Preserving the last of summer…

After all the HEAT we have had well into October, I must say I’m happy for a chilly day today!

I will greatly miss my fresh flowers during the months ahead, though, so I have been researching the topic of preserving flowers!  I planted some Eucalyptus this spring and knew that preserving some mature branches of that plant (which did very well in my flower bed) would be on my fall ‘to do’ list.

Today was the day to begin the first stage of this preservation project! I harvested my Eucalyptus and also experimented with selected stems of assorted color zinnias, lavender, one sunflower, one cone flower, fern leaves and some cork screw type grass.  While I’m not sure how the preservation of these selected flowers will go, I am quite hopeful about the Eucalyptus branches! I had planned on cutting some juniper to preserve for Christmas, but my son didn’t know my plans and he tore out and burned the juniper bushes at his house a few weeks ago!

Today’s steps in the preservation process were very easy…you may want to give it a try!

For this project you will need: water, vegetable glycerin, vases/containers and your flowers or greens. *Vegetable glycerin is the same type of product used to make soaps and lotions and can be found at Amazon.com.

20171013_125455

Following are directions to begin the preserving process:

  1. Select some sturdy containers to use for this project. I used both glass jars and ceramic vases. If your stems are longer, you’ll want to use a taller container to support the branches. Plastic containers won’t stand solidly and will loose their shape when you add the hot water. One of these days I will find a use for those saved containers!
  2. Measure the amount of water you’ll need to insure ample amount for your containers. *Add extra so you will have some prepared mixture to use when you need to refresh the liquid in the vases. The process will continue for 6 weeks. Keep in mind, as you estimate the water you’ll need for your vases, that you’ll be using 2 parts water to 1 part glycerin.
  3. Place the WATER ONLY in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off burner or remove from stove.
  4. Add the correct amount of glycerin to the boiled water. Remember…2 parts water to 1 part glycerin. (So, for every cup of water you use, you’ll need to add 1/2 cup of glycerin.)
  5. Stir this mixture for a while to make sure the glycerin is well dissolved in the water.
  6. At this point I transferred the mixture into the jars/vases that I had set aside. I thought doing this may speed up the cooling process. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you transfer into your containers.
  7. Allow this mixture to cool. (I added a few ice cubes for faster cooling because I was impatient! If you plan to add ice, use a bit less water to account for the melted ice. I forgot this part!)
  8. While your mixture is cooling, you’ll need to cut your flowers and foliage. Cut your specimen stems (on an angle) and trim off all lower foliage, as you would do to arrange cut flowers. I had many branches of Eucalyptus so as I cut, I stripped the lower leaves and laid them out according to size and stem width.
  9. Bunch the stems of similar sizes together and secure with a rubber band twisted onto the bare stems. I placed about 8 cuttings of similar sizes together.
  10. After your flowers/greens are bunched, you simply place them into the containers of water/glycerin mixture. *Make sure the stems of all the branches are placed way down into the container (touching the bottom) so that the liquid is easily absorbed through the stems.  20171013_143203-1
  11. This step may be challenging, depending on your home, but you’ll need to find a cool, fairly dark and somewhat accessible location (so you can check frequently) to store your vases. The preserving process will take about 6 weeks! I have a laundry room that I walk through to the downstairs powder room but other than that, is used about once a week. My laundry also has a sink and counter so my preservation location was a ‘no brainer’!
  12. Next step is to WAIT and WATCH! Research indicates the process takes about 5-6 weeks. Indicators of a completed preservation are darker colored leaves and a smooth glossy feel to the leaves. *It is suggested is that you check the process from time to time as more water/mixture may need to be added to the vases or changed entirely if the water turns a nasty brown.
  13. The process was a bit messy, so I’m pretty sure clean up will be your last step!

20171013_125351

That was my early afternoon project today! I will anxiously be watching and waiting as my Eucalyptus and cut flowers go through the preservation process. *An added bonus…My laundry room smells wonderful!

I will be back with an update sometime in November! “Til then, Happy Fall!

*If you try your hand at the art of preserving flowers or greens, please leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to follow your progress also!

Advertisements

My ‘new’ room…

I want a vintage farmhouse table!

I FINALLY got the front room of my house cleaned out and have decided that what I want and need is an old, rustic farmhouse table! I gave my newer styled round oak kitchen set away soon after I moved to this house last year and am now sure that I’d like a dining table for the centerpiece of this re-purposed room. (I originally used this room for crafting and work space but moved all that ‘stuff’ to an upstairs room this summer). Of course, for me, the table would have to double as a work space (and probably another ‘catch all’ in reality) but my goal would also be to host some dinners for friends and family.

Here are two photos of the ‘new’ room…just waiting for a table!

20171011_15004020171011_150139

About a month ago my piano was moved from my living room to this room and I love it’s new location! Some of the furniture was just too large for me to move upstairs so I had to make due and keep the larger pieces in this newly styled room. One problem…I clearly don’t know how to refer to this room! Is it a dining room? “Front room” is an odd term, but it IS in the front of my house. It’s going to be a “multi-purpose room” but that term definitely sounds like a school or church! So, what do I call it?

Here is an idea of what I have my heart set on for this room. I’m always ‘in the market’, but it must be reasonably priced! Condition isn’t too important to me..I can always clean, repair and paint it! Keep your eyes open and definitely let me know if anyone finds a good deal local to central PA!

Please leave a comment and help me name my new room!

Community…

I love the small town that I live in! I love the way others love and support the area as well. Our local community center, for which I work, hosted a Fall Festival today. It got off to a slow (8 a.m.) start, but the attendance picked up later in the morning and it turned out to be a very successful event!

20171007_101841

One thing that impressed me today, as I worked the bake sale tables, was the sincere show of support that local residents displayed by simply attending the event. I’m sure there were many people in attendance who, (as I determined),  probably had  little interest in the activities and games geared for children, the sweet treats and food that few of us really NEED or the local vendors and their wares, of which we probably have seen many times before! No matter, people attended the event simply to show support for the community center and their work in our community. I love how ‘community fosters community’. There is a feel at the MACC that is contagious and that feeling spreads a positive vibe throughout the area! It feels good to be part of the staff of this wonderful organization, The Middlecreek Area Community Center, but more, it is a privilege to be part of a small community that cares and supports each other as was evidenced today!

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”   Dorothy Day

7b427f92ecb68251bcd9eec789732ea6
  

A Whole Lot of Bakin’ Goin’ On!

Today I stocked up on items that I needed so I would be ready to dig into some serious baking on Friday!

20171004_172130

Friday baking plans include a double batch of super ‘delish’, home-made Granola, a double batch of the traditional favorite, Chex Party Mix, two pumpkin pies, mini Banana Bread loaves, pumpkin muffins and peanut butter fudge.

No, it’s not all for me!

The Middlecreek Area Community Center (where I work) is having a Fall Festival on Saturday and my “Tuesday – Thursday” class, along with the Pre-school class is sponsoring a bake sale! I’ve had some parents graciously sign up to donate goods, but I definitely wanted to contribute as well. The event will be this Saturday, from 8 a.m. until the afternoon. (not sure of the exact closing time). Lots of fun for the kiddos and craft vendors, food, etc. for everyone!

Signs are ready! Come see me at the MACC on Saturday and pick up a sweet treat or two!

20171004_172216

Morning Reflection…

Through a web of various activities, I found myself with my day’s plans changed and deep in some significant time of reflection on my patio this morning. You may be familiar with that type of “method of operation”; when you move spontaneously from one activity to another with no rhyme nor reason of progression.

My morning included, sipping a cup of tea at 5:45 a.m., a CAT NAP by 7 a.m. and then back up and moving by 8 a.m. I sorted through some winter/summer clothes, started a load of laundry,  loaded and ran the dish washer, played a few games on my phone then went outside to look at my flower garden. I soon found myself throwing out the old and cutting fresh flowers for my patio table which somehow led to having a cup of coffee and a conversation with my nephew, who passed by on his way to the post office, which then led to…at last…spending some quiet time with the Lord. Which was my initial goal when I woke up at 5:45 a.m.! *Read on if you want to know about my morning’s reflection…

20170922_114135

The flurry of the morning led me to reflect on my purpose and plans, not only for this day, but for my life. I spent time studying scripture, praying, soul searching and writing. (A post that will be added later to my HOME and ABOUT sections of this blog) After much time focused on ‘purpose’, I turned to a very brief lesson that I was (inadvertently) challenged with a few weeks ago at a new home church that I’ve been attending. Dan Sellers shared the scripture, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” He expounded a bit on these words which led me to a new way of seeing and understanding this scripture. I’ll admit that I had somewhat misunderstood this scripture verse from Psalm 37:4 to mean (very simply) that, if one followed and loved Jesus, then God would make sure we had everything that our heart desires.  It took 30+ years to figure it out, but I understand now, after this mornings study and after hearing the seed that was planted a few weeks ago at church, that David, the author of this Psalm, means that, if one is seeking to know, follow, obey and love God, then God will take our hearts and plant in them the goals, plans and purposes OF GOD. I guess I sort of KNEW that truth, but was always just hoping and trusting that my own desires were God’s desires and so then, God would bring them to pass. Today…I want NEW desires completely. I want GOD’S desires to be in my heart. That will take some changing!

Living for Christ means not only turning from and offering my corrupted and hardened heart to God. (I did that many years ago…another long story!) but it also includes giving up and stopping my foolish and self centered thinking and habits, and allowing God to change me and the desires that are within my heart. (THAT will be ongoing until I die!)

I think of a portion of the lyrics of an ‘old school’ song written by Keith Green , “Create In Me a Clean Heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Beautiful song! The words are taken from Psalms 51:10. Check out the song on YouTube and read the scripture. Be prepared for some soul searching!

 

Have you tried this?

20170918_120730

So I was at the grocery store last week and saw an end display for PUMPKIN SPICE CHEERIOS. I’m usually a fan of all things pumpkin so I placed a box in my cart. A pleasant older gentleman (75-80ish) who, after peering into my cart, stopped to tell me just how delicious this cereal tastes and my choice was confirmed! The sweet old man added that, “He had a bowl with milk this morning!” I was feeling pretty positive of my new seasonal selection and was especially touched by the sincerity and sweetness of this elderly man. There was really no way I was going to let this gentleman’s recommendation go under valued!

I most often eat my cheerios dry, as a snack, so one evening I sampled my new purchase.

I, sadly, have to report that I wasn’t impressed. Not sure what it is about Pumpkin Cheerios, but the seasonal rush and mouth watering flavor of fall goodness just wasn’t there for me.

I am a fan of Honey Nut Cheerios and have decided that NOTHING can out do the deliciousness of my favorite cereal. Here’s to Honey Nut Cheerios!

20170918_120747

Leave a comment:  What’s your verdict? Have you tried these Pumpkin Spice Cheerios yet? What’s your favorite seasonal treat?

Re-purposed Baking!

My neighbor had a table set up on the sidewalk giving away stuff! FREE STUFF! I snatched up a cute crock and realized later that it was a “Pampered Chef Bread Baking Stoneware Crock”. (And I was just going to use it to display fall ‘weeds’!)

PC crock

It was a crisp ‘fall feeling’ day and I thought I may give bread baking a whirl! After searching ‘baking bread in a crock’ online, I came across a post at “Heavenly Homemakers” that sparked my interest. I learned that you can bake bread in a tin can!

This challenged me to do some experimenting in the kitchen. I decided to bake a quick bread (since I’ve NEVER made bread using yeast) and compare the breads baked in my ‘new’ stone crock as well as that baked in an ‘old’ tin can.

Attached to the article about ‘tin can baking’ was a recipe for “Grandma’s Brown Bread” so I opted to use it. I think it is called Brown Bread because of the dark colored raisins that are an abundant ingredient in the bread.

The entire process and baking experience can soon be found on the website: “Jerky, Pickles and Beer”.

I can proudly report that both the tin can and the Pampered Chef Stone Crock produced round breads that were easy to remove, slice and clean up! Not much better than simply throwing away the baking ‘can’! Both breads tasted delicious and were fun and easy to make!

brown breads cut

I think I made a good deal when I walked across the street to check my neighbors ‘free table’! I’ll be using my Pampered Chef Stoneware Crock in the future to make more breads! Here’s to all the wonderful treasures that can be reused and re-purposed, to the wise and fun process of re purposing and to those who share their treasures so others can enjoy!

*Fun With Kids Alert”:  Baking in a can would be a fun activity to do with children! You could use the opportunity to share the history of The Great Depression, when this method of baking was in its heyday.