Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cloth Napkins

I have been working on some cloth napkins for the family at the Little House.  Myle had some leftover fabric from an apron project two Christmases ago, so we started with those...

1. Cotton fabric is probably your best bet.  Cut the selvedges off your fabric.  This are the stiffer edges of the fabric.  Then, fold your fabric into fourths width-wise to see how wide your napkins can be.  Usually, for me, this is 10-11", so I begin to cut squares.  These are all 10.5".  You can make your napkins bigger, but we were making these for kids, and trying to use what we had.  Also, you can make nicely rolled edges, but these seem to hold up as well, and since they aren't our "company" napkins, I don't care if they fray a little.

2. Set your machine to a wide zigzag stitch.  Zigzag around the edges of your fabric.  I find curving at the corners is easier than going all the way to each corner, turning, and trying to start again, as the machine inevitably eats them.

3.  Trim the corners.

4.  Use.  Enjoy.
Partially finished so you can see the different stages.

Before sewing.



James would like a few of these...

from a small herd in Hays, Kansas, where we recently attended a diaconate ordination.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.


Look at the size of these tater plants! (and the size of these kids!)
 The garlic and tree onions are looking great.  Now I just need to figure out... when do I plant the bulbs that are on top of the tree onions.  Now?  Do I keep them for next year?  Some are already sprouting their own "trees," so I need to figure this out soon.

Walking to the pond

We've had rain, but not enough to even get a muddy puddle at the bottom of the pond.


Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemaking Chores for Today

1. Grind wheat.
2. Make bread.
3. Make laundry soap. (I'm so glad I grated an extra bar of soap last week when I made laundry soap for my sister)
4. Wash laundry.  I would hang it out to dry, but it's too wet (the boy would go through his mandatory 3/4 teaspoon of dirt LONG before I finished), so it's in the dryer.

I may attempted cheese crackers later, but I have a quilt top that needs to be finished by the end of May.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The tomato seedlings were planted last week.  So were sweet potatoes.  Lest I forget to document any more...

Today I planted Oaxacan green corn, sunflowers (sunspot and Mammoth Grey), New Zealand spinach, and Swiss Chard brights.

We have harvested over 2 pounds of strawberries... the harvest is beginning to fill out.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Oatmeal Snack Mix

Recipe for my younger sister, but an awesome snack for anyone, and you can lower the sugar amount a bit if you like...

Recipe from my older sister, who is an amazing cook...

I have tried doubling it, but it doesn't bake the same way, so I wouldn't recommend it.

The stirring directions once it's out of the oven are important.  Otherwise, this lovely snack will solidify into a piece of iron (er, rock-hard oats) that will taste marvelous, but be impossible to remove from the pan.  Ask me how I know!

1/2 c. margarine
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. salt (optional)
1/3 box (3 c.) square oats cereal (I think the brand is Quaker Oats)
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats (I think quick would work as well)
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. chocolate covered raisins

Preheat oven to 275 F
Combine the first five ingredients and heat until margarine is melted.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Mix well with cereal and oats.
Put in greased 15" x 10" x 1" pan (or use parchment paper) and bake, uncovered, at 275 F for 45 minutes.  Stir every 15 minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add cranberries and raisins.  Store in an airtight container.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Weeds...


We spent a very happy (albeit windy and chilly) morning weeding by hoe and by hand, admiring potatoes, garlics, onions, and blueberries, reveling in the new, healthy growth.  We may have to do battle with potato beetles this year, as they seem to have found our crop already.  Even my dad, gardener extraordinaire, came out to pull his share, all by hand, particularly the tough little buggers that we like to skip and pretend we didn't see.

I wanted to take a picture for some comparisons to last year, but, surprise, surprise, our camera was out of batteries.  'Cuz I use it ALL the time, you know? Not.

The two families adjourned to the Little House, where the men did some heavy lifting with the tractor and the women spoke of cloth napkins, feeding children, and even homeschooling (not for my family, but theirs).

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Green Times

Seeing our potatoes lively and thriving (albeit with a few bug holes - go away, potato beetles.  I will squash you!) reassures me that life goes on despite economic hardship, shaky world relations, and other superfluous worries.

Dan, Myle, and fam have officially moved to the Little House, about four miles away from P.R.  Hopefully that means they will be able to provide some water for our onions, who are in the new bed to the north, which is much grassier and lumpier than the potato bed.  (That requires a truck first... Wanna donate a truck to the cause of non-wealthy [cuz we're not poor] Catholic families homesteading?)

Today we met at P.R. for some good, old-fashioned work.  Our neighbor to the south (who likes to call James a city slicker) was happy to see us and is probably shocked at how much better our potatoes look compared to last year.  The addition of a few tons of compost, a large tractor, some gypsum, and an awful lot of perseverance creates a recipe for much happier potatoes.
The garlic stems are thick and the leaves are tall.  They look better than the garlic at our home in town, where the kids attempt to dig up my garlic any time I'm not looking.  The tree onions are already setting bulblets, and some of the bulblets are trying to sprout.  I'm unclear as to how that is really supposed to work, but they do look amazing.  Again, that God is so good to provide us with some good things through the fruit of our labor (and sometimes, in spite of it), stills my worries. 

Somebody likes to honk the horn.
 Even the trees we planted last year continue to grow as true survivalists... no additional water, weeding, or protection so far.  They were watered by Dan and James for the first time today!
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.