Monday, October 31, 2011

chow chow

DISCLAIMER: Seeing as I'm having a puny day, I didn't actually photograph my jars,
but found a  picture online that looks like mine.

The purpose of chow-chow is to use up all your vegetables in the garden before the first frost. It is basically a relish, and can be made of whatever raw or unripe leftovers you have. You can make it hot and spicy, or you can make it sweet, or vinegary. I've seen recipes use green beans, cauliflower, name it. Below is the recipe I used.

Onion (I used 1 red and 2 yellow, though my base recipe called for 10 green onions)
Green peppers (which I also had some orange peppers I used as well)
1 cabbage
1/2 c canning salt
1 T celery seed
1 1/2 tsp tumeric
2 T mustard seed
6 c sugar
4 c vinegar
Green tomatoes

Chop or shred all your vegetables, and mix with canning salt. Let stand overnight. Rinse and drain well. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Heat until it boils, stirring occasionally. Put in jars. Seal. Place in canning bath for 10-15 minutes (once boiling).

I did discover after I was finished that many people use pickling spices in place of the seeds and tumeric. That might have been the cheaper way to go (although I already had the celery seed on hand). I sampled  little while I was jarring it, and was pleased with how it tasted. Reminded me of what the ladies in the Cordova church used to make, and was a small reminder of my childhood.  My family ate relish with peas (black-eyes or pink-eyed purple hulls),  though I've seen people ate church gatherings eat it with collards, or cornbread, or even meatloaf. I suppose like any food, it's all in how you like it.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Sometimes I think my high school teacher was right: we really do live in pockets of ignorance.
Yesterday, while reading various chow-chow recipes, I kept coming across this ingredient: canning salt.
Now, I know there are different types of salt:
  • iodized table salt - what I use
  • non-iodized table salt - looks the same, but without iodine in it or on the box
  • sea salt - which comes from the sea, looks like little rocks and is very popular in France
  • kosher salt - which I've only seen and heard of, but have no idea how salt could be clean or unclean
  • and rock salt - which is absolutely necessary for making homemade ice cream :)
So while I was at the grocery store, I looked, and sure enough there were boxes of canning salt. According to the box, it's best used when canning vegetables. For some reason the salt is absorbed better and doesn't discolor the veggies nor sink to the bottom of the jar. I decided to google it and see what more I could learn, but after reading one page decided I have no desire to be a salt connoisseur.

And now I'm curious: what kinds of salt do you use or prefer?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

for every thing there is a season...

This week has had a lot of season changes.
For our church family, as we faced a sad, but necessary decision.  For every thing there is a season...
For a friend, as she heard unwelcome words that sometimes love is a choice and any marriage is worth fighting for...a time to love, a time to heal, a time to cast away stones...
For a Christian acquaintance, who bid her 7-year-old daughter farewell...a time to die, a time to mourn...
For an old roommate who is grieving the loss of her triplets 13 years ago today...a time to be born, and a time to die...
For a Christian blog friend, receiving bad news with a 2nd opinion...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...
For my garden...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
For something I didn't plant this year, my voluntary watermelon vine did quite well. Better than the vine I DID plant last year, actually. The three smaller melons aren't ripe yet, but seeing the low temps coming the first of next week, everything in the garden got picked or mulched yesterday.
And I'm trying something new this year. Instead of waiting for all these green tomatoes to ripe/rot, I'm trying my hand at a pickle-dish called "Chow-chow".  Growing up the older ladies would sometimes sell this at bake sales or give us a pint at Christmas, but I never knew until this year it was a way to use up last minute items from the garden (when there's not enough to put away but you don't want it to go to waste).  We'll see how it turns out.

I'm finding the passage of Ecclesiastes 3 especially comforting these days. As the vibrant colors of summer give way to the decay of fall and the marvelous temperatures (and brighter night skies!), I'm amazed yet again at just how relevant (and timely) Scripture is to our lives. For EVERY cool is that?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

essence of insanity

You walk into the bathroom, and the toilet lid automatically lifts, playing music while the touch screen comes on. It has a seat warmer, a bidet with dryer (a sprayer that will wash you and then with the touch of the screen turn into a hair-dryer like apparatus to dry you), it requires occasional re-booting, has no levers, and is rectangular in shape. It also costs over $6,000 (just verified on the's currently on sale for $4,000). To read more about this contraption you didn't know you needed and absolutely can't live without, here's a link to the article in yesterday's paper: toilet review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

full speed ahead!

the ever-growing stash

glow sticks from Mr. Hanks

candy and treats

the gun

the ammo: foam with suction cup "darts"

the not quite finished turkey
Friday is coming.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Last 2011 State Fair post...(unless I go back!)

Drumroll, please! :)
Even though I didn't finish my quilt in time to enter (but am already planning what I want to do for next year!), here's my personal favorites from the best exhibit of all times: quilting!

Geometric designs are becoming more and more popular, especially as more men enter the quilting field. I love them!
This quilt captures three of my favorites: country living, landscape, and a silhouette. Notice the tobacco leaf in the corners, and the detailing of the tilled soil. Someone spent a LOT of time on this.  Very deserving of its yellow ribbon (not sure what place that makes it).
Stars aren't my favorite pattern, but I absolutely adore the colors here! The checkerboard/striped border adds to the playfulness, and reminds me of the Eric Carle line of fabrics. (He's the Hungry Caterpillar author and illustrator, for those not familiar with the name.)

A very elegant black and white pattern. I recently had a request for a black and white quilt, so this especially caught my attention.
HARRY POTTER! and DETAILS!!! two of my many favorite things!
Almost all the books had titles machine embroidered on the spine. I can't even begin to fathom the amount of time spent piecing, appliqueing, and planning on this quilt! This quilter earned their Blue Ribbon!

A star pattern I actually like - the diamonds and squares seem to set enhance the design, and I love the colors.

Again, a landscape quilt, and one that clearly earned its ribbon!
Duotone quilts aren't all that common, but they always make a splash. This one clearly deserved its place among the Best of Show!
Another black and white in a pattern I think is marvelous!  

Lord willing, next year, the 2012 NC State Fair will be hanging one of my quilts! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

NC State Fair, part 3

The following pics are a mixture of exhibits from the Hobby & Crafts contest entries and the 4-H entries:

For Kimberly, who loves fairies:

A close up of a fairy with her mushroom...don't you love the acorn hat and leaf wings?
Steps lead up to the pebble path and mailbox.
And the walnut wheelbarrow with tiny vegetables...

And the fairy in front of the grape vine porch and pebbled pool.
An origami dragon..too cool!  I think this was in the youth division, but I didn't look to see what age range.
The Temple of Heaven from of my favorites! It was positioned too far away to read the tag, but I'm assuming adult level.

Not sure if this is a wood carving or a stone/clay work. Either way, it makes me think of Lord of the Rings!

I hate we didn't make it to the vegetable exhibit. One of my neighbors won the blue ribbon (2nd year in a row!) and set a new state record this year for his giant watermelon. He's already prepping the soil for next year's crop! Way to go, Todd!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NC State Fair, part 2

Cake of my many favorite "must see" exhibits at the fair.  Here's some of my personal favorites, though I don't think I saw any that weren't nicely decorated.

From the 4-H youth division...LOVE the creativity here! I've heard of 'possum cakes before, but never a porcupine!

One of my favorites...This cake is one of the two that looking at it makes you feel elegant!

And this is the other elegant cake.  While I know they probably used the machine fondant cutter, it's still a lot of detail and time on the lace and ribbons!

And I had to take this one for my'd never know it was a cake!

Look at the details! Who from my generation doesn't love the Smurfs? Makes me want to sing La-la-la-la-la....

Gorgeous fall basket. The baby with the apples behind it seemed to mix too many themes for my taste.

Absolutely gorgeous...but how would you cut/eat it?

And for the pirate lover....fabulous! Lots of detail here!
So this wraps up the end of one building (which we thankfully walked through while it was raining outside)!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

state fair, part one

While I didn't see half the exhibits I normally see while visiting the fair last night, I got to eat twice as much as I normally do! ;)

Lydia, my friend who likes to pose in crazy positions with food, eating her traditional chicken pita wrap.

And my special treat for the night...gator on a stick!  No, it didn't actually look like this, though it did taste a lot like chicken! :)

Would you believe that ALL of these are cupcakes?  I got the hotdog one (center). The bread is actually the cake, and the dog and icing are chocolate icing and yellow-colored buttercream icing. Not only was it cool looking, but it tasted good, too!

To help cut costs (and save our appetites), several of us split items, giving us the opportunity to try more things for less money!  My new fair favorite...mozzarella sticks.  I had tried them once in a restaurant and wasn't too crazy about them.  But the one I had at the fair was absolutely wonderful!  Deep-fried macaroni and cheese...don't think I'll try that one again, though it wasn't bad. But I did try a bit of Lydia's deep-fried snickers bar and was was good! I might even consider replacing the Amish fudge with that next year.

And while the following picture isn't food we ate, it's food related so I'll show it here:
Carroll and Lydia with the hot dog statue. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the freedom to try

I recently ordered Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! (He's the creator of National Novel Writing Month.)  I absolutely loved the opening:
The era, in retrospect, was very kind to dumb ideas...In a more grounded age, my novel in a month concept would have been reality checked right out of existence...We were in our mid-twenties, and we had no idea what we were doing. But we knew we loved books. And so we set out to write them.
Later on in the book he addresses the very reason why the month-long, do or die, mentality seems to work for writing the first draft of a novel. And I found the following paragraph quite thought-provoking:
In the workplace, the emphasis on professionalism makes great sense. No one wants to have his or her cerebellum doctored by a dilettante brain surgeon. But the the emphasis on mastery has certain unseen psychological ramifications on the rest of our lives. You'd think, for instance, that this workday obsession with competence would make our weekends a refuge for floundering forays into uncharted territories. But what do we do when we have free time? The tried and true activities we've already perfected.
Sometimes I think those of us who grew up in evangelical households had the Biblical emphasis of "Whatever your do, do it with all your might." and "Whatever you do, even eating or drinking, do it all to God's glory." driven into our psyche to an extreme. We are so afraid of giving something second-best to God that we often fail to try new things (as if our Creator wouldn't love our whole-hearted attempts).

I used to marvel at my older sister, who was never afraid of anything. Sometimes it aggravated me because she would tackle things she had absolutely no experience in. Many times she had good degrees of success. Sometimes she shrugged and chalked it up as a learning experience. But she NEVER quit trying new things. The older I get, I find myself adopting a few of her mindsets. I laugh when people say I'm talented. I'm not talented. I'm just stupid enough to keep trying new things. Some of them I laugh and leave behind. Others I pursue with a passion.

I've not totally mastered the concept that the learning process (trying things) is not irreverent, but I'm getting there. The emphasis is doing MY best, NOT being the best, and recognizing God gets the glory for all of it. And that is freeing, indeed!

Monday, October 17, 2011

time travel

When my husband was five, the church he grew up in celebrated their 100th anniversary.
This past Sunday, at the age of 56, they celebrated their 200th anniversary.
He was, though some of the materials and the historical play offered the explanation for the time travel forward/backward (however you want to look at it). Evidently, when an older member passed away, she had a box of papers she had saved from the church over the years, and the family gave it to the church leaders. Included were minutes from the early 1800s. In light of the information, the church decided to celebrate the time it was originally started, and not the time the first building was put on the current property.

Here's some tidbits you might find interesting:

The church was established sometime between 1805-1811 as Wake Bethel.

1825-1859    Men had to sit on one side of the church; women on the other.
1849             First missions offering to send a couple from Apex to China.
1859             4.5 acres donated for the present site of the church, and the new building was called New Bethel.
1861             A $20 gift was given for the spiritual benefit of Confederate soldiers.
                     Church resolution admonishing members to not partake in "frolicking" (dancing) or to have such activities in their homes.

1864             Licensed their first preacher, a black named Turner.
1865             Church roll (male members only) consisted of 34 slaves and 32 whites.
                     Sherman's troops shot the church en route to Raleigh. (The front door with a bullet hole was    saved and made into door frames when the church was remodeled. The shattered window and framing were unsalvageable).

1873             After a disagreement over use of church property (refusal to build a schoolhouse on it), the freed slaves withdrew and established their own church, Juniper Level Baptist. (So this would be 8 years after the war)
                     William J. Bryan was excommunicated for attending a dance.

1891             Purchased an organ and started singing classes.
1912             Approved to have both honey and bees removed from the church building.
1915             Motion made to buy new well buckets.
1917             Due to church growth, voted to add more posts for horses.
1927             Church building was wired for electricity at the cost of $30.45
1929             Gave their old hymnals to the new First Baptist of Garner.
1930-            Depression Years...Church was turned to face the East, renovated from 1 room to 9 rooms, and the pastor asked members to set aside a portion of their crops to help pay for it.  Baptist Sunday School Convention was held at the church, and due to lack of funds, everyone was asked to bring their own dippers so they wouldn't have to buy paper cups.

1953             Appointed the first ushers.
1954             Began clearing trees for a cemetery.
1961             Church split, with 50 members withdrawing to start Turner Memorial Baptist Church.
1963             Installed a baptistry.
1965             Locks installed on the church doors. Bobby remembers this (he was 10) and was HORRIFIED that a church would even think of locking its doors to keep people out. 
1975             First pew cushions!

The more recent items were things that don't sound so unusual for us, but the above, while routine matters at the time, made us chuckle! The funniest part was when during the play a teenager read the part about "frolicking". You could tell by the look on his face just how crazy he found that! Makes me wonder what people will 100 years from now will think about our church minutes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

still waiting

Toward the end of last year we encountered a problem never had before: no medicine. I have to hand it to Target Pharmacy at White Oak...they did everything in their power to find it. The pharmacist was calling the manufacturing company herself twice a day (instead of going through Target headquarters), and ultimately started calling pharmacies in Wake and Johnston county until she found one that could fill the order. We've had insurance issues before, but never unavailability problems. A few months later we read a news article that hospitals were running out of certain medicines and having to tell patients to either switch drugs or stop treatments. We were a little alarmed, but then every month his refill was available...until now.

I am so thankful for a pharmacy and its pharmacists who go above and beyond the call of duty in trying to find needed medicines, and I'm a bit puzzled as to the manufacturing "backlog".  If the reports are true, then I'm thankful contaminated batches are destroyed, but it also makes me wonder why in 30 years this was never an issue, but suddenly contamination is such a problem that it prevents medicines from being delivered to where it's needed most. Is this a result of people not taking pride in their work or jobs and being lazy, or is there something else going on?

We'll never know. So meanwhile I keep praising God for two pharmacists who call with daily updates and persistently seek solutions.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

and life moves/grows on...

Hawk & Eagle as babies (except then we called them Chip & Dale)
Easter 2011

and Eagle grew up to be a true Easter Egger, laying blue-green eggs.

and because she kept hiding her eggs, we had to incubate a batch.

And here are her babies now.

all but one huddling as a buzzard flies overhead.

and cornered in the pen by their Momma and aunt, whom they don't know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

design lines

20 years ago, if anyone had told me I would be a person to seek out "designer" things, I would have laughed in their face. And now twice in the span of one year I have actively sought out fabric by a certain designer. Who'd a thunk it?

One of my new favorite designers is Leann Anderson. During the Quilt Carolina! Stash Dash, I found a fat quarter (a small piece of fabric measuring 18"x22") of the most adorable Christmas fabric I have ever seen. 
I recently went back to the shop to see if there was more in the line (many quilt fabrics have 4-6 matching prints in a design line), but the owner said other than the print above it was sold out and they had been unable to re-order it. I did get the name of the design line "The Great I AM" and googled it today.

The designer is Leann Anderson, from Iowa, and she has an entire website. I am most impressed!  After seeing the entire fabric line, I hope to get some projects done and finalize a pattern in my head so I can order some material! And yes, I recognize I never finish projects in the time frame I hope so this could take a while!

Too bad I don't have a small kid...her creation series is cute beyond words!

So now my secret's out...

Monday, October 10, 2011


My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers...2 Chronicles 29:11

In 3 hours I go on call and begin my "work" for the next 2 days. Since 2004, I have worked with the Wake County Board of Elections. After the first two years, I went from a general worker to the "Help Table" (meaning I got to deal with all the non-traditional voters....names not in the poll book, unregistered, lost, etc).  I actually enjoyed that position. Then last year they asked me to step in as Coordinator while someone was on leave. In theory, it was for one election. Tomorrow will be my second election in this capacity, and I'm still a tad uncertain how I feel about it. It's one thing to follow step A, B, and C on a laptop with a phone by your side and a private number to dial should you have any questions. It's another thing entirely to drive from place to place and check out polling sites and assist workers with any problems they have, sometimes re-training workers on the spot. I'm praying I feel more confident and competent than last year when the phone starts ringing at 5:59am tomorrow. really makes a difference in how we do our jobs. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, as North Carolina is gearing up for one of its most controversial and divisive election campaigns ever. For those of you not from NC, we have a marriage amendment on the ballot in May 2012. The rhetoric has already started, though the NC Values and Christian community is being somewhat silent. This last week I've seriously been thinking about ways I can be involved in doing my part. I am very concerned about the infringement upon religious liberties, and I fear that if we continue to be complacent and apathetic to the unscrupulous world of politics then within ten years we will find ourselves facing a quandary of openly serving God or being persecuted.

We all have areas in which God has enabled us to serve. I'm challenging you to join me in praying that God will directly show you how you can best serve Him in our ever-changing world. Our areas of service seldom look the same as another person's, but that doesn't make it any less vital. I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us.

Friday, October 7, 2011

not close, but pleasantly coming

Quilt update:

My crazy animal quilt is not going to the NC State Fair. And I'm okay with that. Even after taking out the mistakes and feeling like there was potential for the quilt, life and time simply got in the way. I was afraid I'd feel disappointed if I didn't make the deadline, but realistically I know it's not a feasible task. AND, quilting is my hobby. It's okay if a hobby project has to be temporarily put aside.

I have learned a few things in the process. One, the opinions and advice on sewing with invisible thread are all over the place. (And if you want your husband to wonder about your sanity, ask him a question like, "Do you know how hard it is to take out invisible thread?") Some quilters say "don't use it". Others say "it's okay to use on top but never in the bobbin" (the thread that goes in the bottom of your machine). And some quilters say they use it in BOTH, but you have to play with the tension dial on your sewing machine quite a bit. 1/4 of my quilt did just fine with it on top and bottom. But then my sewing machine went absolutely ballistic. I spent more time UNquilting than I did quilting. I spent two days with friends on the Carolina Stash Dash (redubbed Quilt Carolina! this year) garnering information on the various types of sewing/quilting machines out there. I asked a lot of questions.  The next week I did what all mature hobbyists do...I started quilting a different section with different thread. And my machine has worked like a dream 90% of the time. that my machine is working again, I'm on to lesson two.  And that is the press and seal Glad wrap that works so wonderfully as a sew-over template on LARGE, open patterns, is TERRIBLE for small detailed work.  Oh, it still sews over just fine. But removing it is the problem. My poor little corn stalks will take several days just to remove all those little pieces from the leaves and ears of corn.

And speaking of patterns, I'm now in the process of learning lesson three.  It's not enough just to have cool backyard bandit fabric.  I wanted to quilt the varmints' footprints over their window openings. 
So I found this online, pulled it into photoshop to make multiples on one sheet of paper for my template, and quilted one window.  I like the fact that it doesn't overshadow the really cool fabric, but it doesn't quite have the pizzazz feel that I wanted. There's this thing called continuous line that is common in machine quilting that I didn't use, and now I'm wondering if perhaps I should have. But not to worry...there's 23.5 windows left to experiment on.

My target completion date is the end of November, though I hope to have it done much sooner than that. Meanwhile, I'm excited. It's far from state fair status, but I'm very pleased with how it's turning out, I'm learning new techniques, sorting through my thoughts on the machine that is best for me and my needs, and having fun in the process.

My mother-in-law is right. Quilting ain't what it used to be. And personally, I'm quite thankful for that.