Monday, November 22, 2010


There’s a slight chill in the air and these last few mornings have produced frost on the pumpkins.

Check out the wee pumpkins I made with a small amount of fabric, a bit of stuffing and some odds and ends; specifically, a few twigs and silk leaves, an upholstery needle and upholstery thread, crochet thread or dental floss; needless to say, a glue gun should a always be near by.

I constructed different sizes simply by making larger or smaller tubes of fabric, gathered, stuffed and closed.

I found a similar pumpkin with directions on a Martha Stewart web page. No need for me to “reinvent the wheel”. Unlike Martha, mine were made with twigs for the pumpkin stems. Some ting-ting will add realistic-like vine to your pumpkins.

I display my pumpkins from mid-October through the long Thanksgiving weekend. Nestled outside my front door, the brightly colored pumpkins tumble out of a bushel basket, accompanied by a little yarn “Navajo” girl. A mini scarecrow stands guard nearby.

You’ll find my pumpkins pictured on my CAT FUR TO KITTEN BRITCHES page above. Just click on the link and enjoy!

As far as the “real” pumpkin fruit is concerned, I did freeze approximately 10 cups of pumpkin puree. I froze it in 8 ounce portions so it’s ready for a variety of recipes.

After roasting, the pumpkin seeds make tasty, healthy snacks. Thoroughly rinse the seeds, being careful to remove all the membrane. Let them air dry for 2 or 3 days by placing them in a single layer on a clean dish towel (no need to waste paper towels). Next, toss the raw seeds with a small amount of olive oil, garlic and onion powder, and some seasoning salt. Roast on a shallow pan (jelly roll style or a cookie sheet with sides) at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes. Choose your own seasoning or roast them bare-naked.

May your life be as fully stuffed with blessings this season of Thanksgiving as my pumpkins are stuffed with cotton.

© 2010 Cat Brennan

Friday, November 5, 2010


Regarding this blog, COUNTRY POTIONS, NO, I’m not into brewing something for the broom pilots; rather, some good old fashioned ideas to ease your life.

Credit the idea for this particular blog to my oldest daughter, ALisa. She considers baking soda and vinegar to be her magic powers. She uses vinegar in the washing machine to remove odors, especially from towels. Just add it to the water, soak for 30 minutes and then wash with detergent. “Also, every so often”, she continues, “pour baking soda and then vinegar down the sink drains to clean out the gunk. I use baking soda to clean and shine my ceramic stove top.”

More from the Country Cat:

My mom was a devoted coffee drinker, with real sugar and half and half, thank you very much. At the end of the week, she set her thermos jug to soak, filled with baking soda and water. Not only did it eliminate the stale odors, it removed the stains.

Sometimes I carry a little Playmate® cooler for my lunch and it does get grungy! I put some hot water in the cooler with ¼ cup baking soda and let it soak for a little while. Then, I use that same water to scrub the inside and outside; and it almost sparkles.

Vinegar is a good cat repellent... if you can put up with the odor for a little while, you may be able to train the cat. Place a little bowl of vinegar where you don’t want your cat to take up residence. Do you have a large favorite house plant that snowball has made her favorite sand box spot? Place a small bowl of vinegar on the plant surface, and you shouldn’t have anymore problems with Fluffy relieving himself in the ficus.

Here are some responses from YOU.. With regard to how YOU use SALT and/or VINEGAR … and a few other items, easily found around the house:

Maria in New Mexico wrote that she uses vinegar to polish copper. She uses a vinegar/water solution to spray her kitchen counters and dining tables to clean them; it disinfects and doesn’t leave a poisonous residue like some commercial cleaners. Maria further writes that, “I use salt to wash my hands if I’ve handled onions or a mildew sponge.”

From Noelle in Virginia, “We used salt water to rinse out Windy’s mouth after her 4 teeth extraction (her daughter). She continued, “I used vinegar to clean out my used water dispenser when I first got it. It had some sort of cleaner taste to it – after a few rinses with the vinegar, it rinsed out”. Noelle added that regular and especially kosher salt makes a great abrasive to clean off tough spots on the counter. “My mother used to have us dust the furniture with a mixture of vinegar and warm water”.

Susan, in Colorado, uses salt and vinegar to clean copper, and she does it frequently. Susan further writes, “This is the method used by French chefs at the Cordon Bleu.”

Pam, also in Colorado, says that lemon and salt clean a copper bottom pan and that distilled vinegar is the best drain deodorizer.

Susan S., RN, BSN in Goochland writes that she uses vinegar for cleaning purposes. “If I have spots in the tub or sink I spray them with vinegar or let it soak for a while, then the stain comes right out.

Marti uses salt to clean her cast iron skillet. “Just rub it around and it will soak up the grease and scrub off the food. Helps to keep it seasoned as well.” Marti continues with this: “To whiten those –once-white tennis shoes, soak them in salt water and them leave them out in the sun to dry.” She gets rid of odors with a mixture or vinegar and water.

Christina writes that she uses a vinegar water solution to clean all her wood floors and tables. She also keeps a spray bottle of water/vinegar to clean produce, using a 3:1 ratio.

Laurel uses vinegar to clean her coffee maker (I also do this, following the vinegar wash with at least 2 full pots of water).

Gwen wrote that she uses diluted vinegar on the spots that have been marked by either a cat or a dog; again using a 3:1 ratio. She just pours it on the spot and then absorb with an old towel. Gwen said, “The lady who shared the with me said she never had any spots when they got a new puppy because she used this solution; same with other friends with sofas and kitties”. Gwen’s MiL used vinegar to clean windows etc.

Lisa gargles with salt water when she has mouth sores. Her mum used to pour a bowl of diluted vinegar over her rinsed hair to make it shiny, but it tasted gross.  Lisa added another trick, “When my hands or feet are very dry, I mix salt with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and rub in on, then wash if off; you get lovely soft, smooth hands and feet.” (ed. note: Who knew that R.R’s. EVOO could be so handy out of the kitchen?).

Finally, Noelle found an interesting paragraph on the ‘net regarding her kitty, Althea, and fleas. “Home Remedy for Flea Control” … the are a number of home remedies to kill fleas, but to make them lasting, it’s most essential to disinfect your home, so that these fleas don’t find a suitable environment to exist in. The favorite flea haunt in your home are your pet’s furnishings, so wash the dog bedding regularly by adding eucalyptus essential oil to the final rinse, this oil is so effective that it kills 99% of he house dust mites too! Also, by vacuuming the home thoroughly and sprinkling a fine layer of ordinary table salt over the upholstery and carpets, you can evict these unwelcome guests safely.

© Cat Brennan 2010