Thursday, October 10, 2013

Little Kumquat Has Moved!

A lot of things have been going on around here. Fall is officially here (Winter is just around the corner!), we're finished canning/freezing, Samwise turned seven and Gramma Gail came up for a visit over the weekend.

The biggest piece of news, though, is that I have moved my blog from Blogger to Weebly. So, be sure to check out my new blog at:
Nothing is changing --- I've just moved (in an effort to get less "hooked in" to the Google stuff) and picked up right where this one is leaving off. Please, make sure to come over to the new blog!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Swan and Eggs Gourd Set and More!

Things are going on here just about the same as usual, though we are all excited to be at the end of the canning/freezing season. We officially finished our freezing for the season yesterday evening! Wow! The freezer is packed to capacity with peppers, zucchinis, beans, broccoli and the like. We are almost finished with canning as well --- just a few stray batches to go. Nothing major. Tomatoes are done, and that's a big deal. We've got tomatoes canned up in all kinds of ways: stewed, spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc. We have a little Salsa Verde to go, but just a small batch. Mom and I went down to the auction this morning and ended up staying for just about fifteen minutes and buying two quarts of buckeyes. Not bad!

Last week at the Farmers' Market, I was able to get a "Swan and Eggs" gourd set. We're not really decorating much outside this year, but I've been waiting for those to come on for weeks. She's now sitting outside in my Gnome Garden looking mighty pretty! I've gotten a small pumpkin and a burgundy-colored Mum to put out there with her since taking the photo, too.

I finally remembered to take a few pictures of things before they were processed into jars or freezer containers. Poblano peppers, Autumn strawberries (the best tasting things ever!) and some Horticulture Beans in jars. That just shows the beans in the jars before the rings were put on and they were canned. Once they come out of the pressure canner they just look like typical brown beans. They taste amazing! Of course, Oliver had to get in on this, too! Here he is being taken for a "walk" in my gnome garden with Mom. He's the best cat in the world.

This afternoon, we took a quick run out to Berlin and Millersburg to go up to the Heini's cheese factory and the Guggisburg cheese factory. That was fun. It was a nice afternoon for a drive and we were able to stock up on cheese at $2.00 a pound! Not bad! More later.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Royal Baby Fever: Duke, Duchess and Prince George Wool Dolls

Royal Baby Fever has really hit me. Where the world seemed to spend all of their energy on waiting for the Royal Baby to arrive, I have had a lot more fun since he arrived. After over ten years of collecting paper and memorabilia, coins and stamps and things like that having to do with the reign of King George VI, having a new little prince named George is FUN! I've ordered the New Zealand postage stamps (should arrive next week!) and even a Royal Trust "Royal Baby Loving Cup" for my hutch (to join all the KGVI china). I've spent any free moment in the evenings that I could get working on a Prince George scrapbook. What is it Elizabeth says: Enjoy it now while he's a baby, and you can imagine him as any type of prince that you like. As you can tell, Royal Baby Fever hasn't hit her as hard as it has me! ;)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as Minikin Wool Dolls --- including Prince George!

Not to forget any chance of enjoying this little Prince, we decided to make a set of Minikin dolls that looks like Prince William and Princess Catherine when they stepped out of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's in London to show off their new baby to the waiting public --- via hundreds of media cameras and reporters. They really dressed for the occasion in baby blue, carrying Prince George wrapped in a merino wool shawl. It seemed like the perfect "makings" for a set of Minikins. Elizabeth made Duchess Kate's custom-made Jenny Packham polka dot dress out of blue wool/rayon felt --- and hand-sewed every dot on it! Prince William even has metallic thread to make the studs on his belt.

Baby Prince George of Cambridge is the "crowning" touch (bad pun, I know!) to this set --- in my opinion. He's my favorite part. I needle felted him out of merino wool. Actually, the real shawl that little George was wrapped in was made by G.H. Hurt & Son, a Nottingham-based company --- and it was made of merino wool!

We've just listed these in our Etsy store as a custom order, which means that we "make them to order" in about three weeks. If anyone reading this post is interested in ordering their own Royal Family dolls, please contact me through the e-mail address at the top of the right-hand column here on my blog. The Baby George Minikin is actually felted individually and is not sewn onto the Princess Catherine doll. If you'd like your little George in the arms of Prince William, well, we could do that, too! We could also make the Duke and Duchess in the outfits they wore in the first official pictures of Prince George.

The First Official Picture of Prince George

So, I hope that everybody is enjoying the Royal Baby --- and a peek at our newest wool felt dolls! The pictures don't really do them justice, though. You need to see them and hold them to get the real feeling. :) More later.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th . . .

Today is Friday the 13th of 2013! Wow! That doesn't happen often. Elizabeth and I were having a smile over it. We're not superstitious, but it's one of those things that is always made fun of and doesn't actually occur too often.

The weather here has turned freezing! In the 50s today, so standing at the produce auction this morning was pretty nippy. Got another peck of jalapenos, so tomorrow I'm going to be working on freezing them for poppers. Yay!

Gotta go, but thought it would be fun to post a short one. More later.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

More Beans and More Canning

The weeks are passing and they are all sort of blending together. We're still in the middle of canning and freezing and auctioning. The weather had been staying pretty nice, but over the last couple days we've hit record temperatures in the 90s! Of course, our tomatoes were ready in these hot days instead of the cool ones. We've been making and canning spaghetti sauce and tomatoes for soup. We have also been freezing poblano peppers and zucchini for stuffing. On top of all that, Mom and I bought nine pecks of horticulture beans at the auction yesterday! That is 2-1/4 bushels of them. We shelled them all yesterday and canned over half of them. The rest of them will be going into the pressure canner shortly. The beans start out so beautiful in various shades of white, pink and cranberry, but they cook into a typical brown-colored bean. They taste fabulous, though! They are good plain or in stuffed peppers or stuffed zucchini . . . or anything, really.

We have not had time to do much of anything that you would call "interesting" --- other than canning, that is. Elizabeth got a few westerns from the library that star Randolph Scott. Some were duds, but one in particular, Seven Men from Now, was pretty great! I've spent the evenings working on my scrapbook for the new Royal Baby, Prince George. I've pretty much got myself caught up now. Gramma is sending me one of the Spanish magazines with a Royal Baby cover --- so, I'm looking forward to that arriving.

Gotta go finish working now. I've got a few pictures to come but not had time to download them or upload them here. They'll come later!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Heirloom Food and Horticulture Beans from the Produce Auction

Due to some technical difficulties with the camera (i.e. the camera died and will not turn on!), it has been some days before I was able to get the pictures that go with this entry. I had it all ready on Thursday, so I'm publishing it with that date!

About twenty minutes drive from our house, there is an Amish-run produce auction. There are sales every morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the season. Mom and I have been going for three years now, and it is always interesting to see what you can find. Friday auctions are usually filled with "pretty" food and only normal varieties. Vegetables that you can find in Kroger or Publix or whatever chain of grocery stores you visit. This is due to the "Farmer's Market" crowd (as we call it) --- in other words, all the people who are planning on setting up a cart or stall to sell produce over the weekend.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, though, there can usually be found some interesting and varied types of local produce. Yesterday Mom and I had a great time. We were able to get some heirloom tomatoes, which is something that we've always wanted to try. They don't look like the typical "red" tomato. They have a variety of colors on them --- anything from red, green, yellow and purple. They also grow in a shape that is not perfectly round. We cut one for our salad last night, and boy! They taste fabulous. You can certainly tell that taste is being hybridized right out of fruit and vegetables.

A nice thing that is usually available are some peck boxes of "mixed vegetables". This is a nice option for when you don't care to have a whole peck of some kind of vegetable at once. Mom and I bought two of those, which means that we got a nice mix of hot peppers, garlic, sweet peppers, potatoes, red cabbage, red and yellow onions, apples --- and horticulture beans! The apples we got were something called "Mollie's Delicious" which is a cross of something with a golden delicious, I believe. They are quite good, but we'd never seen them before. They are really cute, because they have a sort of heart shape to them.

Horticulture beans! They are an old variety of soup bean, grown in America for so long that they were probably here when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. They are also known as "Cranberry Beans", "French Horticulture Beans" and a couple other similar titles. The first time that we bid on them, we were able to get a half peck. Well, they were so lovely that we went back two days later and were able to get five pecks. Wow! That was a LOT of shelling. My thumbs were sore all the next day --- but, it was so worth it! They are beautiful pink and white in color (some white, some pink and all kinds of patterns in between) when they are raw. They cook into a light/medium brown color and stay nice and firm and taste great!

The other thing that we've been working on is making and freezing stuffed zucchini. It's marvelous! Wow! We're freezing the zucchinis plain and ready for stuffing, but some of them we've put in stuffed for Dad to have for breakfast or lunch on a work day. This is a picture of some of the breakfast ones being made. Mom put scrambled eggs (with sauteed onions, pepper and garlic) and vegetarian sausage in them and topped that with grated cheddar cheese. Dad tried one this week and really liked it. We've made them with just about every combination of stuffing that we can think of. Beans and bacon (vegetarian bacon, of course!), pepperoni pizza (again, vegetarian), tomatoes with onions and peppers . . . and they are always topped with some kind of cheese. Definitely something that I'd recommend. Well, got to get going, so more later.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Prince George: The Royal Baby is a Month Old!

All of the news about the new little Prince of Great Britain, George Alexander Louis, has been a lot of fun to me. After so many years of collecting things from (and having to do with) the reign of George VI, it has been especially exciting now that he has a gg-grandson named after him. We left for Florida just two days after he was born, which meant that we had a lot of fun in Miami looking for newspaper clippings and magazines. The Spanish Paper was actually quite consistent in running news of the Royals. Even a whole-page color photo in the Sunday special the week that he was born!

And we've still been watching since we came home. As soon as the business of Summer is over, I am planning on a fun little scrapbook with pictures and clippings about Prince George. I've printed a lot already and have bunches of pictures downloaded to work on printing later. Ohio seems to be showing a decided lack of interest in little George. To the point that even the Columbus paper isn't running anything. We've got some out-of-state friends that are kind enough to be watching their papers and sending clippings to me, though!

Elizabeth and I were hoping to get postage stamps from Great Britain, but the Royal Mail has informed us that they have no plans to issue stamps for the Royal Baby. What a shame! Guess we'll be ordering from New Zealand, right?! We also found a seller on Etsy who makes miniature plates for dollhouses --- and she has all kinds of royalty plates, including plates for Prince George! That is really fun, as I already have plates for my dollhouse hutch that cover all the British monarchs from Queen Victoria to the Queen Mother's 100th birthday in 2000.

Well, it's time to go mow the lawn, but I figured that a post on the Royal Baby would be fun! After all, it's not every day that an heir to the throne is born!
More later.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bass Pro Shop in Miami: A Cool Store!

Last month, while we were down visiting family in Florida, we went to the Bass Pro Shop in Miami, Florida. That was one cool store. Wow! In fact, it was so neat that we went to it two days in a row. We've been to a number of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's over the years. Mom and the two of us even went to the Bass Pro "headquarters" store in Springfield, Missouri. That was an amazing place. It was so big that it was like walking through a park. Even the RV sales are indoor out there! None of us are even into the hunting/camping lifestyle. Sure, Dad likes to fly-fish, but he has all the rods and reels he'll ever need --- so, aside from the stray fly-tying supply, we don't even buy at a Bass Pro. That said, they are some cool stores and always worth walking around in as a sight-seeing experience. And Miami's Bass Pro is the coolest ever!

The store is not the largest one that you'll come across, though it has a very tall entrance and an indoor boat sales room before you actually enter the store. The entrance "hall" of the store is decorated in weathered wood, leather seats and antique fishing gear --- reels, etc. The store itself has a tall ceiling in the center that has been completely decorated to give you the appearance of being under the sea in a sunken ship. There were portholes and doors and ship's ladders. Models of all kinds of fish, sharks and rays were "swimming" through the ship. There was even a skin diver in there fishing with a harpoon. It really looked like something straight out of Disney World. For the visitor who fancies seeing real-live fish, there was even a large tank camouflaged is a large rock outcropping in the center of the store (right under the sunken ship).

Over the individual departments in the store there were other decorations. Hunting and Shoes had a ceiling made to look like you were under water with an alligator and a canoe floating over you. Fishing poles and gear had a ceiling made to look like you were under the water with mangroves and a school of fish. Fly-Fishing was inside of an area made to look like the construction of a large boat. The dressing rooms and stations throughout the store were all decorated like fishing huts and beach buildings and docks, etc.

We took a lot of pictures which will give you an idea. It's not as bright as these in real life, as they have spotlights up there and my camera did not like that. If you are ever in Miami, this is a definite place to stop!Well, it has only taken me a month to get the vacation pictures posted, so now it can go back to more casual (and hopefully more regular) posting! More later.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spent a Week in Miami, FLA

Things have been really busy, but we are finally back from our week in Miami --- having come home a week and a half ago. Life is anything but settled, but I figured that I better get a blog entry up before the whole month slips by. Hopefully, the amount of pictures included here makes up for the long time in posting. It's taken me ages to load them all!

Grampa called us a month or two ago and told us that he had tickets for us to come down for a visit, so this was a bit of a spontaneous trip. At first, we had been trying to work out a September date, but when that couldn't fall together, it seemed that God was really leading us to going at the end of July. We packed our bags and headed to Columbus airport of July 24th. We actually had non-stop flights both ways, so there was only a little over two hours spent in the air either time. Not bad!

1.) View of Miami Int'l Airport from Gramma and Grampa's Condo
2.) Elizabeth at the Door of the Condo on Our First Day There

We arrived in the afternoon and our aunt and Grampa picked us up. Boy, was it hot down there?! The first evening was spent visiting at Gramma and Grampa's condo, and the next day was spent hanging around, shopping for groceries, etc. Elizabeth and I had a lot of fun going through the back issues of Grampa's newspaper to clip out stories about little Prince George. We'd been able to get The New York Times with pictures at the airport, too. That gave us fun that lasted out the week as we looked at papers and magazines.

Friday dawned sunny and hot. Plans were pretty loose, and in the end Dad changed a light and did some painting at the condo. Mom and the two of us went up to Aunt Lori's house in Hollywood. Gramma Gail came down and even Aunt Susie was down from Tennessee for the week. It was a regular family reunion! And fun! We all went to lunch at Villa Rose. That is a little pizza place that is almost like a family tradition when we all get together down there. Even Brian was able to go to lunch, so that was fun to visit with him. After that, we went to Kohl's to do some shopping together and then back to Aunt Lori's house. Uncle Jack came home in the afternoon, so we got to see him for a little while, too! It was some noisy, fun, loud "Chaffin-style" visiting until nine or ten in the evening. It was pretty late by the time that we got back to the condo.

1.) Elizabeth and Gramma Gail
2.) Mom, Aunt Susie, Elizabeth, Gramma Gail, Me, (on the floor) Aunt Lori and Kelly

Saturday was quite rainy. Patty was having a party for Leilani in the afternoon, but she ended up having some kind of stomach bug. None of the four of us felt like spending part of the vacation with the same bug --- or worse yet, getting on an airplane with it, so we opted to stay behind. In the end, we drove over to Leonor's house and visited for four hours! That was great, as she is one of the people that Elizabeth and I just love to see. She is the sweetest lady you could imagine and always happy.

Pictures above are at Leonor's house on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday was nice outside, and we spent the morning starting slowly. Gramma and Grampa's church wasn't having a service that morning on account of there being a wedding instead, so we were all at the condo. Did a little laundry and the four of us went to Payless and looked around. Come the afternoon, all six of us went back to Leonor's house. Eloy was over, too, so we had a nice time visiting with him. Spent about three and a half hours over there and then went straight on to Tia Ela and Clemente's house for the evening. That was fun! They are fabulous people (our great-aunt and uncle) and always so special to visit. Benny was there as well, so it was a real get together. We had dinner together and stayed pretty nice and late. Tia Ela had gotten some of the cutest mini Cuban pastries (as seen in photo). Elizabeth and I had never seen the party sized ones like that, so we had fun!

1.) Tia Ela, Benny, Me, Dad, Gramma, Clemente, Grampa and Elizabeth.
2.) Clemente was nice enough to save his "Royal Baby" paper for us!
3.) The BEST pastelitos you'll ever eat. Wow!

Monday and Tuesday morning gave us some time to go driving around and a little casual sight-seeing. Mom and Dad drove us through Coral Gables and we got to see the Banyan trees and the Biltmore Hotel and the George Merrick House. The Merrick House wasn't open for tours that day, so Lizzy and I are hoping that we'll be able to go another time to see the inside, too! For fun, we also stopped at Einstein Brothers Bagels and got bagels and coffee. Yahoo! We also stopped at the Whole Foods down there, and that is a real cool store. More on that in another post (if I remember!). I think that the picture of Elizabeth with the coffee is my favorite one from the whole vacation.

We also went to the Miami Bass Pro Shop, which is one of the most amazing places. There are a ton of photos from there, though, so I'll post another entry on that. We had some time to catch up on laundry and Dad's family came over for a visit. Leilani is sure getting big. She was such a little thing the last time that we saw her.

Above Left: Grampa, Gramma, Dad, Leilani, Patty, Aunt Elena, Elizabeth and Mom.

The flight home on Tuesday afternoon was bumpy in a couple of spots, but otherwise uneventful. There was a pigeon in the Ft. Lauderdale airport that was the cutest thing. He just walked around and picked up food and crumbs from passengers --- and obviously gets very well fed! He was so adorable! All in all, this was the best family vacation that we've ever had. Great visiting and just a fun time. The sight of good-old Ohio was nice, though, and we were all pretty happy to make it back home where there is grass and greenery, etc.