Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kitchen Herb Garden


You are getting a glimpse of what constitutes my windowsill herb garden. Just a couple kinds of parsley, chives, and green onions. Remember a while back on my old blog, that I mentioned reading that you can plant green onions (scallions as we call 'em) from the grocery store in a pot to keep them growing? You just snip off the green part when you need it and keep them watered. It's true, they do keep growing and now I can't remember when I last had to buy them. What a great tip that was. Anyway, we don't have any proper windowsills yet, so these just sit on a shelf by the kitchen window. Nothing fancy, but they are a help in the kitchen. I despised buying those big bundles of herbs they sell at the store and only using a few tablespoons for soup or something, and then having to throw the rest away. This is a money saver and reminds me of summer, too.

A seed catalog came in the mail the other day, already. Yes, I'm scheming.

I really want to thank all the readers of this blog who followed me over her from HSB. It's so nice to be able to share things with friends, and I consider you all friends.

On the Table: Aren't we all still eating some leftovers? Tonight I'll supplement them with a spinach and artichoke dip and some veggie quesadillas.

In the Kitchen: I used to have this great cinnamon-y granola recipe that has gotten lost somewhere. Last night I tried a new recipe from one of my cookbooks and it did not turn out very well. Edible and snackable, but not delicious. I have a feeling that at 350 the heat was too high for one, and that I should have used two pans to spread the granola out instead of just one pan.

Around the Home: Slowly accumulating items for Christmas, and on the lookout for ideas. Bless the person who flat out tells me what they would like me to make them for Christmas. Also it's a great day to try and clean the house since my husband has taken the dogs with him to haul some wood out of his family's wood lot, meaning the house is empty except for me.

Follow up:
Thanks to those who weighed in about whether to wrap our nephew's birthday gift on the occasion of him turning One. I just smacked a bow on it and some ribbon, and wouldn't you know his 2 and 1/2 y-o sister immediately took possession of the toy anyway.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Much to Be Thankful For

Once, an Amish lady was telling me about a Thanksgiving meal that she and her husband, along with another Amish couple, had attended at the home of some English friends. "You wouldn't believe the amount of food they had!" she told me. Indeed, I could believe it. "Such gluttony! And we had to remind them to say grace before eating. They were not even going to thank the One who provided it all!"

Point taken.

Although I believe we need to remember to be thankful every day and not just on one designated day of the year, the holiday offers a unique time for reflection on the abundant blessings in our lives. First, and most importantly, it has been a relatively healthy year for my family and friends. Good health is always the greatest consideration in both my praise and prayers.

This year I am grateful for the canned goods that line our bookshelves (or sit on the floor, or are stuffed into any old corner where there is space) and am grateful that our garden did well enough to make those jars possible. It's with an equally grateful feeling to see all the vegetables in our freezer. As most of my readers know, we have a small house and not much space. No basement, no pantry, barely a closet. Construction supplies and tools take up our largest room. But the relatively small amount of food we are able to store will amount to a significant savings in the coming months. And not just in terms of money, but time too.

We are abundantly thankful for the progress we have made on our home during the warmer months. The addition of a back door, outside lighting, new front step, and bedroom are appreciated all the more since we spent over a year using the front door for everything, fumbling around outside in the dark with lanterns, and sleeping in the living room.

There are too many loved ones to name for whom we are thankful for every day. Truly, this life would not be worth living if we were all alone.

I'm even grateful when bills come in the mail. I can remember when bills would come and I could not pay them. Today, it is possible and for that I am extremely thankful. It is also possible to give to others in charity, and we are privileged to do so.

As we enjoy our meals and family gathering tomorrow, let us not lose sight of the source of all blessings.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's pumpkin-mania

We'll call this picture "March of the pumpkin whoopie pies." These were made for a staff bake sale at the library this week. Whoopie pies and Shoo-fly pie are the items that are most requested by the lovely ladies at work for me to bring in. There seems to be some vast misconception that those items are difficult to make. I almost fell on the floor when my friend Jaylynn told me that she has been buying tiny shoo-flies at five dollars a pop from a market in Philadelphia. "STOP doing that!" I told her, "You make more complicated things than THAT for lunch!" Yet, the mystique persists.



This is the Pumpkin Cream Trifle I made for a fellowship meal at church. It's cubes of pumpkin spice cake layered between a fluffy whipped cheesecake filling and layers of toasted pecans and toffee bits. It was very easy to make and feeds quite a crowd.

Now, once I get the apple pie made for Thursday it will finally feel like things are getting done!

In other news, I'm a bit late in acknowledging this award given to me by Linda at Remote Treechanger:It is the Marie Antoinette ~ A Real Person Award.

The rules for this award are to display the icon and pass it along to 7 other bloggers I feel are real in who they are. If you read this, consider yourself tagged as my readers are all genuine in who they are!

In celebration of my award, here are a couple of genuine thoughts:

On the home improvement front, late in the afternoon I was standing on a step stool trying to scrape off those stickers that come on new windows. You know, the kind that say things like "Lifetime warranty" and "argon filled", whatever that means. I don't know whether the stool lost footing or whether I did, but the next thing you know I was sprawled out on the floor on top of a crushed card table. Just a few bumps and bruises, nothing serious. It made me wonder why window companies take perfectly new windows with pristine glass, and then plaster impossible-to- remove stickers all over them.

This afternoon I perused the toy section of a store to shop for a needy child. Every year the library sets up a "wish tree" with gift tags that have a child's name, gender, age, and clothing size so that those who want to help can purchase a gift or two for them. My child is a 4.5 y-o girl. First, I'll say it's very tricky to buy a gift for a child you don't know, and without any parental guidance. And then once you see what's out there for little girls to play with...well, it gets worse! There is oodles and oodles of princess stuff, and something called "puppy divas" where puppy toys are dressed up like princesses, and then a mini spa kit designed for the age 3 and up crowd so they can pretend they are at a spa! It appears an entire generation of princesses are gearing up early for life in the royal household. How interesting. How disingenuous. I selected some Leggo's and a shirt.

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Sewing Clothing


There are a few days over the next six weeks where I consciously plan to devote entire days to sewing of some sort, whether it be for home or clothing. It gives me a great feeling of relief and satisfaction when I finish making a new dress or useful item for around the home. Now, I will say that I think that in order to be the type of person who makes most of what you wear, that you need to be a high-control type of person who values personal choice on some level. After all, how your garment will look, fit, and feel is all up to you. You choose everything from the type of fabric to the hem length, so it helps if you have decisive ideas on what is comfortable and modest for your body. And at the end of the day, comfort and fit are two things that I really value, as well as a love for fabric. Even if you belong to a church with highly specific standards on what to wear, the feel and ease of your dress (and fabric) is still up to you.

Working in an environment with a diverse group of women, the complaint of how ready-made clothing (often manufactured overseas) fit is a prominent one that I hear. Sleeves are always too long, pants always need to be hemmed, and I do feel badly for any woman who has to shop for blue jeans as the range of fit options that are available seem to stifle many women into multi-day dressing room odysseys. Ha! Even if I wasn't a skirts-only Mennonite lady, I'd still say you can have it! A woman who worked in the garment industry once told me that many clothing manufacturers use fit models from the country where the actual items are made. Then, they are sized-up accordingly. That means a tiny woman in a foreign country may be the "base" body that your clothing is meant to dress. No wonder so many women have a hard time finding something flattering to wear. Many women have approached me and asked me to sew for them. "I can never find long skirts in stores," is one complaint I hear often. Alas, there is barely time for me to get my own sewing done let alone start a side business! But I sympathize.

In order to sew your own clothes, I think you also need a sense of individual perseverance. You like to build things from the ground up, and are committed to finishing what you start. No one is perfect, and we all have projects we would like to work on if only there were more time to work on them, but you do need to have the discipline to get things done. For example, you can't start planning the next sewing project when the first one is still cut out and waiting.

Also, it can and does get frustrating. I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that I like sewing!

But, at the end of the day, I sew my own clothes mostly because I am a control freak and am fairly convinced that no one else can do it better. At least, not for what I am willing to pay which brings me to another point. Making your own clothes, even if it is just a few items a year, is economical. I spend so little money on my own personal clothing it's ridiculous. But it allows me to have money to spend on things to wear that really matter to me, like good quality long-lasting shoes and warm winter coats. And it's not only a penny saver but it can be a time saver, as well. There is very little time spent driving from store to store, looking a racks, rearranging my schedule to get to a sale, or sifting through trendy items.

Now, I'll tell you what surprises me. Why more women don't sew more of their own clothing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Welcome!

Thanks for visiting my new blog. After thinking about it, I decided to transition to Blogger as it allowed me to simplify many things, including the url which is now www.themennobrarian.com
Isn't that the easiest thing ever? Of course, I still plan to read all of the blogs I kept up with on HB and will still check my pm's there. As you can see, I am just getting started here and have not added much content yet, but will post a new profile photo and some other decorative touches soon.

Meanwhile...

You may remember some time ago that I purchased some old feed sack cloth at the outdoor market in Kutztown. Here is my first project from that batch of fabric, a cover for my stand mixer:



It's a bit imperfect as I had to create a pattern by modifying one for a bread maker cover. Also, that binding was a bit difficult to put on when it is covering a 3-layer sandwich of fabric. But hopefully it will serve it's purpose and keep dirt and construction debris out of my mixer bowl! Now I know that I'd like to take the rest of the material and make a few more appliance covers and some coordinating things for the kitchen.

Elsewhere in the kitchen, our trap-savvy mouse has been impossible to catch and is continuing to wreak havoc during the night. It made its way to the utensil drawer one night and began to tear apart a pastry brush. Yuck! After coming home from a church meeting last night I had to clean out the drawer and run everything through the dishwasher. Just how I wanted to spend the evening. My husband is talking about resorting to poison.

On the Table: Pumpkin pancakes, pizza casserole, spinach (truly the last of the garden?) and salmon. Also, pear pie.

Around the Home: My home is a mess and needs to be cleaned so badly, but already more and more things seem to be popping up every weekend to keep us occupied. It is one reason I truly dread the impending season, as us task-oriented non-social types secretly wonder why a work frolic doesn't count as a holiday get-together. This weekend I would just like to squeeze in a good dusting, but for now it is off to the store and then laundry before preparing supper.

Just Wondering: Would it be okay not to wrap my one-year old nephew's birthday gift, or maybe just put a big bow on it? Or is that just something you have to do and cannot get away with?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Quick Run to Ohio

So after a last minute brake job on our truck, we were able to get out to Ohio and back in two days to pick up our wood stove, a few items for the house, and make plans to definitely go back to the Tuscarawas Valley when we have more time to visit. We were really blessed by outstanding weather. While it was rainy and cold back home, we enjoyed sun and seventy degree days while we were there. All told, the ride took about seven hours. After checking into our modest hotel room, we perused some options for supper and I was delighted to see that we were just a few miles from the Amish Door restaurant. I think the last time I was there it was about fifteen years ago, and it was a restaurant, bakery, and maybe a gift shop, so I was surprised to see how vast their empire had grown. It now had all those things, plus a bulk food store, hotel, banquet hall, dinner theatre, bed & breakfast, airport, and screen door factory. Okay, I'm exaggerating about the last two things, but the rest are all true-- it's a huge commercial complex. But the food was still good enough to be drawing in plenty of Anabaptist customers, although as my husband and I discussed later, it wasn't quite as good as our favorite Lancaster eateries.

Anyway, after a fitful night's sleep on the hardest mattress mankind ever created, we drove west to Wayne Co. past the wood furniture stores and cheese shops. My husband dropped me off here to have a look around while he drove elsewhere to pick up the
stove:

lehman's

Now, I've seen their catalog of course, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer vastness of the actual Lehman's hardware store. It was an endless maze of of anything you could possibly imagine, and some things I would have never imagined such as a corner filled with Swiss cow bells, an enormous wall filled with every imaginable shape of cookie cutters, and a room filled with every type of laundry equipment imaginable. By the time my husband came back to Lehman's and found me, I was hauling a cart filled with kitchen items, books, and a pressure canner that was on sale. Their book selection was phenomenal- I really had to exercise some restraint there.

buggies kidron

There were many items that I would not have bought there only because I have seen them for far cheaper at Target and other places, but there were also a few items that I thought were very good deals.

We had to leave by noon in order to get on the road, but we took a quick peak across the road at the Kidron auction/flea market before leaving.

Even though I knew this would be a quick trip, I was still a bit melancholy that we couldn't stay longer and visit some more places, make some acquaintances, and attend church, but perhaps next time.

kidron

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