Monday, June 29, 2015

Life is just a bowl of cherries

  This summer is all upside down for us because it's continuing to march on but we feel like we're missing it. We're busy and tired and in a state of confusion in this house. So when the opportunity to return to South Haven to have dinner with friends came up, we took it, and decided to pick cherries while we were there in orchard country.

 It was a picture perfect sunny day. Just the kind of day that makes fruit picking fun. 
We picked ten pounds at $2.00 per pound.  If we bought these in the store we would have paid $5. per quart. That $20. for ten pounds is a lot better than for four quarts.  That's one of the reasons we are pickers of our own fruit.  It's way less expensive, you know exactly what's in the container and it's just fun.
 But now, what to do with ten pounds of sweet cherries?  Last year I had the same problem and after some searching for recipes using sweet cherries I found  a recipe for a sweet cherry sauce.  I made it, it was delicious in the middle of January over pound cake and topped with whipped cream. So today I made more.
 Pitting cherries isn't the most fun I've ever had.  Definitely an outside job and if you can take your clothes off do that, too.  My friends know I would normally choose that route but the mosquitoes are out so I left them on.  Good thing, because in the middle of it all the UPS man came with a delivery. I used a cherry pitter but the juice spit was all over the place regardless of how careful I was.  And careful means slow and I had 3 pounds in front of me.  So.
 Here's what I got for my time.  Come January I'll be happy I did this today.  It's supposed to be eaten right away but you can freeze anything so these went into the deep freeze.

Sweet Cherry Sauce:  recipe found online from Everyday

3 pounds fresh sweet cherries or 2 pounds frozen cherries and one pound fresh
1/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup cherry juice
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2teaspoon vanilla ( I like almond extract better for this)

Remove pits and stems from cherries and place 2 pounds in a small saucepan (you can use the frozen cherries for this step). Add water and sprinkle with sugar. Bring the cherries to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Place a fine sieve over a mixing bowl. Scoop the cherries into the sieve and press the cherries with a spoon to release the juice and pulp into the bowl. Scrape the skins out of the sieve.

Return the juice to the saucepan over medium heat and stir in the lemon juice. Combine the bottled cherry juice with the cornstarch and stir till there are no lumps. Slowly pour this into the saucepan and  gently simmer till the juice reaches the desired thickness.

Just before removing the sauce from the heat, add the remaining one pound of pitted cherries and fold into the sauce. Allow the sauce to return to a boil and immediately remove from the heat. The cherries should retain their firm texture.

Let the sauce cool and pour into jars. Keeps in refrigerator for one week or freeze till January when you need a reminder of summer.

Look who came visiting yesterday!  Does anyone have an idea what kind of turtle this is?  I told PH he could stick his hand down there to see if it was a snapping turtle but he didn't think that was an idea.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

First sleepover

Our first sleep over in the new house.  PH and I decided since it was a nice evening we would go to the beach for supper and evening play.  We used to do that with our kids and why not?  The night was young.

 Yes, indeed, I do intend to use it as a beach blanket.  No one sat on it though, they were too busy exploring.
 If there's something to climb Adelaide will find it.
 Elizabeth and I combed the water line for fossils and we found quite a few.  We couldn't decide if this particular beach didn't have combers on it or the recent rains washed more ashore but we found a lot of crinoids.  Not sure of the spelling but they are prehistoric grasses that have petrified to stones with little holes in the middle.  They are tiny, about the size of a pencil point so you have to have sharp eyes to find them.  She's good at it.
 This is Adelaide's usual fare at Sherman's Ice Cream. A bowl of blue moon ice cream with a side of hot fudge. It was a great evening, everyone was in top form.

We have in this house a small cubby, about four feet square (give or take) and tall enough to need a step stool to reach the top.  The previous owners used it for storing summer chairs. I think the original use was intended to store firewood since it's next to the fireplace.   The girls saw it and immediately claimed it for a club house. The walls are bare plywood and I had the idea of getting old wallpaper books from the stores and choosing pages and pasting them to the walls in a patchwork.  Something to pretty it up.
 This is the before.  Elizabeth was taking down her flowers and notes that she had decorated her cubby with.
 We each took turns rolling paste onto the backs of the sheets we cut out of the books.
 It worked well. While one was rolling paste, the other was putting her sheet onto the wall.

 Adelaide's color choices were bright and mostly blues.  She likes blue.
 That's Elizabeth's cubby with the borders around her work.  She was a trooper, she stuck it out till the end with me, working hard.  Adelaide got tired quicker but she had to climb to the top shelf and it was harder on her.
Elizabeth's choices were much more formal.  She thought they were stunning and we used hers in her cubby and along one whole wall.

We're chillin' with a bowl of popcorn and a movie right now but Adelaide just asked me to read the books we got at the library this morning so I have to go....

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sneak peek

OK, it's about time for a sneak peek to show some before and afters because a couple of rooms can be considered done-ish.  I'm sorry the 'before' pictures are so small, but I took them on my iPad and can't seem to resize them for the computer.  But if you use a magnifying glass you get the idea.
 This is the spare bedroom (for our purposes) on the main floor.  It was painted green and two shades of purple and had decals all over the walls for their little girl.

The room had two double closets so we took the doors off one and took all the shelves out and painted it inside, then slid a full size bed into the space. There are two hanging Ikea lamps that are just adorable and I added twinkle lights around the frame of the closet.  I am losing a sewing room in this move so the other closet holds my stuff and I needed some floor space for a table for the few times I do use a machine. You can see the corner of the table in the far left of the pic.  The single bed fit nicely against the window wall.  We used paint left from the living room of our other house and it was enough to do this room.  Carpet is new throughout the house.  On the wall to your left on the other side of the table is my HAPPY CABINET. 

 I got the bird decals for the beds on Amazon. They're lifelike, not cutesy and I Love them!

This is the master bedroom.  It was painted two shades of army green with dark closet doors and trim. Again two double closets so it really made that wall dark brown.  Curtains throughout the house were dark and heavy.
 We painted it a soft seaglass blue/green.  This is very, very close to the color in our bathroom at the other house and I loved it.  Carpet is a soft, soft blue, closet doors and trim are now white. New windows coming in a week.

Dining room was painted a beige, had brown shelves all around that I thought looked like eyebrows and if they stayed would just be filled with things that needed to be dusted. And your eye went directly to them.  So we took them down. The wall on the very far right (that doesn't show) was painted orange.

 Painted everything white, the walls, windows, trim, etc.  My own hutch in the far left corner balances the built in hutch between the windows.  The previously orange wall on the very far right is now white.  Carpet is a celery green. But look at how just changing the color to white brightens up the rooms!  Friend Laurie was here yesterday and she was shocked at how dark this house is, especially the living room.  She said, "you keep saying it's dark, but this is DARK!"  Yup.  I put a plug-in night light in the living room near our bedroom door and that nightlight never goes off.  Never.

The two bathrooms are a work in progress so far.  Well, one of them is.  And the true transformation will be the living room.  Work on that starts July 2.  Boxes still need to be unpacked and places found for things in those boxes but I'm beginning to feel like letting things go.

I found an antique shop downtown that takes things on consignment and it turns out the owners live across the street from us!  So I need to get that organized in my brain and have them take a look and see if they'll try to sell for me.

Today on my way home I stopped there because I saw this hanging outside the front door.
 I've discovered Tim Latimer's blog and really enjoy what he does with antique quilts.  He seems to find lots of them, rescues and quilts them to give them the life they were supposed to have. You can find his blog at my sidebar, the last one listed. 

I stopped because this was a hexagon quilt top,  1930s fabrics and I have yet to make one single hexie. And I love the 30s fabrics.

As I looked it over I told the woman who was working the shop...."I have this fabric, and this one and this one..." so I wondered if it had been repaired, replaced or made to look old.  Nope. It's all original. The fabrics all have the same texture and feel and when I looked at the back it IS all hand pieced with equal amounts of frayed seams.  So, I gave a very, very, very little bit of money (VERY little bit) and brought it home.

Ta da!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mapmaker's Children

Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

Sarah Brown, daughter of John Brown, is forced to come to terms with her father’s death after the raid on Harper’s Ferry.  She discovers  her talent as an artist can be used to further the cause of Abolition by painting pictorial maps for use on the Underground Railroad.  Smuggled on pieces of cloth the maps are easily hidden in dolls that are sent south .  Some dolls are used to carry medical supplies, messages and the maps.  Sarah embraces her ability to help and keep the route alive.

Unable to have children, Sarah denies herself marriage to the man she loves yet maintains a by today’s standards,  cryptic correspondence with Freddy Hall for the rest of their lives.  What we know of Sarah’s activities is from these letters today.

Eden Anderson and her husband recently purchased Apple Hill House and she finds in the root cellar the porcelain head of a Civil War era doll.  Eden is desperate for children but finds she can’t carry a pregnancy.  Her marriage suffers but Eden finds through the people in the town reasons to focus on something other than herself.  As she comes out of and yet into herself she discovers other ways to love and nurture children.  

The mystery of the doll head is the thread carried back and forth between the stories of Eden and Sarah and we learn much more detail about the ways the Underground Railroad operated.
Sarah Brown is a real person, she was John Brown’s daughter, she did paint picture maps for the Underground Railroad.  That in itself made the story all the more compelling.  This book was provided by Blogging for Books for review