Here's The Latest

Sewing Shed

Amish Built Portable Sheds

Amish Built Portable Sheds

I’m seriously thinking about buying a portable backyard shed and converting it into a “She Shed” for all of my sewing, weaving, art and craft stuff.
If I get all of my sewing and weaving and art stuff out of the house, maybe I won’t need such a large home addition or remodel.

A portable shed is much cheaper than new construction.
Here in Pennsylvania portable buildings are not subject to property tax or the onerous building code as long as they remains on skids. That alone makes the idea very attractive to me.

Amish sheds can special ordered, custom-built and delivered in 3 to 4 weeks. I really like that idea.
Every contractor I’ve talked so far about building an addition has told me I’ll have to wait until next spring before construction can begin.
I miss not have a room to sew in and don’t want to go another entire winter sewing in my bedroom closet.

I’ve seen pictures of converted backyard sheds made into home offices and art studios. But I’ve never seen a converted shed in real life.
Apparently the Amish built sheds are fairly well-built for what the are. They come framed and ready to finish.

Interior of Amish Built Shed

Interior of Amish Built Shed

I’m still in the “thinking about it” stage and weighing all my options.

Today’s consideration is – heat.
Will I heat with wood, propane or electric? Winter is cold here in western Pennsylvania and I’m not wild about paying for or depending on Big Energy corporations for my sewing and weaving.
So at present I’m thinking about wood heat and the smallest Jøtul stove made. But that’s going to add $$$$ on to my project.Maybe propane is a better way to go.

Small Jøtul Stove

Small Jøtul Stove

I’ll try to keep you posted on my progress as I move along with my sewing shed.
If you don’t hear from me for a while you’ll know that I’m busy.
I’ll be stapling insulation, hanging walls, putting down floors, painting and moving my sewing stuff out of the house.

Do you know anyone who’s converted a storage shed into a backyard studio or home office?
If you do I’d love to hear all about it.

Why I Joined Samaritan Ministries International

My husband and I are both self-employed.
Neither of us has had any type of health insurance for about 8 years.

Fact is we don’t need health insurance.
Fact is we don’t want health insurance.

We seldom get sick.
When we do need medical care we pay as we go and pay in cash.
Because “Cash is King”, we pick our own doctors, and our doctor does what he/she thinks is best for us without any 3rd party interference.
Doctors love cash and always do a steep discount for fast on-the-spot payment.

Believe it or not in the last 8 years we have saved over $110,000 by not having so called health insurance. That’s enough to buy a house or pay for two heart attacks in cash.

We spend about $450 – $550 a year in total for health care.
That’s all doctors, drugs and 3 times a year dental check ups and teeth cleaning. My husband’s Lyme disease only costs us $280.

Interestingly enough, by not buying into the big insurance fear mongering we’ve become more self-reliant.
We are now more responsible and much more proactive about our own health.
Ditching corporate health insurance was a smart move for us.

But this year we face Obamacare income tax penalties.
Well I’m not about to pay one dollar more to the IRS due a corrupted Supreme Court.

Samaritan Ministries

Samaritan Ministries Logo

So in June I joined Samaritan Ministries International. It was the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time.
Only I wish I’d done it sooner.
Samaritan Ministries is health care for people of faith. Samaritan is exempt from Obamacare.

It costs me $180 a month as a single person. Now that my husband has recently stopped smoking he’ll be joining me at Samaritan. The total cost for two people is $360 per month.
The cost for a family of any size has never exceeded $405 a month. The cost for a single parent family is $250.

There are requirements to join Samaritan.
Members must be professing Christians who attend church regularly. They must agree to abstain from sinful practices such as drug and alcohol abuse and sexual immorality. The use of tobacco is forbidden. Members must be accountable to their pastor or other church leader for the medical needs they submit.

For me it’s been a privilege to be able to help share in another person’s health care bills and pray for them.

I also feel good that not a penny of my hard earned money goes to pay for abortions, questionable psychiatric drugs and idiot treatments that go against my beliefs and common sense.

Evil Corporate Insurance Fat Cats and Washington, D.C. Morons and Control Freaks stay out of my doctor’s direct care for me.
If you don’t know about Samaritan Ministries International maybe it’s time to find out more about them.
Watch the video below to learn more. You’ll be glad you did.



A Hornet Nest Winter Forecast

Yesterday morning while walking in my apple orchard I noticed an active Bald Face Hornet nest built very close to the ground.
The nest is good size and is about 3 ½ to 4 feet from the ground.

Bald Face Hornet Nest

Bald Face Hornet Nest

Old timers say that when hornets build their nest close to the ground a cold and snowy winter lies ahead. When they build high up in the trees – the winter will be mild.
Judging by how low the hornet nest is, I’d say we’re in for another long hard winter.

Hornet Nest Built Low To The Ground

Hornet Nest Built Low To The Ground

Something Good To Eat

Recipe For Apple Pie

Slice of Apple Pie

Slice of Apple Pie

Here’s my ever-changing and evolving recipe for Apple Pie. There are two methods here: a raw filling and a heated filling.

The raw pack is presented first and is the faster method. The heated pack is essentially the same as the raw pack. Details for the heated filling follow in the notes below.The heated apple filling is probably the superior pie and always looks better. If you get a chance to try both and let me know what you think.

  • 7 to 10 firm medium size apples – peeled, cored and sliced. It’s nice to mix a couple different varieties of apples when making an apple pie. Cortland and Northern Spy apples are my favorite for pies. But Granny Smith, Jonagold, Newton Pippin, Winesap or Honey Crisp are all good for baking.
  • 1 Cup Cane Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Juice and Pulp From 1 Medium to Small Size Fresh Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

Double Pastry for a 9″ or 10″ pie plate or tin


Step 1

Make The Pastry

Make a pastry for a double crust pie.
Please check here if you need a crust recipe or don’t know how to make one.
Wrap the pie pastry in wax paper or plastic wrap and set it in the cooler or refrigerator while you work on the apple filling. Pastry needs to be kept cold.

Step 2

Prepare the Apples

The lemon juice will help prevent the apples from turning an ugly brown. Lemon also adds a good tart flavor to the pie.
Cut, squeeze and remove the seeds from the lemon. If you run hot water over the lemon or place the lemon into a cup of hot water for a minute or so, and then rub it between your palms before you cut it, the lemon will give more juice.

Juicing A Fresh Lemon

Juicing A Fresh Lemon

Add the lemon juice with pulp to a very large bowl. You will put the apple slices into the bowl while you are working on them, so make sure the bowl is big enough.
Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and slicing them into ½ inch slices. A mechanical apple peeler and corer works well for this.

But an old-fashioned paring knife and apple corer will get the job done too.

Peeled Apple - Ready To Be Cored and Sliced

Peeled Apple – Ready To Be Cored and Sliced

As each apple is peeled, cored and sliced, place it into the large bowl with the lemon juice. Stir the apples after each addition to insure that all apple slices get their fair share of lemon juice.

Step 3

Mix the Apple Coating

In a separate large bowl combine the sugar, flour, corn starch, salt, and cinnamon and apple cider vinegar.
Mix it well with a fork until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.

Mixing Coating Over Apples

Mixing Coating Over Apples

The mixture will be brown and crumbly.
Turn the apples into the bowl a few at a time and mix with a wooden spoon to coat them.

Step 4

Roll Out the Pastry For The Bottom Crust

I always use wax paper when rolling out my pie crusts. But you may prefer a well-floured board, counter top or pastry cloth.
Roll out the bottom crust taking care that you don’t stretch it or over work it. Keep the rolling-pin and pastry dough well dusted with flour to prevent the pastry dough from sticking. Line the pie plate and allow about 1 ½ – 2 inches of pastry dough to overhang.

Step 5

Add Apples

Fill the pie pan with the coated apples.

Filling Pie Pan With Prepared Apples

Filling Pie Pan With Prepared Apples

The first picture in this section depicts raw pack apples. The second picture with the butter pats depicts the hot pack.
If you look carefully you will notice a difference. The same amount of apples are present in both pies, but the heated pack apples take up less space.

Evenly dot small bits of butter across the top for either type of filling.

Dotting Apple Filling With Butter

Dotting Apple Filling With Butter

Step 6

Roll Out the Top Crust

You’ll need to make the top crust wider than the bottom crust.
That’s because the apples will be heaped up in the pie pan. It takes a larger top to cover them.
Put the top crust on the pie, trim the crust evenly (I use scissors) and turn the edges under to seal the pie. You can crimp or flute the edges with your fingers. A spoon, fork tines or the handle of a butter knife also works well.

I usually cut a few air holes in my pie tops or use a pie bird to help vent the stem.

Pie Bird Helps To Vent Pie

Pie Bird Helps To Vent Pie

If you want to prevent the edges of the crust from over browning or burning, place thin strips of foil around the crust and remove the foil during the last 10 -15 minutes of baking. A commercial pie shield also works well. I don’t usually do this with a lard crust. But for a crust made with butter or Crisco it can be a good idea.

Also, you may want to place a cookie sheet on the rack under the pie while it is baking. Sometimes the pie will bubble over and leave a pretty good mess on the oven floor. It’s easier to clean a cookie sheet than an oven.

Step 7

Bake the Pie

Bake the pie for 40 – 50 minutes in a hot oven until nicely brown.
400F° is just about right.
Sometimes a really big apple pie will require more time in the oven.
Once the pie is done, remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Pie Cooling On A Wire Rack

Pie Cooling On A Wire Rack

*Apple Pie Tips & Hints*

*With apple pies, very often there will be a hollow space between the apples and the crust. It can be a disappointment for novice pie makers. But don’t worry you did nothing wrong.
There’s a fix for it.
The hollow space forms because the apples gradually shrink while they are baking, but the crust bakes firm where it started. The amount of hollow head space inside an apple pie can be partly controlled by par cooking the apples before adding them to the un-baked bottom crust.
Follow the recipe exactly as above, except in Step 3 mix the apple coating in a large kettle or pot and add the apples to it instead of a large bowl.
Next heat the apples on a very low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Stir the apples often so they don’t stick.
Take care that you don’t overcook them or you could end up with applesauce if you’re not careful.
After the apples have cooked and soften a bit, put the still hot apples in the pie pan. Cover with the top crust and proceed with the recipe. The baking time will be shorten and there’s sometimes a tendency for the pie to bubble a little more. I usually will make my pies by this method if I’m hungry for compliments, or appearance and presentation is important. It takes more time – but it’s worth it.

*Some cooks will brush the top of the pie with egg white or milk to make the crust soft or shiny.

*Place pies on a rack to cool and the bottom will not be soggy.

Do For Yourself

How I Saved $15,000 On A New Bathroom

Enamel Piss Pot

My home was built in 1890. Like many older farm houses my home was constructed without indoor plumbing. In the early 1970s indoor plumbing was added to my house. That’s fairly late by American standards. Up until that time, water was hand carried into the house for drinking, cooking and bathing. Water was also carried…