Sunday, October 24, 2010

Primrose "PMS" Crackers Recipe

Ladies, if you'd like a more creative way to ingest your dose of Evening Primrose without taking those icky little oil capsules, I have a recipe for you. Evening Primrose oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of the plant. However, if pressing your own oil isn't an option, grinding the seeds up will still give you the same health benefits (it is thought that the whole seeds will merely pass through your system, but grinding them up releases the vital oils and nutrients). I have come up with a lovely little cracker recipe for munching on when you are feeling crampy:

1 cup ground Evening Primrose seeds
1 cup regular white flour
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp melted (unsalted) butter
1/2 cup milk
(Note: you can add salt to the recipe if you'd like. I, being very salt-sensitive, have chosen not to.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together in a bowl until a dough is formed. Roll dough out onto floured surface until very thin, and cut out crackers using a small biscuit cutter. Place crackers on greased baking sheet, and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow crackers to cool, then store in an airtight container. Eat when you feel that pre-menstrual monster awakening...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Confessions of a Serial Thrift Store Shopper
Part 2

Thus far, I have spent the past morning in the upstairs bedroom (safely locked against naughty kittens) sewing two lace panels into a 1940's wedding dress that I bought at the Goodwill the other day. I got the dress for $7.99 - 20% Senior Discount (my grandmother was with me). It's in pristine condition with the exception of a large brown stain in the back of the skirt (I am pretty sure I can soak the stain out, but I am not going to do it until I am finished working on the dress). The dress is beautiful - lacy, with a full crinoline underskirt, and those V-shaped sleeves and a loooooong row of pearly buttons in back! The only problem is that it was made for a TEENY little lady! The waist is about 21 inches! Since clearly I am a bit larger than this, I have been trying to creatively add two lace panels on either side of the back closure in order to make it wearable for MY size. Thus far, I have managed to attach the two new panels. If you stand far away, you can't tell, but within a normal distance it's noticeable that there is an addition. I couldn't match the lace exactly, and I didn't have some of the same decorative linings that the dress has, but it's good enough for me. Now I am on to the even harder part: finishing off the panel ends and then reattaching all of the buttons. I'll post pictures when it's finished, but it may be a while. Sewing is hard for me, and I don't enjoy it. I have to take frequent breaks, or I start to get cranky. :P When I am finished with this part, I still have to open up the arms and insert lace panels into the upper arms (which are also far too small for my own muscular farmer arms). This dress has certainly been a project to make it wearable for me, but it's SO beautiful that it is absolutely worthwhile. I can't wait to be completely done with the resizing so that I can put it on!

I went back to the Goodwill earlier this week and found some other lovely vintage items. I ended up leaving many items at the Goodwill (I would have loved to come home with them, but the budget was a bit tighter this week), including a brown 60s/70s one-piece pantsuit, an adorable periwinkle blue 70's dress with sequined embellishments, and some lovely coats and gloves and shoes that just would have been a bit too expensive for this trip. What I did come home with were two adorable little vintage hats: one's in need of some reshaping (looks to be about 1940's?), and the other is a rather plain-looking Mr. John Classics ivory pillbox (which I plan to add a few carefully placed pheasant accent feathers to, and wear with my lace wedding dress!). I also found a vintage Halloween skirt (1950's in style, though I am not sure that the skirt is actually that old), a non-vintage linen dress from Neiman-Marcus, and a 1960's black wool coat with those classic BIG buttons and a mink collar! While I was at the thrift store, I even noticed they had some OLD Victorian shoes, too! But again, my pocket book was maxed out, so maybe they will be there next time.

I'm not normally this much of a "shopaholic," but as I have stated before: Halloween is the BEST time to score vintage clothing and accessories! Everyone is cleaning out their homes and dumping off old "costumes" which are actually fabulous vintage clothing in disguise! It's sad to see so many old, well-made items hanging unloved and unappreciated on the racks...sort of like the older dogs at a shelter that never get adopted because puppies are so cute. But I have always been a fan of old pets and old clothes, and the good news is that I don't have any competition to grab them! I can rarely afford retail prices for these sorts of things anyway, so to be able to to purchase an armload of vintage items for $20 is heaven!

In other news, my new Carhartt farm chore coat arrived yesterday! Tired of watching me freeze every morning while I fed the animals, Ryan finally purchased me a sturdy and lined jacket from that lovely line of clothing that every true farmer is devoted to: Carhartt. I am very thankful for it! With mornings hovering in the mid-30's, it arrived just in time!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Confessions of a Serial Thrift Store Shopper

So, I went to a yard sale last Saturday and scored three lovely (albeit slightly in need of TLC) vintage hats, a vintage hat box, and a vintage (real!) alligator purse - all for $25! The woman who sold everything to us mentioned that there was a Goodwill down the road that seemed to get a lot more of the vintage clothing donations in than the surrounding stores. I had not previously been aware of this store. Happy Day!!

Today, I am dragging my grandmother down to browse this place. We both enjoy getting out of the house (and away from Grandpa) & "slumming it," and thrift store shopping around Halloween is the PERFECT time to score some really lovely vintage clothing pieces. Plus, with Grammy around, we get the 20% senior discount!

Thus far, I have had amazing luck at a different Goodwill in downtown Medford. The other week - amongst other lovely things - I scored a vintage lace wedding dress from the late 1940's/early 1950's. It's a pretty little ball gown style, with the lovely V-sleeves that that time period was known for. It has pearly buttons down the back and at the tips of the sleeves. The dress is well made and in great condition with the exception of a large brown stain in the back. I believe I can soak the stain out, but plan to do that AFTER I work on re-sizing the dress. We bought the dress for $7.99 minus the senior discount. The problem is that the dress was made for someone even smaller than I am! The waist of the dress measures roughly 21 inches!! Even at my thinnest point, my waist only measured 23 inches (and I'm not even going to tell you what it measures these days). So I have a little creative re-sizing to do. At first, we were only going to add a fabric panel to one side of the back of the skirt. But after we pinned it all together, it just looked strange. And last night, after I had gone to bed, I tossed and turned for hours and finally realized that I cannot in good conscious re-size the dress that way. It's too beautiful of a dress to do a half-assed sew job on. Sigh. I really don't like to sew. I can do it, all right, but I loathe
sitting still for that long, swearing over seams. I'm much more of an outdoor-loving tom boy when it comes to favorite activities! But, in any case, I will be doing a great deal of intricate sewing on this dress in the near future. Since I will need to add fabric panels to both sides of the dress in order to make it look nice, that means removing all 18 billion tiny pearly buttons in back and then re-sewing them back on in the end. Because I just used up my last piece of vintage lace, I am going to need to go hunting around for some matching lace for the fabric panel insert. And finally, the lace sleeves are slightly too small, which means that I am going to have to VERY GINGERLY open the seams and insert lace into them.

Okay, I am a little terrified.

I know it is going to be worth it for the end result, however. It's just going to be a long road of cursing to get there. Silly me never got a picture of the dress before we began taking it apart to work on, so for now, I will leave you with a similar looking dress from the Wire9Vintage store on Etsy:

Wish me luck!!! (I'm going to need it)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Uncommon Sights

Last night, Ryan decided that it was high time he and I went out for a little "night on the town." We have always believed that - even after marriage - you should continue to date your spouse. Not to mention that the two of us work ourselves to death every day for peanuts, and while I don't mind hard labor and living frugally, every now and then you have to loosen the purse strings or you just lose all motivation. This week has been particularly stressful (both with Grandpa-related fiascoes and lots of "winterizing" appointments and maintenance), so we needed to let off some steam. I hurried through evening chores before Ryan came home from work (the constant farm girl dilemma: if I shower and get ready before chores, how the hell do I keep the hay off of my hair and face?!?), and was ready to go by the time he arrived. I haven't been feeling so well this week, so I wanted to stay a bit muted in my dress. I settled on my vintage navy linen pencil skirt from Holly Vogue Vintage (LOVE that online store!), a black 100% cashmere cardigan with rhinestone buttons that I bought for $1 at a yard sale, knee-high boots to hide my white girl legs, and my lovely blue vintage hat that I bought at the J-ville City Yard Sale. I topped the outfit off with my $4 vintage costume jewelry bracelet (thank you, Grammy, for haggling the thrift store down from $10! *laughing*). To me, this felt pretty low-key. I guess I was wrong...

We went to friend David's 38 Central restaurant in downtown Medford. We sat bar-side, and enjoyed drinks, appetizers, and a light meal. We also were finally able to meet a mutual friend of David's - a delightful woman that I am excited to spend more time with in the future! In any event, every woman (and some men) that walked through the door gazed at (and often came up and commented on) my hat. I'm not used to being the center of attention like makes me uncomfortable. I wear my hats for
me - because I love them - not because I want to be noticed. Anywho, I think it's a sad day that people no longer care so much about their appearance when going out. I'm not bashing t-shirts and jeans, either! Goodness knows, that is my weekly outfit and I LOVE it. But when you go out to a nice dinner or drinks or something, get a little dressed up. I miss the "good old days" when women especially used to get dressed up "to the nines." Now, if you do that, people come up and ask if you are going to Prom/in a commercial/crazy. Whatever happened to pride in appearance?! Anywho, I squirmed a bit in my seat, though I was very glad that my hat was so well received. One of my favorite questions of the night was, "Do you have trouble seeing through the veil?" I believe I answered something to the effect of, "Only when walking toward a bright light." Yup, I can't claim to think well on my feet. I never was good at improv in high school speech and debate. Just ask anyone who went to school with me.

One thing that did make my cheeks glow (besides the blushing at the constant compliments - everyone kept saying what wonderfully rosy cheeks I had, and I wanted to remark, "Yes. That is because I am blushing because I am EMBARRASSED at all of the attention!") was caused by something that Ryan said to me last night. On the way home after dinner, he said, "There were a lot of beautiful women who came through that door tonight, but they all looked the same. They were dressed the way that society has dictated, and they all looked alike. Here I was, next to the most beautiful woman of them all, who dresses completely differently, and looks FABULOUS." I am paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist. :)

If you have read previous posts, you will know about my GORGEOUS red Lilli Diamond vintage dress that I bought at an estate sale months ago. Ryan and I have been meaning to go out and "premiere" that dress ever since I purchased it. We have decided to wait until the weather cools a bit, so I can really dress it up with my vintage coat(s) the way the ladies used to. Ryan plans to wear his 3-piece suit with his black fedora hat and antique watch fob! Anywho, I think we may need to warn David when we go out...if people were ga-ga over a mere hat, Lord knows what they will say with a couple dressed like they walked out an early 1940's film. Ryan says I always remind him of a curvy Katherine Hepburn...what does that make Ryan? Henry Fonda?

Stay tuned...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Grocery Shopping Palooza

Yesterday, I took my grandmother grocery shopping. I generally offer to drive her to the store in order to keep my grandfather from doing it (who should NOT be driving but refuses to admit it...and the DMV keeps letting him renew his license...sigh...), and because I enjoy spending time with my grammy. That being said, going grocery shopping with her is a bit of an all-day extravaganza. We usually follow a routine involving a combination of most or all of the following: BiMart, Thunderbird, Food4Less, and Grocery Outlet, spirnkled with the occasional thrift store. At first, I had a hard time getting off of my high and mighty horse and deigning to go into (let alone - *gasp* - SHOP in) one of those places, but after a while, I realized it was actually a smart idea. You generally saved quite a bit of money, and often times found some pretty splendid items! For example, Grocery Outlet this past week must have bought out the merchandise from a Wild Oats type of store: there was a spectacular assortment of Odwalla drinks, and all natural bath products & makeup. I was pretty excited! And the thrift stores are generally where I do all of my vintage clothing shopping, especially around Halloween (when everyone donates their old "costumes" which are really vintage clothing). This time, I struck even better than normal gold at the Goodwill: a 1950's/60's man's Mongolian camel hair 3/4 length coat that fit Ryan PERFECTLY ($7.99), an adorable empire-waisted handmade dress from the 70's ($5), a handmade lace wedding dress (with full crinoline slip!) from either the late 40's or early 50's w/matching veil ($7.99), and a suede car coat with mink collar ($4.99). Because Grammy was with me, we also got the senior discount! Below are a few pictures of my finds:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Traditionally, October 15th is the date of our first frost, and this year it has shown up a bit early. Granted, while higher up the road my poor neighbors have already experienced frost as early as last month, here at Apothecary Inn, this morning was our first light frost of the fall season. I can't believe how unprepared I was! I did get all of my sensitive plants into the greenhouse (I even remembered to dig up my lemon verbena for winter!), and plugged in the heaters, but it was all VERY last minute. Even though I knew the average frost date was approaching, I suppose it really didn't sink in just how quickly the time is flying by. With the start of cooler weather, we are in a flurry of "winterizing" activity over here: maintenancing the heating/cooling unit (it's been 10 years - we figured it was due! *rolls eyes*), tearing out the old fireplace in the livingroom and replacing it with a much more efficient wood stove insert, getting the chimneys cleaned, cutting down the final hazardous trees before the winter (wind) storms hit, and of course the annual fall livestock massive worming/hoof-trimming event is also taking place. Thus far we have finished with the nigerian dwarf goats (though we still need to trim the hooves of the 5 boys), and next we will move onto the llamas (I'm NOT looking forward to wrangling our two un-trained and in-tact males) starting with the ever-easy Punkin and Gloria. Finally, we will end with angoras and donkeys (the donkeys had all of their mani-pedi's yesterday, and we'll worm them next week). This week is going to be particularly ridiculous: yesterday we had the farrier out for all of the 7 girl donkeys, today the Sears repairman is coming (for the 2nd time) to fix the oven, and then on Thursday we have both the AC/Heating maintanence and the estimate for installing the wood stove insert going on. Somewhere in there, I have to get the tree service guys out for an estimate (& then the actual removal) on removing the two dead madrones in the donkey pasture (that should be fun - where in the world am I going to move SEVEN DONKEYS, FOUR ANGORAS, AND ONE LLAMA for SEVERAL DAYS while these trees are removed?!? *Sigh* One thing at a time. Oh, and I haven't even begun trying to coordinate processing the turkeys somewhere in there! I need to find a "cannibal pot" large enough to fit a 30 lb. tom!!

My grandmother has been helping me bring in the garden/herb harvest and process everything. We are essentially finished cleaning and bottling the herb seeds, with the exception of the Evening Primrose, Yellow Dock, and Amaranth. We have picked roughly half of the tomatoes (at which point we ran out of space to store them), waiting for the green ones to ripen, and trying to cook and can the ones that were already ripe (and getting mushy). Thus far, I have canned over 100 lbs. of pasta sauce, as well as several flats of chili sauce, salsa, and old-fashioned catsup. My recipes come out of a very old book, so they taste amazing! The other night, I made baked veggie & sausage enchiladas with our own veggies (and our local pork) with (my own) cornmeal tortillas and chili sauce. SO good. Seriously. Today, we will be making and canning stewed tomatoes. I have also come across an absolutely delicious green tomato pie recipe, and I believe we will soon be cooking up some tomato pickles and Piccalilli in order to use up the rest of the green tomatoes.

Off of my corn harvest, I have managed to grind about 10 lbs of cornmeal. Doesn't seem like much til you see all of the containers side-by-side. I was pretty damn happy with my results for this year, especially when you think about what a cool, wet summer it's been (if you can even call it "summer"). Now that we have a tractor and I can REALLY till the soil, I plan to double or even triple my flour corn crop next year. Hopefully, I will be able to begin selling my cornmeal commercially. In the meantime, my family and close friends have been enjoying it! With the holidays just around the corner, many folks will be getting their own gift of cornmeal with a copy of my much-raved-about honey-raspberry-cornmeal muffin recipe. I think I will be cooking up some old-fashioned scrapple here soon, and then adding my own twist of frying it in maple syrup. Ryan is very excited about this. I love having cornmeal and pork on hand at the same time!

Ryan helped me finish bringing in the winter squash harvest on Sunday. Now our Boutique room floor is littered with Delicata, Long Island Cheese, Sweet Meat, and misc squash. I already have visions of squash risotto with cornmeal-fried shrimp in my head! YUM!!!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Last weekend, Ryan and I ran away to the coast! Despite the terrible food and staying at a vile B&B (I'm STILL covered in bed bug bites), we had so much fun playing on the beach and visiting the state parks! My favorite was of course Shore Acres, but I have to say that my favorite spot - hands down - was Simpson Beach. If there is a heaven, that is surely what it looks like. Anywho, here are some pics from our trip:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Daily Grind

My hand-powered grain mill arrived while I was on vacation last week, so now that I am back and refreshed I can grind my heirloom dent corn! Yippee! While I drooled over the Diamant during my grain mill shopping, at $1200, it was a bit out of my practical price we went with the Country Living Grain Mill - the best you can buy in the under-a-grand financial range. I have to say: it's pretty bad ass.

The Country Living Grain Mill has a food-safe white powder-coated aluminum body with two carbon steel grinding plates (or burrs) that can grind from course to baking-fine. You adjust the grinding type by either loosening (courser grind) or tightening (finer grind) the plates. The flour then pours out of the bottom into a bowl. The hopper can hold up to 2 lbs. of grain at the top, so you don't have to worry about constantly pouring grain into it.

As far as ease of use, there was surprisingly little resistance when turning the wheel. It was far easier to use than I expected! - A VERY pleasant surprise! I could easily grind a full hopper load of corn by myself. What was more tiring was the simple repetitive motion of turning the wheel...I rather wished that I had thought to bring a book!

I was incredibly pleased with how my cornmeal turned out. The fineness is perfect for baking, and due to the gorgeous color array of the Oaxacan Green Dent corn kernels, the resultant cornmeal is nearly a rainbow of culinary possibility!

See what I mean??! :)