Our 28th Wedding Anniversary

We had our 28th wedding anniversary last week. My husband reminded me that it was a special one because I married him when I was 28 years old and that meant that I have now spent half of my life married to him.

I gave him a new wallet and he gave me these flowers, some overpriced strawberries (that I had been denying myself), and a love letter very like the one he wrote me on our wedding day. To quote my husband, “It really feels like we have one shared life.” Begonia



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First Garage Sale Haul of 2018

Yahoo! The garage sale season has begun with the first village wide in Black Earth, Wisconsin. 

That’s correct. What you are seeing is a garage sale with snow heaped around it from the people having shoveled six inches of snow off the driveway before they could set up!

Most village wide sales officially start on Friday but many people start their sales on Thursdays when the really hard-core shoppers are out spending their money. Of course I was out on Thursday!

My first stop was a sale on my own block so some of the stuff that I’m going to show you in the first picture is combined with the things I bought at the Black Earth village wide on Thursday, and all the items in the second picture are things I bought when I went back on Saturday. (I was at the Midwest Horse Fair on Friday with a friend.)

Yes, Thursday was pretty slim pickins. I picked up both frivolous and practical stuff. The candles, stickers, small toy, and stationary are destined to be stocking stuffers. The rice bowl is Japanese and very nice. I’m giving that to my daughter. I found some clothing that I needed to replace worn out items. (I fished the dishcloth and the toy out of a Free box.) The soap, clothing, dishcloth, and light bulbs were practical items for personal or household use. The movie and the small fiber optic tree were duds–the movie was just badly done, and the tree blinked on and off (blinky tree lights make me ill), but I didn’t figure that out until I got it home and replaced the batteries. (Both duds will be donated to St. Vincent de Paul.) The total cost of Thursday was $4.85.

On Saturday, I almost passed up two-thirds of the stuff on this table! As I was driving out of town toward home, I got a feeling I’d better turn around and go back to a particular new housing development with weird signage. I remembered that the streets were in large circles and I hadn’t gone all the way in. Upon driving deeper into this area I found that I had missed five good-sized sales, a couple of which were being run by “the husbands”–clearly these guys had been railroaded into running these sales while their significant others were off doing something else, and they were in everything-must-go mode. (I just love these kind of sales!) You will run into this phenomenon often on Saturday afternoons. Things are picked over, BUT this is when you get some of your best deals because sellers just want to be done.

One sale was overstock/clearance SIMS fly fishing clothing–brand new stuff dirt cheap. These were all practical items: hat with insect screen ($5), neck covering ($10), 7 T-shirts ($1 each). Another of the sales yielded Dreft $2 (I use this for washing delicates.) and 2 Pur water filters for $1. At another one of the sales I found new Old Navy flip-flops for 50 cents–next year’s dorm shower sandals for my daughter–three hanks of expensive lace-weight mohair for $2 each, and a pair of new knee socks (50 cents). (I’m making a beautiful scarf with it! I’ll show a picture of it when I finish it.) At the sale deepest in the development, I found a Duluth Trading Co. tote ($1), a cookbook with a rude title that I just had to pick up, and a pair of Duluth Trading Co. jeans in mint condition in my daughter’s size in the FREE BOX!! (The woman running the sale had worked in the warehouse and had bought a lot of this stuff  while an employee.)

I found some other stuff in the older part of town like the two new puzzles and a leather travel purse and passed up a lot of Vera Bradley. My total for the day was $36.75.

All this snow was gone by Saturday. I’m looking forward to some warm weather and sunshine this weekend for another village wide. Yahoo! Begonia



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2018 Maple Sugaring

The 2018 sugaring season was a short one for me! Our weather fluctuated so much that I finally pulled the taps–maybe a little early–when the flies came out. Usually that happens later in March, but we had a number of warm days followed by many cold ones as it turned out.

I had already sugared off two batches of 12-15 gallons of sap at about 3 percent sugar (which is very good), so I decided to be done. I vowed to can my syrup this year and not let a drop go to waste. I had kept my finished syrup in the refrigerator the last two years and always lost some of it to fermentation (probably because I didn’t sterilize the jar I stored it in) after a couple of months.


The canning went smoothly. I put up my syrup in one-cup jelly glasses, processing them for 15 minutes in a water bath canner. I still have some jars of canned maple syrup from three years ago that I preserved by the same method that are still holding just fine in my canning closet.

All together I harvested enough sap for 16 cups of finished syrup. We will be enjoying it on pancakes and as a sweetener until next season. Staying sweet, Begonia

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