Friday, July 31, 2009

Lye Soap Like Grandma Used to Make

The title above is no misnomer, since lye soap was the soap of choice in rural regions and farm communities, where lye was plentiful and homemade.

The bars you see here are plain and white (brown, white, and cream are the usual colors). This hardworking soap is reputed to remove stains, sooth skin, and even deterr bugs.

Whereas, the pumpkin-colored bars below are infused with peppermint tea, creating a warm, speckled bar that smacks of dessert. We wrap the bars in brown paper for photography purposes, but all bars are wrapped in plastic and padded before shipping to keep them fresh and undamaged.

There are more photos and information on the soap on our Etsy link to the right -- it's a handmade craft well worth Googling up, since the process is a unique mixture of time, special ingredients (and occasional creativity on the part of each soap artist).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Sleepy Hollow friend rides through the forest ....

... although not necessarily with his head firmly on his shoulders (if you know what I mean).

See Ichabod (and his trusty horse Hobble D. Hoy) on Ebay this week by clicking Here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lurking Somewhere in the Future ...

Frank's here to remind you that our favorite season is fast approaching ... so keep a sharp eye out for ghosties and ghouls ....
Meanwhile, the photos of our Fourth of July decor and the first pics of our summer Craft Fair Fun adventures are still in the works, so stay tuned.
... and check out Reggie's blog here for the latest installment of his thrilling adventure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Our adventures continue in the wilderness formerly known as The Garden ...

The long and twining vines of the pumpkin plants have returned to their old spot this year, flanking the opening between the yard and garden. A mixture of Connecticut Fields, stripey white and orange, Jack-Be-Little and sugar pumpkins, there's no telling what from who with their tiny identical vines ...

This is not entirely our fault, since the pumpkins tend to plant themselves despite our best efforts at building little hills and germinating seeds inside. Last year's broken fruits and dried-out shells -- half-buried beneath leaf piles or rain-swept soil -- spring to life after the first summer rain and mix themselves with the garden planted seeds for a "wild patch" effect.

A "wild" stripey pumpkin takes over: this one was tossed out of the shop after it was found rotting in a box of dried display fruit. It planted itself immediately, producing about twenty or so wild little seedlings all vying for a spot.

A few of this year's wild plants were transplanted from the "pumpkin graveyard" of last year -- the spot on the other side of the garden where rotten Jack O' Lanterns and moldy mini pumpkins are tossed after Halloween. The rain brings the seedlings to life, and since I don't have the heart to mow over them, several of them get transferred to the pumpkin patch to join their friends.

With all these pumpkins, we're going to need a big scarecrow to keep the wildlife away .....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Parcheesi, Anyone?

Beautiful weather means working in the great outdoors. I took a break from the usual round of landscaping to repaint the tops of the old end tables on the porch with a little creative design.

The checkerboard effect is classic and leaves a little of the original wood top showing. The stars are "crackled" with a little glue to give the paint a peeling effect (a protective coating will keep it from peeling in reality).

I've never played Parcheesi (believe it or not, it's true), so I had to Google the rules before I painted the board. The corner stars are inspired by the "Star of Astoroth" in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, for all classic Disney film fans ...

... the "home" tile is meant to resemble an thatched Irish cottage.

A little box will slide underneath on the foot rests for storing game pieces and coasters for tall glasses of lemonade.

In the meantime, all the cats take turns sleeping on top -- to test out the quality of my work, of course.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

A patriotic Fourth of July greeting to you and yours ....

.... from all of us at Cordwood Cabin.

Cats included.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Out in the Garden

The taming of the weeds never ends, as does the need to renovate the old garden. Some of you will remember how last spring, in an ambitious decision, we tore down part of the adjoining wall between the front yard and the old garden on the other side.

A few short months later, the scenery hasn't changed much. Except, of course, for the final victory over the honeysuckle plants which effectively buried our grape arbors from sight.
The grape row has been mulched with cedar shavings to deter weeds ... the vines are due to be "trimmed back" after this season, in case you're noticing the scraggly branches trying to crawl away from the hedge.

The muscadine arbor has also been mulched and partially pruned. A few ambitious limbs last year seized hold of the privet hedge on the other side of the path and pulled it over into the yard, but we managed to curb its enthusiasm this year and keep it in one spot.

A glimpse inside the overhead muscadine arbor ...

The raised beds are new additions (the first of a large-scale container gardening plan). They house vegetables, flowers, herbs, and even potatoes ... hopefully, we'll be posting links to a few articles on container gardening in the coming months.

The garden in progress: the first raised beds by the arbors

The free-range bed beneath the twin mini-elms is home to herbs and a few heirloom wildflowers, like these rose mullions and flowering wild ivy known as passion fruit.

A passion flower vine sprouts beside the caged cherub. Behind it, a mix of mullion blossoms, black-eyed susans, herbs, and wild garlic blossoms ....