Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Complaint of the Day

More and more often in the literature I read, I am finding that men and women at the age of seventy years and upwards are being portrayed as elderly and feeble, fast approaching or very near the end of their lives.

Who made the rule that anyone over seventy is no longer vital or full of pi** and vinegar, as the old saying goes?

Why are people sixty-five years or older in books (and movies) almost consistently portrayed as aged, precariously tottering on the downhill slope of life?

Are all books and movie scripts being written by the younger generations who look upon those of us over sixty (some way over -- ahem) as worthless, about ready to kick-the-bucket, no longer healthy or maintaining any vim, vigor or vitality?

Even in audio books I listen to, the voice of the reader takes on a quavery, weakened intonation when reading the dialogue of people in their sixties and especially seventies.

Ticks me off, it does.  The book I'm currently reading has just written of the demise of a 70-year old woman and attributed her death not to any disease or accident but to natural causes.  Or in other words, old age.  What?!

Maybe I'm particularly sensitive because next month I will be entering the latter part of my seventh decade, and I don't feel old and doddering in the least.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

What's Been Happenin'

If projects are to be successful, planning needs to be done and can be exciting.  Cleaning just simply needs to be done.  At some point.  Period.

This past Wednesday we made a trip to the big city to check out some materials for upcoming projects this spring/summer/fall.  One can only do so much on-line (an option for which we're grateful) and sometimes new ideas are gleaned and others jettisoned by viewing materials in person.

It made a long day (much longer than planned since we ended up arriving home just barely before dark after having to drive home through rain and fog), but one that we both felt was a profitable one.  Now back to the drawing board with our plans.

You'll be happy to know, dear lady who writes wisps of words, that not only are we thinking and planning work-type projects for the upcoming months, but also recreational outings.  (At this point, we're thinking these will be day trips as I'm a real fuddy-duddy who likes sleeping in her own bed at night.)

Last week brought us a welcome rise in temperature, the warmest we've had all winter, and with the accompanying rain lots of snow melted very quickly.  Almost too quickly.  We have no serious flooding but do have standing water in places we've not seen before.  Papa Pea joked he may have to put on waders to venture into the wood shed when filling the wheelbarrow because of the depth of the water on the ground in there.

After the almost spring-like feel of the above freezing weather, the last two days have been in the 20s and all that standing water has frozen.  Daughter and I were very carefully making our way across our back yard yesterday on the way to one of our storage sheds and as we shuffled along she commented she felt like an old lady navigating the alternating smooth ice and the icy ruts made by vehicle tires.  But that's the only way to go, taking very small steps to avoid a foot zipping out from under you . . . and the rest of your body coming down on a very hard surface.

I've been taking advantage of these last days of winter to do some deep cleaning.  (My, my, what you don't find doing so.)

I've been pulling garden books off the shelves, going through them and deciding which ones I want to keep and which will be passed on.  Each of the ones I've perused so far contains useful information, no doubt about that, but not enough to allow them to take up space anymore.  Something I find interesting (and at the same time distressing) is how they contradict each other and how my own experience goes against the words of the so-called experts.  I don't envy any new gardener as I think the only sure way to become successful is by trial and error gardening in your own particular soil, area and climate.

It took me the better part of two days to tear apart, clean and rearrange my closet and the middle section of our bedroom "wall" of closets.  The middle section is shelving and is about 99% my stuff.  I was then inspired to clear off the shelf above the hanging rod in Papa Pea's closet, pull out his storage totes on the floor, vacuum and then wash everything before putting it back together.  With a smidge bit of reorganization.  (Ahem.)

Next on the agenda is the small bookcase and two other shelves in the kitchen that hold my cook books.  I would like to (should!) weed out some of them, but it's so hard to let any of them go.  Please wish me luck.  I will be brave!  And ruthless!  Well, I'll try.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Blogging Mojo, Where Art Thou?

Yep, I've had writer's block for some time now.  I think it's had something to do with the approaching changing of the seasons which, for some reason, has always affected me in a not-so-good way.  Time zips by so quickly and I'm never ready to give up any season whether it be summer, winter or fall.  Spring I could live without.  That, no doubt, has a lot to do with my aversion to M.U.D.

Speaking of that ooey, gooey substance, we've had our first warming spell of the year accompanied by rain which last night brought a radical change to our outside surroundings.

I took this shot a couple of minutes ago looking at the drive going back to our storage and wood working area.  Up until this morning, the area has been covered with a solid pack of plowed snow for months.  Oh, we'll see snow falling yet this month (and probably next month) but it won't last for long now.

I've continued to be a knitting fool.  (What did you just call me?)  Above is the start of a pair for my daughter.  A rainbow of gorgeous sherbet colors!

This is the first greenish pair I've made for Papa Pea.  Just finished turning the heel on this first sock.

I've made a start on a new spring green and yellow shower curtain I'd like to have done to hang when I take down the blue and white winter one.

This is the current "spring" curtain I made about 4-5 years ago.  I've never liked it.  (Although it doesn't look too bad in the picture, does it?  And, dang, I put a lot of work into it.)  I can't put my finger on why it doesn't appeal to me, guess it's just one of those things.  I know the image of the new one on my design wall doesn't look great at this point, but it will get better.  And I know it's going to be more to my liking than the old one.  Trust me. 

I promised einkorn pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup and/or locally produced maple syrup for our morning meal so I'd better sign off and get on with that.

Which reminds me, take a gander at this fantastic old cast iron griddle my dear husband found this winter on an on-line auction.  He got it for a great price, cleaned it up and re-seasoned it.  It fits nicely over two burners of my stove and enables me to make a whole bunch of pancakes at once.  I love it!

All for now.  Gotta go make those pancakes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Thinking About Spring . . . Almost

Winter is still very much with us.  We're promised a "warm up" for next week with temps possibly even above freezing.  But that also means a rain/snow mix is in the forecast.  Ugh.

I snapped this picture this week as I was driving out our driveway through the woods.  Although we haven't had any new snow in a while, there's still plenty that will have to melt before we see bare ground. 

Earlier today I made a check of the various vegetables we still have in the freezer from last year's bounty.  The only one that we're getting low on is asparagus.  Only two servings left of that.  Everything else is still plentiful including beets which I (once again) put up too many of.

Like bush beans, I keep reducing the number of beets I plant each year, but still end up with more than we need.  Granted hot, buttered beets are not our very favorite vegetable, but I need to make sure I serve them more often than I do.  They're loaded with fiber, Vitamins B and C and iron, they may help lower blood pressure and boost endurance.  (Yay, beets!)  And besides that, how often do you get a red vegetable on your plate?

Last week I took my very last container of chives out of the freezer.  I definitely did not harvest and freeze enough of those last year.  I've made a note to myself to be sure to put by more this coming season.  They add so much color and interest to soups, egg dishes and even salads.

Looking out the window, it doesn't seem possible that I should be starting seedlings inside already this month.  But it's a fact and it is time.  I know some of you in the warmer climates have already done so.  Time marches on and spring will arrive up here in the north woods, muddy feet and all!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

It's Cold . . . and Other Ramblings

Yes, we are, indeed, in a very cold spell.  Last night we were warned of "hazardous wind chills."  I'm grateful we were snug, cozy and warm in our little abode and suffered not one wee whit.

We can look forward to a high today of 2 degrees above zero while bracing for more teeth-chattering wind chills of -25 to -40 developing for tonight.  But, hey, the wind chill forecast for today (with that balmy 2 degrees above) is for only -10 to -20 by this afternoon.  Then those lower temps and nasty wind chills over night may just linger into Monday morning.  (Guess I'll forego hanging my Monday laundry out on the lines.  Until maybe June.  Or July.)  Fortunately, those of us who live here year 'round are used to this weather and tend to look at all the reports of global warming with a skeptical eye.

Despite this weather, our chickens (bless their little hearts) are on the upswing of laying a good number of eggs a day now that they've come out of their (what seemed like prolonged) molt.  A yummy omelette for breakfast this morning was enjoyed and much appreciated.  Thanks, girls.

Believe it or not, hubby and I are in the midst of taking three days off.  Last Friday, yesterday and today have been designated as "relaxing" days for both of us.

Of course, we still have had to do the daily necessities but other than that, we've been doing more personally rewarding fun-type things.  Inside, I don't hesitate to add, because . . . well, it's warm and comfortable in here.  And it's not outside.

I've been knitting and quilting and reading a lot which feels really good.  Papa Pea has been going through old files pertaining to all things recreational, watching videos on the computer that are revving him up for new projects (someone help me, please) and has even watched the l980s looooong TV series "Shogun" which our daughter loaned him on old taped cassettes.

This guilt-free down time has been good for both of us.  Curious thing is that we've both been sleeping so hard the past couple of nights that it's like we've been drugged.  I think it's that our bodies have let go of some of the old, everyday tension we (unknowingly?) carry on a day-to-day basis.

I'm heading off to my quilt room now, but on the way I need to do one of those necessities of which I spoke.  I must water my houseplants.  As I walked by one in the kitchen this morning, I'm sure I heard a faint gasp of, "Water!  Please, water!"


Monday, February 25, 2019

When A Chicken Sneezes . . .

Is this a joke?

Nope.  It's no yoke!  

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Sharing the Recipe and Garlic Bed Discovery

For those of you who expressed an interest in the Cheesy Egg Wedges recipe about which I blogged in my last post, here it is.

The original recipe appeared in a book put out by Better Homes and Gardens and I made only a couple of small changes to it.


4 beaten eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded smoked cheddar cheese
1 cup cream-style cottage cheese with chives
1 cup salsa 

Combine the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and garlic powder.  Beat with a rotary beater until combined.  Stir in the shredded cheese and cottage cheese.

Pour into a greased 9" pie plate.  Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

To serve, cut into 6 wedges.  Top with salsa, either warmed-up, or room temp, or cold.

As I said in my previous post(picture there), I make only half the recipe for the two of us and we eat half one morning and half the next.  To reheat, I put the last half in a small covered skillet with a wee bit of water and it comes out as good in taste and texture as freshly baked.  (That means we get two meals out of two eggs!  Can't beat that.) 

I don't know if they even sell cottage cheese with chives in it anymore, so I just add some of my snipped frozen chives.  They're for color more than anything else.

I've always used smoked cheddar cheese because of the nice flavor it imparts, but regular cheddar would be fine.

* * * * * * * **

I now know which bed I planted the garlic in this past fall.  (Whew!)

Yesterday afternoon Papa Pea suggested that he could put on snowshoes, take a shovel and go out to the row of raised beds I had figured the garlic had to be in.  I was pretty sure I had narrowed it down to one of two beds next to each other.   He could tell where the ends of the beds were by the hoop trellis we left on Bed #3.  So with his shovel, he found the ends of the beds leading down to Bed #6 and #7.  By pushing the shovel head down into the snow on top of each bed, he located the wire cattle panel protecting the garlic bed.  

Ta-dah, the garlic is in Bed #7.  Mystery solved.  I bet I'll remember next fall to mark the garlic bed in my garden book in RED INK!

Here he is coming back from the expedition.  He said he was glad he didn't sink down into the snow more as it was not easy going even on snowshoes.  Good thing he's big and brave and could handle it!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Good Day on the Home Front

For our first meal of the day today, I made Cheesy Egg Wedges which I haven't made for a while.  Wonder why as they are so tasty.  Well, I guess I do know why.  Cottage cheese is an ingredient and we usually gobble up the cottage cheese I make with either chopped up raw veggies or cut up fruit.  But I had just enough left today to use, so something made me remember this particular breakfast dish and I made it.

The original recipe serves six and is made in a 9" pie plate.  I halved the recipe this morning, baked it in a funny little 7-1/2" pie plate I have, and we still have one-half left over for breakfast tomorrow morning.  The eggs were served with a dollop of salsa on top, augmented by coleslaw made from some of our red cabbage and a sausage patty for each of us.

Fortified by that meal, we went out to clear the few inches of snow we got late yesterday.  I shoveled and Papa Pea shoveled and plowed.

Back inside, I tackled the jumble of papers and graphs and designs I've had spread out on the kitchen table and kinda, sorta, almost, nearly finished my garden plans for this coming season.   

All twenty-six 4' x 8' raised beds are figured out but for one small glitch.  Some dummy forgot to make a notation of which bed she planted the garlic in last October.  I even have a picture of it from a blog post I did then.

I've looked at this picture from all angles including upside down, but hard as I've tried, I can't tell exactly which bed it is.  Even though the bed is heavily mulched and has a cattle panel lying on top of it, which kept the mulch from blowing off in our fall winds, it's now thoroughly buried under a good quantity of lovely, white snow as are all the rest of the beds.  Bottom line, I may have to do a little quick juggling come spring when the garlic bed emerges from the snow.  I've left myself a little wiggle room to do that.

Other than making sure I rotate the crops planted in the field garden (as I do in the raised beds) and two new areas we've been working up for the past couple of years, there aren't so many different varieties of vegetables to pencil in for those areas.  It's mainly the veggies that need more room (potatoes, beans, pickling cukes, cabbage, shell peas, squashes) that are planted in the larger areas. 

This year (silly me), I'm also planting a block of Painted Mountain Corn.  It's the only corn variety I've ever grown successfully up here in Minnesota.  Being totally frustrated by our corn being laid flat by our high winds the last couple of years I did plant it means this year we've got to figure out a way of surrounding and supporting the corn patch to prevent it from happening again this year.  We've got a couple of ideas, and I would so love to get a good crop again.

Picture from the last time I grew it.

 When the ears are harvested at the right (early) time after development, they are actually good eating as "sweet" corn.  The dried corn is wonderful ground as cornmeal and the beautiful ears make outstanding fall decorations.

This afternoon 'twas time to strain and stash away the beef bone broth I've had simmering during the day.  Did that and made a big pot of cheddar-cauliflower soup for tonight.

The last couple of times I've made this, I've added cook wild rice, and we really like the added flavor and texture it gives to the soup.

More snow, possibly heavy, is predicted for this weekend.  I guess we'd better keep our boots handy and shoveling muscles at the ready.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Past Mid-Winter and All Is Well

Here we are fast approaching the last of February, a month that has given us many bright, beautiful, sunny days.  Not warm yet, by any means, but that good ol' sunshine makes the still cold temperatures much more tolerable.

Even though true spring time may be firmly in sight for some of you, we've still got the heavy snows of March coming up in our area of northern Minnesota.

We actually get the majority of inches of our snowfall in the month of March.  But it's a different kind of snow, one that falls and then melts to a certain degree with increasingly warmer temperatures.  We still have to plow and shovel but often it can be done wearing a sweatshirt rather than four layers under a down work jacket.

I started to make some beef gravy to have on hand in the freezer a day or so ago only to discover I was plumb out of beef bone broth.  So this morning I've got two of my medium-sized stock pots full of browned, organic, grass-fed beef soup bones.  Sure does create a delightful aroma wafting through the house.

When the meat is tender, I'll cut it off the bones and wrap it in packages to have in the freezer for beef hash, soups and stews, etc.  Then the bones go back into the pots with the water-turning-into-broth to simmer for the next couple of days.  Recommended time for simmering is 10 to 12 hours, probably the longer the better.

The resulting broth is brown, flavorful and quite gelatinous, chock-full of nutrition and all kinds of good stuff.  Lots of amino acids, plus it's said to protect joints and help fight osteoarthritis while reducing inflammation in the body.  The broth heals the gut and helps to speed our body's healing process.  It may even give us better skin, hair and nails while aiding in our much needed restorative sleep and could encourage weight loss.  Who can't love all that?

This morning I also spent some quality time in the basement with our remaining onions and garlic.  It's necessary to sort through them periodically and toss any that have soft spots . . . or worse.

We still have plenty of garlic.  The bigger bulbs in the front are Siberian and the smaller ones in the back are Blanak.  I planted this coming year's crop from the biggest of each variety last fall.

I'm hoping the onions will last at least until some scallions are ready in the garden this spring.  We had two full milk crates of both the yellow (Stuttgarter Riesen) and the red (Red Comred).  The remaining yellows fill about half of one crate and the reds fill about 3/4 of another.

Both the onions and garlic keep well for us in the dry basement at about 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next today is a haircut/beard trim for a shaggy Papa Pea and then I'll sit at the kitchen table and start planning where everything will be planted in this year's garden.

Yikes, it's 2 o'clock and I have no idea what to make for our second meal of the day at 4:30.  Better decide that pronto!


Sunday, February 17, 2019

To Tell the Truth

Here's a question for you to answer.  Ready?  Gonna tell the truth?

What's the one spot in your home that would embarrass you terribly if an acquaintance saw it?

I'll be the first to be brave and answer my own question.

Under the bathroom sink.

Okay, you wouldn't find any skeletons or shameful secret things there.  Just the usual.  You know, toilet bowl brush and cleaner, plunger, sponge for cleaning the sink, bottle of Windex, roll of paper towels, shower stall cleaner spray bottle, small bottle of Ivory liquid soap used for washing out my unmentionables in the sink, etc.  

But how often do I pull everything out and clean the floor? 

The answer is not nearly often enough.  As I happened to (really) look under there this morning I thought, yep, that would be my most embarrassing spot.

But wait.  Nope.  Maybe there is somewhere else that is . . . dum-da-dum-dum . . . worse.

Ooooh, ya.  Under. our. king-size. bed. 

Oh, my.

What could be there that would be embarrassing, you ask?

Eight boxes of flooring that we purchased and planned on installing on the bedroom floor.  Maybe six years ago?  Okay, eight.  Two big rolls of the foam underlayment for same floor installation.

A box of candles of all assorted shapes and sizes.  A box of packages of assorted construction paper.  A box of tissue paper.  What?  You don't store these things under your bed?

A box of my mother's cookbooks I brought home with me when we cleared out her apartment after her death.  In 1997.

A scale.  Which I have not stepped foot on for somewhere around ten years.  Why?  I'm petrified thinking of what I would be forced to face if I did.

Two storage tote boxes of my husband's shoes which will be in very good condition for the rest of his life.  Because I think there are only two pairs that I've seen him pull out and wear on rare occasions since he retired eleven years ago.

But the really embarrassing thing that is under the bed is the herd of rapidly multiplying dust bunnies.  I obviously clean under there less frequently than I do under the bathroom sink.

Now it's your turn.  What is the spot in your home you would least want a (snoopy) guest to see?  Tell the truth.  I'll keep it as our little secret and won't share it with anyone else.  (Hee-hee.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine Wishes, Sent And Received

I'm a bit late (although it still is Valentine's Day as I write) in sending all of you hearty (pun intended, and not a very good one) wishes on this the 14th day of February.  Hope you all had a good day in whatever way you spent it.

Thank you for your Red Heart Day wishes sent here to Minnesota.  Especially a very special one I received from Wisconsin.

Chicken Mama stopped by on her way home tonight and gave us this tin full of chocolate heart confections she made.

They're made with organic ingredients, chocolate that is so pricey I feel guilty eating it, and a luscious cream coconut filling that tastes like Mounds Bars used to taste (only better) when they were made with real ingredients.  (Way back when.)  This sweet treat is her dad's favorite and I will have to hide them somewhere and portion them out or he'll OD on them for sure.

(Susan, recognize the red and black cloth the tin is on?)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Simply Beautiful Handwork

A friend of mine "inherited" several pieces of old handwork and asked me if I would like to have this piece of cross-stitching.

I gladly accepted it and have it in my quilt room, but think I'd like to display it in our living room when I find just the right spot for it.

It's 16" wide and 10" deep and is meant to be placed hanging over a shelf.  Possibly with a silver tea service on the shelf above or maybe some special porcelain figurines.  In our house, it will most likely have books on the shelf above it.

It's done all in cross-stitch except for the edging around the two sides and bottom.

No doubt about it, whoever did this piece was an expert with needle and thread.  But the remarkable part of it to me is the back side.

Those of you who have done this type of stitching will recognize the unbelievably well thought out execution of the stitches on the front so that the back looks as perfect as it does.

Wooo-eee.  Something for which I could strive . . . but I know it's highly unlikely I'll ever achieve the talent of this unknown handwork artist.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Winner of Winter Potholders

What a lovely surprise to see so many of you interested in having a chance to receive the potholders I offered as a giveaway!  I truly appreciate each and every one of you who entered your name for the drawing.

I do wish I could send a set to each of you, but good golly, I'd be at my sewing machine day and night busily turning them out until time for planting the garden.  (Hmmm, doesn't sound like a bad job to me.)

Okay, trumpets please.  The name drawn was:

Leigh, of 5 Acres and a Dream homestead

The potholders will be wending their way southeastward as soon as I get them packaged and into the post office in town.

Once again, thank you all so much for your very kind words while expressing an interest in the giveaway.  You encourage me to do this more often.  Some of you know how much I enjoy inflicting my quilted potholders on most anyone interested so this will happen again.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Giveaway In Honor Of Our Winter Weather

I know several of you have already been talking about balmy temperatures, starting seeds soon for this season's garden and posting pictures of early spring flowers poking up.

Because of that I've hesitated offering these quilted winter-themed potholders here on the blog as a giveaway because the winter season seems to be all gone and over for some of you.

But, boy howdy, it's sure not the case here.  Today we've gotten about 6" of new snow accompanied by lots of blowing snow and a temperature high of 8F above.  It will be a long time before our winter's over.

So if anybody's interested, here is the set of potholders I'm giving one of you a chance to receive.

Shades of blue, from that of a winter-y blue sky to snowflakes to a deep, dark navy which is sometimes the color of our night if there's no moonlight for reflection on the snow.

I put the last of that pretty blue printed winter scene fabric on both backs.  You might notice that the one on the left had to be pieced because I didn't have a second piece of the fabric big enough.  (Darn, I'm sorry I didn't buy more of it.)

If you're in a part of the country that is already into early spring, you could stash these away until next winter.

Just let me know in the comments section if you're interested in having your name put in the hat (it may be one with ear flappers in honor of our cold weather).  I'll draw a winner this coming Sunday night, the 10th, right after I shut off my computer at 9 p.m.  Be sure to get your entry in before that cut-off time, and I'll post the winner Monday morning.

Good luck to all of you who might be interested in receiving a reminder of what your winter was . . . or still is!

P.S.  I just took this picture of a corner of our living room windows.  The bottom of the windows are about 5' off the ground outside.  

No, the snow isn't that deep on the level, but there is presently a snow drift the wind has made all the way up on the window.  (Yay, more time for hibernating!)


Monday, February 4, 2019

Succumbed Again!

As a child I loved creating things with my hands.  One year as a Christmas present, I asked for and received a "paint by number" kit (not sure how creative that could be labeled) and then spent about a week only looking at it as I didn't want to actually use the paints and canvas . . . because then too soon they would be used up and gone.  (How's that for a warped sense of psyche?)

Aaanywho, my love of creating is still very strong and there are few kinds of handwork I don't have an urge to try.

You must understand that only a short time ago I had given myself a couple of lectures on how, perhaps/maybe/probably, I should limit myself to just one choice of handwork so I could actually get more completed and, therefore, feel a real sense of satisfaction.  You know, instead of having several (way too many) projects going at once, but feeling as though I completed very few.  I should, I reasoned, confine my endeavors to only knitting.  Or quilting.  Or cross-stitching.  Or what about my rug making?

Then, dang and drat, that funny, whacky, lovable blogger Susan wrote a post convincing me it was alright to try new things (even though one might have six or seven "new" things currently underway) and it was alright to purchase new supplies for a new handicraft even though one might already have twenty years (or so) of yet-to-be-used supplies stuffed into every nook and cranny available within the confines of one's home.  And out buildings.  And rental units (Kidding.)

So what did I do?  Of course, I ordered some supplies for wool applique.  Which I've been keeping myself from trying for way too long.  (Thanks, Susan.  I'm holding you completely responsible for any direction in which this leads me.)

How do I like my new endeavor?  Love it.  But then I've always enjoyed embroidery.  (Who else's husband had embroidery all over the collar, across the back yoke and down the front of his work shirts in the 1970s?)  And embroidery does, indeed, come into play with wool applique.  

Here's my first attempt.  A bit of a learning curve to it all, but I'm willing to continue navigating it.

I took the basic idea from this design . . . 

. . . in this book I ordered.

Lots of blanket stitching.

And French knots.

And a couple other stitches I need to brush up on.

I would rather have had a large piece of felted wool on which to mount my little leaf/heart/flower design thingie, but didn't.

Next stop, our local second-hand resale shop to look through their fabric bins.  Wanna come along, Susan?  No telling what goodies you might find!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Is February Still A Winter Month For You?

It definitely is for most of us living in the upper part of our nation.  And certainly much of Canada, too.  We have plenty of winter weather left all the way through March and (yikes!) even some years well into April.

It's also the month with the holiday of Valentine's Day in it which, sorry to say, has become so overly commercialized.  This year perhaps we should celebrate the day by telling the people in our lives whom we love that we do!  Does anyone ever get tired of hearing those words spoken aloud?

For other friends and acquaintances, take the time to tell them how appreciated they are and how much you enjoy having them in your life.

Be brave and forget the syrupy cards and expensive bouquets of flowers.  (Unless, of course, those two expressions of your sentiments will win you an untold number of points from your Valentine.)

Instead why not make a pan of fudge to share?  I'll make my annual batch of pink frosted, heart-shaped sugar cookies.  Or how about having friends over for an old-fashioned home cooked meal?  Those of us still firmly entrenched in winter time desire food that will sustain us through a few more snowfalls and temperatures stuck near the bottom of the thermometer.

The meal can be as simple as a bowl of thick soup and fresh baked bread or rolls.  (With a plate of that fudge for dessert.)

Speaking food, I've read in several places that cabbage is "the vegetable of the month."  Knock on wood, ours are still holding their own in our root cellar.  From cooked, buttered cabbage to flavorful coleslaw, we like it.  Oh, if only I had gotten and saved my mom's recipe for Pigs in a Blanket.  Gosh, those were always so good!

Another little tidbit I picked up when reading about the month of February, the first Friday of the month is . . . are you ready for this?  National Bubble Gum Day.  And the first Friday of the month happens to be today!  Sadness and woe, here I sit without a single piece of bubble gum in the house.  

I wonder how long it's actually been since I had any bubble gum?  How 'bout you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Still Functioning and Nowhere Near Frozen

Our low temps over night are still dipping down to around 20 or 25 below.  The winds did abate a bit today.  No loss of power that we've heard of.  But still, the wind chill forecast is for 49 degrees below zero at this time.

Schools will be closed for the third day in a row tomorrow.  Some businesses in town are still open, others are closed.  There was no mail delivery in the whole state of Minnesota today.  It's not only the northern part of our state that has dangerously cold conditions.  And other parts of the Midwest have been hit, too.

Chicken Mama has come down with a bona fide case of influenza.  Fortunately, she's not far from us so we're keeping her firewood supply handy (rather than her hauling it in herself) along with other necessities.  My job has been to convince her she cannot rush into getting up and back to work or the results will be bad.  The doctor told her as long as her lungs stay clear, she should be okay.  But for others in the community, he's seen this flu go into pneumonia.  Some have even landed in the hospital.  So far, she's being good, but I have rope and I'm not afraid to tie her down.

Papa Pea is taking good care of everything outside around here.  I haven't been out since last Monday morning.  He's currently known as the man in black.  (Move over, Johnny Cash.)  With his black super-insulated coveralls, black ear flap hat, black face mask and black mitts all in place he says he's comfortable when outside.  He's also been wearing goggles (black rimmed) to protect his eyes when the wind is howling.  Such a stylish figure he does cut.

Unfortunately, I listened to that wind from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. this morning.  Out on the couch so as not to wake my bed partner.  When hubby got up at 6, I crawled back into bed thinking I still wouldn't be able to sleep.  Woke up at 9 a.m. so I think I gained back those hours lost in the night.

All in all, we're surviving without any difficulty.  We're warm and eating good.  Meat loaf, scalloped potatoes, green beans, and fruit salad for dinner tonight.  Cherry Cottage Pudding for dessert.  All is well.

Sending out wishes for warmth and safety for all of you.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

I know some of you have it colder than we do, and also many of you have it warmer (!), but I wanted to report our thermometer reading first thing this morning was 25.2 degrees (Fahrenheit) below zero.  So far, no wind and isn't that a blessing!

A very frigid week ahead is forecast for us.  As Papa Pea said this morning, "Maybe some of those terrible ticks will actually be killed off this year."  If only.  The reason given for the influx of ticks in our area has been attributed to our recent too-warm winters that have enabled them to "hibernate" and thrive when they were never able to do so in years past.

Worry thee not about us.  We're staying warm and cozy (well, maybe except for necessary short forays out into the elements) and the poultry seems to be surviving without any real problems.  I do wonder how the local wildlife manages to keep functioning during these times though.

Now I'm going to go turn on the oven to preheat while I put together a couple of pies as dessert for hungry folk who will be around our table tonight.  Cooking and baking this time of year certainly is different than in the summer when I hesitate turning on the oven for anything!

P.S.  Papa Pea came in from morning chores a short while ago to excitedly say he had just experienced having a very large, healthy-looking, timber wolf come within 20 feet of him!  Mr. Wolf was loping along, seeming to have an important destination in mind this frosty morning, when he looked up to see a heavily clad human standing nearby at which point he (the wolf, not the human) veered off toward our back wood working area and then up into the dense woods.  What a sight! 

P.P.S.  Chicken Mama just stopped by and her dad showed her the wolf prints.  Since she suggested I take a picture to add to this blog post and she was dressed for outdoors, I coerced her into going out to take the picture.

They are a good 4-1/2 to 5" long.  The above picture doesn't do the size justice.  Take out a ruler and look at how big that actually is.  He was a big one!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Random Thoughts

I finished another pair of socks for my big-footed husband early this week.  But they've been worn already so I shan't pull them out of the dirty clothes basket to show you.  I'll remember to take a picture of them alongside the current pair on my needles when I finish them.  That will then be pair #5 and #6 for him.

Papa Pea made his usual batch of kefir earlier this week and I made mine of yogurt.  I've had a small yogurt maker (makes one quart) for several years now and it is so easy and turns out a wonderful batch of yogurt with so little effort on my part each and every time.  To think of all the hassle and disappointment I went through for years trying to correctly incubate a jar of yogurt wrapped in towels inside a styrofoam container placed on top of the refrigerator.  Ah yes, the right tool for the job makes ALL the difference!

We had 30-45 mph gusts of wind all day yesterday.  Looking outside presented a picture of a virtual white-out for most of the day.  My dear, dear husband did everything that needed doing outside while I luxuriated in the warmth and comfort of staying inside.  I think I'll keep him around.

This morning we have a temp of -15F and estimated wind chills today of 25-45 degrees below zero.  High today of 0 to 8 degrees above.

Both of us have commented often that with the changing of the seasons here in northern Minnesota, it's like living in a totally different world.

This is the scene out our window in mid-summer of a random year.

And this was taken a few years ago on our neighbors' deck when we were watching their house for them when they were gone.  The date of this picture?  April 1st.  So, yes, you may assume we have a lot of winter left this year.

I spent a few hours yesterday plowing through piles and files in and on my desk organizing and getting rid of (yay!) much unneeded paper.  I still have the far end of our long kitchen table covered with more to go through today.  Feels good to do so though.

Next inside/winter job to tackle?  I've read there is an old Chinese custom that the Chinese New Year (occurring around the end of January and beginning of February) is the time to do a thorough cleaning of your kitchen.

Look out cluttered and (slightly) dirty shelves and drawers.  I've got soap and water and I'm not afraid to use it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lamps and Other Miscellaneous Tidbits

Late last winter we acquired two beautiful old kerosene lamps from eBay.  

We've been using this one for a while now and are very pleased with it.

This one is in wonderful shape, too, but doesn't have a shade.  My most able researcher husband is in the process of trying to find a shade holder and shade to fit it.  We're not currently using it until then because I don't seem to have enough self-control (sense?) and when it's lit, my eyes keep gravitating right to the flame which I'm convinced will probably blind me.

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I sat down last Friday and sorted through my garden seeds to see which ones I needed to order more of.  There were actually very few.  Smallest seed order I've had in a long time.  I have really good luck keeping seeds viable for more years than suggested, and I always make sure we have an ample supply of everything I grow, both vegetables and flowers.

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A good friend of our daughter's received a set of my quilted pot holders about three years ago and recently asked if I would make her some new ones.  Glad to do it!

Her kitchen is done in blues so I used some of the left over fabric from the "winter" table runner I made recently.  (Shown in the lamp picture directly above.)

 Love this winter landscape scene used as a mid-tone.

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Taking a peek outside this morning, I see we have about an inch of new snow on the ground.  Forecast was for 5-8" starting during the night and going into today.  Snow's is still coming down, but I won't be too disappointed if it turns out we don't have to shovel and plow today!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Meanderings

We aren't having the heavy snow followed by freezing rain (baaaad!) that some of you are experiencing today, but our early morning temperature got down mighty close to 20 below.  That's cold.

As I was comfy warm in the kitchen getting an apple pie together to put in the oven, Papa Pea was outside doing morning chores.  Coming in he remarked that one almost needed goggles to protect the eyeballs from the biting cold.  It's truly necessary to be careful when being outside in these temperatures.

We went down into the root cellar yesterday to retrieve more apples to fill my container I keep on the floor of the pantry as a supply for baking or eating out of hand.  It was time to sort through the apples anyway, and we found very few with developing bad spots.  Good for us, bad for the chickens who love to get the sorted out apples and peck right through them lickity-split.

Speaking of our dear chickens, they are finally seeming to come out of their winter rest period and molt.  Finally.  I've been rationing the eggs I've had stock piled plus the few we've gotten these past several weeks.  We debate each year about putting a light in the chicken house to possibly encourage more egg production during this darkest time of the year, but always come back to the more natural way of keeping the chickens . . . letting them have that natural rest period.  We've had good luck keeping older hens laying through their third and even fourth years so maybe in the long run letting them take time off pays off.

All in the root cellar is keeping very well:  potatoes, carrots, cabbages and the apples.  Between food in the cellar and pantry and freezers, don't I love to go grocery shopping right here at home!

Besides the apples, we also brought up more potatoes as Papa Pea has lately had a real hankering for them.  (The man says he needs fuel this time of year!)

And that's fine with me as the cook because it's just the right time of year for tasty oven meals such as I've been making.

Casseroles like these scalloped potatoes made with ham chunks mixed in are well-received on a cold day in January.  A dish this size provides us with several meals with different side dishes for both our morning and evening time around the table.

My mind is fighting between spending the day industriously baking and cooking in the warm kitchen or snuggled on the couch in front of the fire knitting and/or reading.  What a dilemma, eh?

For those of you shoveling and plowing and roof raking and moving snow, pace yourselves by going in frequently for rest breaks.  And enjoy the beauty of the snowfall!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Breakfast . . . On Old Dishes

Nobody can say we don't eat well around here.

We still have an abundance of fresh frozen veggies from last year's garden in the freezer and carrots, potatoes and cabbage in the root cellar so I frequently make one variety or another for our first (breakfast, kinda/sorta) meal of the day.  (By the by, we're still happy with and staying on the two-meal-a-day routine we established a couple of months ago.  Admittedly, we fell off the wagon a few times during the holidays [with a heavy thud], but neither of us felt as good when we did.  Coulda been the influx of sugar during the holidays, but we won't talk about that just now.  Ahem.)

The broccoli may not taste quite the same as it would fresh out of the garden, but it's still mighty good and the wonderful retained green color makes it all the more appetizing.

To prepare our egg/protein part of the meal, I melt a little butter or coconut oil in a skillet, add pre-cooked bacon bits I keep in the freezer and warm them up well.  Then I crack eggs on top, turn once and service on a piece of bread, homemade rye this morning.

Papa Pea's contribution to our morning meal is a small dish of homemade kefir/yogurt with a drizzle of haskap berry syrup.  Gotta get those probiotics into our system each day.

Looking at our Franciscan, Apple pattern, dishes reminds me of when my mom and dad used to make the trek up from Illinois to visit us.  Dad always grumbled about eating off these dishes because he said he frequently tried to eat the painted apples on the border.

I've mentioned it before . . . I've had these dishes since 1964 and it feels as though they've become an integral part of our lives.

Once, a few years ago, I thought I was tired of them so my brother-in-law, who manufactured dinnerware in his ceramics factory, sent me a set of all-white Bauer dishes which I used for a couple of years.

Eventually I realized I missed my Franciscan Ware and brought them back up from the basement where they had been packed away and stored.  Some old things can't be replaced, I guess.  I sure hope so 'cause there are a lot of "old" things around here.  Don't get me wrong; old is not necessarily bad or inferior, but rather loved, revered, valued and in the case of some folks, full of wisdom.  Right?  RIGHT??

Monday, January 14, 2019

More Catch-Up From My Blogging Hiatus

On the 21st of December we hiked the trail loop on the backside of our property that goes up to the high ridge and back.  We hadn't been on this trail since around about the first of December at which time we noticed that (uh-oh!) we had a lot of blowdown of trees that were blocking the trail.

So that day we took chainsaw and pickaroon and headed out to see what we could do as a clean-up effort before the trail was covered with deep snow.

As you can see by this spot that is open to sunlight, much of the piddly amount of snow we had gotten up to that time was melted.  Only four days until Christmas and our thoughts that day were that it didn't look like we were going to have a white Christmas.

Keeping the trail open through the woods is a constant challenge.  All the more so with the high, damaging winds we had had this past summer.  The maintenance of the trail is best done in the fall after the leaves are off the trees, but on the 21st with the little amount of snowfall left on the ground it wasn't difficult.

The ridge at the top of the loop is free of nearby trees, but this good-sized poplar from the ravine on one side managed to fall across the path.

It was a glorious day and we got our quota of exercise and fresh air.  And it turned out to be providential we went when we did because right after Christmas we got our first heavy snow which quickly put the kabosh on any more trail work until spring time.  We accomplished enough, though, that we can easily snowshoe or snowmobile the trail . . . if no more big trees decide to fall in an inconvenient (to us!) spot.