Sunflower Afghan

the panels are crocheted in the afghan stitch, then the flowers are embroidered in a cross stitch. It feels good to be working with yarn~

If I can wake up with a project every morning, I am happy. I hope it will be the same all of my life.  When my first baby boy was born, one of the greatest things was to realize I would be totally committed to taking care of  him for years. Having two babies was the best of all projects~ Today is about a sunflower afghan, it took longer than most things, in fact I made two of them, each taking about 3 months. It was so much fun working with all the beautiful colors. I made them in 1969. My friend Billy had showed me how to do the afghan stitch, using a long crochete needle, it was easy to do and made a good background for the embroidery work on the flowers. Once when we were at a school picnic, a teacher saw the one I was working on and wanted to know where to get the thread and pattern. Billy wanted to show her the simple afghan stitch but she was not interested, she said she “already knew how to do it”. So Billy didn’t insist, even though there was a trick to doing it right. Later at the end of school, we saw her handiwork, it looked like a big loosely made fish net and was about 10 feet long.  She told us she realized it was not right but she liked it anyway. It was sure something different~ The two I made were for my boys and  stayed on their beds while they were growing up, I liked the bright colors, it was a decorated place in our house. Much later I showed each of my two little left handed granddaughters, (Stacy Mae and ZZ) how to crochet.  I showed them the  ball of yarn that was no more than a colored string, then had them hold an afghan and see how that string could turn into something beautiful and warm and wonderful. They learned quickly. 

Hydroponic Greenhouse

European cucumbers  are also called burpless cucumbers, they grow 18 or more inches long and are still tender and sweet.

There are several kinds of lettuce   like romaine and butter head, you can pull them out of the trays and put the roots in a glass of water and keep them fresh on the  counter for several days.

Tomatoes and cucumbers grow well in buckets of perlite, there is no dirt or soil involved

Here are a some pictures from the green house at Christoval. Anna and I had been left in charge of it last year (with lots of instructions) when her husband was out of the country for a few weeks. We were growing tomatoes, European cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli and all kinds of greens. She called me one Monday afternoon and said the pump had gone out on the big floor tank and she had called the plumber~ but he couldn’t get there until the next morning. So I loaded the dogs up and went up there and we installed a new pump ourselves and it was working in a matter of minutes. Women can do things, we always read the directions. (canceled the plumber) I will be in charge of the green house for a while this summer, big job. I will also be taking care of chickie town and the peacocks and one sweet little dog. I think I will set up a roadside stand and sell fruit from the orchard, eggs from the chickens and all those fresh vegetables. Or maybe I won’t~

Chicken Shun Gai

Sunday dinner today was an easy one to put together because most of it was ready to go last night. The only thing this morning was stir frying the vegetables, making rice and frying the little chunks of chicken. It all went on the table in about 15 minutes when we got home from church. Easy recipe and a delicious meal with plenty left to take home to enjoy again on Labor Day~

I found a wonderful Chinese cook book (with pictures!) years ago and have tried almost all the recipes in it. This is one of my favorites, in fact all of them are my favorites~

I found a wonderful Chinese cook book (with pictures!) years ago and have tried almost all the recipes in it. This is one of my favorites, in fact all of them are my favorites~

Chicken Shun Gai

Cut up about 3 chicken breasts into small pieces, dip them in a mixture of 1 egg beaten with 1/2 cup of water and then dredged in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry without crowding in a skillet with just enough canola oil to half cover them. You stir to keep them turning over in the oil. Drain on paper towels.

At the same time you can make a simple sauce with 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup soy sauce.1 T sugar 1 1/2 T corn starch. Just mix this up and have it ready.

Chop the following vegetable is nice size pieces:  2 green and  2  red bell peppers, 3 ribs of celery sliced, 1 medium size onion, quartered  and broken apart, then 1 can of pineapple chunks, a can of water chestnuts and 1 cup of cashew nuts. 4 roma tomatoes quartered. (You don’t stir fry tomatoes, just add at the end to warm them). To stir fry put into a wop or large skillet with 3 T canola oil and cook while you stir until the vegetables are tender but crunchy. They need to be crisp~ Now add the chicken, tomatoes and sauce which you have given a big stir with a spoon before adding it. It will thicken in just a minute or two and your are done.

I cook about 3 cups of rice and use chicken broth for half of the liquid.

 

Shopping in Kenya

Please excuse the mistakes on this blog, I couldn’t get the strange letters between pictures to disappear. Maybe it didn’t like the toilet pictures~

As you can see, there are a few chickens in the cages. I saw several people carrying chickens in town, they just held their legs and they stayed calm.

There are shops all over Kitale, if you want  produce you will need to find a different store for each item. The egg place sells eggs, it is usually right beside several other egg places. The eggs we bought were always fresh and the shells were hard, no cracked eggs~then the meat market might be by the tattoo parlor, barber shop, or even beside the choo (public toilet).

The men’s toilet was  more simple than the lady’s. Two things that desperately  need fixing in Kenya are lack of sewer systems and the roads. I feel for them~

 

I

here is a typical ladies toilet. The blocks are  to stand on, not  sit, you figure it out. Only once did I need to use such a facility and that was a disaster.

few if any refri

Si

Since there are no refrigerators or ice boxes food must be bought daily. and in small quantities. There was a place that sold dry beans, seeds and maize. They had big sacks with the tops rolled open to scoop the grain out and weigh it. That day there was a roaming street chicken in one of the sacks, scratching and eating, she had found the meal of a lifetime. The store owner didn’t even shoo her away, he just kept sweeping the sidewalk. I shivered and kept walking.

This next little shop was on the street near Mili Mani, the man carried a variety of things  from eggs, to batteries, phone minutes, sugar cane, jars of nuts and soda pops. (I wondered about tobacco, I never saw anyone smoking the whole time we were there).

This man’s little shed was a going business. He always had customers. I noticed people adding minutes to their cell phone. Nearly every store in town sold phone minutes.

 

these girls were all fixed up. I saw a woman in the clothing market sitting on the floor behind a bench and she was not happy at all. I passed by later in the afternoon and she was still there, and still very upset. Then I noticed that she was having her hair braided in tiny dreadlocks and I am sure it was very painful.

Here is a beauty parlor, there were a lot of these. In the slums, most people have their head shaved, it is hard to tell if the children are boys or girls, except the girls wear dresses. The more affluent women have longer beautiful hair or wear a wig, whether or not they have hair they are all pretty, tall and slender, and have beautiful smiles. A surprise was the car dealerships, mostly Toyota and Nissan, their lots were filled with a big inventory of vehicles. There were a lot of motor bikes for sale. I liked them, they were whisper quite.  I thought the people were quiet too, they spoke softly and were friendly and pleasant. I am just about to the end of my adventure in Kenya , thank you for staying with me. I will have to find something else to write about now. 

Miniature Attic Room Restored

this room is for relaxing, snacking, and painting. It was one of the most fun to make and to restore, it had everything except my sewing machine~

Today I am showing the miniature attic room. It is also the painting room. I never had an art studio even though Dan wanted me to have one when we were building our house. I liked to paint on the kitchen table in the middle of family life. I would work for several hours after the boys went off to school, then put everything away to cook dinner. It was always nice to start out with a clean space again.

The sandwich here is 40 years old. (I have since made a fresh one), my favorite~ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce on soft bread~

Back to the attic room, there is a real card game going on, and place for someone to have a ham sandwich, bag of Fritos and a Coke.

In real life, I never used an easel or stool, I propped the canvas on my lap and painted at the kitchen table, I usually had a Dr. Pepper that lasted me all day~

Then a place with all the things I needed to paint pictures. The paint box has lots of tiny tubes of paint, brushes, turpentine, and yes it is a mess just like in real life. A stool, paint rag, pallet, and easel with a work in progress.

Finally a cozy bed, I like beds. I had lots of good feelings when I was restoring this room~

Hanging Out With The Boys

The boys were always nice to have Dan go along with them, here they are at Hulldale, one of ther favorite spots~ just 14 miles north of town~ 

These two young friends liked to stomp around out at Hulldale in the summer between college semesters. Dan was always welcome to go along, he had the pickup, he knew the combinations on the gates, and he always carried plenty of cold water.

On the top of the Delaware Mountains,  you could walk half a mile and stand on the rim, and see a hundred miles into the valley~beautiful and awesome place. That is the  magnificent Guadeloupe Peek in the distance

Another place to hang out was in the Delaware Mountains in West Texas. Dan was welcome to come too, he brought his own car in case Matt’s pickup had a problem. (and it did). There were no cell phones or mobile phones back in the 1980’s. Bad to be 70 miles from the nearest town, which was Van Horn. Several times the truck got stuck in a ravine.

Here is Matt, digging himself out of a hole, just know he was getting plenty of advice~

this was a bad place to have a blowout, Dan drove to Van Horn for a new tire. these were summer time troubles, during Christmas Holidays one year it was almost a disaster~

The really bad time was being stranded for 5 days in one of the worst snow storms ever, so bad the interstate between Fort Stockton and El Paso was closed. There was no way to get them out during the storm, it was a scary time for those of us back home.(my worst  nightmare) The former Sheriff (Mr.Upchurch) from Van Horn flew his plane out to look for them but couldn’t locate the camp. Our sheriff here in Eldorado  got two other men and they headed out to Culberson County to see what they could do. Finally after trying for several days, the old ranch foreman was able to drive his bulldozer through miles of snow to reach them. They said when they heard him coming, they were yelling and celebrating. Cabin fever had almost done them in~

Miniature Swing Set

The real barn had a child size bed, table and small refrigerator  for ZZ’s playhouse. (this miniature swing set is 4″ tall)

I made the real table, which washed away in the same flood that took the River Mouse. It would seat 8 people, with two stumps on the end to use as seats. This miniature is 1 3/4″ tall~

This is a miniature copy of the swing set at Camp Rock. (I didn’t make the trailer, it was a gift from Dan and Debbie). The barn is a copy of one Dan built, ZZ helped him by handing him each nail, one by one that went on the roof. There is the picnic table like the one I built that washed away. I bought the real swing set at Lowe’s and put it together.  It came in several heavy cartons full of pipes, seats, chains and a thousand nuts and bolts. I laid it all out on the ground, opened up the instructions and it said, ‘have your helper hold the first leg steady as you connect it to the horizontal top bar’. Well,the only helper around was my little dog Spook. One of these things can be assembled by one person because I did it that day. (a hard job) When it was finished, it was worth it. Our kids came for vacation from Albuquerque the next day, and ZZ had stars in her eyes when she saw it. She spent the next two weeks on the slide or a swing or sitting in the glider with her dog and her stuffed toys, she was three years old. I see swing sets in people’s back yards that are a piece of work. They have climbing walls and bridges, curved slides, ladders up to a landing  on top with a flag flying. They are made of redwood and and likely very expensive. I know it would take more than your dog to help put one together. But what a nice thing to have when your kids are growing up, it should last forever. When I grew up, we were lucky if we had a tree big enough to hang a rope swing. Ours was across the street in Grandmother’s yard. You could sit in it and have someone wind you up and spin until you were sick. You staggered out of that swing drunk as a skunk~

 

Spaying and Neutering Pets

Getting a dog spayed is what a responsible person does. The world doesn’t need two litters of puppies from their dog every year to add to the pet population. So many precious dogs end up in the pound and don’t find a home. Most of our pets have either come from the pound or were abandoned on our road.

this was the day after Spook got fixed, she was in pain and miserable, I felt terrible for her, it made me cry~

This is Spook, I have written about her before because she was such a fine little dog, she made me happy for almost 19 years. The day we found her on the Mertzon road was in early 1980. The following week I took her to Sonora to have her fixed. It was a horrible experience, she was miserable for several days, she was in so much pain. 

Spook turned into the sweetest and happiest little dog ever, she was the perfect one

She recovered and didn’t seem to dwell on her first days at her new home. Later, when we took our dogs  to have them fixed, the procedure was easy and they didn’t seem to suffer any pain.

Schatzie was a baby girl from the pound, she helped drive home after her surgery

 

(Dan and Debbie had Schatzie fixed at Ronnie’s and she sat up in his lap going home and helped him drive the pickup, same with Kobi, he helped with the driving.) 

 

 

here is Kobi with Missy, he was straight out of the pound that day, what a little prize!

the only trama with Jitter Joe was my fault, I am so so sorry Sweetie~

Now with Jitter Joe, it was 11 years ago and I had an appointment with Ronnie to get him fixed and decided to ‘shave’ him myself because he was used to me and didn’t mind me grooming or working on him. In a little while, he started scooting on the carpet and licking himself and I saw that he was all red and irritated where I had done my thing. It got so bad, I called Ronnie’s office to see what I should do and they said to put antibiotic cream on him. Poor baby! I took him the next day to get fixed and they were rolling their eyes up there, inside his whole hindquarter, shaved slick. When I brought him home, I saw that they only had to make a tiny half inch incision in his abdomen and all the shaving I had done was for nothing. Anyway, the good thing is that spaying and neutering doesn’t cause our pets any distress, they are just a little sleepy  afterwards. At church the next Sunday, Scott McGregor told me he had heard the story about ‘my dog’~  word got around~  

World’s Smallest Office

Hello, for the next few days I am going to be busy and will just take a break from texasmornings while I catch up on work. I will try to be back with something new and interesting later. I will be posting some re-runs until then. Thank you always for clicking on my blog. Prayers for all of those who have been wiped out by the hurricane. It has touched us all.

These were my helpers Jitter Joe Marci and Missy

These were my helpers Jitter Joe Marci and Missy

Here are three of my dogs, this picture was taken in 2006 in the world’s smallest office. I got T4C to build me a little 6′ X 8′ building, I painted it barn red, trimmed it in taupe and the roof was hunter green. It was an exciting project.  I built two desks out of 1″ birch plywood and it had insulated windows, a ceiling fan, and also an air-conditioner. It had a small heater  but didn’t need one since the computers kept it warm. 

Almost finished except for the screened door and the deck, three more days and all done

When it was finished, there was space for two people working in there with         two computers, printers, scanners and 19 feet of shelving on the walls, enough storage room for all their business.This project took about two months but was one of my favorites. It was like building a play house. My dogs liked it too. 

I get tired sometimes, this was that time. And it was worth it~

What a thrill the day my kids moved home and saw it for the first time. It was sitting at our camp on the South Concho River near Christoval,  they used it until they were able to build their new home. Now it has been moved to it’s permanent place in the middle of Chickie Town and the Peacock Palace and the Bean Barn and the orchard. I never get over the feeling of excitement going inside that fine little place. Wonderful memories live here.

Moist Rich Carrot Cake

with pineapple, raisins and toasted pecans, then the tart lemon icing, this cake is wonderful~

I can just think of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake and I want to start singing~ It is good to have something sweet in the freezer when the cravings hit you. This cake is easy to make and easy to eat, you don’t even need a plate and fork.

Carrot cake is one of the best cakes around. It is moist and full of flavors. The lemon icing makes it extra special. It is one of the easiest cakes since you dump it all in the bowl and mix it up. When you are taking it out of the pan, run a sharp knife around the edges and then shake it loose from the sides before you flip it out on to a rack. Put wax paper under the rack to catch any icing that drips.

CARROT CAKE

Heat oven to 350 degrees

2 c sugar
1 c Canola oil
3 eggs
1 flat can crushed pineapple (drained)
2 c grated carrots
1 c white raisins
1 tsp vanilla
2 c coarsely chopped pecans (toast in microwave about 2 minutes, stir after a minute)
1 c shredded cocoanut
Beat this all together in mixer

Mix next 5 ingredients together and then pour into first mixture..
3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp soda

Spray bundt or tube pan with Pam. Pour in batter. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, test with a tooth pick for doneness .
Cool for about 10 minutes then carefully remove from pan onto wire rack.

Lemon Icing
Grate lemon peel,
squeeze juice from one lemon into small bowl
¼ tsp lemon extract
1/8 tsp vanilla
Mix  with 2 c powdered sugar.
Drizzle or spread on top and sides of warm cake
(this cake freezes well)

The Wonderful Jujubee

Every seed will sprout that is left on the ground

The leaves are a bright shiny green and almost look lacy. These three trees are over 40 years old and about 35 feet tall. Before I got them started, I noticed someone down the road had them in their back yard and they shared with me until mine were producing.  I found where they kept their leaf rake and would clean up the stuff on the ground before I left~

I grew up with Jujubees. The kids called them ‘chu chus’ and that was the name that stuck. Granddad Christian had an orchard in his yard and it was like the Garden of Eden. Every kind of tree you could imagine and vines with grapes and lots of berries. It was almost like he found a nursery  catalog and bought one of everything. The favorite of mine was the chu chu tree. It was easy to climb and I could even get up on the roof of the house from there. It produced fruit every year and lots of it. You could eat a sack full and not get sick.

whatever falls on the ground the deer eat, seed and all~

I can eat them when they are small and green, then they get sweeter as they get speckled. They  are ripe when they turn brown. That is when they are really sweet but they will only be at their best for a few days  after that.

Jujubees are small fruit and are crisp and sweet. They have a seed like a date except it is not split. It is one of the oldest trees and grows all over the world. It originated in Asia. A tree is easy to grow and produces fruit after about five years. They are hardy, they grow in almost all climates except for extreme cold. Seeds that drop on the ground sprout and make more trees so soon there is a thicket. Mine are in the yard and that is not a problem because the sprouts get mowed down with the grass.

The limbs are gnarled and rough. The younger trees have thorns`

The limbs are gnarled and rough. The younger trees have thorns. When I mow the grass and go under the tree, I grab a few and reward myself as I make another round. (I have a friend Becky who rewards herself with a can of cold beer when she mows~)

I have managed to have chu chu trees for most of my life, planting them wherever I lived. Now what to do with them except eat them fresh, they can be dried like a date and canned and all sorts of things people try but I think they are better for eating fresh.

nice

After a couple of days on the counter, they start to get soft and are not as good. Four or five days and they start to shrivel up like an old lady. I throw them back under the tree for the deer that night.

this is the size of the fruit

They can make a mess when they fall from the tree but the deer come in the yard at night and eat every single one, seed and all. They love them! I love the deer, there was a mother and a small fawn out there today enjoying the fruit.

This mother has been coming with her baby for several weeks. I put corn out for the deer and turkeys every day and then birdseed for the quail, doves and small birds.

This mother has been coming with her baby for several weeks. I put corn out for the deer and turkeys every day and then birdseed for the quail, doves and small birds. 

Thank you for clicking on my blog. It is fun when I see that someone from the Ukraine is following it, also Kenya and especially from San Angelo~

Texas Peach Orchard

In West Texas, a fruit tree does better on a hill than in the low spots. A  late frost in the spring, usually settles in the lower places and can kill many of the blooms ~

This is about a new peach orchard in Christoval, it is small, only 12 trees that they put in five years ago. (remember, 2011 was the year of one of Texas’ worst droughts, no rain at all, hard time to start this venture) There are two apples, two apricots and the rest are different varieties of peaches. Since it is on a rocky hill up there, dump truck loads of dirt had to be brought in, it is about two and a half feet in new dirt, and the whole orchard is 40×50 feet. The new dirt was fluffy with no rocks and digging the holes was easy. Everything had to be watered daily and every tree has survived except one apple tree is having a problem.  

this Loring peach was one of three that got ripe in June. It was the size of an orange, juicy,sweet and delicious~everyone got a taste

The first peach that year was from the Loring tree and got ripe in June. There were three peaches on that tree, simply delicious.
The Princess tree has lots of peaches which are going to ripen  in a couple more weeks. Anna thinned more than half of them out since the tree was young. It is a sweet white honey peach. Some of the trees were 3 year old bare root, some came in 5 gal buckets, and others were from seeds grown in buckets for 4 years. These seeds were from Granddad Jack’s original old Indian peach trees that he started in 1937, he was well known for his fine fruit trees. He would be happy to know the tradition is still going.  The Indian peach trees had quite a few peaches this year and they are wonderful.

the Princess is a sweet white honey peach, it is freestone. These trees can live for about 25 years, the apricots and apples live even longer.

This year is turning into a great year for the orchard, the first year the trees rest, the second they come alive and the third year they flourish. We call this Anna’s Orchard~They have had a bumper crop of apricots and the peach trees are loaded. The project this year is to improve the soil with compost.                               I have another batch of peach and apricot seeds sprouting in my refrigerator and will be moving them to small buckets to grow until next spring. I ended up giving away about 50 little trees last year. Those trees will have a little sample of fruit next spring so they can see what they have. The first year they bloom you thin out all the peaches except maybe three or four, it will stress the young tree too much if you leave more. After that, you just enjoy a good fruit crop every year~   I have started another bunch of seeds and they are cooling in the ice box. They should be sprouting right away and ready to put in the small pots. They will be ready to give away next spring.