Grandma Susan’s Almanac Calendar is an informal monthly journal that encourages homemakers to do more things for themselves - crafts, handiwork, “from-scratch” cooking, gardening, and other domestic arts.
Grandma's motto is: "Let's work together to improve our lives by simple living, self-reliance, maintaining our religious faith, and sharing the blessings of life with others."
Saying of the month
"Springtime is the land awakening.The March winds are the morning yawn." - Lewis Grizzard
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U.S. Central Standard Time
Some Bible verses for March
Jesus replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." (Matthew 16:2-3)
Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin.
Some verses for March
Saying of the month
Crochet a round rug
Planning a kitchen garden
Find a place for your Bible
Recipe of the month - Skillet–Grilled Corn Cakes
If you knit or crochet, you probably have a lot of extra yarn, gathering dust, somewhere. You can make use of that extra yarn for an easy crocheted round rug. Any number of different colors can be used, and it’s no problem when you start and stop a new color. So, don’t throw away or give away those leftover bits of yarn. Get them all out and choose colors you like and get to work.
If you’re nervous about crocheting an entire rug, just start out small. You can make several round potholders until you gain confidence and, then, go on to making round mats for table decoration or chair cushions. It’s all the same pattern and the same basic crochet stitches. The main difference is how many rounds you crochet. For smaller items, use small crochet hooks and light weight yarn. The label on the yarn will tell you what size hook you need for single strand crochet. For large items, like rugs, use larger hooks and double or even triple stranded worsted weight yarn. The more strands of yarn you use, the heavier your rug will be.
It goes so fast that it will amaze you. I made a 39-inch round rug in about 20 hours, working from 1 to 2 hours per night, while watching TV. I used double yarn and a hook size K. I had some leftover yarn in 5 colors. I used up my leftover yarn, making 4 or 5 rounds, with each color. (I had to go to the store and buy 5 more bags of two colors to finish the rug.)
I started out with single crochet for the first 10 rounds (rows) and then changed to half double crochet. Those were the only stitches that I needed. You can find out how to make these stitches on many websites. There are even Internet videos showing exactly how it’s done. It’s just a matter of practice, so get started on those potholders to gain confidence. For the potholder, 8 inches is a good size. Measure what you need for any bigger items. Just make more rounds until you
get the diameter you are looking for. If you run out of yarn, just buy some more - exactly matching colors aren’t really important for this kind of rug.
Here are some things to remember when you make this round rug:
-The crochet stitches should be worked into both of the top loops of the stitch in the previous row.
- You have to increase the number of stitches in successive rounds. In the first few rounds you have to increase a lot, meaning every few stitches. As the item gets bigger, you increase less and less (on successive rounds), and only as much as you need to for the stitches not to be tight.
- Make sure the work stays rounded. (To keep it from deforming, I increase on one round and hold the same number of stitches on the following round.) Every few rounds, you have to look at the work. Smooth out the rug on a flat surface and check for ripples. If there is significant rippling, you’ll have to rip out rounds to where the ripples begin and, start up again from there.
- You should mark where your rounds begin. When you finish a round, add sufficient crochet chains to establish a new row. Otherwise, you'll get an uneven look, at the point where you change colors. (Sometimes, I just keep on going on my stitches, without adding chains at the end of rows. This gives a spiral look to the colors of the rug. The spiral is created by starting up each new color at a noticeable, uniform distance from the last color change.)
- When your rug reaches the size you want, add a row of single crochet togive it a finished look. Then, weave in any loose yarn, hanging from the knots on the backside of the rug. Hand wash your new rug with mild detergent. Towel dry it a bit. Then, block it by laying it out flat to dry.
PLANNING A KITCHEN GARDEN
Every summer when I was young, my Dad put in a vegetable garden in our backyard. My mom usually resisted at first mention of the annual project, but finally would give in. But she had a reason to go along with his wish - she used the opportunity to convince Dad to put in a few flowers. Mom liked flowers a lot. Dad didn’t so much, but he took a lot of pride in everything that grew in the yard. Still, his foremost pleasure was seeing all that good food growing and helping to eat it.
All the family enjoyed the flowers and the produce from Dad’s garden. That’s what we all called it, “Dad’s garden”, because he was the one who got it started each year. So, I have happy memories of summer bounty from Dad’s small garden – lots of tomatoes (from just a few plants), lettuce for the entire season, more radishes than anyone wanted, some green onions, and never enough squash (for us, at least). Even after Dad got too old and sick to be planting a garden, he always insisted on there being a few tomato plants outside the family room window. My sister, then, had to do all the work of planting and watering, but the joy of seeing the plants grow was Dad’s. He would look out the family room window several times a day during the growing season and comment to anyone who happened to be around about how well “his” tomato plants were doing.
Throughout my adult life, for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to grow a vegetable garden. But since I’ve always lived in apartments, I never had the space to plant anything more than a few potted plants. Now, in my retirement, I’m saving a part of my small yard for my kitchen garden. It's called a kitchen garden because the veggie produce and the flowers that grow there are for household use and what's included there is exactly whatever the family likes to eat, in abundance. Also, by custom, this kind of garden is planted just a few feet from the kitchen door.
The area for my garden is very limited. I plan for a stone path that leads from the front of the house to the kitchen door. That’s where I’ll have to stand (or kneel) for working. Beyond that, I’ve only got a space for a long rectangle of a garden - a little less than three feet wide and 10 feet long. It will have to be just one long bed, and I’ll have to lean or crawl into it to work the garden. I’ll also have to be very selective about the kinds of veggies I choose so that they’ll fit in such a compact area. I’m already planning for some veggies that require little space — radishes, lettuce, spinach, green onions, squash, and a variety of herbs. I’m not sure exactly how I’ll do it, but I also want to grow tomatoes and hot peppers. I may have to grow plum tomatoes and miniature pepper plants or try out the “upside down” growing method for these plants.The garden will be built built up against the side of the house. Being directly beside the house really isn’t too much of a problem because we’ve got a lot of strong sun where we live. Watering will be the greater chore because there isn’t a lot of rain anytime during the year. I’m going to use raised beds, about a foot and a
half high, so I won’t be tiring myself so much. I plan to put in some flowers as a border around the sides of my garden and scattered about patchwork-style. I like to have fresh flowers to cut for the house, and they will also provide a pleasant view from the front yard. Some of the flowers are also a “green” feature. The bugs that attack vegetable gardens don’t like certain kinds of flowers, like chrysanthemums and white geraniums. I plan to include these flowers, so I won’t need to do so much de-bugging. I’ll get some worms, too, to do their part of the work. (continues)
("Kitchen Garden" continued)
There won’t be any need of industrial fertilizers either. I’m going to start my compost pile just as soon as the construction plans for the new rooms are complete. That should be at least three months before we’ll be putting in the garden. ·
hope my memories of gardens that my parents had and my plans for my new kitchen garden will motivate you to daydream about growing your own veggies in the future. You don’t have to have so much space in your yard – a kitchen garden can be very small. Even if you are an apartment dweller, you can have pots of veggie plants on your patio or in window boxes that get a lot of afternoon sun.
The research and money necessary for planting and maintaining your small garden are minimal. A bigger challenge will be the hours needed to take care of it. When you have your own kitchen garden, you need to take good care of your plants, watering, weeding, and looking out for pests. But, if you start out small, you shouldn’t have any overwhelming problems.
There are many advantages of having a kitchen garden. You’ll save a lot of money on food costs. More than that, the veggies that you harvest will be a source of pleasure and healthier for your family than any you could buy at the store. Planning for salad-making and home-cooked meals will be easy - you'll already have most of the vegetables and herbs you need. You can “get greener” using organic methods at home, such as compost for fertilizer, earthworms, and growing flowers in the same beds to repel insect pests. There are social benefits of gardening, too – you’ll be able to share your bounty. Veggies and flowers, nicely arranged in pretty boxes or baskets, make excellent gifts that are well received by friends and family.
FIND A PLACE FOR YOUR BIBLE
I want to challenge you to think about where, in your home, you keep your Bible (or whatever book that you consider holy and that continues to inspire you to live a better life.) Remember, your Bible should always be displayed alone without the company of other books.
My advice is for you is to proudly find a visible place in your home for your Bible. It’s your heritage and your home, so, take pleasure in seeing what’s meaningful to you and display your holy book with dignity. If it’s in clear sight, you might even pick it up and read it from time to time. Regular devotional reading and prayer are a pair of joyous rituals that will help you through many personal troubles. Make sure your day includes both and you won't be needing chemical uppers, downers, or any other type of mood modifiers.
"FROM SCRATCH" RECIPE FOR MARCH
Skillet–Grilled Corn Cakes
Put everything in a mixing bowl and stir together: 1 1/2 cups corn meal, 1/2 cup flour , 3/4 cup fresh or canned corn, 1 egg, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, 1 cup milk, 3/4 cup cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, dash of black pepper. Form 3-inch diameter cakes. Dust them lightly with flour or breadcrumbs, and cook them in a medium-hot, oiled skillet until they are golden on both sides. Sprinkle with paprika or a little chili powder. Serve topped with any combination of sour cream, diced onion, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped olives, or even a cooked vegetable.