Sunday, November 5, 2017

A tale of two dogs and their diets . . .

Well, here's the latest in the feeding of Tashi saga. She seems to want to eat only once a day. Today, she finally dug in about 4:30 pm. She is on her third bowl of food, so in the end she gets enough to eat. My test is feeling her ribs, don't even want to bother with weighing her. I get so depressed if she has dropped even a few ounces. Her ribs feel fine, nothing like the xylophone she was at the worst of her illness.

As for Fred, he is getting so fat he can barely jump on the bed. He is getting a third of a cup of kibble twice a day. And that's it! I won't even let him lick the bowl when Tashi is finally finished. He is not wild about these meals. I sometimes have to put a bit of broth on his kibble, but then it disappears in less than a minute. He's been pacing in the kitchen beside me while I write, looking in his bowl with optimism, then walking away. LOL

When I am having trouble feeding Tashi, Fred goes in his cage any time her food is on the floor. No more stolen meals. I know that is his weight problem - I walk away from Tashi's dish to get something from the garage or basement, and the next thing I know he is up to his neck in her dog food. He is quick!

Well, they are both satisfied now. Tashi has cleaned up all of her precooked food. Chicken gizzards and hearts are cooking on the stove for tomorrow, or maybe a late night snack. A huge package of thighs and some old stew meat I found when cleaning freezers are thawing out for her next big batch.

She is a good old dog. Nearly totally deaf (but her head stills comes up when I shout, "Want to go for a walk?"), cataracts, arthritis. Hard to see these things getting worse when we have finally conquered the eating issues (sort of), but she has given me 12 beautiful years, and who knows, maybe a couple more are to come. I heart Tashi and Fred.

Friday, November 3, 2017

My granddaughter's wedding

My third grandchild, Abby, got married a couple of weeks ago. It was a lovely weekend. She was married in St. Louis, where she is living while she is completing her residency at Washington University hospital. She is a radiologist. A radiant radiologist!

She was absolutely beautiful. I was waiting to write this blog until I had some official pictures, and I may write another one when I get those. But in the meantime, here are some of the favorites I took, and some stories to go with each of them.

Yes, there was a dog of honor at the wedding!

The bridal party learning their parts

Lumi with the dog sitter, granddaughter-in-law, grandson, and the flower girl

Grandma kissing a nearby horse

The minister, about to perform wedding number 1,045.

Chairs were decorated with herbs

Grandma Susie in her wedding duds

The family - Katie, Joe, Kate, Abby, Tim, Jim, Christine, Bethany, Natalie & Bob

The bride and groom cutting the cake

Natty ditched the party clothes fast!

Mr. and Dr. Erickson's first dance

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gearing up for the holidays

I have been so busy! We are gearing up for the holidays at the booth. People are already asking for holiday soap.

Not only is the booth busier, but a lot of what we are selling is stuff we make in the soap room here in Mishawaka. Bath Bombs are back. I haven't made them for a couple of years, but with Christina helping out in the soap room, I put them back on the schedule. We made three of the scents last week - Patchouli & Jasmine, Herbal Medley (clary sage & lemon eucalyptus), and Applejack & Orange Peel, my personal favorite. You can order bath bombs at my new web site. Not all sizes and shapes are available at all times, but we are happy to send you a list of what is in inventory. They are on my new web site. I have included a modest shipping cost in the price of all my items, so there are no surprises at checkout. The price you see is the price you will pay, delivery included. Here is my new web site address:

I started making shampoo bars for a friend of mine who brought me a recipe and asked if I could do it. Yes, I could. Since I am used to making goat milk soap, there was a bit of a learning curve, but I think I've got it. The formula works in my 3-D molds, too. These aren't up on my site yet, but I'm working on it! Adding new items every day.

My new order of men's shaving brushes and brush stands went to the wrong address, not once but twice. Las Vegas warehouse to Walkerton, back to Las Vegas ware house, and BACK TO WALKERTON! I have purged that address from their system. They have sent me at least two orders to the correct address since I moved, but . . .  So I am down to one shaving brush and no stands. Sale of men's products has been pretty good since we moved things around on the booth. Christina came in to the market and we worked together to increase visibility of the skin care products. Sales have increased as a result. :)

Much as I love this time of year (I'm a fall and winter person), it gets a little hectic, so back to work.

3-D bars and shampoo bars

Last of the bath bombs waiting to be wrapped

The BIG BAR mold for shampoo bars - ready to go

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Starting things - and finishing things

My counter top is full of projects. A week ago, I started a new batch of fermented mustard pickles. They can be jarred this Friday. Same day, I started a jar of sauerkraut. Forgot to put in juniper berries, but I will do that with my next batch. I'm eating my last quart from last year right now, so this is perfect timing, although sauerkraut just keeps tasting better with time. But even "new" kraut is better than the store bought stuff.

Fermenting kraut and mustard pickles
My two bowls of poolish are doing their thing - flour, water and a pinch of yeast. It will sit until this evening. I give it 12 hours, by which time I'll see lots of bubbles and it will smell divine! Then it will get mixed into my bread dough. The dough will do a slow rise in fridge until I take it out at 5:00 tomorrow morning to make 15 baguettes for Garden Patch Market.

By tonight, it will be spongy and full of bubbles.
I made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast this morning and realized the jar of homemade sprouted buckwheat flour is getting kind of low. So more buckwheat was soaked this morning, then will be rinsed and drained daily until I see plenty of sprouts. Then it goes into the dehydrator for a few hours and is ground into flour for my beloved buckwheat pancakes. I mix it half and half with my low carb baking mix. Sprouting the grain gets rid of a few carbs, so my diet can tolerate a plate of buckwheat pancakes once every week or two, especially after a really intense workout at the gym.

Buckwheat groats soaked and set to sprout
I make kefir for a couple of people and have a delivery tomorrow, so the milk is sitting on the counter, with kefir grains added. By tonight it should be just right. I'll bottle it and take with me to market tomorrow.

By tomorrow morning, it will be thick, creamy kefir made with A2 milk - high nutrients
One of my customers loves my sourdough rye bread (only leavening in the bread dough is yeast that I caught in my kitchen when I moved here three years ago), and the jar of sourdough came out of the fridge for a hefty feeding so that I will have enough to do a recipe for two loaves tomorrow and Friday. Yes, that's right - it takes at least two days to make my sourdough rye bread, but it's worth the wait. He will be at market Saturday to pick up his loaf, and there will be two half loaves for sale along side the French baguettes. Those two breads are at the opposite ends of the bread spectrum, let me tell you, but both mighty fine.

I can already see some bubbles forming!
Last but not least, I'm making Easy Slow Cooker Lemon Custard, a low carb recipe with liquid stevia, fresh lemon juice and rind, egg yolks and heavy cream. It is in my slow cooker in a water bath for three hours. First time I've made it. Hope it turns out well.

Organic lemons, organic egg yolks, heavy cream, a little stevia for sweetening. 
Once a month, my minister and I have dinner here together and talk over church business.  I'm president of the board this year, and we seem to accumulate a few knotty issues that need some extra attention each month. Tonight's the night. He will just have to put up with my low carb stuff - although he is bringing the appetizers, his choice. Menu: Rev. Chip's appetizers, sweet red peppers stuffed with cauli-rice smothered in meat and tomato sauce, sautéed beans with garlic and cherry tomato cream sauce, and the lemon custards for dessert.

Well, back to work. Christina will be here to work in the soap room in an hour, and I have to get the work schedule together, get labels printed, jars set out, etc. so that we make the best use of our time today. In three hours, we put out a LOT of product!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cleaning up the gardens

I'm cleaning up the flower beds one last time for the season. Busy, but such soothing work. There is a lovely fall breeze. Even though Mabon, the fall equinox, hasn't yet arrived, there is definitely a change in the weather. Even the air smells different.

Front of house is done. I'm going to take a little rest, then head back to the rose garden. It will get its own blog entry, of course! LOL

Fall flowers in the front stoop planters

Zinnias, such a beautiful red! The mum to the right blooms rust brown. Getting so big! Time to divide.

Yes, I grow potatoes in my foundation plantings. It's my thing.

Culinary sage. This is a spectacular plant! Giving away the trimmings at market this week.

English ivy got another haircut today. If you don't mind the extra care, it is a great ground cover.

The yarrow. Looking sad after several harvests for the soap room this year. But it will be back!

Were there really that many weeds?

Sage bush trimmings - going to market. Stop by. It's free!

Cosmos were really looking sad. So they are on their way to the compost heap. Still useful in their own way.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

New bread baking process this morning!


Well, I used my couche, bread flipper and burn prevention gloves for the first time this morning. Oh, WOW! I cannot believe how beautiful the bread is turning out.

I am a bit clumsy with flipping the loaves directly onto the baking stone, and I made the first five loaves a little too long. One of them has a bent tip where it was too long for the baking stone.

The texture is unbelievable! Take a look at these pics.

Loaves rising in the couche

Loaves baking directly on baking stone - no pans anymore!

First loaves out of the oven - 10 more to go

Look at the crumb, the texture - perfection! 

My gardens and my kitchen

The rose garden is all I hoped for. It's in need of a thorough weeding today, but that is pure pleasure. An hour spent, and it will be spotless again! I moved some ground cover from the foundation plantings in front of the house, will move some more down there today. It will make the job easier when there is not so much bare soil.

I bought lacewing eggs and ladybugs. The ladybugs didn't hang around long but I think they wiped out the aphids before they went. Roses are looking better. Haven't seen a lacewing yet.

Every few days I pick a bouquet of herbs, and hopefully there will be a new rose blooming. They look so beautiful on my counter, and I love having the fresh herbs at hand. I use them more when I don't have to stop and run outside with the scissors to cut them while I'm cooking.

The rose garden

They smell as good as they look.

Roses, herbs and mixed bouquet

Picked new herbs this morning

And speaking of cooking, my bread baking will be quite exciting this week. I finally, after years of using old beat up baguette pans, have purchased a couche, from France no less. So I will be forming my loaves using the couche, which is a heavy linen cloth. It is laid out, then bunched up every few inches to form troughs. The formed loaves are laid in the troughs to rise. I bought the flipping board too, so that I can flip the formed loaves onto the board and use it to take the loaves to the baking stone in my oven. They will be baked directly on the stone, and it should mean even better crusts. And while I was at it, I bought some really good oven gloves. Really tired of the burns on my hands and wrists!

The new equipment

So that's what has been happening in Susie's gardens and kitchen. Life is good.