Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grandma

Lillian Agnes Stephen September 11, 1925 to July 24, 2011.


My Grandparents on their wedding day in the 1940s.

I have been somewhat offline here recently. My grandmother passed away this week. Today was her funeral and I started thinking about some of the part that she has played in my life.

Both of my grandmothers at my wedding in 1998.

She was a child of the depression a very thrifty person. She had more of a waste not want not lifestyle. She saved bits of used tin foil, was a bag washer, and taught me many other ways to pinch pennies. Today we would just call that being green! Some of this was from raising 6 children which must not have been easy at times especially with 5 boys and 1 girl.

The part I remember most is how she used to love to go to all the garage sales on Fridays and Saturdays. She took me along with her several times and I remember she would let me pick out some jewelry and some other odds and ends. If anyone was looking for anything in particular you could tell her and usually she would be able to find it for you down to a lid for your old Corningware dish!

She also had a back room in her house that would rival my stock room now. Our only difference is that I like to share my finds online while she would stockpile and then would have a garage sale every now and then. But, she understood that older and vintage items had value. In that way, she was ahead of her times. The last several years after her stroke she was unable to attend garage sales. I'd like to think that she would be very proud of me and my online vintage shop and had she been able to get out and do some shopping herself she would have made quite an asset to my shop!

Grandma with my daughter in 2001.

She was a fun loving person who had a strong faith, loved family, playing card games and dancing. Who always had a smile and she will be dearly missed by many.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Project Twilight Bungalow


Until recently I never really gave this camper a second look or really even a second thought. Then as of Monday I gave myself three short weeks to revamp the inside and get this show on the road! My idea was to make this thing a funky and fun way to travel that was unique and one of a kind.

My vision is to have a vintage kitch shabby chic travel theme! Now it's up to me to try to pull these different design ideas and make them work together. I had been hoarding vintage maps and funky old vacation postcards for a long time and thought that somehow I could incorporate them into this camper and thought why not decoupage the walls with them. The cabinet fronts and a few of the walls painted a pale aqua, and the refrigerator had to be painted with chalk board paint for notes and menus. Retro polka dotted fabric covered headboards, striped, floral, and burlap pillowcases with some old lace mixed in and for bedding I had to use my great grandmothers shabby chic quilts.

For the kitchen I have this idea of using many vintage mason jars, tins, enamelware, vintage aprons, and for table ware nothing but teal Texas Ware melamine would do!

I plan on packing a few vintage Samsonite suitcases full of arts and craft supplies, stationary, games, playing cards, dice, and anything I can think of that is small that will keep us entertained.

I am going to make a handmade journal that we can use to document every trip that we take with this camper. On the walls I incorporated vintage maps form Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma because these are the places we are most likely to be visiting and my idea is to place a pin in every place that we go.

Eventually I would like to paint the stripe down the outside of this camper turquoise instead of the olive green that is currently there.

This will be my home away from home and my playhouse when I am at home.

As a way to keep me motivated I found a small group of women who agreed to make something every single day with their very own hands. We are working Monday through Friday and are giving ourselves the weekends off. You can follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #onemonthtwohands


BEFORE: Oh so boring......

Day 1 Project Twilight Bungalow: Maps go up!


Day 2 Project Twilight Bungalow: Paint Goes on!


Day 3 Project Twilight Bungalow: New polka dotted fabric upholstery!




Friday, October 22, 2010

My Hands




My hands are not pretty. I have given up long ago on manicures or even painting my fingernails. Fingernail polish winds up chipped and horrid looking in a matter of a day or two and then usually I can't find the time to redo it. My nails almost always are broken, chipped, and jagged. And, you can forget about those pretty artificial nails that so many women wear they wouldn't last a day and I would be crazy I wouldn't be able to work.

My hands are never idle hands they are busy working hands and that is when I am the happiest. I love working on typewriters, cleaning up antiques, making jewelry or mixed media, cooking, knitting, or even driving a tractor with a grain cart attached during harvest.

Then something new happened yesterday! I bought an antique rotary phone and got it home and surprise surprise it didn't work. So, straight to the internet I went using my fingers again to try and troubleshoot the phone and that led me to a crazy diagram which to be quite honest I didn't even know if it was the correct one for the model of phone that I had. So, I proceeded to open up the phone and saw that there were several different wires inside the phone and they were various different colors. So, with my trusty diagram along with a few screw drivers, a pencil, and a flashlight I went straight to work.



First, I studied the diagram and followed along all the different wires and through a process of elimination figured out that a few of the wires were attached to the improper places and one of them was detached altogether. So, I started switching them around making sure to note exactly where I was taking them from so that if it didn't work I could switch them back to their original places. Then after switching a few of the wires I plugged the phone in and gave it a try and through trial and error and a few trips back to the dining room table to my diagram and tools I made one last trip to the phone jack and it worked!!! And, the awesome thing is it works better than all the newer phones we have in the entire house cell phones included.




All I can say is you just have to be willing to try new things and don't be afraid that you are going to mess something up. Seriously what do you have to loose? A broken phone, a girl with some gumption, a few tools, the internet, and some time was all I needed. I hope this motivates you all to try something new. Now get started!!!

I'd also love to hear about your new skills!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Harvest 2010

Many of you have been hearing about our kick off to Fall Harvest 2o10. We have had a great start. The weather seems to be cooperating much better than last year (knocking on wood). We already cut some corn and now we have moved onto soybeans. Many of you know from my summer blog post that this is a very busy time and that there is a lot of hard work that goes into bringing in the crops. This is the first year that I have been able to stick around and actually operate any equipment.

Usually my mornings are spent working on Etsy while I am preparing lunch for all of us and then I drive 45 minutes to the field. After we eat, I jump into the CAT Challenger tractor and run the grain cart. I will admit that I am not that great at this and it is going to take me a while to learn this but the guys are pretty nice about teaching me and tell me that I am doing a great job. I follow the combines around the field and then when they are full of soybeans we unload them onto the grain cart and then I take them to the semi. Then when the semi is full the driver takes the load to the elevator.

The next picture is my view from inside the tractor and then the next two are of the machine. Yes, I am a "CATwoman" but not the typical Halle Berry type of catwoman! I don't think that I could get away with that type of outfit out here!






Here is a small video of the combine in action.

video

Here are a few more pictures of us getting ready to harvest. Everything must be cleaned, oiled, and repaired each day before starting again.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Meet Constance





I have been wanting to blog about typewriters for a while to share my love of them with you. One of my customers sent me a link to her blog which I must say is wonderful and expresses my feelings about these lovely machines and is probably even more well written than I could have done myself. So, I had to ask if I could share her words with you. Of course, she said yes! So here is her blog post. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our Harvest Life











For those of you who think that I have been absent for the last week or so harvest has taken over my life. Actually, harvests are what allows us to live our lives! I did not grow up on a farm nor did I have any clue what a farm wife was supposed to do out here when I married a farmer and moved an hour and 1/2 away from my family and friends. I worked at a regular 8 to 5 job and my husband started building up his business until the time was right and I could quit that 8 to 5 job. It was very scary at first not having a steady income. Farming is risky and you have to buy a lot of equipment and you depend of the weather which is sometimes a gamble. Will it rain, will we get hailed out, will we have a tornado, will we get a drought? Who the heck knows! We had some pretty junky stuff at first but my husband is very handy and mechanical so he has been able to buy equipment cheap fix them up and resell it and buy better.

This wheat harvest we ran a crew of five men plus myself the "go for girl", lunch lady, taxi, mom, wife, and cheerleader. I am gonna tell you this lunch lady stuff is hard work and I am starting to get it down to a science. The first four days we were in a motel away from home cutting. It is the same motel that we stayed in last year and I knew ahead of time that they would have a refrigerator for me to use and that I could live out of a cooler during the day time. I couldn't really cook anything special but we had come ready with a variety of lunch meats, cheese, and breads. I made homemade banana bread and had it ready to take with us for breakfasts. I made some crock pot wonder meals and appreciate those crock pot liners that you can just throw away that make cleaning your crock pot possible in a motel!

When we moved back home I had precooked five pounds of hamburger and five pounds of chicken breasts and already had it froze so that it would be easy to throw together meals. I have figured out that these guys will not eat side dishes. They basically take this stuff and eat on the run. I appreciate one pot dishes where they can get their meat and veggies in one dish. Thank goodness for casseroles and large Dixie cups. I can take a casserole and dish it out into the cups add a fork and wallah. They have their meal that fits in a cup holder and no need to have an awkward plate or bowl in this howling Kansas wind.

I go by the old Girl Scout motto here "Be Prepared!" I keep a first aid kit in my car. A cooler full of cold drinks. I buy a 20 pound bag of ice everyday. Keep bottles of water and various kinds of pop. I keep a large box of plastic utensils, plates, cups, napkins, paper towels, sunscreen, bug spray, trash bags, and toilet paper. My van has gas in it at all times. (For anyone who knows me this gas thing is a rarity because I am a person who does not like to fill up any more than she has to. I push this to the limit until the gas light turns on and then drive to the closest gas station to fill up!) After every meal I clean out my van , throw away any trash, and restock anything that needs replenishing.

Tips for anyone who has to do this. Get your ingredients and groceries ahead of time so you don't have to waste any time at the store. Don't try anything exotic, fancy, or spicy. Cook cookies ahead of time and have them in the freezer in zip lock bags so you can grab a bag and go. I make homemade fruit cups and have them ready to pull out and head to the field. These will be thawed out and ready to eat by the time you drive to the field. Have meat precooked and frozen so you can just grab it! It makes for quick meal preparation and less clean up when time counts!

When driving to the field, I have learned to follow instructions like drive around the first curve and then go two miles to the next curve in the road drive another two miles and then we will be back in a Brome field to your left. But, don't drive too fast or you will miss us because we will be surrounded in trees. I have also learned that my minivan can make it down roads that say road closed during wet weather. I have been places that most minivan drivers never dream of going. I appreciate two way radios, cell phones, and have phone numbers programmed in case you can't find the field you have more than one person to call to get directions! Be on time!

Wheat harvest is hot and windy, bugs are terrible, and we work long hours. It is not unusual for these guys to work until 1 or 2 in the morning get up at 6:30 and do it all over again. Our biggest day we cut 260 acres. Our mission is to cut 2,000 acres in 14 days. Right now we are 6 days in and 1,200 acres down. Then planting season starts.


Quick meals for busy wheels that I can not live without!

BBQ Chicken Cupcakes

1 pound cooked and chopped chicken breasts
1/2 an onion chopped
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbs. brown sugar
12 refrigerated biscuits
1 cup shredded cheese

Add chicken, onion, BBQ sauce, brown sugar and cook in the microwave until the onions are cooked. Then spray Pam in the bottom of a muffin pan and press the biscuits up the sides then fill them up with the chicken mixture and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Then you can top them with a little cheese and pop it back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Tater Tot Casserole
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
Salt
Pepper
1/2 an onion chopped
1 package of frozen tater tots
1 pkg sliced cheese
1 can of cream of celery or mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown hamburger and onions and drain. Place the hamburger mixture in a 9 by 13 inch pan and then pour the cream of celery or mushroom soup on top then place slices of cheese on top then add the tater tots on top. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top or crisscross some cheese slices if you would like. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.


Crock pot Pizza
1 1/2 lbs. of hamburger browned
1 can of pizza sauce
1 package of noodles your choice (12 oz.) (cook these according to the package directions)
4 ounces of Mozzarella cheese
1 small can of mushrooms
1 small onion
1 can of spaghetti sauce
4 ounces of cheddar cheese
1 package of pepperoni
1 green pepper chopped

Brown hamburger and onion then drain. Then mix together pizza and spaghetti sauces. Then layer sauce, meat, cooked noodles, green pepper, mushrooms, cheese, repeat until all ingredients are gone. Cook in your crock pot on high for 30 minutes and then on low for 1 hour until the cheese melts.

Frozen Fruit Cups
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/4 cups water (divided)
1-6 ounce can of orange juice
3-6 ounce cans of apricot nectar
1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1-16 ounce package of frozen sliced strawberries, broken apart
6 small sliced bananas
24-30 small plastic cups

In a saucepan heat sugar and 2 cups of water over high heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow the sugar/water to cool.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients including the 2 1/4 cups of water, add the sugar water, mix and then ladle into plastic cups, freeze until solid.

Cherry Limeade Pie
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tub of cool whip (thawed)
1 small 6 oz. can of limeade from concentrate or 1/2 of a large can.
1 can of cherry pie filling (you will not use the whole can)
1 graham cracker pie crust
Mix the condensed milk and the cool whip in the mixer then add the limeade (can be mixed in frozen) then pour the mixture in the pie crust and top with cherries. Put it in the refrigerator until it is firm then slice and serve.