Friday, July 31, 2015

Now That's Just Corny! Farmgirl Sisterhood Post 10

Now That's Just Corny

Mary Jane's Farmgirl Sisterhood Post 10

My favorite part of summer is visiting all of the local farms in our area. Our family especially loves corn on the cob. The sweetest corn in our area is Dunn's Sweet Corn! It is located in Leetown, West Virginia off of Route 51. Terry and Frances Dunn own Beckwith Farm - a 9-acre farm where they grow and sell their bicolored sweet corn, commonly called "peaches and cream." They farm two different varieties - Ambrosia and Serendipity. 

Corn will always have an even number of rows on each cob.
Their bicolored corn has a very short growing season - usually from the first of July through the third week in August. Although he uses staggered planting to lengthen the time of harvesting, the Ambrosia takes about 72 days to mature and the Serendipity takes approximately 85 days. Often if you are late in the day, the corn is gone. Dunn's does not have a website or any social media page. Word of mouth is their advertisement.

With the exception of Antarctica, corn is produced on every continent in the world.
Their corn is so good that even their cat eats it! This was the first time that I have ever seen a cat peel back the husk and chew on the cob. I personally like mine with hot melting butter and a tad bit of salt. Of course, there are many ways to cook corn. Lori Leigh from LL Farm has an amazing  Corn Chowder recipe! One can make it with fresh off the cob or from the can is absolutely mouth watering! 

Another advantage of visiting a local farm is the variety of photo opportunities one can take advantage of. I like the like the old tractors at Dunn's. There is something charming as the wild flowers embrace the wheels and the color of the tassels waving in the background. 

There are over 3,500 different uses for corn products.
Yet, my favorite part is sitting on the back deck or front porch shucking corn and sharing conversations. Often, it is my husband and I who are shucking the corn. We discuss the day or deeper topics. Sometimes, we sit in peace and quiet. During the calmness, I often imagine how women from the past would gather together to snap purple hull peas or shuck tables of corn spread in front of them. I wonder what sort of meaningful connections were made as they listened to each other's stories. Moreover, I imagine as each layer of husk is pulled back they reveal their inner wishes, struggles, or maybe they shared a giggle or two.

No matter how you savor the moment from visiting the farm, preparing or eating it off the cob, the experience makes the corn taste extra sweet!  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Thursday Thought

One thing leads to another...

Me enjoying a glass of water after a walk.

Oreo and I taking a selfie.
Hard to believe all that has changed in my life in just one year. I look back and am amazed at where I have been and what I have accomplished.

Today is a regular sort of day. I have taken my son to the orthodontist, tackled those household task of lawn care, laundry, returning phone calls, I began a character sketch for a WIP, which led to speaking with the Mennonites about quilting classes for this fall. Oh and I am on my way to set up my stained glass studio in the basement as soon as I post this blog. Every since I was a child, I have always been active and passionate about learning. I appreciate and am grateful for each moment. 

Each moment is an opportunity! We have the ability to choose how we spend this precious opportunity that is a gift. That is how life is, one moment leads to another. Go ahead sing!

The Fixx - One Thing Leads To Another

A little secret now! I am bubbling inside with excitement about my short story being published in an anthology! All contracts are signed. 

The 2015 NIWA Anthology: ASYLUM will be launched at Orycon this November. My first story to be published! I Can't Believe It! Squeal! You know, I honestly felt that when my time at Creating Calm Radio and the book reviews ended that I missed my chance. At that time, I had based my worth on others and forgot the "self."  Boy have I changed. I love this new discovery and reclaiming of myself!

I am empowered, and so happy that the joy is bursting out of me.

One thing honestly does leads to another!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gone Tomorrow By Stephen R. Campbell

Gone Tomorrow

By Stephen R. Campbell


I purchased Gone Tomorrow by Stephen Campbell after reading a post on his Facebook page. I follow his radio show in which he interviews authors and I was rather intrigued to read the he has published his first short story. It takes a huge amount of bravery and what may be a triumphed sense of accomplishment when having your first work go public. Therefore, to establish one’s reading audience is critical. Stephen Campbell writes a captivating novella with mystery, great character development, and which is ultimately well-written.

The Novella begins with Jack and Jessica Stillwell of Naples, Florida who have just discovered the body of neighbor Carmine Santori after returning from an early morning beach run. The reader is immediately engrossed into the plot as Carmine, a son of Italian immigrants, who earned a PhD in engineering from Stanford University and gone to work for Intel has been murdered. With accusations of adultery, questionable business relationships, and financial power the reader will not be disappointed.

Visit Stephen's Blog! Lots of writing advice and interviews!
Gone Tomorrow is written in the third person omniscient point of view. The major themes are power and money. Stephen Campbell uses the interpersonal relationships and character actions to revealed and develop these themes. Character delineations are well developed over time as the story unfolds. I was particularly fond of the relationship between Jack and Jessica. For example, “Jack knew he’d hit the marriage lottery with Jessica.” This emotional element not only creates an endearing quality toward Jack but will have most female readers falling in love with him. Furthermore, one becomes instantly connected with the wry wit of Jessica as she confronts Mrs. Santori by stating, “I can assure you, if your husband were having sex with me he would have neither the need, nor the desire for other women.”

Stephen and his wife Photo Credit Author web page.
With a PG-13 sexual rating, Gone Tomorrow gives just enough detail to the reader with making the novella distasteful. Stephen Campbell uses "emotional qualities" for his writing style. The use of humor, wit, and satire will satisfy readers from late teen to older adults. The tone and setting do not impinge on the characters or plot but rather enhance the experience for the reader. One of the many virtuous attributes of the novel, is the warm and tender friendship Jack and Jessica establish with detective Sampson which remains intact even after they go their separate ways.

Stephen and his beautiful wife

In addition, I was rather pleased with the book cover. The red fingerprint silhouette of the gun underneath the Florida image evokes mystery and yellow lettering delivers a cautious feeling. I highly recommend Gone Tomorrow by Stephen Campbell. Campbell has created a witty, quick read, well-suited to those who enjoy an entertaining, well-managed mystery. I highly recommend Gone Tomorrow by Stephen Campbell.

Friday, July 24, 2015

I'm In a Pickle! Farmgirl Sisterhood Post 9

Tickled With My First Batch of Pickles!


I was so excited to make pickles for the first time. This is how I did it. The recipes came from

  • 4 wide-mouth quart jars, lids & rings
  • fresh dill, heads & several inches of stems shaken free of bugs
  • cucumber, washed, scrubbed
  • 4 garlic clove (or more) 
  • Brine
  • 414 cups water
  • 114 cups white vinegar
  • 14 cup pickling salt

Dill Pickles



    1. Wash 7 quart jars in hot, soapy water (or dishwasher), rinse and fill with hot water; set aside.
    2. Fill canning kettle half-full with hottest tap water; set on burner over high heat.
    3. In a medium saucepan, fit lids and rings together, cover with water, bring to a simmer.In a large saucepan, bring water, vinegar and salt to boil; turn off the heat; set aside.

    4. FILL JARS: place a layer of dill at the bottom of each jar, along with one garlic clove (if used), then TIGHTLY load the cukes into the jar to the NECK of the jar (depending on size you may get two nice layers with a few small cukes in the top--)---squeeze cukes into the jar tightly--uniform size helps; add a few TINY spriglets of dill at the top, too, and another garlic clove if desired.

    5. Once jars are loaded, pour in the brine leaving half-inch head space in each jar. 

    6. Add lid and ring to each jar, tightening evenly.
    7. Place jars into canner with water JUST to the necks of the jars.

    8. Bring water ALMOST to a boil (about 15 minutes--depending on how fast it heats up).
    9. Remove jars, set on a dish towel on the kitchen counter, cover with another dish towel & let cool.
    Check for seal (indented lid), label jars or lids, store in cool dark cellar or cupboard.

    Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

    Prep Time: 1 hour
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 5 hours, 10 minutes
    Yield: Approximately 4 pints.

    Follow these easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions for making and canning your very own Bread and Butter Pickles. These were the favorite! See just how quick and easy it is to make these delicious pickles right in your own kitchen. This recipe can be completed in one day.

    • 3-lbs of Pickling Cucumbers
    • 1.5-lbs Onions, thinly sliced
    • ½ cup Canning or Pickling Salt
    • 2 cups White Vinegar (5% Acidity)
    • 2 cups Sugar
    • ½ Tablespoons Mustard Seed
    • ½ Tablespoons Celery Seed
    • ½ Tablespoon Pickling Spice
    • ½ teaspoon Turmeric

    Place cucumbers in sink with cold water. 
    Scrub each cucumber by hand, DO NOT use a vegetable brush. 

    Rinse all the cucumbers and drain.
    Slice ¼ inch off each end of each cucumber and discard.
    Slice the cucumbers into ¼ inch thick slices.
    Slice the onions. 
    Place the sliced cucumbers and onions in a large pot and stir gently by hand to mix.
    Sprinkle salt over the mixture. 

    Cover the mixture with about 2 inches of crushed or cubed ice. 

    Refrigerate the mixture for 3-4 hours, or overnight, adding more ice as needed during this time. When ready to process pickles, wash jars in hot, soapy water.
    Setup your stove and counter area in advance for ease in canning.
    Place jars in boiling water for 15 minutes to sterilize.
    Place lids and bands in a pot of warm water, not hot or boiling, and let sit until needed.
    Drain cucumbers and onions, rinse well to remove salt and let drain. 

    In a large pot, add Vinegar, Sugar, Mustard Seed, Celery Seed, Pickling Spice, Turmeric, stir well. 

    Bring to a boil over Medium-High heat and boil for 10 minutes. 

    Add cucumbers and onions to the pot, bring back to low boil and boil for One Minute. 

    Remove from heat and ladle into jars, leaving ¼ inch head space in each jar.
    Remove any air bubbles by inserting a wooden skewer along inside edge of the jar. 

    Wipe top of jar and rim with a clean damp cloth.
    Center a lid on the jar. Add the band, and tighten only finger tight.
    Process jars, using the water bath process, for 10 minutes. 

    Remove jars from canning pot, set aside in a draft free location, undisturbed for 24 hours.
    Test jars for proper seal. Store sealed jars in a cool dark place for up to one year.


    “People are like pickles- some are sour, some are sweet, and some leave a bad taste in your mouth.” 

    Kallee Gallant


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