Labor Day 2017

by CountryThreads on September 4, 2017

That’s it – I’m done laboring with the canning.  42 pints of “pickles” should take care of my Christmas list, I think.  I put all the canning equipment away and cleaned my kitchen – oh, what a good feeling!


Look at this clean stove area.


I also finished my book this morning after I made the last batch of pickles.  “The Lilac Girls” was an excellent WWII story based on real people and terrible cruelty inflicted in the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrook, Germany.  It was difficult to read about such cruelty and worse to know it actually happened.  I need a lighter book for my next read.  


Here’s my new basket filled with hydrangeas sitting on my new red plant stand.


I also bought this small silk 48 star American flag which I attached to the basket.  I love it!


We have some cool nights coming so I need to start bringing in the most fragile succulents and cacti.  I call this 5-1/2′ cactus the 4-H cactus because in 1980 when I was a 4-H leader, one of the kids brought me a small cactus in a paper cup.  This is that cactus!!  It has some real dead parts and unattractive sections that happened last winter when it didn’t get enough light.  Instead of  hauling this huge plant, I think I will cut off the pretty sections and repot them. I will then throw away the original base plant and start again.  It’s just so big and hard to move that it’s time to cut it down.  Here it is outside this summer.


It’s taller than I am!

Hope you’re all enjoying the last unofficial day of summer – I’m ready to sew instead of making pickles!

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy September 4, 2017 at 12:47 pm

You should read “Home to Harmony”. It is about a small town Quaker minister and the adventures he has with his parish. I think you would enjoy it very much. It is similar to Jan Karon’s books about Mitford and Father Tim(which you should also read if you have not already).

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Pam Wakeman September 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm

I’m amazed and in awe of what all you accomplish, Mary! What vitamins and/or medication(s) do you take to be so active?! I want some!

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Mary Etherington September 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Pam – I don’t even take a daily vitamin! Remember what I said not long ago – you have to WANT to do things and then you will. Just do it!

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Janie September 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Your pickles look amazing! The little red stand with hydrengas is adorable.

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Synthia Noble September 4, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I loved seeing your new basket with hydrangeas on your new plant stand with flag. So beautiful and artistically done. You have a good “eye” and are so talented.

Your countertop full of canned pickles made my mouth water. Brought back the days when I’d buy 100# of cukes just to make kosher dills and then another to make 14-day sweet chunks. Alas, I don’t can anymore so I got a thrill seeing what you just did. 🙂 Keep up the good work.

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Mary Etherington September 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Synthia – I’m hoping to have enough canned pickles for 2 seasons so I don’t have to plant cucumbers next spring. I used to make those 14 day pickles, too – weren’t they delicious?

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Kathy September 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm

You are very ambitious with all the pickling and then the work in the yard with your cacti to protect them from the coming chill. How I wish I had your energy and enthusiasm for each project you approach. Enjoy the Labor Day and hope to see more of your works of art!

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Marian September 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm

OMG, Mary, you are a worker bee! Scrumptious looking pickles! Great accomplishment! The basket/hydrangea/old flag arrangement is superb! I liked your pep talk again! We all need a cheerleader!

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Susan Sundermeyer September 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Mary, I love all the pictures in your kitchen. This last week in Ohio, we have have temps in the low 50’s. It has been a very odd August this year. Sewing is on my agenda today. I’m making preemie baby hats for our local NICU’s.

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Beth T. September 4, 2017 at 1:29 pm

End of canning is the official end of summer! Good for you, Mary.

Today is my day for sewing kennel quilts for Austin Pets Alive!, while taking care of our elderly dog. He’s winding down, I think. It’s sweet to see our younger dogs looking after him, especially the puppy he mentored for her first 18 months. She’s so devoted to him, and today when he had a momentary bad spell she was right by his side. Life can be almost too tender sometimes.

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Jan Jaqua September 4, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Perfect container for your flowers! You did well at the antique show…

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Linda September 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Love your new flower basket!

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Janice September 4, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Oh, I feel so lazy! I have canned pickles in the past but this year we didn’t get any cucumbers in the garden and our tomatoes are still deep green. Hope there’s enough of the season to get them ripened. I did make raspberry jam and froze a bunch of blueberries and raspberries to make more but just haven’t got the “want” enough, I guess! We’ve been working on our house, painting and painting and doing more painting! Hoping to get it on the market – was hoping for the fall market but I think realistically it will be spring before it’s ready. That’s okay though as we haven’t found anything we really want yet to buy. I love your hydrangea basket! Looks terrific. Good idea to cut back the cactus – I’m thinking of doing that do some of my overgrown plants. Have you ever rooted your hydrangeas? I’ve heard one can do that. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

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Becky from IA September 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm

I love your new flower basket. You just know how to put things together and they look so good! Have a great day!

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Ann Barlament September 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Your basket is even more beautiful with flowers and flag!!

I found a 3 foot tall cactus at Walmart, for $10, about 20 years ago. It grew 2 feet taller, in the time it was under my care. Whenever I had garage sales, I would take cuttings and sell (potted) for 50 cents each. Too bad no-one wanted to take the mother plant home when I went to the hospital, back in 2012. I will have to buy another, when I get out of Transitional care.

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Diane September 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm

All three look great together:) You truly do have an eye for decorating, Mary. Ahhh, pickles–another life when we had a garden. I miss it, but the deer are too numerous to succeed. I am reading LILAC GIRLS. I used to teach NIGHT and the Holocaust to my 10th graders. It is hard to do, but they learned so much. We had a wonderful man, Murray Ebner from Columbus, who came and talked to them about being in Auschwitz. He was a lovely, kind man. If you want to laugh, I suggest Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb. I laughed outloud!!

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Annette Croley September 4, 2017 at 2:03 pm

We had a cactus just like yours. It is called a fairy castle cactus.

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Tanya T. September 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm

When you are ready for another WWII story, try THE BAKER’S SECRET by Stephen Kiernan, one of the best books I have read all summer, and set in Normandy. Also great is THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE by Shattuck. Love those pickles! AND your flea market finds!

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Linda L September 4, 2017 at 2:49 pm

I’ve been reading the series of .Breakfast with Buddha, lunch with Buddha and Dinner with Buddha. Start with Breakfast, it’s the first one in the series and there are parts where I just laugh out loud.

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Dorothy Sheldrake September 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Mary, I hear more joy in your messages. Thank you God.

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sandy September 4, 2017 at 3:22 pm

I love the basket & cute red plant stand…..what great finds 🙂

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Helen Jane September 4, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Hi Mary…the arrangement is lovely especially with the flag. How about leaving Mr. 4-H tall? It is a lovely plant even with the brownish area. Happy your days are filled with cheer/travel and fun around home. Until next time from Texas

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Sandy Kolarik September 4, 2017 at 3:32 pm

I wish you could can some of the energy you have, I’d buy a dozen. Great job now time to relax and quilt.

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Martha Engstler September 4, 2017 at 4:05 pm

I’m so impressed with your pickle project, they look so yummy. A welcome side for almost every meal. It’s always delightful to see your plants, I only have orchids to bring in.

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Sue September 4, 2017 at 4:45 pm

I absolutely Love your basket arrangement of hydrangeas. And, the flag is perfect. You have inspired me to pick some of mine and make and arrangement. It’s so smokey outside, though, I hate to go out there. Oregon is one big smokey state right now. We have so many wildfires going on.
I still have tomatoes to can but winding it up after that. Your stove is just like mine except mine is not glass top. My pressure canner is too heavy for the glass and we can beans and fresh tuna and salmon when we can get it.

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Jo September 4, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Those pickles are beautiful! A couple years ago we had a bumper crop of crab apples, I made jelly and every time I heard the seal pop I could see my mom winking at me. She always winked at me when we canned together.

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CountryThreads September 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Jo That little POP is a reward, isnt it?

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Julianna September 4, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Yes, yes ladies. I know what you mean. That pop is magic and I so remember my Mom smiling ear to ear when that last stubborn jar finally popped! It’s like you can now throw your arms up in the air and yell “Success”!

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Carol T September 5, 2017 at 1:12 am

My friend Sandy and I canned applesauce one time before she passed on and she said that little ping was perfect music….she (and I) just loved it…I think of her and her smile now when I’m canning….just did applesauce, strawberry jam and pickles….gotta get some little beets to do! Maybe peaches and tomatoes too….I just love canning even tho it’s not v popular anymore.

Your kitchen looks SO neat and tidy and I love your hydrangeas!

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Mary Lund September 4, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Awesome job with canning. I just finished Lilac girls too. Very good read. Need something lighter.

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Starrla Opferman September 4, 2017 at 5:59 pm

I too read Lilac Girls and enjoy reading WWII stories but this one I found particularly hard to read.
Your basket of hydrangeas is lovely, you did a beautiful job arranging them.

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Jan B September 4, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Love your hydrangeas. Mine have also turned that color for fall. Mine bushes are called “little lime hydrangeas” but they grew at least 2x if not 3x normal this summer. I wish the flowers lasted longer when cut & brought inside. I know they can be dried for use year round & I may do that this year!

That book sounds good. Will share your review with my friend who LOVES historical stories — fact or fiction based on fact. Have you read the series called “The Bregdan Chronicles”. The author, whose name escapes me at this moment, has recently released #10. They are a continuing historicalseries based on fact that I think started back just before the civil war. Very interesting, especially now that I live in the south, Confederate territory. Thought you might be interested but I wouldn’t suggest sitting down & reading all 10 — overload.

Another series I’m just finishing up is called Iris & Lily. 3 books, available on Amazon only, I think, but not in your local library. Each one is long but they, too, are pretty good. Not really historical fiction. But they are about 2 sisters & they are written by 2 sisters. The books are said to be fiction but I wonder if they are loosely based on the 2 sister authors own history/stories.

Love your posts. Hate pickles but thanks for sharing. Back to quilting for you now, I hope. Me too–soon!

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maxine lesline September 4, 2017 at 6:31 pm

If you liked The Secret Life of Bees.. a few years ago.. you might enjoy Saving CeCe Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.. remember she and husband Jeff (?) wrote quilting articles and he had a column in Quilters
Newsletter…After their divorce she started a new career as a successful writer of fiction…

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Lois palmisano September 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Hi Mary, lo e your blog, you ay want to publish the whole blog from all the years. Rememer that Helen Kelly published all her Quilters Newsletter magazine columns. Love to see all your happenings lois in omaha

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Susie September 4, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Yes Lilac Girls was wonderful and terrible at the same time.

Here is a wonderful, sweet and inspiring book.
I laughed and cried!

Man Called Ove
https://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Ove-Novel/dp/1476738025/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1504572768&sr=8-1

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Carolyn Boutilier September 4, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Mary, You made pickles for gifts. We made 20 quarts of concord grape juice. I will take one or 2 quarts and make jelly for my gifts. Picture on my facebook. We had Harvey rain on Friday & Saturday. Yesterday was a good day to pick the grapes.You are right about making cuttings of plants and get them started for the winter.
Carolyn B Shenandoah Valley VA

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Kathy Schwartz September 4, 2017 at 10:48 pm

The flower basket is just stunning! The pickles look wonderful. I am also about ready to put all the canning utensils away. It starts with rhubarb jam about Memorial Day and continues to green, yellow beans, peaches, pears, apple everything, carrots, finally tomato everything. Wonderful eating all year. My daughter has a hosta flower that is as tall as she is; she is 5’6″. Made a great photo. This is the year for hostas. I also enjoyed the Father Tim books, by Jan Karon; it gave me a different insight into the ministry. Mary, you deserve a rest!!!

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Betty September 5, 2017 at 11:32 am

I too have read The Lilac Girls and like you found it very disturbing just knowing that events like that really happened. For a lighter read try A Gentleman in Moscow by Armo Towles. I found it very entertaining.

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Mary R. September 5, 2017 at 11:35 am

That’s a lot of pickles, Mary. Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day.

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Felicia Hamlin September 5, 2017 at 1:10 pm

All the picles looks so yummy. Your basket of hydrangeas with flag and stand are a lovely trio. That is a tall cactus. I never realized that they are fast growers.

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CountryThreads September 5, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Felicia – it’s 37 years old.

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Judith Berna September 6, 2017 at 8:13 am

I know this is off topic, but are you happy with your French door refrigerator. I have a side by side and am not happy with the refrigerator space as well as the freezer space. I keep losing things and they are hard to find in the freezer section as well as the refrigerator.
I love your blog and my Molly was once featured in your Goat Gazette. She is now 14 – hard of hearing and cannot see too well but we love her.

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CountryThreads September 6, 2017 at 9:38 am

Judith – yes, I love my frig – the shelves can be rearranged making it easy to find things that can get lost. Good lighting, too!

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