Thursday, September 25, 2008

I have a vineyard...

Um... well... actually I have a Vine in my Yard... which I guess one could stretch the concept of that into a Vineyard...

one could...


if they felt stretchy...

vineyard 005





Anyway, so there is this grape vine growing on an arbor attached to the shed.  According to my neighbor Mrs. B they are concord grapes and are suppose to be very, very good!

We were quite excited earlier this summer as there were all these wonderful little green grape clusters starting to grow.  I had visions of grape jam and jelly.

But look what happened during the summer... Stone House 424


Some of the grapes in all the clusters went and shriveled up?  This was not at all fair!

I've been keeping an eye on them and it looks like what ever happened didn't happen to all the grapes.

I decided to harvest what I could the other day - not an easy task because the vines are very over grown with a lot of dead vines.  I was showered with debris as I was moving vines around and snipping clusters out.Grape Harvest 002

As I was cutting out clusters I thought - 'gee it smells just like grape jelly here'.  Well - Duh? I guess I just expected they wouldn't smell that good until they had been cooked up.  It really was yummy smelling.


Pretty aren't theyGrape Harvest 005?

I cooked them down and strained them through a jelly bag... I knew I wouldn't have enough to get 4 cups of juice out of these so I added some apple juice as they were cooking.

The juice is suppose to sit in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours so that you re-strain and remove any tartrate crystals that form.  I had to go and look up what a tartrate crystal was and why I needed to be concerned about it.  

 Grape Harvest 006So what do you suppose I could make out of this lovely fluid?

Grape Jelly?  Grape Candy?

Do you know what the difference is between Jelly and Candy? 

I'd say about 10 minutes...

Yep - cook it a little too long and you get candy...

Grape Candy 002


No this isn't slow motion photography... it was that thick.

Grape Candy 003




To salvage it I dissolved the 'candy' in apple juice and re-cooked it back to the jelly stage... and canned it again.

From this years harvest I have a couple small jars of Grape Jelly Grape/Apple Jelly Grapple Jelly.  But next year... I'm going to have lots of grapes and make lots of just plain ole Grape Jelly and Jam.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The More Things Change...

There has been a little bit more than 365 days of change since I began this blog on September 10, 2007.  So in no particular order... here is a look at some of those changes.

Then: I was living in Massachusetts... Now: I live in Pennsylvania.



Then: I was living in a wood frame house that was about 75 years old... Now: I am living in a Stone House that is 152 years old.



Then: After living with us for several months whileMark Navy Grad 046 attending a graduate program my daughter and granddaughter had left to go live in San Diego... Now: After visiting with us for a couple months they have left to go to Hawaii to live.

Then: Our son-in-law was a sailor in the Navy... Now: he is an officer in the Navy.




Stone House 277Then: I had a shed full of vintage sewing machines that needed to be packed up... Now: My basement is full of those boxes.

Then: I was working at a quilt shop but had only a little time to sew... Now:  I live very close to several Lancaster Co. quilt shops but still don't have any time to sew.

Then:  I was living the last few days in the house we'd had for 16 years... Now:  I'm at the beginning of what should be many, many years here at the Stone House.

Then:  I was living in a house full of boxes that we had packed preparing to move... Now: I am living in a house full of boxes that are waiting to be unpacked.

Then:  I spent my free time with a paint brush in my hand... Now:  I spend my free time with a paint brush in my hand.

Then: I was painting over colors I liked with colors I didn't like... Now: I'm painting over colors I don't like with colors I like.

Then: I painted myself out of a shower in the old house... Now: I've also painted myself out of a shower as we've fixed and primed and painted the walls surrounding the tub here.

Then: I had people in and out of my house getting it fixed up to put it on the market so I could move out of it... Now: I have people in and out of my house getting it fixed up so that I can live in it.

I have enjoyed Pondering out loud here... I had hoped it would help me keep my sanity... but that was silly of me to even consider that a possibility.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I got Sauced Last Night...

Yep, Apple Sauced!

Last Saturday evening my neighbor Mrs. B came across the driveway asking me if I could help her out.  She had a bucket full of Jonathan Apples that the wind and rain we'd had earlier that day had knocked off her trees and she already had '2 bins full and can't use no more'.  So in the interest of being a good neighbor - I took them!

Things here at the Stone House are not all fun and games painting and fixing these days... I've managed to fit in some other things - like canning.

Yes, canning!  I had done a bit of that years and years ago when we lived here in PA and my husband was a college student.  There are a couple stories from that era I'll have to tell y'all another time.

A couple weeks ago I found my canning pots (yes I seem to own 2 - although I think one was something I got in a box of stuff at an auction a couple years ago) and dug out some other supplies I still had.  Bought a new Ball Blue Book of Preserving, a variety of jars, a Food Mill, a thermometer and a few other little gadgets.  You know it's all about the gadgets... right?

Anyway last night I had 12 pounds of Apples to contend with... Applesauce 001these are the second batch ready to be washed and cut up into quarters.  Into the pot they went with a bit of water to soften up.

Since I had loaned my food mill to my sister Darlin' for her canning adventures I was going to go and purchase another one... but then I saw a 'Sauce Master Food Strainer' for about the same amount of money... so I got it.  Didn't think to stop and take pictures of using it... boy does it work quick.  Applesauce 007


In no time at all I had smooth sauce in one container and seeds and skins in the other... this is the waste from 12 pounds of apples - that's all that I threw away.


Applesauce 003


Here is the sauce cooking in the pot - the first batch was so thick I had to add back some of the liquid the apple quarters had cooked in - sure glad I saved some back.  Even then it didn't so much as boil as it 'plopped plopped' and splattered sauce about.

I was a little more generous heaping ladles full of apples and liquid into the Strainer with the second batch - gave me something to bring to a boil easier.Applesauce 009

I added a bit of sugar to each batch and added cinnamon to the second batch.  What didn't fit into the canning jars went into some plastic freezer jars that we'll use up first - all total I have about 8 pints of each variety.

I have a much better appreciation for people who have a 'canning kitchen' - yep all this boiling water and cooking pots of stuff... sure does make it warm.

By midnight I was done and headed off to bed... here are the two batches this morning all cooled off and ready for labels of some sort.  I need to look for some computer labels... of course then I'd have to unpack my printer and set it up too... maybe I'll just buy a new permanent marker...

Applesauce 016


Hey - did you see what I'm using as my lid-ring holder - yep my former paper towel holder... which I don't use for paper towels because I use my faux paper towels... a re-purposed device - cool huh?


Soon I'll show you what started all this re-newed Domestic Divaness on my part...

It's a sweet story with a sad part in the middle... very sad indeed... It's so hard to talk about... (gulp) maybe next time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Abundant Sunshine...

That was the local forecast this morning...

Abundant Sunshine...

not just 'sunny'... or 'mostly sunny'...

but - Abundant Sunshine...

I don't know why - but that just sounds like the most perfect kind of day don't ya think?

I keep saying it over and over in my head... Abundant Sunshine!

I guess I best get this abundant butt in gear and go enjoy me some...

Abundant Sunshine!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

He made me feel so guilty...

I hadn't really intended to hurt him...

I gave them all fair warning...

I told them all to get outta my way...

I even tried to distract them...

He just didn't get the hint...

... and again I'll say I hadn't intended to hurt him...

much less KILL him.

I swiped at him with the end of the paint roller to get him away from where I was working... I guess I had an awkward hold onto it and hit him a little harder then I intended... I just wanted him to go away.

... but did he really have to fall over on his back and kick his little legs up into the air... my goodness - the drama involved.

I felt so guilty... damn bug!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Got Paint?

I sure do...

Got Paint

And this is just the first haul from Friday morning - 16 gallons and 2 quarts - all the paint we need to paint the rooms on the second floor and the kitchen... I went back on Sunday to get the stuff for the first floor - 5 gallons of primer, 7 gallons of wall paint and 2 gallons of trim.  Oh and I had already picked up the bathroom paint - so that was another gallon and a quart, oh and 2 previous gallons of primer... 

Let me see - that adds up to... 33.75 GALLONS of paint...

GotPaint 001


Don't ya just love the names they have for paints?  And with the 'color matching' gizmo they have I can collect paint chips from everywhere and get The Home Depot to make it up in Behr paint.  Here's what I've got picked out...


  • Chickery Chick (yellow) for the kitchen walls above the white & black tiles and a pretty Happy Blue for trim (can't find the paint chip so I'm calling it Happy Blue)
  • Blush Beige (med. pink) for the walls in the guest room #1, Timber Trail (MmmMmmm chocolate!) for the trim
  • Big Chill (lt. blue) for the walls in the office/guest room #2, Federal Blue (dark) and Blue Waltz (med.) for the trim & bookcase
  • Golden Pond (med. brown) will be the trim in the hall and all the hall side of the doors will be Timber Trail with Golden Marguerites (yep... golden) for the accent
  • Fennel (lt. green) will be in the Master Bedroom and Dressing Room with Greenscape  (dark) for the trim
  • Swiss Coffee (one of those many shades of white) will be splashed about the walls in the stairway, living room, entry and part of the dining room.  Golden Pond (med. brown) will be the trim throughout - similar to what is already on the trim, just a tiny bit darker.  Although I am pondering using the Timber Trail (chocolate) on the deep window sills in the living room - haven't decided yet.
  • Polar Bear is the white for the bathroom above the white and black tiles... I may at some point put some color on the trim in there... but right now I'm happy with clean and fresh white!

And do you remember the blue walls and built in cabinet in the dining room... yeah that awful pastel blue.  In this picture you can also see my then freshly sanded floors...  they have been stained and finished since and they are pretty!  But the blue still stunk... LOL

Stone House 312

  • Fennel (light green) for the two walls and Basil (med. green) for the cabinet and trim.  The rest of the walls will be the Swiss Coffee as they lead into the stairway and living room.  And yes - I'm sure some will look at the green and feel the same way I did about the pastel blue... but I happen to like the green better and I'm all about making me happy.

I know - it sure sounds like A LOT OF COLOR... but The Engineer has been giving me a hard time for years about painting things 'different shades of white'.  So this will fix him make him happy... and I'm happy about the colors too... they are all earthy and warm.

What's the sense in having all this paint and not having a helper?

Painting 002

My sister Darlin' spent several days here over the weekend.  I had already primed this guest room and she's getting the pink on... and then we moved furniture from one place to the other and we she primed the office/guest room on Tuesday before she left.

Painting 008




As you can see I have lots of things started - but not much completely done. 

The bathroom needs to be finished - it's high on my to do get it done list.

Painting 007 I wasn't able to paint in the shower area because you can't get the paint wet for 24 hours... and that's hard to do with 3 people living here.  Now that The Engineer is out of town for the day and Darlin' is back home I can finish the painting in the shower area and make do without a shower at the end of the day...

I'll just go jump in the pool... aaaah!

Keao at Stone House 123