Monday, September 11, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS - Colton's Steakhouse - West Plains MO


If I'd been thinking instead of cleaning/ gardening on Saturday I'd have taken you to Logger's Day in Birch Tree MO. But I was focused on getting spring bulbs in the ground and finally getting planting dirt on the new Butterfly garden I'm putting in. And I hadn't planned to go anywhere on Sunday. I had already made two trips to West Plains in as many days and was looking forward to staying home for awhile... then I went to Facebook. There are many reasons I don't go there often but I'm glad I did this time. I saw a notice that The Journey would be in West Plains for a Pardners In Good Deeds promotion... a project the brainchild of Cowboy Rick.


Seeing this beautifully restored stagecoach always puts a lump in my throat and a tear to my eye. Especially after having researched her 'journey' for an article I wrote. You can read the article on-line in the Spring 2017 issue of Saddlebag Dispatches magazine. The Journey - The Story of an 1880s Wells Fargo Stagecoach

The stagecoach resides at Silver Dollar City - Branson MO, where Rick first rode in her as a young boy. She will be the prominent attraction during their National Crafts & Cowboy Festival featuring the finest craftsmen and authentic cowboys, September 13 - October 28th. Cowboy Rick and his wife Arkansas Bev will be on hand the entire seven weeks. Plan to spend a day or two at the festival and tell them Kelly's Country sent you out!

Country Blessings!
Kelly

Monday, August 21, 2017

TOTAL ECLIPSE... sort of



As you'll see from the map below, we fell in the 90% range for an eclipse.


Photo courtesty of www.astroadventures.net

Adrian kept a semi-vigilant watch with me. She's 9 and loves anything having to do with outdoors. Abby at only 5 didn't get the significance of what she was seeing. She thought the eclipse was some place we were going to. 

We missed the 90% mark by a couple of minutes. The sky took on a grayish tone as if a storm were moving in. The temperature dropped from 96* F to 86* F.  Then it was gone. After Bob and Abby gave up, having 'missed' the 'total', Adrian and I continued to view the passing on and off until the end. 

While not the most 'exciting' thing I've ever watched, knowing that something like that was happening held a 'wow' factor I couldn't ignore. I was happy the temperature dropped so we could view the eclipse without melting. Mother Earth knows what she's doing. 

Were you able to view the eclipse in person? Or were you one of the millions watching from the comfort of an air conditioned room viewing on your television screen. Either is fine. But I'd love to hear from you and what you thought of the experience.

Blessings
Kelly

Monday, August 7, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS - Pizza Sauce

While this is supposed to be a Weekend Travels post, most of our traveling these days is out to the garden. 


As I told you last week, I was putting Adrian in charge of washing all of those tomatoes she and Abby picked. This batch became half of a batch of pizza sauce. Making sauce has changed a lot from when I was learning how to can.

After the tomatoes were washed, I dropped them in scald water to slip the skins then into a sink of cold water to stop the cooking and help further release the skins. I peeled/ cored each one, cut them up then dropped them into the food processor where they were turned into a thin puree.

When I was a girl we would have put the puree into a pot on the stove and spent several hours stirring the sauce to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan as we cooked it to the desired consistency. I've learned a good shortcut... My crock pot is my friend LOL

I poured the puree into my 6 qt (?) oval crock pot covered with a lint free towel (NO lid!) and set it to low. From there, I just let it cook down all day. Just before bedtime, I stirred in a packet of McCormick Spaghetti Sauce mix then let it continue to cook down throughout the night. The next morning I had perfect Pizza Sauce consistency. I could have continued to cook another 6 hours or so for tomato paste. As the tomatoes continue to ripen (I have nearly half of a 5 gal bucket waiting), I might make the next batch into paste and put into 1/2-sized jelly jars.

So far I've put up three pints of diced tomatoes from last year's haul and these lovely seven pints of Pizza Sauce:


Now all I have to do is rearrange some things on shelves downstairs and make room. Wish me luck!


Monday, July 31, 2017

LET THE CANNING BEGIN!

 As you know, the grandgirls are visiting for the entire summer. Adrian, the 9-year-old in the picture below is my gardening buddy. She has been since the age of two. Not only does she love to eat tomatoes but she enjoys caring for them. That includes picking off the horned worms. We've not seen any yet this year.

But the first thing she does after breakfast each morning is walk the row looking for ripe ones. Saturday, she took her 5- year-old sister, Abby, with her. They both came back to the house with their arms loaded:


My canning experience began when I was 9. I started as chief jar washer, complete with butter knife and a dish rag, in the galvanized laundry tub set up in the yard. I'll be using wide mouth pints straight from the jar. They'll just need a rinse then a scald.

The tomatoes will need washed before diving into the scalding bath to slip the skins. So I'm putting Adrian in charge of washing the tomatoes. From there, she'll get to see the rest of the process. Each summer she is able to visit she'll have a hand in more and more of the process. I will be surprised if she stops showing an interest in what I do, especially with the growing number in self-sufficiency. Even if she never uses the skill as an adult, I can say I passed on the things my 'step' mom taught me.

A final shot of the tomato row. The plants are beginning to cascade over the top of the cattle panel. To prevent them pinching, I bought pool noodles from $Tree. Bob used his knife to cut a slit down the side and slipped them over the top of the panel:


Our traveling around the Ozarks have included places like Chuck E Cheese. Not exactly 'travel' worthy for the majority. Bob and I did take the girls fishing at Twin Pines Conservation Dept. Abby caught her first fish - a decent sized Bluegill.  This picture shows the length. She has about 8" from the bottom of her shirt to the breast of her knee. 


I'm hoping to get the girls out to a couple of places this week while the days are cooler. 

How is your garden growing? Have a blog? I'd love to see what you're doing. 
Blessings
Kelly

Friday, June 16, 2017

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - First Aid Kit Part 2


After almost three years of just having stuff in a tote bag... and totally useless in case of a disaster, The First Aid bag is finally finished. This is a standard size school backpack with the one additional front pocket.  I took almost everything out of their packaging to compact things a bit. All of the gauze were packed by size in ziplock bags.  The contents are clearly visible and dry. Other items are packed according to their use, ie. personal hygene items, eye care, pain meds, ointments/ creams, etc. Packaging the items together according to their use in ziplock bags makes them easier to access without having to ruffle through the entire contents of the bag.

I've attached 2 whistles to the handle so they are easy to get to. Whistles are important should you be trapped in your safe spot in the aftermath of a tornado. A loud whistle will better allow rescuers to find you without taking a lot of your energy attempting to call for help. This also prevents you from inhaling debris dust when you are trying to call out.

Are you Prepared?

Monday, June 12, 2017

HOME GROWN FOOD SUMMIT - Free Webinars all week!



I will admit I should have posted this here last week when I signed up. But life has been a bit crazy. The grandgirls, Adrin 9 and Abby 5, arrived in Wichita on Wednesday. Over the course of 3 days I drove 1000 miles to bring my girls home for the summer. Was worth every mile. I could have cut the drive short by taking the toll way from OK to Wichita but I do NOT do tollways. I took the relaxed, scenic route and enjoyed the drive. On the way home, we came through Caldwell OK which is a stretch of the Chisolm Trail. I plan to go back. I also have a picture I'll share next week. 

But today is all about the HOMEGROWN FOOD SUMMIT taking place on-line this week. The webinars are FREE and include a series of speakers every day. (The sign up link above gives you all the details)


Each day's videos will be available for THAT day only. However, if you want to pay for the summit and have them available to watch at your convenience, there is a buy-in option. Though the buy-in option (early bird price, I believe) expires on Tuesday June 13th. The buy-in options also include bonuses. So look over the speaker list and decide if you can watch them all on their given day or of the information is worth your investment. 

I'm looking forward to several today, and I while I am not putting the Fresh Food Production Inside Earthships down, I think that will be good research info for a friend who writes Sci-Fi romance.

I hope you'll check out the trailer then sign up to join us. Only through participation can we keep these types of programs coming to us. I'm sure if there is a topic you'd like to see covered in the future, they'd love to hear from you.

Blessings!
Kelly

Friday, June 9, 2017

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - First Aid Kit

Last week I took what I had previously collected for a first aid bag (three years ago!) and a PDF from a pharmacy site to compare what I had to what I was missing.  Then I took my adjusted list shopping.This is what I've collected.


A lot of items I purchased at Dollar Tree. One thing to be aware of when shopping for supplies. Make sure you are purchasing items with the farthest out expiration date. I did notice at Dollar Tree that most of the items had not been rotated - putting shortest dated items to the front of the shelf. I checked the date on the first bottle on the shelf then reached to the very back, thinking I'd get a farther-dated item. Not the case.  Check the expiration dates!

Next week, I'll show you how this all came together in a collective red back back. For now, I'm off to play with my granddaughters. 

He safe!

Monday, June 5, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS

The girls will be here in two more days! After having not seen them for almost four years, I am beside myself with excitement. The girls are 9 and 5 and we have so many adventures awaiting us for the next 8 weeks.

So for this week, I thought I'd step back to mid-February when Bob and I took a road trip to Sullivan MO to have our taxes done. The place I'm about to show you has been on the market for two or three years at least. I look at this place and see so much potential.


The restaurant was built by a couple who won the lottery. They thought it would be a good investment for their son (possibly grandson - I'm unclear on that point) to run. From what I understand he ran the restaurant for about two years before walking away. 

This little guy proudly stands guard:



Sadly, all of the kitchen appliances have been removed, depreciating the value of the property. When I look at the property I see convention centers, special events such as conferences or retreats. There is a living area upstairs.


The opening allows plenty of private parking


I think the $264,900 is a hefty price for what they've left you to work with. Bob and I discussed and wouldn't go above $186,000... if we were in the market.

The restaurant sits NE of Houston MO on road that has nothing more than local traffic, pass-through. Would be better marketable as a restaurant if it were along an interstate or closer to town. This is strictly a special events kind of venue... or to total remodel as your very own castle home. 

You can see interior pictures by checking out the Stagecoach Realty website.


Safe Travels!
Kelly 






Friday, June 2, 2017

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

This week, I'm hoping to get back in the swing of my Emergency Preparedness Series.

On the weekend of April 29th most of the state of Missouri was one of many states that dealt with serious flooding. Bob and I were stranded in Springfield as part of Hwy 60/63 was closed on and off over two days. By Sunday night nearly every rural road in our area was closed because of low-water crossings... including our road so even if we could have gotten out of Springfield, we wouldn't have made it to the house.

One area near us that really got hit harder than I've ever heard was West Plains MO. Jan Howard Blvd. through downtown was completely flooded and one of the power stations was in danger of flooding, so they completely shut power to the entire town.

From KY3 - More than eight inches of rain fell on the city Saturday. More is expected through the night. The city had to turn off power in fear of flooding at the city's substation. City leaders there ask residents to stay put. Many roads remain covered with high water.

Here is a video from one of our weathermen at KY3:


This next link shows many pictures of a small community along the Eleven Point River that lost its battle against the torrential rain bringing the river way out of bank attempting to wash Thomasville MO off the map. My husband belongs to the Masonic Lodge there and they have chosen not to rebuild. Instead, they will meet at a neighboring lodge in West Plains.


While I realize there really was no 'preparing' for a natural disaster such as this, having a Basic Disaster Supply bag as a 'Go Bag' is essential. Even the smallest item can bring a molecule of comfort during such a devastating period.

Ready.gov offers an exceptional list of things to have on hand. You can also download a PDF HERE


Monday, May 29, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS

Hi Everyone!

I'm trying to get back in here more frequently. I usually travel over the weekend and take pictures but I never get to this account. Sounds odd? Well, it's lack of focus in a way. I have several blogs that connect with my freelance interests. Two of my blogs, including this one, log in under different emails accounts - not associated with my Google account. I get so focused on updating the other five blogs that I fail to log out then into this one. My author account is the other one that usually suffers.

That said, I have a plan of attack as long as blogger plays nice with multiple schedulings.


Whenever I'm traveling the back roads I look for places like this. Creek beds that seem to vanish into the never ending beyond call me to follow their path like the door in The Secret Garden. But I'm really squimish of ticks these days and I just know as the silent call wafts to me, I hear the chattering of ticks even louder and pass on the adventure. 

What places call to you?

My granddaughters arrive in one week. They will be here for the entire summer! We will be going on many adventures and I hope to share them with you but if I"m silent for a few more weeks, I hope you'll understand grandma time comes first.

Safe Travels!
Kelly 

Monday, March 27, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS - Kansas History

Unlike a lot of people I've talked to, I really enjoy driving across Kansas. There is so much history there and a lot of the rural topography hasn't changed from the days of the Youngers and James gangs rode the hills. 

One of my brothers in law lives in the north central part of OK about 15 miles from the KS/ OK line. So the shortest route there is to cut north out of Joplin MO then west through the southern part of KS, including historic Baxter Springs and Coffeyville.

The pictures below were taken about 45 miles east of Arkansas City if I'm not mistaken. My husband is great about stopping so I can take pictures.

I dubbed this first one a Saloon. Looks like it may have been a store front a hundred years ago. When I'm going through on my own, I hope to do some history research. I love the decorative wood work and painting.



This next one has to date back quite aways as well. Notice the arched windows and the bunting. 


In the next picture I've zoomed in on the west entrance. Notice the arch beneath the porch. and what appears to be a trio of garage doors. The entrance is mirrored on the east end as you see in the above picture.


Architecture and old buildings fascinate me. If those walls could talk, the stories they'd tell.

Do you have any buildings that speak to you? If you can, link me up to where I can see pictures. I'd love to explore.






Friday, March 24, 2017

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - Wolf Hunter Solutions

Today I want to showcase an awesome business Bob and I found through local advertisement in Springfield MO... Wolf Hunter Solutions  Go ahead, follow the link. I'll be here when you are done.

While Bob focused on the AR stuff - of which they have one of the largest selections of AR components I have seen anywhere - I wandered the tactical side of the store. They don't focus on just 'prepper'... but all things tactical for personal and law enforcement use. Josh was kind enough to let me take pictures so I'm going to post those and let you do a virtual wander through that side of the store.


Personal Hygiene kits 


Firestarters and supplies


Medical Kits
Field Medic Packs


Micro fiber towels (very compact)

Supply kiosk


waterless body wipes


Variety of water bags

One of the camel bags up close



Trauma Kit varieties


Trauma Kit

Medic supply wall


Variety of  packs


If you're ever in Springfield MO, stop and check this place out. You can also order through there site but nothing beats seeing this place in person.


Monday, March 20, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS - Straw Bale Time!


While you might not think this most exciting travel photo, I'm ecstatic. Straw in southeast MO is hard to come by. We can usually get straw in the fall at the feed stores and box stores like Walmart but fall straw doesn't do a lot of good for those of us doing strawbale gardening - in the spring.

To make matters worse, the box stores want $6+ a bale. 

I've been blessed to find a local supplier. He has 40 acres that he plants in wheat, primarily for the straw. And he only charges $4 a bale!

So today I went out to his place and brought home 12 bales. With this cold, unloading was a chore and pretty much taxed my energy for the dale. Combined with the ones I bought at WM last fall and stored in the green house, this brings me to 20 bales -or there abouts. I'm going to spend some time this week figuring out the whole garden thing. If I have to make another trip out later in the week I might pick up 6 or so more... just in case. 

I also found a Straw Bale app. It's the official one from Joel Karsten. I downloaded the app today but it isn't wanting to open. I've deleted the app and will try a new download.

Next week I'll be showing pictures from a weekend travel to OK. I know it's not the Ozarks but I found some interesting buildings to share with you.

I know I've been absent. Bob was home for two months. He just went back out on Wednesday. I'm battling a horrid cold for the second time and the recliner is my best friend.

Have some Prepper stuff coming up as well as garden talk and sites from the Ozarks. I hope you'll come back.


Friday, February 3, 2017

STOCKING UP - Drying Bella Mushrooms




I've been wanting to dry Baby Bella mushrooms for awhile. When I'm home alone, I can't go through an entire #1 carton on my own before they start to fuzz over. This picture shows 1 of 4 racks on my food dehydrater. I also only use the caps. I don't care for the stems.

My trays are lined with wire mesh screen I purchased from the local hardware store and cut to fit.

This is what they looked like after 24 hours:


I didn't need to leave them for 24 hours I don't think, but I got up way earlier than I wanted so went back to bed... much longer than I wanted. LOL

And this is the final result:


#1 mushrooms dried to 1 cup. A tight fit in a jelly jar.

I tried some the next morning. I rehydrated about 4 T of the dried mushrooms in hot water for about ten minutes then added them to my egg scramble. Perfect!

Now that I know this works well, I'm going to buy a larger quantity at Sam's Club and get a bunch of them put into jars.

Have you tried dehydrating mushrooms? Do you find a difference between varieties? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

FOR THE BIRDS - Homemade Suet Cake


This woodpecker is one of the reasons I make sure I have suet feeders available throughout the yard. Of course, I also have a chipmunk (Chip), a couple of squirrels as well as a variety of birds that enjoy them as well. 

I love watching the birds at the feeders. One feeder hangs on the side of an oak tree. I've noticed I have two varieties of woodpeckers, but one will only BACK down the tree. He never comes head first... and he beeps as he comes down. Is he afraid of heights? Or is this common for his species. I'm still studying him. 

While I could get suet cakes for as little as 97 cents a piece, I decided to make my own primarily because I know what's in them.  I also had a supply of lard in our freezer that had been there since 2009. I didn't care for it in pie crusts so the butcher paper-wrapped blocks have just stayed in the freezer unused. 

After scouring Pinterest for ideas, I revised a recipe from better hens & gardens. The Dump Cake method:


Mixed Nuts and Peanuts left in the pantry
Peanut Butter
Quick Oats (though I did use Old Fashioned, too)
Lard

Not shown:
Corn Meal
Cracked Corn wild bird feed
Dried Cherries

I used creamy peanut butter for two reasons. 1) I found that when I made the first batch, the crunchy wanted to stick to the pan and scorch. 2) I prefer creamy lol

She suggests 2 C. corn meal. For the first batch I didn't have corn meal. That's when I started using the cracked corn. Now that I have both, future batches will have 1 C of each. Also, in place of sugar I used molasses for one batch and honey for another. I have plenty of both.  I ran the dried cherries through my mini food chopper.


The Mix


I've saved the trays from store-bought suet cakes. But I also froze 9x13 pans for my larger feeders


This is one I've started cutting apart to fit the large square feeder. The end pieces I put a couple in the long, square block feeders. Smaller pieces were placed on the ground for Chip and the Squirrel.

This is a left over piece that I wrapped in plastic and put back in the freezer until I need it.

I put the last of the 2nd batch in my feeders today so tomorrow I'm going to mix up as many as I can with the ingredients I have on hand. I am going through one of the small squares about every other day. I wound up having to wire the cage shut to keep the squirrels from running off with the entire cake. Crafty little critters, they be.

Monday, January 30, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS - West Plains & The Journey



Yesterday, I took Bob out to Colton's Steakhouse in West Plains MO to meet Cowboy Rick, Arkansas Bev, some of the cowboys and The Journey stagecoach.

I'll be telling you more about The Journey in later posts. For now, just some pictures from our day.


Inside



The Boot



The Driver's Seat

WEEKEND TRAVELS

These pictures were taken off a side road in Winona MO.  I love the sweeping cloud base. These pictures are from 2012. I still have a ton of pictures to get off another memory card and organize.