My Mom’s Amish Country Adventure

 

In April my mom excitedly experienced a week-long Amish Country quilt retreat! Sounds pretty intriguing , doesn’t it? She was invited from relatives to attend this quilt retreat in Ohio and she couldn’t say no since she is a devoted quilt maker.

 

 

The retreat was in Charm, Ohio, a little Amish community. The Amish hosted the participants in a modest yet modern housing complex. Mom and her relative and friends worked on their quilt with help from Amish women. They brought their materials, cloth and sewing machine to work on all week.

The Amish women cooked for the group including providing snacks such as popped corn made on the gas stove. They have this convenience but no electricity nor televisions or modern devices.

 

 

Mom came home with freshly made turnovers, to serve at Easter dinner. It’s not everyday that you can taste something so delicious and made by the Amish. What a treat they were! I just wish I would’ve snapped a photo of them!

 

 

What an experience she had and I’m so happy for her, for she doesn’t travel on her own adventures. I would love to see her go once a year. I feel it’s vital to go on your own treks, to meet new people and see places you’ve never seen before. It’s these times that build your inner self-awareness and confidence.

This is one of the amazing quilts my mom has crafted for us. I love the different shades of blue! It’s comfortable on chilly evenings and mornings and Smokey agrees. Here he is lounging on my bed before I make it for the day.

Have a blessed day and seek adventure whenever you can!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

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Building a Strong Fence

 

I’ve gardened many years without a fence. Through the years I took my chances and shared my lot with deer, raccoon and skunks to name a few. Then when we moved our garden to our house lot, I received an early sign that a fence probably was priority. The first time we tilled the garden, within hours we had a deer investigate just a few feet away. I think he/she smelled the pungent fresh soil from the nearby woods and wished to see what all this was about…maybe hoping for fresh veggies that early.

 

Even though I knew that I needed a fence, I put it off. The last straw was when I simply left the plot to go inside to make supper. An hour and a half later upon approaching the garden, I discovered that a woodchuck had destroyed and eaten my whole row of broccoli. All that remained were forlorn roots and a green stem sadly bent beyond shape.

 

A couple of summers ago we were fortunate to have my dad give us some simple fencing and we put it up. We attached sturdy sticks to hold up the frame and believe it or not, it held up pretty well even through the rough winter weather. Last fall the wind and elements tore down some of the fence and snapped the sticks we had in place.

 

Yesterday Tom and I put the fence back up with grade stakes I bought at a local Agway farming store. I think they’ll be sturdy and last a few years. The only regret I have is that they should be a little taller, about five feet. They will do and serve the purpose but next time when I replace them I’ll be sure to buy taller stakes.

Many of you know we are renovating our house one bit at a time. Every summer we do a little bit more and eventually it will be finished to our liking. You can see Tom’s summer project in the background, the side of our house that we will continue to put cedar siding on.

This winter I bought this old post office box from Ebay pretty cheap. At first I had inside for decor, then hung it on our front door but finally I’ve decided on its true placement.  Here it hangs on my garden fence, holding all my little shovels and trowels and dowels for the plants. I’m happy with it and its rustic mint green finish. I’m always trying to incorporate antiques and unique things in my inside and outside spaces.

A sturdy fence keeps our planted veggies safe and ready for our family to eat. In these woodsy mountainous parts, a fence is essential! When we go on our local drives in the warm sun, we notice many neighbors have a sturdy fence. Must be that they don’t want to share with the deer either!

 

Do you have a fence around your home or garden? Sometimes fences serve as barriers to keep animals out. Other times they are beautiful works of art, a part of the landscape design.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Jojo’s Photography Dream

There’s this young woman I know who has inspired me to write this post and share her work with you all. I am thankful to say I know her and am getting to learn more about her everyday. She has given permission for me to share her photos and interview her on her love, photography.

 

 

Her name is Jojo Anderson and I know her because she dates my youngest son. They both attend the same college and have been dating for a year. There’s something special and loving about this lady…she’s kind, thoughtful and honest and has taken lovely photos, so it’s a pleasure to share her story and photography with you!

 

 

Jojo started taking photos when she bought her first camera in the sixth grade. Her photos were of everything with no rhyme or purpose, just for fun! Suddenly one day the camera broke and she stopped taking photos for a while. Years later, just before her senior year,  her parents encouraged her to buy a new camera. Jojo says that the more photos she snapped the more the she fell in love with the power of it.

 

Isn’t this photo of captured nature beautiful?

This talented young woman always had an interest in old cameras but she really doesn’t know why. She was attracted to how things were made, which lead to an intention to pursue engineering after high school. Jojo applied to colleges with this major in mind. While taking photos and exploring photography, Jojo realized that she loved it! With the change of heart and majors, she applied to Mount Ida College majoring in photography with a back up of being a vet tech.

 

 

Jojo started posting her work on social media and received attention from professional photographers. Her dad taught her some basic principles of art/ photography fundamentals such as the rule of thirds and the rule of odds. Her parents were a big influence on her goals, especially her dad.

 

 

One of Jojo’s favorite subjects is of people she loves. A few months ago this young lady snapped this gem of my son and he loved it so much that he used it for his social media profile. She values the fact that the photo highlights who Branden is as a person, a genuine capture of him without being fake. His smile is real and not posed for the shot. Jojo thinks it’s special that she captured  his essence, as if the camera wasn’t there. Sometimes Branden changes or freezes up when a camera focuses on him,( as most people do)  so this picture shows that he can relax for the camera. I do love this pose, spoken from a proud mama!

 

Jojo also took this great portrait of her younger sister. I love the outside backgrounds of these photos! She loves using photography to tell a story and enjoys taking photos that capture the moment in nature.

 

 

 

 

In class Jojo had an assignment of taking photos of food in an arrangement.

If you’re interested in viewing Jojo’s photos, you can sign up free on Behance.net. She also sells prints, cards and posters on Zazzle.com under her artist name Jojo Anderson. I ordered a beautiful card of a mesmerizing sunset recently. I was thrilled with its beauty and it was shipped to me within days.

Here’s my photo card I ordered from Jojo. I love it!

 

As I wrap up this post I’m encouraged of Jojo’s promising photography career. I believe she will succeed in what she sets her mind to. She wishes to work freelance eventually but may pursue a job in the industry, just starting out. Whatever this young lady achieves, it will be great because she has heart and guts to reach her dreams. I’m happy she’s dating my son and proud to know her and call her a friend.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Wrap Station

 

Every Christmas I have quite a variety of wrapping papers, ribbons and tags for wrapping. Years ago I did something clever and organized by buying a tall  container to store all the rolls. That way I could be mobile and wrap in any room I wished. Most years I tug out the container and watch It’s a Wonderful Life while peacefully wrapping in front of the Christmas tree. What a joy it is to give and wrap the present!

 

You see, I think I have a wrapping paper addiction! Our former employer Mrs. Geneen had a special wrapping room with hundreds of rolls of wrap. Every color of the rainbow and prints of quaint villages, snowmen and vintage Santas lay in big pull out drawers. A large table was set up for working elves on Christmas Eve. Ever since I saw Mrs. G’s layout I’ve wanted a good variety of Christmas paper. I did resist buying new wrapping paper this year because I know I have more than enough.

 

This year I wanted more organization and since we have a spare room no one is using, I set up shop in there. On a little cardboard table I have a wrapping station of wrap rolls, a place for bags, a station for tags, scissors and tape. I guess I’ll wrap on the table if I move the rolls or on the bed. All the packages and presents are in the room ready to be lovingly wrapped.

 

 

Do you have a wrapping tradition? Is it a random action or do you put a lot of thought into it? I have to admit that even though I enjoy wrapping presents I’m not that great at it! On the other hand my husband is very precise with it and does a wonderful job! He could be one of those quick wrapping department store clerks!

I hope that this year you find wrapping is fun and not a pain! Play festive music, have a glass of wine or a cocktail and enjoy it!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎁

Inktober Art

 

With my son’s permission, I’m sharing his art work for Inktober. I guess this is a widespread event that he’s participating in. I’ve noticed that other bloggers are jumping on board and excited to see their work throughout the month. 

The first day’s theme is swift and here is Branden’s unique version. I love it as it has character and captures my son’s artistic talent and couples with his humorous personality. 

Happy days to you all and good luck to all the artists and bloggers participating in Inktober!

Swift

Scrapbook Cookbook

 

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About ten years ago I revamped my recipe collection in a big way. First I threw out my dilapidated recipe box and hauled out recipes that I never used. Second, I found a cute whimsical Susan Branch cookbook kit with scrap booking pages and stickers. The book was cheap enough but cheaply made too, as I found out this year.

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Like many housewives who cook everyday, my recipe book started to show wear and tear. Then one day after making a delicious meal for my family, the books’ binding fell apart.  I busily shoved it on my little shelf in the kitchen and soon forget it’s desecration. Every time I reached for my recipe collection, the broken book with pages falling out reminded me that I had been doing this awhile and my book couldn’t keep up.

 

Last week, on an energetic whim, I set my mind to repairing and giving new life to my book. I searched our file cabinet and found a 1 ½ inch binder that one of the boys had used for school. I recycled it at the end of that year and put it in my stash of “ maybe I’ll use that someday.” I’m grateful for that because sometimes I throw things out in an organization fit.

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Next I found plastic page protectors to slip all the handwritten and computer copied recipes in. I highly recommend this step because we all know cooking can be messy and can stain and alter our nice cards.

 

What I especially love about the Susan Branch cookbook kit was that it supplied folders with heading for extra recipes. What I’ve always done is displayed my favorites, family favorites,my mom’s recipes,  Tom’s mom and dad’s and meme’s staunch winners on the pages and others can rest in the folders.

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I bought the cookbook scrapbooking kit on Amazon but you could do it yourself, if you have the supplies needed. You would need a 1 ½ inch binder, scrapbook pages, stickers, recipe cards, pouches for the miscellaneous recipes and page protectors. If you do buy the scrapbook kit, try to find one with a sturdy binder or buy the binder separately.

 

Now I can’t wait to cook and use my cookbook, that I gave new life to. It’s the little things that make me happy in the kitchen.

 

Good luck scrapbooking and happy cooking!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Bit of Halloween🎃

 

 

Halloween was always a holiday exclusively for our boys. They would pick their costumes out a month before and the waiting and expectations would bubble over within them, like a rapid boiling pot of stew. There were years of cowboys ( I tend to remember Dylan was one twice) and simple ghosts of worn bed sheets. One year Dylan was a Power Ranger and coincidently it turned out his cousin wore another Power Ranger costume. Another Halloween Branden was disguised as Batman, a far cry from the  little pumpkin suit he wore when he was two.

 

I look back on all those fleeting memories, years of costume picking and driving them around to neighbor’s houses to trick or treat, and their pumpkin buckets filled with candy. Halloween nights ended with a special visit to Grammy and Papa’s house down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

Last year Branden and I carved the pumpkins.That was our Halloween activity, as the years of fashioning big costumes and going out are long gone. It was so much fun to do it but bittersweet for me, for I knew it may be the last time. So with the boys gone and living their new lives, that leaves Tom and I to do the pumpkin carving this year. I mentioned it last week and I didn’t get an eye roll but no comment. I remember Tom carving pumpkins with the boys when they were young but it’s been years since he’s dabbled in orange squash flesh….the desire to do it fades with the boys gone.

 

 
Yesterday being the day before Halloween and having Sunday free time, I brought it up again. I kind of expected an excuse but was surprised when my husband smiled in anticipation. Hauling the round orange pumpkin gems in the house, I plunked them on our bar counter which is a handy work space.Laying multiple newspapers on the bar, we placed them on top and got to work. We dried the surface of each pumpkin, gathered two sharp knives and found a few colored sharpies to draw the faces.

 

 
Of course I had to play the eerie and entertaining Monster Mash song while we started with cutting the top. This is tricky for me because I’m afraid my knife will slip so I go slow and careful. Next we scooped out all the stringy and gooey guts with the pumpkin seeds in tow. We were organized and neat about it and dumped unwanted guts in a tall bucket to later add to our compost pile. Last we drew our eyes, noses and mouths and started carving them out.

 

 

It’s always been fun and a good treat to roast pumpkin seeds. I start by putting them in a colander and rinse them good. Then I drain them and dry them with paper towels. Next I place them in a thin layer on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and salt the seeds. Set the oven at 350 F and toast about 35 minutes or until golden brown. They are a yummy healthy snack and our sons always loved them!

 

 

Now our jack-o- lantern creations sit on the stoop awaiting for little luminescent candles tonight. Probably trick or treaters won’t come, as we live in a small rural community. Most families take their kids to other towns nearby where they can park their cars and walk along the streets. Most years I’m prepared but no trick or treaters show up. Who knows, maybe we will be surprised this year! The candy bars will be ready!

 

With that I hope no one gets scared, for it’s all in fun.

Happy Halloween!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️