Friday, December 31, 2010


I like resolutions. I especially like that once a year I am reminded to make a few. I can be quite cynical, and part of me laughs at myself. However, I can't deny the other part of me that admires the ability to stick with something and the ability to change one's self for the better. My friend Whitney came up with one for each month, which was a brilliant idea. A year is a long time to set a goal for, so why not make a goal per month. One month she would not allow herself to wear a t-shirt out in public. You might think that's a silly goal, but if you knew how much Whitney liked to wear a good comfortable t-shirt, then you would understand the challenge.
Here are a few small goals I would like to make for the month of January:
Bake a loaf of bread every Saturday...that starts tomorrow! Start journaling about students at school to keep track of growth, observations, concerns, etc. Wear my hair down two days during the week (that will be hard), and say a prayer every morning and night.
As a teacher I think of a goal as something very measurable, since I am constantly setting goals for students and having to measure them with an assessment. So to keep my self accountable I will use a calendar (which I need to buy) and mark days of made bread, wore my hair down, journaled, and prayed twice a day. Is that good enough? I should probably inform the husband for support.

Thanks to my mother-in-law I finished my first quilt in 2010, which is the date I had embroidered on it. I was so relieved that it was finished finally, months after I had started it (June). I spent hours hand stitching each row and the border. I haven't decided if it will be a blanket for the house or our picnic blanket when the weather turns warmer. It seems I would get to show it off more hauling it around to concerts and parks. And that's exactly what I want to it off.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Cat That Ruined Christmas

Olive loves the Christmas tree. She zeroed in on it the moment we put it up. Chewed the bottom lights, knocked ornaments off with her paws, chewed on the branches with her pointy teeth. She has ruined the Christmas tree...well the bottom of it at least. Then I finally wrapped a few presents and placed them joyfully under the tree. She saw a white shinny bow and attacked it like a barn cat would a mouse. I should have been more concerned when I saw the world ferrel on her paper. So now the presents are in the closet. I've been humming a tune lately with the lyrics, "The Cat that Ruined Christmas." The best part is we're going to Charlotte for Christmas to stay with Matt's family. I can only imagine what she will do with their tree.

Matt made another amazing meal. I should just give up on cooking. Honestly, I have quit making most of the savory things we eat. We order a meal at The Gulf Rim that has stewed pork, black beans, and sweet potatoes. Matt recreated a vegetarian version of it. Delicious.
Two Saturday's ago it snowed a little, very little, and Olive freaked out. I did too, but only because it was Harry Potter weekend on ABC family, I had been Christmas shopping earlier, and I had tomato soup for lunch, and it felt like a perfect winter day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I was, no I still am, so proud of myself for completing 3 pies in 3 1/2 hours on Thanksgiving day. I'm a slow, drawn out baker and I tend to not completed what I start. But I popped up early that morning determined to get three pies knocked out. It required a lot of thought and planning, which is what I love about baking. I had already made my crust and froze them.

First up was the chocolate custard tart from The Craft of Art and Baking. I was worried at first because the word custard freaks me out. If you cook it too long the delicate texture will curdle and the texture will be like scrambled eggs. If it comes out too early then you've got a runny mess that doesn't slice well. I baked it a little longer than called for, but once the center was set I pulled out a perfectly cooked custard tart. It was dark and rich and one of the best chocolate desserts I've ever had. Next was the apple pie. I used the recipe from Bon Appetit's November 2010 Apple Pie with Oat Struesel.

I loved rolling the oats into the pie crust and the crumb topping was better than a regular pastry my opinion. It was fun too! Last I made Ruby Bowman's pumpkin pie, which I wrote my very first blog post about. I put too much sugar in it this time, but loved cutting out fall leaves and placing them around the edges. After all my hard work, I caught the tail end of Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving day special where she showed how to correctly crimp a crust. It was a great "Aha!" moment...about three hours too late.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Remembering Granny

My granny passed away Friday night around 11:00 pm in her sleep. She's been longing for her departure for years. Mom's prayer last night was for God to grant her peace and her prayer was answered. The news came as a shock. She has rebounded time and time from news of uncertainty. I thought we were all prepared for her passing, but I bawled upon hearing she had died, mostly out of guilt because I have been so absent from her life and how I could have provided comfort for her. She was skin and bones, but always had her mind and sense of humor, along with her many memorized sayings and songs. The last time we visited she commented on my red shoes, "When I was young I wore red shoes, now I'm old I wear black." That's not exactly how it went, but something like that. Then she laughed.
Memories of her have flooded my mind all day. She taught me how to sew by hand. We used a shirt sleeve that belonged to Poppy, sitting in her kitchen with the setting sun shining through the window. I remember countless stories of her and her childhood, the history of her family, farming, journaling, shoe making, sewing, church going. She was charming, simple, frugal, sentimental, imaginative, and smiling always.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thoughts about Thanksgiving

Why just have one Thanksgiving? I'm thinking of trying to get together with several people this year and celebrating a few times. Of course the family will get together that evening with mostly traditional fixin's, unless Papa Buck demands BBQ this year. I would ideally like to make the following:An apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate tart...but I think that's a little too much. If I make an apple pie and chocolate tart I'll be happy. I'd also like to do a fresh cranberry chutney.
But I'd love to make exactly what I would like to have for thanksgiving, though that sounds selfish. Maybe friends will be able to get together before or after the holiday and we can do an easy and more relaxed version. Kale and sausage stuffed turkey breast, apple sourdough stuffing, potato and turnip gratin, sauteed green beans and mushrooms. Maybe an apple galette or pumpkin silk pie for dessert.
Can't you tell I'm all wrapped up in holiday cooking shows and magazines? Tonight I made corn bread and sweet potato casserole from Food Network's Thanksgiving issue.
Reasons I'm excited it's November:
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out November 18th...holy crap
2. Thanksgiving of course
3. 4 days off from work
4. pies, pies, and more pies
5. Christmas decorations going up...
P.S I'll have to share a really easy recipe for homemade ornaments made with nothing more than apple sauce and cinnamon. Most of my ornaments I made last year and it cost next to nothing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Quilt

Yeah...I'm not finished with the first one. 12 more rows of stitching to go before it's complete. I do see the light peering at the end of the tunnel. Of course I get bored and start a new quilt. The thing about quilting is, the longer that blanket sets on your lap, the more you start to regret the colors you picked out, or start to notice how horrible the stitches look. At first you think it's the best thing ever, but then it starts to seem flawed.
My new quilt is a little more exciting. I'm copying the quit from Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulson (Posie Gets Cozy). Currently I'm embroidering baby farm animals onto 6 pieces of linen. It's an expression of my recent barnyard craze. I found an old book my mom use to read me called Baby Animals. The main character is named Katie and she visits the baby animals around the farm. I also found a set of books about a bear named Patrick. Patrick takes a bath, Patrick Goes Shopping, and Patrick Eats His Dinner. I loved those books! "Nuts!" was my favorite thing Patrick said. I just checked on Amazon and other retailers and the books are going for 75 dollars. Crazy.

School is getting more stressful and taking up more time. The weekends are getting shorter. I think it's time for Christmas break.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Home

I have been obsessing over trying to find a house to rent or buy. I seriously doubt Matt and I will be approved for any loan, but my head is up in the clouds, and hearing a refusal would probably pop my bubble and send me spinning back down to earth. So Matt and I are of course falling in love with houses daily. I imagine a garden, chickens, a bee hive, flowers, and freshly painted walls. Here are two we would love to live in.

Things I love:
1. The wrap around porch
2. the stair rail that wraps around
3. the five acres of land!
4. the hard wood floor
5. the location
Glencoe Mill Village:

Things I love:
1. The awesome open cabinets in the kitchen
2. The two old,claw foot bathtubs, one is even in a bedroom with a wrap around curtain!
3. hard wood floors
4. fireplace
5. it's cheap

I would really be excited if this houses were for rent.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Types of Dairy Goats I want...

Alpine kid. I want it so much!

La Mancha kid. I want it.

Saanen kids. I want them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Nest

Kerri introduced me to this amazing store that is loaded with adorable vintage, or made to look vintage, things. What I loved the most about The Nest is how affordable it was. It's truly unique and whimsical. I found a ton of stuff I could have bought...but settled on a few things. Best of all, lots of good ideas for things to make. A leaf soap dish with a bird for pottery, clean white napkins to embroider flowers on, painting limbs white and hanging them or propping them up, or pages from old books glued around candles tied with straw. I got to remember these things, which is why I post them online.
Matt bought me the book I've been wanting. Very thoughtful. I can't wait to do a farm animal quilt. Speaking of farm animals, I'm currently reading the following books: Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, and Barnyard in your Backyard. New passion I think. Matt and I might be in for a career change, he himself thinks it could be inevitable. For now, we're just studying up and daydreaming.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Break

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Duke Gardens. Searching around for plants we would like to one day plant in our future home. I really loved these crabapple trees. Apples the size of cherries are adorable. In the spring they get a beautiful bloom.
This small house is next to the Duke Gardens and I want to live there. I love the light blue tin roof. There's one like this in Mebane I've been eyeing. Could you imagine how sweet it would be to live next to the gardens? Why would you need to eat inside?
This bumblebee was completely docile. It sat very sweetly for lots of up close shots.
These are Chinese Ornamental peppers that really looked stunning. I could believe the colors. I've never seen a purple pepper.
I loved the way the color fades from white to green on this plant. I don't know what it's called, but I really love it!
I'm on my two week break for fall. I'm spending today being a couch potato because I can...but I do have plans:
1. Picking apples in the mountains with Kerri
2. Making apple butter
3. Finish my quilt
5. Start a new sewing project...I just can't decide what.
And then again...I wish I could make this dress!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I'm not sure what I'm going to do when the frost takes gardening from us. Few things give me so much joy. It will only be a small window of time, December through April. This past week we finished our fall garden. Complete with broccoli, beets, cabbage, spinach, arugula, mixed lettuce, and cilantro. I doubt the cauliflower and brussel sprouts will make it.
Has anyone noticed the exceptional color of the sky lately? I can't take my eyes off of the blue against bright green foliage. On Sunday Matt and I walked in the Duke Gardens. We're getting ideas for plants we would like to put in our garden. Hopefully by next May we'll have a place with a little land. It was a gorgeous day and we had a great time investigating different greenery.
P.S. Dad wants pigs! I've already checked a book out from the library and know exactly what to look for in a feeder pig. I've picked out names: Sweet Betsey and Arnold.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sometimes nature makes me sad.
Today when we went to my parents to pick some peppers and water the fall plants, dad showed me a bee hive of his that was doing poorly. He's not sure what, but some sickness has got to the hive and the bees are going crazy. He was carefully watching the grass and then carefully picked up a small bee that was crawling on the grass. The young bees can't fly and are crawling away from the hive, four or five at a time. I asked if maybe they wanted to go to another hive, but dad quickly dismissed that thought. "They're just sick." I frequently forget that bees and other animals don't have the same type of thought process as humans. There is no option for them. I thought of those children who leave religious cults or Amish communities, like the hive is shunning them and sending them off crippled into the world.

I found this picture off the internet, but they looked very similar. I wish I had my camera.

As we pulled into the drive way a dove caught my eye. She was laying on the ground, much like a hen would lay on her eggs or young and I pointed out how odd she looked to Matt. Turns out dad had cut a low hanging branch down on Thursday and the two young were knocked out of their nest. They were still alive, and the mother still guards them, but their chances are so slim that I had a great desire to scoop them up and take them home. I know that that would only increase their chances of dying. Helpless little doves would make any one's heart go soft and mushy.

I am somewhat reminded of the book The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote a biography of a pioneer type man, committed to living off the land. In the book someone made a comment about how they would hate to kill a helpless deer. Eustace Conway said he didn't feel sorry for the deer because they weren't nearly as helpless as some people are. And I am reminded that nature is capable of so many things and I am the one that is disconnected and incapable.
I just figured out she also wrote Eat, Pray, Love. Since I enjoyed The Last American Man, I might enjoy this movie phenomena.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A year's worth of "to-do's", involving food of course!

It's not January, but I'm feeling the need to create a list of important things I would like to complete within this year. Since I'm a teacher August feels like New Year's, and a time to create resolutions, or at least goals. We teachers really like the word goal. You get a new class, another chance to do things differently, and new things to learn and adjust to. With this are a couple of things I want to do this year...I think.

1. Finish my old quilt Check
2. Start a new quilt with a more difficult pattern, like so:Check

3. Attempt homemade brioche

4. Grow broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, cauliflower, and a variety of mixed greens Check
5. Don't let any of the above go to waste Sort-of Check (we froze broccoli)
6. Make homemade pasta (besides gnocchi, we've already mastered that)
7. Make apple butter with apples that we've picked Check
8. Sew a shirt with ruffles! (this one scares me the most)
9. Read all the Little House books...that should be easy! Check

10. Make a tiramisu with homemade zabaglione and lady fingers
11. Bake pitas
12. Make honey wheat bread a muscadine jam to eat with it!
13. Sew oven mitts and hot pads with insulated batting
14. Find a cute house to rent in May, with a small plot of land that has good soil and gets lots of sun
15. Make homemade chicken stock and freeze
16. Go to The Piedmont, a restaurant in Durham
17. Make dinners more during the week night
...I can't think of anymore!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

out with the old in with the new

Our garden is suffering from a variety of diseases, inconsistent rain, mold, insects, and anything else you can imagine that would attack an innocent plant. We're still getting peppers in by the basket full and a few tomatoes, though mostly green because the ripe ones have all busted open by the time we arrive to pick. The romas have been our most sturdy tomato, resisting the heat and remaining intact. We've made endless sauces, salsas, soups, and pizzas with them. Most of our herbs are also fine and dandy, with the exception of the cilantro and dill. But the squash and cucumbers have been long gone, along with the corn and radishes. So we're left with a few rotten looking tomato plants and lots of peppers. We put peppers in everything, so lately we've been freezing all of them, because I need a break from peppers. I guess at this point I've become disenchanted with our garden. It's no longer neat and pretty, each small seedling green and bright. It has produced so many goods and filled our bellies time and time again, but as August wears on, I'm thinking it's time for a change.

It's hard to beat a fried green tomato sandwich

Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, butternut squash, cilantro, kale, parsnips, carrots. I know how to grown some of these. Swiss chard, kale, and spinach will go in the ground as seeds and sprout until it gets too cold. Broccoli will go in the ground as a plant, as will cilantro. I'd love to plant butternut squash, but it's a little late for seeds. Can I get plants? As for parsnips and carrots I have no idea. I'm researching on the internet for some advice, since my parents have never grown either.

I'm really enjoying this school year. I'm not stressed and I feel like I have a life outside of teaching. Last year I became so worn out and tried of always being in a endless cycle of teaching, planning for teaching, grading, and teaching more. I felt that I was trapped and couldn't do anything else. I learned late last year that you have to make time for other dreams and desires you have. I've been reading a great book called Coop about a family's decent into a Wisconsin farm, slowly working on my quilt, and will sign up for pottery lessons in late August.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I assumed the hardiest part would be the tiny hand stitches binding this quilt together. It's actually the most soothing.

Though there were are some failures in the garden, bitter cucumbers, stunted jalapenos, squash bugs that took over and brought quick destruction on all but two squash plants, the tomatoes are nothing short of a miracle. Three times the weight of these gigantic plants have caused them to fall over, though they are caged and steaked. They're incredibly sturdy and the stalks are thick. I've been most impressed with my Brandywine for their size and flavor, the Beef Steak because it was the first to produce a ripe tomato at the end of June and is also the sweeter of my big varieties, and my Mexico Midget, which is so loaded with tomatoes it worries me a little. The Cherokee Purple was a big disappointment due to the fact bugs like it more than the others, it's very slow growing, and looks the least healthy. The Better Girls must have been planted to late because they've done nothing but grown a few inches over the past month and a half. Most of our tomato plants are over 6 feet tall. Our garden has inspired us to create some truly delicious meals.

Spicy sausage, summer squash, and goat cheese pasta with basil
Summer squash and tomato gratin with sauteed onions and thyme
Roasted tomato and garlic soup with homemade croutons and fresh basil (the secret is to roast the tomatoes and garlic low and slow for an hour and saute the onions in butter not oil)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Quilting is taking up most of my free time this summer that would otherwise be occupied by watching the Golden Girls or rereading the Harry Potter series. It has been, big surprise, frustrating. Only impatient me could manage to screw up sewing 200 some rectangles together. It's only a straight line for heaven's sake! Most teachers have until August, but being at a year round school, I've got three more precious weeks. I've finished piecing the front and will start quilting the batten and back this weekend with assistance from my mother-in-law. I have my doubts about finishing it.

It has been a pretty great summer, especially compared to the none stop work and uncertainty of last summer. I didn't get to all the projects I wanted to, but if I finish this quilt I'll consider that an accomplishment. I'll remember this summer as one filled with new and exciting music. Here are some of my new discoveries:
Gregory Alan Isakov (really really love!)

Nothing beats an outdoors concert that welcomes quilts and homemade food. Music in the Gardens at the Duke Gardens has been wonderful this summer! I'm really falling in love with Durham. Living 45 minutes away all my life, in a rural town, I heard horrible things about a Durham with the "highest crime rate"in North Carolina. My preconceived notions have been proven wrong time and time again.

I haven't baked anything spectacular lately. Bathing suits make me think twice about using butter and sugar. My favorite baking recipe I've used this summer is for granola by Molly Wizenberg from the June Bon Appetit. It's the perfect balance of nuts, sugar, salt, and spices.
Simple Granola:
3 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped pecans (but I do half pecans and half almonds)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
3 Tbl. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbl. vegetable oil (I like grape seed)
1 cup assorted dried fruit (Dried cranberries are yummy!)
Preheat oven to 300 and mix the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the honey and vegetable oil in a saucepan until the two have blended and warmed. Pour warm honey and oil on to ingredients and mix. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the oats are evenly cooked. I also added a few more drizzles of oil to get a little more crunch. Add the fruit once the oats have cooled. It's great for breakfast, or even lunch.

The only thing that's missing this summer is watermelon and the ocean. Nothing late July won't cure.

A precious quiet moment with a crazy kitten.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blue Hare's Fur

That's the name of my favorite glaze we used in pottery class. The name sounds antique and rural, two things that I happen to love. It's also a great blue-green color that I adore. Pottery was really wonderful. I'm a tactile person, so pottery was very satisfying, especially the feel of the smooth, cool clay spinning between my palms. Everything about it involves being able to feel what is right or wrong with the clay. It felt very odd for me to be in a class setting where I had to try and be creative and use my hands to create decent pieces that were functional and sound. If felt like I was trying to write with my left hand. I did very little on my own. The teacher modeled a lot for me, which I found really helpful. Of course my fingers were itching to make everything, and my pride pushed me to want to do it all on my own, but I'm glad that this first time around I just got to be guided very slowly in how clay works. Always a pair of hands to help me center the clay, pull it up, and finish it off. Everyone said I would become addicted, but I can't say I feel that way. I will be taking the class in the fall, but not with the hopes of becoming great at pottery, but to quench the need to be something other than a teacher, use my mind in a different way and to get my hands dirty. I like the feeling of trying to write with the wrong hand. Being ambidextrous is a valuable thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rain + Sun = Grow

It's hard to believe that after 6 weeks the garden has grown and flourished into beautiful plants, each with their own characteristics and charm. It seemed like for the longest time I cared for the tiniest two-leaved plants that I sometimes would mistake for weeds. Did you know those first two leaves to pop out of the dirt are called feeder leaves? I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw green tomatoes on the vines. Small green tomatoes that will turn into ruby red wonders of summer, with a taste so succulent that you can't forget it, not even in the dead of winter. It's why people are obsessed with finding just the right plant and forsaking all other plants if they must, but never their tomato plants. It's why I dream about slices of tomates drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with fresh basil. We currently have: 3 brandywine, 1 beef steak, 2 romas, 1 cherry, 1 cherokee purple, 1 mexico midget, and two better girls. A few other things I've learned: The top part of the tomato plant is called the crown, and you only want one crown. If you accidently snap it off then two might grow. Always pull off the suckers that grow in between your larger stalks, keeping the plant mostly growing up. Next week we'll stake the plants.

We had an odd plant sprout up that was suppose to be cilantro. Anyone know what this is? We've ruled out broccoli though it smells faintly of it.
We have a new member of our family. Matt and I adopted a kitten from the shelter a week ago. Her name is Olive and she's so precious. We were overwhelmed the first few days with getting used to a litter box and skittish kitty, but she has really come out of her shell and is great. She looks like an opossum, which is actually kind of wonderful.

Signs of summer: a hummingbird buzzing around the back porch, a lightening bug in the parking lot, blackberries starting to bud, fleas, strawberries baked in everything, radishes, and THREE and a HALF more weeks until SCHOOL is over!!!!

Next post: I'll summarize my pottery classes and what I learned and made.