Time for Puzzles and Coffee

The autumn wind has arrived. Until now, it had been very calm for Kansas, but today we’re dealing with forty-mile-an-hour wind gust. The wind tires everyone and everything out, but if that means cooler temperatures then I’m here for it. I love summer, but I am ready for fall.

My cell phone does not do this justice.

Yesterday was a full on summer day at the lake. (One last lake trip before autumn sets in.) But it was hot! I feel like I’d be happy to go hiking with boots and many layers. Come March, I know I’ll be itching to feel the warm sun beat down on my back, but now I’m patiently waiting for crisp fall air.

The autumn “feel” arrived weeks ago. But the heat is lingering. And still the plants are dying down. One would think that if the heat held up, the plants should too. But they’re weary. Their produce is dwindling. The plants are being pulled one by one. But the colors in the garden make it all okay. When the sun shines on the storm clouds, when it highlights the golden picket fence and the orange pumpkins, I could admire the view all evening.

I’m saving the corn stocks for porch decorating–if there will be any leaves left on the stocks, after these winds. After I’m done deep cleaning next week, I think I’ll decorate the front porch area. Deep cleaning usually only takes me five days. So, hopefully I’ll be able to reward myself with a cozy porch.

It’ll be my first time decorating the porch, ever. So, I’m excited. At first I thought I would have way to many pumpkins, but now, I’m doubting I’ll have enough.


I’m getting into the sewing mood again, now after I’ve been running around outside all summer. It’s fun to create useful things out of pretty fabric. Most of the time I sew clothes for myself, but occasionally I’ll sew curtains, or in this case I sewed napkins. I’m still wanting to sew a new apron out of the two pieces of fabric you see in the picture. They’re scraps that I now have laying around, so why not. My old apron is worn and torn.


We went camping a few weeks ago–oh it’s been a while, maybe a month ago. And goodness, one day it was hot and windy, the next it was cold and breezy. Seriously cold for August. The clouds looked like they could bring snow.

Later that day we hopped in the lake, like we never huddled around a fire and pulled blankets over our shoulders for warmth. We swam; we tubed behind the boat; the lake water splashed our bodies as the boat swerved over the waves and lifted it’s nose in the air.

Despite the unexpected weather and some unfortunate events, we had a good time.

Sitting in the front, looking at the deep waters, my head held high, my shoulders set straight, holding a towel around me for warmth, I felt like Tom Sewer himself.

This picture was taking on the lake, during the sunrise and before the snowy-cold weather came. As you can see, were trying to get some early morning fishing in.

Later on today, depending on if the wind slows down or not, I might get the Kioti tractor from the farm and turn the compost pile. I’m not supper good at keeping up with it like I should. One day I might get really into it, and do it correctly, but for now I just dump the scraps onto a pile of horse manure and any plant material I might have, then hope for the best.

I spread that onto my garden soil last fall and I believe it helped this year. So, I’m wanting to do the same thing this fall. I want to spread a layer of straw over the compost and let it decay over winter. Next year, I plan to plant directly through the straw, the compost and into the soil. We’ll see if it’ll work.

The watermelons have been very good. Some not as good as others, but for growing them myself and the fact that watermelons are a hit and miss type of plant around here–I’m really happy with them. I’ve been making Rollkauken for dinner, served with watermelon and cantaloupe a lot lately.

“Rollkauken” is an old Russian Mennonite recipe. You roll out the dough, cut it into strips, twist the strips and fry them until they’re golden brown and fluffy. With sweet watermelon and salty, warm rollkauken–mmm, it taste so good!

I don’t make a lot of the old Russian Mennonite foods, but rollkauken is one of the view. I found that frying the “crullers” is a very tricky prosses. It took me a long time to learn. Because the oil can’t be to hot and it can’t be to cold, it has to be just right. Otherwise you’ll end up with doughy strips, or strips as hard and thin as crackers.

If you’re ever curious about the recipe, it can be found in the Malting Pot of Mennonite recipe book. The link’s in the title if you’re curious. The book has a lot about different Mennonite cultures as well. It has information about ten different Mennonite groups, such as: South German, Pennsylvania German, Netherlands, West Prussian, Russian and so on. My mom gave me one years ago, and I really love it.

Oh well, that’ll be it for me today. This week I’m hoping to work on my novel, clean the windows from the outside, do some extra work in the garden, do the weekly chores . . . and see whatever else comes up. I hope you all have a wonderful day. Thank you for hanging out with me. 🙂

Until next time,

Maria

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I tried baking bacon in the oven . . . it works!

The yellow glow of the the oven light shines on the kitchen floor, providing the only light in the house. A steaming pot of coffee and a rack of bacon sizzling in the oven should soon wake the household, letting them know morning has arrived. Until then, I will sit beside the dining room window, with a wilting vase of cream and yellow dahlias sitting on the kitchen table, writing.

This morning’s sun, letting us know it’s about to rise.

Now looking at the bacon, it appears it’ll be ready sooner than I thought. I still have to figure out what kind of breakfast to go along with the bacon, I can’t just serve bacon, right?

The gentle morning light looks favorably good against our still-somewhat-new picket fence. With the grass below it, and the tree tops behind it, it provides the perfect backdrop for my white clothesline.

One clothesline pole is beginning to lean. I know why too. Last summer-or the summer before-I ran into it with the lawn mower. I didn’t notice the roll bar on the mower was up, until it hit the horizontal part of the clothes line pole. The mower lifted up on it’s back two wheels. Instantly I looked back, expecting the pole to be ripped out of the ground, it wasn’t. My husband and my brother did a great job of cementing the poles into the ground. My laundry isn’t going any where.

The bacon’s ready now and I still don’t know what else to make. Maybe pancakes, or eggs. Something simple, so I think pancakes it will be.


I want to do some chores at home yet before I leave. I’m headed to a baby shower this afternoon. But us ladies, the ones who are setting up, are going to have lunch at church first. So, I’m deciding which chores to tackle first. Cut and freeze the bell peppers, fix my dress, so I can wear it later, start laundry or spray the gravel for weeds. The weeds behind the picket fence need to be sprayed as well . . .

I trimmed behind there last week. But when I heard a rattle snake, I decided to leave the snakes territory and wonder back to my own. Where I could see a snake if it came to visit, Although, I’ve fully thought out what I plan to do should a rattle snake visit, which is: load my husband’s shotgun, and aim toward the belly crawling creature. I don’t that I’d fire the gun, but I doubt I would have the nerve to walk close enough to the snake so the bullet could hit it.

Ah, who knows. 😀

But needless to say, I did not finish trimming the entire area. The weeds were so big I couldn’t see the creature, so I didn’t dare myself to continue working amongst two-feet high weeds.

Canning is mostly behind us. Tomorrow Mom and I are going to make strawberry jam and two months from now we’ll can pineapples, neither of which I plan to keep. I have a lot of jam and my husband and I don’t eat pineapples that much.

However, tomato canning has began. I’m making all things tomato every time I have enough tomatoes picked so it pays to get the canning supplies out. I did my first batch last week.

Last week Mom and I canned the last batch of pickles, beets, and froze enough corn to last us another year. Thursday I helped deep clean the church building; afterword I spent two hours in town, running every errand I’d pushed off for months. I also picked up a grocery order. That evening it rained one inch and thirty hundreds.

It’s was a busy week. But it ended with a slow, relaxing weekend.

Colorado Springs is a Great Place for a Mini Vacation With the Family

The week before last it rained a good amount so the family (Willie and I included) packed up our luggage and drove to Colorado Springs. We ziplined over streams and pine trees, in the most untouched area of the Rockies I have ever seen. We booked with Soaring Adventure Ziplines at Seven Falls. I highly recommend it, the view was amazing, the staff was supper helpful and friendly; overall it was the best ziplining I’d ever done. We also visited Cave of the Winds. Thirteen years ago, I visited with my family, but I don’t remember hardly anything from that trip.

We also visited Cave of the Winds. Thirteen years ago, I visited with my family, but I don’t remember hardly anything from that trip.

I can’t speak for my family-I know they like it-but I really enjoyed it. I hope to visit a lot more caves from now on. The whole time I marveled at God’s creation, pointing out almost every beautiful thing I saw.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip. I cherish these moments with my husband, brother and parents. Life is so short, I want to take in every minute of it.


There’s so much I’d like to write about (haha) but no one wants to read that much. (haha) No, I better get on with my day. Hoping you all have a wonderful week.

Until next time,

-Maria 😀

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Enjoying Summer While it’s Here

Sometimes I find myself needing that little bit of “quiet time,” even though I’m by myself almost the entire day. Sometimes I just need that little bit of time to sit and rest my mind. I have a very busy mind. If I’m not thinking, I’m sleeping. And sometimes I’m simply not sleepy. (haha)

I can see my family and friends raising their eyebrows if they’re reading this. They assume I’m always sleepy. Because it happens quite a bit, but not as often as they think.

Every now and then I need to rest my mind and just enjoy the life God has given me. I don’t always allow myself to do this. I tell myself, if I’m not working, someone else is. Taking time to myself is a challenge I accepted, and this past week I allowed myself to do just that. Yesterday, I sat in the shade of our elm tree and literally watched the corn grow. I savored every cucumber bite from my Kansas cucumber salad, and relished in the flavor of my cucumber water. Then I read a book for ten minutes. After fifteen minutes, I felt rested and ready to go back to work. It doesn’t take a lot of time to feel rested-depending on how behind you are.

I’ve learned that sometimes we just need to take the time and rest.

And boy, those cucumbers were good! I’ll write out the ingredients, incase you’re also up to your knees in cucumbers and need a good way to use them.

Kansas Cucumbers

Recipe from Sandhill Favorites Recipe Book.

1 c. mayonnaise

4 T. Sugar

4 T. Vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

3-4 large fresh cucumbers, peeled and sliced

Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Pour over fresh cucumbers.

This recipe book is loaded with a bunch of good recipes. A lot of them are traditional Mennonite recipes, but there’s a bunch of other good ones too. Here’s a link to a publishing company I found that sells the recipe book online, incase you’re interested.

I went for a ride this morning with my horse, Scarlett. Usually, before breakfast I work on my novel, but this morning I really wanted to go for a ride. I had a feeling it would be a beautiful morning, and it was. The sun’s light glimmered through the cloud cracks, slowly peaking over the light blue clouds, that stretched along the eastern horizon. The corn stood still and the birds sang in the trees, as we walked along the road, carved into the earth after years of farm traffic. Scarlett snatched a few corn leaves, unable to resist the greenery, I don’t think she was impressed though. She didn’t go back for seconds. 😛

(Last time I mentioned how we don’t farm sweet corn; to clarify, the corn crop I’m talking about will be chopped while it’s still lush and green, for cattle feed during the winter. Also, it was planted late, so growing sweet corn in it was not an option.)

This picture was taken while I enjoyed my Kansas Cucumbers, a day after I groomed the dog.

The dog trimming was a success. For a first-timer, I think I did verily well. But goodness, to anyone who grooms animals for a living, y’all do hard work. After that, my back was spent. The dog walked into the house, plopped down on the kitchen floor, and acted like he was tired. He just stood on the porch steps, sitting occasionally. (Haha) He was a good boy though, he did a good job.

I had a good week, full of work, friends, and family. We didn’t get the corn freezing done, but I’m hoping we’ll get that done next week.

I also spent one afternoon at a coffee shop, laughing and talking with some amazing friends. One of these days I will take my laptop, order an ice coffee, find a cozy corner in our local coffee shop and work on my novel. Or I’ll read a book. That sounds like a vacation to me. 😀

One day . . .

I will talk to you all back here in a few weeks,

Have a good weekend guys,

Maria-

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Adventure Awaits

They said it wouldn’t freeze until November 5th, at least that’s what one weather station predicted. About five days ago, the light freeze darkened nearly all the plants. Good thing I prepared the days before. The other plants I didn’t care about, they had already produced all their vegetables, but the tomatoes and peppers still had a lot to give.

The last 2021 vegetable harvest.

I searched every tomato branch and picked every decent-size green tomato. I picked every decent-size sweet bell pepper, even a hand full of jalapenos. It brought enough sweet bell peppers for two chili ralleno meals and I think three half-pint jars of canned jalapenos.

Mom pre-fried and froze half of the sweet bell peppers. So, they’re ready whenever she decides to make chili rellenos again. I don’t make them. She usually makes some when we come over for lunch or she’ll bring me a few. And they are always really good! She fallows a memorized recipe she learned from her mom years ago. I have never had a chili relleno in a restaurant, but I imagine they taste very different, considering the dough we use is the same dough we use to make our own version of crepes.

Which is also very good! You make one crepe, set it aside, make another crepe, but leave it in the pan. Then spread whichever fruit you’d like onto the crepe in the pan, add sugar over the fruit, drizzle dough on the edge around the crepe, place the first crepe over the fruit, and ceil them together with the dough you drizzled around the edge.


Fall deep cleaning began on the last Monday in September, at dawn. That week, the men had a lot of alfalfa baling to do almost every morning, giving me the chance to start early. Because of that, I was able to take half of Wednesday off to have coffee with my mom and friend/brother’s girlfriend at the farm.

By Friday at five or six, I dumped the last bucket of water out and threw the last cleaning towels in the hamper. A few of my other chores got neglected, but it all worked out.

Now I just have to thoroughly clean the shop/garage. I’m waiting to do that until the first week of November. After our trip to Maine. Also, then my husband will have his Duramax finished and I won’t have to clean around it. I can back it out. That’s what I was waiting for.

On Saturday, after I finished deep cleaning, I did decorate the front porch area. On that day we had crisp, rainy weather and my husband didn’t have to work, so we went to the local coffee shop. We’d only done that once before, when the shop first opened, so it was a real treat. The atmosphere and the drinks . . . everything is so good there, I don’t know why we don’t go more often. You can definitely tell that the owners put a lot of thought and effort toward it.

I started decorating after the coffee shop trip. I’m happy with how the porch turned out. I’m definitely growing pumpkins again next year. It’s worth it, even if I just use them for decoration. I might try to make a puree out of them yet. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to do that though. Maybe around thanksgiving.

To celebrate . . . we went shopping!

We didn’t go crazy or anything, only walked out with a few bags. 😀 But I did buy a puzzle and a piece of fabric for a dress from Hobby Lobby. I asked my mom if she wanted to go to town with me. We had both just finished deep cleaning, and I thought as a treat, why not spend the afternoon browsing. So, that’s what we did. Of course, we had to get a coffee as well. (haha)

But I made the dress that next week yet. I also sewed a bunch of other things. At least I considered it a bunch. I tried making a t-shirt for the first time and it worked out. But I don’t think I used the right fabric. The apron I made, didn’t turn out like I thought it would, but it did work out and I’m using it all the time now. It might be my favorite.

Apple Pie. Recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen.

Other than that, homemaking and writing keep me busy lately. The garden is cleaned up, all except the carrots, which I’m hoping to harvest as I need them, until the hard frost comes. A layer of manure is resting on the soil. Once we get back from Maine, I hope to spread straw over it yet. Then I can forget about gardening for five months. Except the occasional watering, to help breakdown the manure. Though, I’m hoping we get a lot of snow.

Hoping to Celebrate Three Years in Maine

My husband and I are flying to Boston, then driving up to Maine next week. Our third year anniversary is coming up. We love to take a trip around that time. Just a few days every year to get away, just the two of us and explore the country. In a few years, or so, we’re hoping to start traveling all over the world.

We did not know where to go this year! I think we thought of every corner of the U.S–for sure every corner, and so many places in between. But in the end, we decided on Acadia National Park.

I’m planning on packing a lot of layers. The weather stations predict fifty degree weather for the time we’ll be there. And we’ve been having seventy to eighty degree weather here. (It’s unusually warm, I think, for this time of year.) The temperature’s supposed to rise up to forty-four again at night next week, then rise thirty degrees by the afternoon.

Anyways, next month sometime, I’ll talk more about the trip. What we did and how it went. 🙂


Lazy Autumn Sunday at the lake.

I am going to go clean the Denali, maybe go to the bank yet, and then start dinner. Roasted Cornish hens are on the menu for tonight. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. (haha) But I better get on with my day.

Thank you for letting me share what I’ve been up to. 🙂

As always, I hope you all are having a good day, and I’ll talk to you next time.

Until then,

Maria

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Exciting things are happening in the garden . . .

It was a pleasant day. The sun gleamed on the ripening pumpkins, providing the perfect light for a quick photo, by my poor quality phone. (I refuse to get a new one until this one breaks.) Flies buzzed passed my ears, while others hovered over the dogs head, sneaking the occasional sting of blood from his ears. The dog huffed even under the shade of the small elm tree, for the weather wasn’t unbearable, but not enjoyable for a husky/golden retriever, with fur as think and long as broom bristles. I have planned to cut his hair this week yet. The groomer does an amazing job, but Buddy needs a trim so often it drains the stashed coffee pot. By grooming him myself a few times a year, I hope to save a few dollars.

I wanted these pumpkins for fall decoration, but looks like they’re going to be ready to early. 😛

After I swept the kitchen floor, made the bed, washed the dishes, tidied up around the house, and set out meat to thaw for lunch, I jogged down the porch steps and walked to the garden. I keep the garden hoe hung on the tomato trellis; it saves a lot of steps from the shed to the garden in the summer. But before I began the hoeing, I picked the ripe vegetables, brought them into the kitchen, washed them, then laid them out on a kitchen towel to dry before I set them aside for storage.

Today’s harvest.

My mom and I are planning on canning cucumbers tomorrow. We always can in her kitchen, she has all the supplies in her storage room. Because we share the produce in my garden, it makes me feel better about using her supplies and her kitchen.

The Days Spent at Home in the Kitchen

Plus, there is something about working in the kitchen you learned how to cook in. It brings back memories of “the old days.” When warm summer air seeped through the kitchen window screen, apple pie filling bubbled over the crust edging as it baked in the oven, and steak sizzled in the pan as it fried on the electric stove top. The best part was when I stepped out the dinning room doors and yelled toward the shop, “lunch is ready.” Mom would over hear, and everyone quit their task and walked toward the laundry room door. They would ooh and aww while they washed up. I would always stand beside the stove, my smile reaching across Kansas, while my brother taste tested the food. Obviously, I was proud of what I had created, because I didn’t cook often, growing up. That’s probably why I remember so vividly the times that I did cook; it was such a rare occasion.

Anyways, back to today . . .

A part of my garden (a far away look at the corn stocks).

Mom has planned to also cut and freeze sweet corn this week. We always get a big batch from our farmer friends. Because my family farms alfalfa hay, we don’t plant acres of sweet corn. It’s easy for the corn farmers, they just leave a patch in their feed corn crop for sweet corn and treat it exactly like they do their feed crop.

I’m growing corn in my garden this year, I tasted it this morning–I’m glad we got the farmer’s corn to rely on. This corn I planted–we’ll I musta done something wrong, it doesn’t taste bad, it’s just not as good as the farmer’s corn . . . oops. I’ll try again next year. 🙂

After I fried fish, cooked rice and steamed vegetables (for myself, Willie doesn’t eat veggies) for lunch, I washed dishes, mowed, trimmed, raked the cut grass and laid the grass out in my garden as mulch. This is the first year I’m laying down mulch in my garden. The books and YouTube videos I read and watch say, “do not let your ground be uncovered.” So far I’m seeing good results–also, it helps keep the weeds away. But I still have to cut a lot of grass before the garden is completely covered.

A few other chores were done, but we won’t go into detail about those.

I did put together the stand up mirror my husband gave me for my birthday though. Here’s the link to the one my husband got me, in case you’re looking for one. I’m loving it! You wouldn’t want to have it standing in a child’s room though, it seems to wobbly for that. The children might run into it and I don’t think it could withstand that. But it’s prefect for an adult’s room.

It’s seven thirty and Willie’s going to be home soon, so I’m gonna prepare dinner by reheating leftovers, 😛

Until next time,

-Maria