Thursday, May 31, 2012

'Maters and More!

We had a wonderful rain Monday night, nearly 2 inches at my house here on Granny Mountain. Much appreciated since everything was really getting stressed. The hostas were just glorious after the rain, green and lush.

It was short-lived, the next morning I go out and something is different... I now have Hosta Sticks. Sometime during the night the deer have made a visit to the "salad bar." 

This year we had sprayed the plants with a commercial product that has Capsacin oil from red and black peppers. I had bought it mainly to spray on the sunflower seeds to deter the squirrels from eating them all in one sitting...  

You can see how well it worked. Evidently the deer and squirrels on our mountain like it spicy!

I think (I have my fingers crossed) that this mesh fencing may allow us to finally grow some tomatoes, peppers and squash this year. We attached it to the back of the fence and used landscape pins to secure the bottom.

When the cantaloupe and watermelon vines get a little bigger, they will escape the confines of the mesh so they may be short lived. The deer left them alone one year and we were able to have a bumper crop of pumpkins. The following year they ate them all. If food is scarce for them, they simply make do with whatever they can find. 

You can find the mesh rolls at your local Farmer's Co-op, I sure hope this works. It's really the only place in our yard that gets any sun at all... one of the drawbacks of living on wooded property. 

This is the lone hosta left in the yard, it's probably not long for this world! I could put a laundry basket over it but that kind of takes the beauty away~

The deer will leave some things untouched, Astillbe and the Solomon's Seal below are safe. They must be poison or taste awful because they are never bothered.

See the hosta sticks behind this Solomon's Seal?

It's a challenge every year to grow anything, but that doesn't mean I give up! 

I've just accepted that the deer live here and we container garden on the top decks where they can't reach.
I have big plans for this tomato as soon as it's ripe!
If you look forward to that first 'mater sandwich every summer, you will love THIS.

I saw on AgWeb this week that caterpillars, garden web worms and slugs are doing the same kind of overnight damage to gardens. Listen HERE to a short clip that gives some great advice on how to prevent loss. Their best advice is to check your gardens daily and use Intrepid or Tracer and stay away from any sprays that have pyrethrins at this stage of growing. 

In the Kitchen this week... a recipe for a Fresh Corn Tomato Cheddar Pie, oh my! All my favorite things all rolled into one, go HERE for the recipe!

Get out this week and plant something, it will make your corner of the world a nicer place to be! Re-use a past-it's-prime wagon for your herb garden, add old fashioned charm with a rusty iron fence or 
re-purpose an oil can from Dad's shed into a birdhouse. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peanut Butter #CrissCross# Cookies

Simple goodness, it doesn't have to be fancy to be good. Grandmas all over the world know this, that's why we have our pantry stocked with Jello and graham crackers and popcorn! Summer is here and EZ-cooking mode has been adopted. Meat is grilled, sides are salad, baked potato or corn on the cob and Life.Is.Good.

Peanut Butter #Crisscross# Cookies
1 stick of butter (8 Tablespoons), room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350. . 

Cream together butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla then stir in the eggs and peanut butter. Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt until blended (I use a dinner knife like Grandma did to stir up cookie or bread dough, it's the secret to not over mixing). 

Drop by tablespoon-sized balls onto a cookie sheet that's been sprayed with Pam or lined with a Silpat, 2 inches apart. Press the balls with a fork making a crisscross pattern. Bake for 8-10 minutes then cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes, trying your best not to eat them and burn your tongue!  Makes about 2 dozen cookies, but if you plan to give these as a gift you'd better make a double batch to allow for "snitching!"

Note:If you want to be really bad, add 1 cup of chocolate chips for a peanut butter and chocolate cookie!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is Me

My Grandmother was the keeper of family history. Her love of genealogy joined with her love of history compelled her to record everything that happened in the town of Lead Hill, Arkansas. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, those who moved in and those who moved away... it's all there in notebooks, clippings from the paper, and documents.If you've thought about searching for family history, it's as easy as getting on the Internet these days. Lots of sites out there to guide you. One of the best ways to start is by asking your oldest living relative, before it's too late, to help you fill in the blanks. I found this list last week with 50 Questions for Family Historyan easy to fill out "form"... kind a Cheat Sheet for you! Questions that will help you to make your own family history. Sit down with your Grandparents, or an Aunt or Uncle and just start, don't put it off any longer! 

  1. What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?
  2. When and where were you born?
  3. How did your family come to live there?
  4. Were there other family members in the area? Who?
  5. What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
  6. Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  7. What is your earliest childhood memory?
  8. Describe the personalities of your family members.
  9. What kind of games did you play growing up?
  10. What was your favorite toy and why?
  11. What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  12. Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
  13. Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
  14. What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?
  15. What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  16. Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
  17. Who were your childhood heroes?
  18. What were your favorite songs and music?
  19. Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?
  20. What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?
  21. Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
  22. Who were your friends when you were growing up?
  23. What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
  24. Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
  25. How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
  26. How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
  27. Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
  28. What do you know about your family surname?
  29. Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
  30. What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
  31. Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
  32. Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
  33. Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  34. Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
  35. What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?
  36. When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
  37. What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
  38. Where and when did you get married?
  39. What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
  40. How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
  41. What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
  42. How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
  43. Why did you choose your children's names?
  44. What was your proudest moment as a parent?
  45. What did your family enjoy doing together?
  46. What was your profession and how did you choose it?
  47. If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?
  48. Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
  49. What accomplishments were you the most proud of?
  50. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Confederate Cemetery Fayetteville, Arkansas

Hubby here. Once again it is Memorial Day, the first holiday of the summer.  We'll be cooking brats and ribs with our daughter and her family, you'll be doing much the same I  expect.  But while you are enjoying good food and family take just a moment to remember those who sacrificed in the past for generations to come.  Some were seriously injured, some came home in one piece to their families and sadly, some never came back. 

It's been 150 years since the War Between the Sates was fought over four bloody years.  While most of the action occurred in the east, the largest battle west of the Mississippi River took place in Pea Ridge, Arkansas.  Most of the fighting in this area was the result of the Confederacy trying to convince Missouri to secede.  Besides Pea Ridge there were smaller battles in Prairie Grove and the city of Fayetteville. 

It's easy for us to look back and question the motives of the southern soldiers.  Certainly slavery was evil.  But most of these soldiers didn't own slaves. Our country was still young.  Travel was difficult and most related to their state rather than the country as a whole. They were Virginians, Carolinian, and Arkansans until they joined together as the Confederate States of America.  Here's a LINK to that post. 

They came from Missouri, Louisiana and Texas during a time most people, during their short life, never traveled more a few miles from where they were born.  These folks did.  They just didn't come home.  Many of them rest in the old Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville.  I'm pleased to tell you that there has been work here since my post last year.  Using ground penetrating radar to locate the remains of soldiers who previously had no marker a number of new graves have been discovered.  I read that markers are being added to those spots.  They are still unknown soldiers but at least they have been recognized.

But of course there have been markers.  The trees have watched over these soldiers.  They provide shade in the summer.  Always they stand at attention as if to salute those who rest beneath.  These ancient trees speak to me.  I wonder if they speak to each other?

Do they encourage each other to be strong?  In the face of decades of tornadoes, ice storms, wind storms, droughts, floods, and everything else that nature has offered them, they don't give up.  I saw a very large depression in the ground with the remnants of a rotten stump.  Do the trees whisper to each other that one of them has fallen?  Does this increase their resolve to remain strong until the younger trees can grow to a size to shade the soldiers?

They shade the grave of General Slack.  And they shade the graves of all the unknown soldiers who rest with him.  

How long can they continue to stand and put out leaves each spring?

They remind me of a photo I saw of a 92 year old World War II veteran who had the opportunity to visit the new WWII memorial in Washington, DC.  He flew out on a Honor Flight from our airport wearing his old uniform.  My company helps sponsor these flights so that the few surviving WWII vets who are able to travel have the opportunity to see it.  Anyhow, in the picture he made a valiant effort to stand straight and salute.
The trees here are very much like this gentleman.  Proud to salute those resting there but too old to stand straight anymore.
I wonder if they will still be there next Memorial Day?  Will any finally fall when the next storm comes?  Or will they make it another year?  Just waiting for the small ones to relieve them of guard duty?
With quiet dignity and resolve they stand... and have stood.
These ancient guardians made of wood
Watch and shelter the men who rest beneath

Their broken arms and leafy wreaths

Their roots embrace the mighty flood

Nourished by their heroes' blood

The old Confederate cemetery is so quiet and isolated it seems impossible it can be so close to downtown Fayetteville.  

This stone is in the Fayetteville National Cemetery and like most of the stones in the Confederate Cemetery it honors someone unknown.  Someones father, husband, friend.  Somewhere there are people wondering what happened to him and where he can be?  I wish I could tell them to rest easy, because he is, and he is honored on this Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Long may she Wave

My brother's headstone at the Missouri Veteran's Cemetery is a simple block of gray granite, but the words that are engraved mean so much to me and our family. It's how he lived, he never faced a hurdle too tall, a task too big. When he graduated high school in 1965, it wasn't long until his draft notice came in the mail. He was 18. He went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for 8 weeks and then onto Fort Belvoir, Virginia for a shorter period of time for combat training. I was 13 and to me it was a blur of activities... graduation and then he was gone. Gone from my life and Mom and Dad's life and I felt an emptiness that is hard to explain. He was one of the lucky ones who came back, many didn't. 

I lost my brother in 2002 to congestive heart failure, he was only 55. I wish I could tell him how proud I was of him and that his Country owes those who fought that war so much, but it's too late. I think he knew how much it meant to our family and that we felt a great sense of pride for his service. 

You can honor Veterans who gave their all by visiting the Virtual Wall of Remembrance. Post a note or a photo, even a video. A chance to say what is in our hearts this Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Clean Windows

Here in the Ozarks we still like to hang out wash, but in many cities now it's against ordinance. What could it hurt to hang out a clean line of wash? Therein lies the problem, read on...

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean", she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. "Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this." The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." 

Moral: What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look!

Hope you're having a great weekend... 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

America the Beautiful

You can tell a lot about a nation by what they choose to remember. Memorial Day means many things to us. To the Veterans who have served, it's a reminder of a job well done. To families who have made the sacrifice of a loved one, it's a daily reminder that freedom has a cost. For most Americans it's a weekend filled with parades, barbeque and family time. 

It may mean a trip to Grandma's house...

 A picnic if you're lucky...

 ...and Cousins to share the fun!

 Add some Cherry Pie and it can't get much better than this!

Whatever you do this weekend, take the time to honor a Veteran, those who have served our country so that we might enjoy all the things that America means to us.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sticky Note Wisdom

The Coop Keeper has lost nearly 90 pounds in the last year. Along the way Jayme has changed what she eats, her morning routine and even how she blogs. I have to say I'm missing those bread recipes but even without the added carbs, her blog is "food" for me in an inspirational sense. She's talked about it all along the way, as she shed pounds she shed some of the heavy thoughts that had been weighing her down too. It's not all about calories when we eat, sometimes we are feeding that empty spot that developed years earlier in our lives. We all have it, no matter how good our life has been... feelings of disappointment, unrealistic goals that weren't met. She's a list maker just like me and yesterday she posted her "To-Do List" ...

Make egg rolls for cooking club
tend the chickens - morning, afternoon
feed cats
finish garden section C
go to the Poultry Auction (Phyllis needs a man)
Cooking Club 12pm at Terry's
Call Terry
Upper body weight training
one hour cardio
do laundry
finish deep cleaning the kitchen
do coaching reviews
write a blog post
make dinner
get Aaron to ALC at 5pm
plan my week
take a jar of honey to Debby
pay cell phone bill
varnish the kitchen floor
Paula's Birthday!
call re: pavilion rental for the beekeeper's picnic
go to Sunrise Farms after Cooking Club and pick up rest of annuals

I can see her problem... she is writing these daily lists on BIG pieces of paper! I suggested she make a trip to Target for sticky notes, but not just any sticky notes. I found some at Target last year that are 2"X2". Half the size of regular sticky notes they allow only for the most important "To-Do's." If you can't fit it on the 2x2 square, then your plate is too full for any given day and you need to cross through the stuff that's not important. We have to take time each day to breathe and smell the roses....


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meals that Matter

It's been a year since Joplin, Missouri faced the worst tornado in US history since record keeping began in 1950. The EF-5 tornado took so much from them; their homes, cars, livelihood... basically everything. So much devastation, as far as the eye could see. Homes, businesses and the saddest of all... 161* lives were lost and thousands were homeless Sunday May 22, 2011 when a tornado ripped through the heart of town. It took the top two floors of a solidly built hospital, it took schools and nursing homes and shopping centers. It took homes and trees and front yards where kids used to play. Joplin was a beautiful small town, Home Sweet Home to 50,000 people. Joplin was a great place to raise kids and buy a home and grow old. In only a few minutes their world was turned upside down. 

Within hours, Tyson Foods sent teams of volunteers with grills, food and emergency supplies. For decades now they have responded to disasters by doing what they do best: feed people. The folks at Tyson open their hearts and their wallets to communities just like Joplin whenever they are needed. Last year was an especially demanding time when tornadoes stuck with fury in the US. Just six weeks prior to the Joplin tornado, Tyson was in Northern Alabama with 270,000 pounds of of food. 

Crews from 10 Tyson locations including Monett, Sedalia, Noel, Missouri and Rogers, Arkansas were among the first to help out with the cooking. It's a huge undertaking to organize such an effort, many elements have to "come together." There are so many needs that it's hard to know what services will be needed the most. Food, ice and water, storage for products being cooked, supplies... in all there were 6 tractor trailers on site. In the weeks that followed, 120,000 pounds of food were served to the citizens and emergency workers in the Joplin area. That was a 24/7 job, 2,000-3,000 meals per day.

Much was learned during the weeks that followed. Tyson took those lessons back to headquarters at Springdale, Arkansas and put together a 53 foot, self contained trailer outfitted with enough space to store 20,0000 pounds of meat. The transportation division of Tyson took the lead and planned out a truck that is designed to set up and run a cooking site complete with tents and lights, sanitation equipment, cooking and serving supplies, a generator, hydraulic lift and even a Wi-Fi hot spot via satellite! When disaster strikes, the "Meals that Matter" truck; along with grills and volunteers can be on site within 72 hours.

Ed Nicholson, Tyson's Director of Community Relations, said the company has signed a formal statement of collaboration with the American Red Cross to become a Disaster Responder Partner. "We think that's going to make quick response more efficient, being able to get in and get situated faster. They know us, we know them, so there's some trust built up." The Red Cross counts on partners like Tyson to provide the funds and supplies needed when disaster strikes. Nicholson said food safety is another area where Tyson can help out the Red Cross, "The last thing they want to  do is make people who are hit by tragedy sick... it's critical of what we do."

The residents of Joplin have struggled over the last year to recover and rebuild. With the help of many volunteers and the strength and determination of the Missourians that call Joplin home... the community is on it's feet again. What Americans do best... follow their heart and help others in need!

*The official loss of life was 160, it was later found that one fatality died of  injuries unrelated to the tornado.

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