.  I wonder why?  Do they fight amongst themselves?  Did they barely escape the clutches of a mean ol' cat? 

Whichever the case, they are very beautiful!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Three inches of rain, and we've got water everywhere

We haven't had many strong storms this spring, but boy, did we ever have some thunderstorms last night. 

When I went to bed, thunder was rumbling and I woke this morning to lightning and loud claps of thunder. 

I love a good rumbly storm, but some of the thunderclaps sounded too close for comfort.  They rattled our windows. 

After a series of downpours and by the time it was light enough outside to see, the peaceful little brook that runs down the holler and by our yard was wild. 

Now the creek is spreadin out in the valley, and I'm thinking of those poor turkey hens whose nests are getting flooded. 

Nature can be so cruel. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What a difference a week makes

Last Tuesday we had near-record low temperatures of around 25 degrees.  Today, one week later, we're inching toward record highs. 

Kentucky weather is always predictably unpredictable, that's for sure. 

I'm lovin' what the warm days are doing to the landscape, though--as in producing some very welcome COLOR. 

See what I mean? 

                                           I think it beats the heck out of snow.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eat those pesky weeds!

I’ve been reading about all the edible plants, flowers, mushrooms, even tree leaves, that are free for the taking right from our back yards. 

I’ve pulled a lot of henbit, chickweed and dead nettles from my flower beds in times past, and I never once considered that I might be throwing away perfectly good food, but apparently I was.    

Dandelions are considered some of the peskiest weeds in the yard, but every part of them is edible-- blooms, leaves, even the roots. 

Dandelion roots can be dried and brewed to make a coffee-like drink.  The leaves can be mixed with other wild greens and cooked, or they can be mixed with other greens in a salad. 

Tonight I tried frying some of the blossoms, as one of my aunts used to do.     

They weren’t too bad at all—kind of reminded me of fried summer squash, actually. 

I picked a couple of handfuls of the yellow blooms and trimmed away as much of their green stems as I could.

(Try to do your foraging somewhere that you know hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides (but keep in mind that most of what you buy from the store has been sprayed repeatedly.))

I rinsed the flowers in a colander under running water and spread them on a paper towel in the dish drainer to dry. 

A couple of hours later, I dipped the bright blossoms in beaten egg and dusted them with flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper.  I fried some in olive oil and a few in canola oil.  I couldn’t tell a lot of difference in the taste, but the canola oil didn’t overheat as easily. 

Some of the dandelion flowers began to fall apart because I cut too much of the green part away, so I just mixed the egg, flour, cornmeal and a bit of milk into a batter and stirred the dandelions into that.  I poured the batter into a hot oiled skillet and made fritters from those. 

Both the fried blossoms and the fritters were pretty tasty.  I topped a big green salad with the fried dandelions, some green onions and an oil and vinegar dressing.  I garnished the salad with a few fresh violets, which are also edible. 

Not only was the salad fresh and healthy, but I thought it looked very pretty. 

What do you think? 

Have you every foraged for what most folks now consider non-traditional foods? 


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fresh air and sunshine

Finally!  Two straight days to get outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine! 

...and pick some fresh green grass. 
Hurray for spring!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring-colored creek

I've lived near Station Camp Creek most of my life, and I've observed it's many changing shades and colors. 
I've seen it a wild brown torrent, threatening to fill the entire valley floor,  and I've seen it olive green and murky during the dog days of August as it flows low and slow.  
I've seen the waters clear and black in November, colored by tannins leached from fallen leaves. 
This is my favorite creek color.  Turquoise, cold, clear, and fresh. Looks good enough to drink. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Nature makes good use of the muck

The hubby and I, along with our 20-year old daughter and her boyfriend, recently piled into the pickup and headed down the road to a relative’s house to load up a couple of loads of manure from their barn lot. 

When I say load up, I mean scoop with a shovel or lift by large forkfuls.  That equals hard work. Sweat. 

But I think we all kind of enjoyed it.  Anytime someone gives us manure, it’s exciting.

I can just imagine the soil becoming looser, richer and more productive. 

Oh, the tomatoes we’ll grow, the green beans, the sweet corn, the peppers.   

Our hens were pretty excited too, to have opportunity to peck through all that muck after we spread it on our garden spot. 

They get to fill up their bellies, and we get to fill up on their fresh eggs. 

That’s the great thing about living on a farm.  You see that nature never really lets anything go to waste. 
It’s all recycled, renewed and made fresh every season.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We keep planting...

The grass is greening, but not much else. 

The frost was again thick this morning.  I think the temperature was something like 23. 

It's April, still cold, but some crops need to be in the ground, so we planted 168 broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprout plants. 

We also planted two rows of 'red pontiac' potatoes, although there's still no sign of the 'yukon golds' that were planted two weeks ago. 

Robin dug into a row of peas and found some sprouting, so I guess we just have to be patient. 

I am so looking forward to going out to the garden to gather dinner! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Purple martins have come a long way home

We first saw a couple of purple martins here about two weeks ago.  They looked kind of bewildered as they sat in their gourds and looked out at a bleak winter-like landscape.  They were quiet too--not their usual chortling selves. 

I'll bet the poor birds were expecting to see greener grass, and redbuds blooming along the roadsides, and swarms of flying insects to nibble on as they made their way back from their winter home down near the equator. 

Instead, it's been cold and dreary like winter here this March. 

They're probably thinking, We flew to South America to escape all this!

My hubby and I have been a bit worried about them, afraid there won't be enough food to sustain them, or that they'll freeze to death.  They must be tired and weak after such a long journey north. 

The past couple of days more and more martins have arrived and are beginning to settle into the housing my hubby always has waiting for them. 

They sound more upbeat as they glide, chattering and chortling, around their summer digs.

The sun's been shining though, and that makes us all happy.   

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fresh as a daffodil

Okay, I'm going to give this Nablopomo thing another try.  Posting daily will most likely prove to be a challenge as the days get warmer and I find more (and more) to do outside each day.  Still, I like this month's theme.

Fresh.  As in new. Pure. Clean.

Here on the farm, there's a lot of "fresh" to talk about, especially in April. 

What could possibly say fresh like a bouquet of daffodils?

As cold as it's been, it's hard to imagine how such beautiful blooms have flourished, but they have. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Doctor day!

I went with Hannah today to take Clay-bugs to two doctor’s appointments—he saw his pulmonologist and his nephrologist.
As usual, he took everything in with wide eyes, all the way there and back. 

In the waiting room, he did his usual monkeying around to get people to notice him.
He caught the eye of a little girl who sat between her mom and, I presume, her nana. Her mom eventually shared that the little girl had been born with her heart only half developed, that she was on life support for four weeks, and given up to die at one point. 

The little girl made an amazing turnaround and was eventually able to have a heart transplant.  She also has several other serious health issues, but on top of that, she was diagnosed with lymphoma about a year and a half ago. 

Her mom said she’d done remarkably well with treatments for the cancer.  She looked pretty healthy, and was up and about on her own. Like Clay, she’s on prayer lists all over the country. 

She’s a sweet 10-year old with freckles, and her name is Taylor.  I’m definitely going to be keeping her in my thoughts and prayers, as well as her brave momma. 

It doesn’t seem fair that anyone should have to endure so much. 

Clay wasn’t so smiley when we were called back and the nurses tried to get blood pressures.  As soon as they laid him down to measure his length, his feelings were terribly hurt.

The last time he was forced to lay back on an exam table, he got five shots, and he clearly had not forgotten. 

He was in a much better humor by the time the docs came in, though. 
We found that paper towels are a lot of fun when you wear them on your head. 

Both doctors thought he looked great and that Clay's obviously getting great care.  They didn't make any changes, in anticipation of the surgery in March. 

Buuuttt...there are signs that Clay's tummy is straightening out on his own.  He's been tolerating the stomach drain clamped off for long periods of time, and the doc gave the go-ahead to try feeding the stomach through the G-tube! 

Wouldn't it just be wonderful if he didn't have to have the surgery?  We're hoping and praying....

After the appointments, we walked over to Clay’s first home, the NICU of the Children’s Hospital where he spent the first eight months of his life.   

Boy, did strolling that long hall bring back some memories.  I remember so well pacing those halls, worried sick, begging God to help our little grandson make it through. 

What a sweet joy it was to witness him visit with a few of his nurses, to see him smiling and interacting with the ones who worked so hard to keep him with us.  He seemed just as glad to see them as Hannah and I did. 

I wish we could have visited them all—maybe next time!

Sometimes it’s only in looking back that we can see how far Clay has come, but he’s sure come a long, long way since last year. 

Although he was still in the hospital, he was already charming everyone.  He was probably wearing his “Future Heartbreaker” shirt, a Valentine gift from one of Team Clay.

I don't know about "heartbreaker", but he sure warms this Nana's heart--and many others too, I think.   :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A walk to the creek

What a day to load up Clay and his gear in his Radio Flyer All-Terrain Wagon and take a long leisurely stroll! 

Days like this in early February are a treat anyway but especially so when watching Clay’s eyes widen with wonder at all the sights along the way.  Here he spots a bird in the sky...

We started out our walk with Hannah’s dog and two puppies following us, but about half a dozen more joined us.  That’s part of the fun of taking walks in the country.     

Clay enjoyed watching them…and seeing the cows by Grandpa’s fence...and stopping by Grandma’s for a minute…and stopping to let the school bus pass… to say “Hi” to Amy and the twins…then to Grandpa…

Clay’s the most observant little guy.  I guess everything is so new and amazing to him because he doesn’t get out much, but he’s just content to sit and look and soak up the world around him. 

He’s that way at home too--he gets so absorbed in playing with his toys and looking at his favorite books over and over again. 

He’s just one delightful little guy, that’s all there is to it! I’m so thankful to get to watch him learn and grow.  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Takin' my oatmeal from blah to tropical

First of all, I’d like to say welcome back to my ghost town of a blog. 

Secondly, I’d like to announce I have a new love. 

Coconut oil is even better than another old flame, butter.  Although high in fat, it’s a super healthy fat, and it is so soo good.

Homemade chocolate chip cookies are divine when coconut oil is substituted for butter.

I know it sounds kinda weird, but grilled cheese sandwiches are simply scrumptious when grilled in coconut oil. 

I know...but I’m tellin ya…

However!  You have to buy virgin coconut oil--refined, pure, or anything less than virgin just won’t do, as far as flavor goes.  (Trader Joe’s sells a pint of V.C.O.for about six dollars, which is about half what I paid for the same amount at Meijer’s.)

Lately, I’ve been adding a spoonful or two of the creamy stuff to my occasional bowl of oatmeal. 

I’m not a huge fan of oatmeal—I find it rather boring--but I like it this way, especially with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and a few chopped pecans.   

Ummm!  I think this beats the traditional apple and cinnamon dress-up.