Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cornmeal Fungicide

Cornmeal Fungicide potentially effective on tomato blight...

I'm going to do this this year and add cornmeal to my potted tomatoes. I'll do it again in the fall and next year and then try planting tomatoes in my garden next year.

More Farm Show and Tomato Blight

One of the reasons I love the Farm Show is that it is a benchmark in a bleak winter that assures us Spring is on the way. Everyone walking around the show had one thing on their minds, the coming Spring season.

Unfortunately, there weren't any booths with information on tomato blight and fungicides. During last year's major blight, this is the information I gleaned from Cooperative Extension's articles in the newspaper:

The blight came from tomato plants sold at big box stores that came in from other states.
*Solution* Buy local tomato plants or grow them yourself from seed.

The blight will last a couple of years in the soil.
*Solution* Do NOT plant tomatoes or potatoes in your existing garden plot (other plants seem to be ok there). I am personally planning on putting my tomato plants in pots up on the other side of my house away from the garden and away from any cross winds from the garden.

To help eliminate the blight, use a fungicide. In fact, it is recommended to use a fungicide to not only help your own crop out but to avoid destroying a neighbor's crop and spreading the disease.
*Solution* Not good news for organic gardeners! I'm looking to use as safe a commercially made organic fungicide as possible. Tomato plants must be treated early and often throughout their entire growth. I'm also researching other organic ways to treat not only the plants but the soil in my garden. I heard something about applying cornmeal.

Other ideas some may be able to use are:

If you have a greenhouse, grow them in a greenhouse this year, perhaps even starting plants earlier to avoid the late blight. The blight is spread by the wind and infectious soils. If your plants are sheltered from the wind, they may avoid the blight.

If you do put your tomatoes in a plot, make sure they aren't crowded. Mine always vine out massively and create a sort of mini rain forest that keeps everything so damp under the leaves.

I'm avoiding crazy hybrids (which I usually do) and those silly massively large tomatoes (which I usually do. I prefer romas and heirlooms.)

However, if you're open to it, look for blight resistant hybrids on the market this year.

If you didn't dispose of your tomato plants in the garbage last year (put them in the compost pile or burned them) or if your blighted tomatoes dropped into the soil, look for soil treatments or perhaps even remove and replace the soil in your garden where the tomatoes fell. If you don't have that option, research organic fungi treatments from the soil and avoid planting tomatoes and potatoes in there for a few years.

**If this years tomatoes start showing signs of late blight, remove and bag the plants IMMEDIATELY and dispose of them in the landfill.** While this makes many environmenally conscious people cringe (including myself who'd rather compost) this is a recommended solution to help control and eventually stop the blight. Remember, the blight isn't just hurting you and your few jars of spaghetti sauce and salsa. It is destroying the livelihood of local farmers, people you want to support and not see go bankrupt and sell off their farms to developers). We may have to take a few non-environmentally friendly measures now to ensure a better environment later.

Here is a place I shop for environmentally friendly garden solutions: Gardens Alive

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Farm Show


We spent a great family day together going to the Farm Show today. The children loved sitting in all the machinery. My son loved the combines the best. My daughter loved the John Deere Gators and lawn tractors and the goats. I was hoping to find a booth about fungicides and tomato blight. Hubby looked at some horse trailers.

Eating fair food and walking so much did a number on my preggy legs, though. They're all swollen! Hubby was his usual loving and considerate self and kept making sure I was ok, and boy oh boy does he admire by belly!f

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snowed In

My son LOVES to shovel snow. I wish I got a picture of his oh-so-cute method of picking up chunks of snow and placing them in his little wheelbarrow and dumping them in a snowbank. This picture is from the first storm this week that dumped just over a foot. Yesterday we got another foot. But it's above freezing and rained most the night so we're back down to a slushy foot or so on the ground.
My father is becoming quite the expert bread baker! He gave me a small loaf of his artisan bread which made perfect baked french toast for breakfast. I lined the sides of the dish with sliced apple. It was sooooooooo tasty! And yes, I am not shy of butter. :)
My son's letter of the week is M so yesterday we made a construction paper Mailbox and a construction paper John Deere place Mat. He really liked writing out postcards on brown construction paper and placing them in the mailbox (via slits cut in the front).

Nothing like the beautiful artistry of nature and florals in the midsts of snow and mud! Go to my blog at http://allthingsfeminine.blogspot.com to enter the giveaway to win this vintage photo album.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Revamping Cookbook Collection


Last night I watched "Julie and Julia." The recipes both ladies were cooking looked and sounded so good! Today I started thumbing through some of my cookbooks and noticed how so many of the recipes I already knew or weren't ones I found appetizing. Sorry, but recipes that include "onion soup mix" or "can of refrigerator buiscuts" just don't appeal to me. Not only are they discustingly unhealthy (MSG, high sodium and trans fats anyone?) but it's just not my taste.

I think I may add "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" to my wish list and once I go through it I may eliminate a few of my cookbooks.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

I reworked my cobbler recipe to make a healthier version:

I used my own canned rhubarb and strawberries which are canned in less sugar than store-bought strawberries. (I've never seen store-canned rhubarb). The fruit was thickened with arrowroot flour which is healthier than corn starch and imparts a nice flavor. The mix was then sweetened with 1 packet of Stevia in the Raw.

As for the biscuit topping, I reduced the butter from 2/3 cup to 1/2 a cup. I also reduced the sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup. Molasses and maple syrup were added to complete the missing refined sugar. Whole Wheat Graham flour, oats and flax seed replaced the white flour in the original recipe.

It is baking now, so the taste test will be for later.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Facebook and Breastfeeding


Apparently if you post a picture of yourself or someone else breastfeeding an infant on facebook, facebook considers it obscene and deletes it. If you continue to post such pictures, you'll be removed from facebook. However, facebook does allow the use of provocative photographs of women (and men) in their advertisements that show up on the sidebar.

Breastfeeding is not obscene. That being said, I am not one to "let it all hang out" when I nurse my babies. I do believe some discretion and modesty should be observed while breastfeeding, but not to the hindrance of mother and child. I'm sorry, but when it is 90 degrees outside, I am NOT sticking my infant under a smothering blanket to nurse. I will turn my back to the crowd and be as discreet as possible. The best way to sum it up is that I try to respect the feelings of others when I nurse, but if you happen to catch a glance of something, oh well. My baby eating is far more important than your possible embarrassment.

That being said, I have no plans of ever posting a picture of me breast feeding on facebook, especially if it shows "stuff." But that's just me. I'm just opposed to the hypocrisy that breast feeding is obscene but a close-up shot of a scantily clad female's "lady bits" for the purpose of advertising lazer hair removal isn't.

Yeah, yeah....so I'm a bit prudish....better prude than rude. :b

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday's Baby Thoughts

Sleeping in didn't go so well when I felt little feet press into my back and heard, "Mommy, it's morning. I'm hungry."

My husband and I are so excited about our baby boy joining our family in June or July! There were plenty of whoops for joy. You know, it's funny how special boys and girls are in their own unique ways. We can rejoice at the coming of a son. We can rejoice at the coming of a daughter. We can rejoice at the changing family dynamic, and altered roles (daughter will be a big sister!).

I'm looking forward to hauling those boxes of baby boy clothes out of storage, laundering them (they haven't been used in 4 years!), folding them neatly and placing them in their drawers. I'm looking forward to all the changes I'll have to do in the house to get it baby ready again.

Hubby's looking forward to having a tiny baby curl up on his chest again for a nap.

Our son is always asking about the baby. Our daughter is fairly clueless, but I have noticed her caring more for her baby doll.

Oh, so much to look forward to!

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's a boy!!

Our little boy is doing very well and all the tests came back fine!

The Wee Hours


You can buy this print at www.art.com "Dog Nap"

Here I am suffering (though it isn't much of a suffer at this point) from pregnancy (and possibly one too many slices of homemade pizza) induced insomnia. I don't mind. At least not now. I was able to get a head start on a few things for the day. I know I am excited about today because today is my ultrasound day! Yes, I am going to play peek-a-womb and find out who God put in my belly. We tend to name our children on ultrasound day, not when they're born.

That is all the thoughts I have for now. I will be on later today to announce whether I am having a boy or a girl, so stay tuned!

Caroline, if you'd like to contact me, please leave your e-mail in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent: Day One


You can order this print at www.art.com

This is what I did for Day One:

1. Woke up early and read Psalm 96 and prayed.
2. Exercised for half an hour.
3. Made smoothies for my kiddos for breakfast.
4. Colored and colored and colored with my children. We colored a LOT today!
5. Did some decluttering and tidying up along with some regular chores.
6. Read Psalm 96 to my children.
7. Prayed for those in need.
8. Wrote thank-you notes to two families who recently had us over for dinner.
9. Wrote to my state government to help a friend support a cause.
10. Went over finances and recreated a budget.

It may not seem like much, but my feet have really been dragging in all the areas listed. I hope that each day will show continual improvement.

My beloved husband got my an anniversary gift of a journal. He knows what a journal freak I am. Besides having two blogs, I have two journals; one for daily thoughts and one for sermon notes and prayer reminders. The journal he gave me is extra special to me because on the cover it says, "Love the Life You Live." That is a sentiment I needed to see in print! Let's just say it's been a long winter. I only wish I could use the journal now, but I already have two just started this new year. It's nice to know when I fill out at least one of them I'll have this one on stand-by.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lent for this unobserver


My denomination does not observe Lent. This year, though, I feel compelled to. I think it is a fine reminder and time of year to work towards sanctification and remember what Christ did for us. While some objectors may say that we should do this every day of the year, I have to agree with them but the fact is life keeps us pretty occupied and we are only human. Sometimes it is nice to set aside a time, as a church body, to remember and work towards a better Christian walk. No, we are not saved by works, but works are still important. They don't necessarily earn us "brownie points" at the Pearly Gates, but our Christian walk doesn't end with the sinner's prayer. It begins.

Lent can be seen as a bit of joke to others. "I'm giving up chocolate for Lent" is the common phrase. For some, perhaps this is a bit of a sacrifice. I'm not going to judge. While I have a limited understand of Lent, I would think "giving something up for Lent" should be somewhat of a sacrifice and something towards the betterment of yourself.

I've decided to use the Lenten time to actively and determinedly give up the pregnancy blues I've been dealing with. While we can't necessarily change our hormones to make us feel better, we can make up our minds to do the best we can to work beyond that. Within that, I plan on spending more quality time with my children and my home, my Bible and my prayer closet. I plan on less TV and DVD's. I plan on less internet time, though I'm not giving it up altogether for the season. I find too much support, love and edification to give it up. All of this is to garner a better relationship with my God, my family and myself as a housewife.

What are you doing for Lent? How do you observe Lent? I'm particularly interested in how it applies to different denominations. Let me know in the comments section.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reading and Recipes

Of all the subjects I can teach my children; of all the years of education before them, the most daunting task for me is teaching them to read. Reading is the foundation on which they build every other aspect of their education. Not only do I want them to learn to read and read well, but love reading and enjoy exploring books.

Now, for the recipes I promised:

Lemon Buttermilk Pie

Make a single layer pie crust, prick the bottom and bake it at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Whisk 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, zest from 1/2 a lemon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Add 4 large eggs and beat until combined. Whisk in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, juice from 1/2 a lemon and 1 cup buttermilk.

Pour into crust and bke for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until filling is se, but still jiggly in the middle.

I prefer it served chilled.

Carob No-Bake Cookies

(Now keep in mind that this isn't a definitive recipe. I kind of just cobbed together the carob no-bakes and can't remember exactly what I did, so hopefully this'll work for you.)

Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, 1/2 cup peanutbutter and 2-3 tablespoons carob powder. Mix well then mix in around 2 1/4 cup oats (give or take). Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Shape, if need be. Let them cool completely then carefully transfer them to a plate and store in the fridge so they don't get gooey.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This and That in Pictures

My sweet little girl was "cleaning" the house for me this morning using a doggy toy! She went all around wiping walls, frames, chairs, doors and cabinets with the plush toy, so proud of her housekeeping skills.

I love these gloves/mittens. They're fingerless gloves with mitten covers. With much use the began to fray and wear thin in spots. After all, they are my work gloves for shoveling snow and loading the outdoor boiler with wood. I tried replacing them but couldn't find any! So, a trip to one of my scrap fabric bins to find a bit of gray wool solved my problem. I now have sturdy patches and can continue with my favorite work gloves.

In this day and age I find that a lot of people look down upon mending. They'd rather just toss it out and buy new. I'm guilty of this, too in many circumstances. This is one of the reasons why whenever I start a mending business I'm lucky to get 2 or 3 customers a year and they're usually farmers or laborers who need heavy-duty Carhartts mended and I just don't have a strong enough machine for that. I have repaired horse blankets and hand-sewed leather patches on chainsaw pants before. But what of missing buttons, an unraveled hem, a zipper in a skirt that needs replacing?

Now, as for asked for recipes, the carob no-bakes I kind of just threw together using two recipes as a guide. The lemon buttermilk pie recipe I don't have on hand right now, but an internet search should pull one up. I'll try to post it another time.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Goodies

My first attempt at Carob No-Bake cookies and I must say they were soooooo good. My son kept sneaking them. Then again, so did I!

I made a Lemon Buttermilk Pie for hubby for our Anniversary.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Reading


You can buy this print at www.art.com Mrs. Cassatt Reading to Her Grandchildren by Mary Cassatt.

It was quite a difficult last few months and I fell off the bandwagon of reading regularly to my children. While I waited for healing and general improvement, I relied on the electronic babysitter (the television) just to make it through the day with my two young children. While I see nothing wrong or harmful with this method during the difficult days of an acute illness, the length of time I relied on the TV to keep my children nearby and entertained was too long. There have been some negative outcomes of it.

I do believe in the importance that Classical Education puts on reading to young children. Granted, I'd rather fill their ears with the cadence of Dr. Seuss or the sweet language of Winnie the Pooh, but Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank are the books of choice these days. I did try to read them a chapter a day of Elsie Dinsmore, but I couldn't make it through without crying and scaring my son.

It is nice to be reading to them again.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bits of Pink Around the House

Once again I apologize for the poor quality photographs. I'm still waiting on that new digital camera. Despite, I hope you enjoy the bits of pink around my house.


This is my mom's Amy doll dressed in a sweet pink dress with white sheer apron.

Some of my collection of Victoria February Magazine back issues.

I couldn't pass up this pink tissue box! I'm just glad I had a coupon for it.

What belongs more in pink than a little girl? Here's my daughter dressed in a flannel nightgown I made her recently.

Pink flowers were a must for me. This winter has been so bleak with it's khakis and whites. The local grocery store had African Violets on sale. I wanted ones that were strictly pink, but all they had left were white ones, except for this lone one with pink ruffles around it's white center.

I browsed ebay looking for vintage pink linen toweling fabric, but I really didn't want to spend the money. I remembered that I had some pink linen stashed away. I dug it out and fashioned this kitchen towel with some embroidery floss I had on hand. All it cost me was time.

I put a button hole in one corner so the towel could hang on the hook quite easily.

My dress form wears a vintage 1950's Barbie-pink two piece double breasted satin suit. I LOVE this outfit, but it doesn't fit me. The hips are unbelievably narrow in the skirt. I simply can't bear to give it up, though. Some day I may copy a pattern off of it and reproduce one to fit me.

If you're sick of the pink already, I promise after Valentines Day I'll change it. :)

Not so Fruitless Trip to Goodwill


Yesterday, I did not find a single nice thing at Goodwill in the maternity department. Unfortunately, I live in an economically depressed area with few choices for shopping and a high statistic for overweight individuals. The pickings at Goodwill can be quite slim. Most of the maternity clothing was over sized, out dated, well worn, too summery or just plain ugly.

However, I did manage to scoop up this vintage dress!

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Day for Mom

I'm looking forward to today! My mother-in-law is coming over to babysit my sweet babies so I can run my usual weekly errands. I usually take my children with me, but I gave hubby my SUV because it's more reliable for the long distances he has to travel for work, so I have his little regular cab pick-up. Being preggers, it is tremendously difficult to maneuver a toddler and preschooler into and out of their carseats several times as I go from place to place, especially when the toddler protests and arches her back so it makes it harder to seat her. So, I've been relying on the kindness of my family and church family to watch the kiddos so I can get things done.

I am making a special stop to the Goodwill Store to look for maternity dresses, too.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Jubilee Wax


Do you remember Jubilee Wax? That stuff was fantastic! I even liked the smell! Unfortunately, it is discontinued. I called S.E. Johnson and they confirmed that it is no longer being made or sold. Why!? I've tried every other thing on the market, but nothing gets crayon marks off of walls and doors better than Jubilee Wax. I know because I have a little left in an ancient bottle and my son and I just went through the house doing crayon damage control after my daughter wreaked havok with Crayola Green, Purple, Red and Seafoam.

For those who are lamenting with me, there is hope-or at least I hope there's hope. Click on this link:
http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/browse/Home/For-The-Home/Household-Cleaning/Household-Cleaners/Old-Fashioned-Kitchen-Wax-Set-of-2-Bottles/D/30100/P/1:100:1030:10340:101090/I/f11228?evar3=SEARCH
and you'll find a similar product. I plan on buying it and giving it a try. I'll post a review when I get it. If you have used this product, please let me know what you thought of it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Visit With the Girls


Tea Party by Melinda Byers Buy this print at www.art.com

Today I was so generously offered to bring my children and myself over for lunch to a friend's house. It was so nice after a time of illness to get out and just enjoy the company of ladies. We chatted the early afternoon away after dining on a fine chicken soup and bread and butter. My husband asked me what we discussed and I told him, "mostly girl stuff you wouldn't want to hear." It was true. Weather certainly wasn't a topic of choice, but health was! Tee hee!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Pink

No, this doesn't mean I'm having a girl. I don't know yet. I'm just all about pink these days! As Valentine's Day approaches, I'm filling nooks and crannies of my house with pink. Pink in abundance is not too welcomed in the house by hubby. We both believe that a man should not have to endure living in a totally frilly, feminine domain. (If a man does, the wife should at least provide him with a nice man cave/den/study to escape to.) The main idea of decorating is a joint effort on hubby and I's part. The little removable add-ons are my area. "After all, " hubby says, "you're the one who lives here 24/7."

I'm not sure if my pink kick is going to last only until Valentine's Day or all the way through February. I'll be posting pictures of all the pink things going on in the house.