Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Wishes From A Foggy Brain

No, I didn't start imbibing on New Year's Eve liquid cheer early. But I have recently been functioning with a muddled mind. I think it has something to do with taking time off from our taxing (on mind and body) days in this past year of remodeling while at the same time still struggling to maintain some semblance of order in our otherwise full lives.

In the past couple of weeks of self-imposed, much needed down time, my body and mind have both sorta collapsed. (Although some may say my mind didn't have far to go.)

It's a different feeling to wake up in the morning and not have a list 12" long of things to be done or to even wake up and not want to make such a list. I find myself floating through the days but not really doing anything. Or caring. What did I accomplish today? Nuthin'. Yeah? So what?

My body wants to do nothing more than sleep. Now that I have the time to do things I've been putting off for months and months . . . like quilting or fun sorting/arranging in the pantry . . . I can't muster up the oompf to do so. (I haven't even baked a pie in ever so long, fer Pete's sake!)

But worry thee not, it's not that I'm depressed. It's more that I'm in some state of limbo that needs to be lived through before proceeding. And I'm not in the mood to exert any energy to work at pushing through this state. I'm suspecting it's nothing more than needing a decompression period with a little re-energizing and re-charging thrown in.

I've had short spurts lately where I've managed some contemplation concerning all kinds of things, but I can't seem to hold the brain cells on task long enough for the successful follow-through needed. As a result I have no New Year's resolutions or even a summary of happenings in 2011 to share. I greatly admire you other bloggers who have gone back over the year and gained a concrete sense of accomplishment by doing so.

But enough of this self-absorbed babbling. As they say, this too shall pass. I think the wisest thing for me to do is not fight it and just try to be. (Something that 99% of the time eludes me completely. Always thinking ahead to what needs to be done next, ya know. Arrrgh.)

The original point of this post, although I think I may have lost it before I even started, was to sincerely wish all of you a very Happy New Year. I hope your new year is filled with the joy of living and the love of giving.

See ya next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

She Knows Not Of What She Speaks

So I took two of those huge eggs that I thought might well be more double yolkers to use for our breakfast this morning.

(Nah, I said to myself. These big eggs can't all be double yolkers. But they feel so heavy, there's got to be more than a single yolk in there.)

Ooops. Do you see four yolks? Do you see three yolks? Nope, me neither. But both yolks were a good two inches across . . . not your average, run-of-the-mill egg.

Wonder if I'm wrong on all the rest of them, too? (Ah, the things that keep my mind occupied . . . )

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It Must Be Something In The Water

Back in the first part of last week, I showed you a picture of what turned out to be a double yolked egg.

Well, since that time we've gotten these six more eggs (plus one we got today that didn't get included in the below picture I took yesterday) that look like they may well be double yolkers also. The egg at the very top of the picture is a normal sized egg for comparison.

They aren't all from the same hen either! So what's going on here? Is there some kind of competition going on in the hen house that we don't know about? Are the chickens playing mind games with us?

As I use these latest bigger-than-usual eggs, I'll let you know if they are double yolkers . . . or just super-sized regular eggs. If they do turn out to be all double yolkers, that will be just too, too crazy!

We've Got Snow!

We woke this morning to the first real snow of the season. Looks like about at least 6" of very light, fluffy stuff so far. It's still coming down lightly.

A shot of our back yard. I don't think you can see the tracks, but right at the base of the woods line a deer plowed through the snow recently. The back yard isn't fenced so the critters roam freely in that area.

This is a picture of the back yard, too. Garage on the far right, the flat bed trailer parked next to it, Suburban covered with snow a little farther on back, and the wood sheds in the distance.

Other side of the house, you can see the depth of the snow on the deck railing. The bird feeder out in the yard is in front of some of the fruit trees. Raised garden beds and the field garden are out of the picture over to the right.

This is taken off the corner of the front deck looking to the woods line beyond. You can see the snow delineating the two horizontal support lines on the "invisible" 7' high deer fencing we have around the front yard and gardens. It also gives a very large space for the dogs to be in without danger of running off into the woods. There is a heavy mesh grid between the horizontal lines, but it does a good job of blending in with the woods beyond so you don't really see the fencing much at all unless the light hits it in just the right way.

The snow is beautiful and provides a good insulating layer. Too bad the forecast is for above freezing temps in two days with a rain/snow mix. Yuck. But we'll enjoy the beauty of this lovely snow as long as it lasts!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Bestest Gift

Chicken Mama arranged things on her homestead so she could spend the nights of Christmas Eve and Christmas with us here on the Pea Homestead. I think she enjoyed the little vacation she got and I know Papa Pea and I liked having her here for more than a quick visit.

Because she had no money for Christmas gifts this year, she thought of some ingenious ideas and used her natural creativeness to come up with gifts for us. We received all kinds of yummy homemade confections and, of course, our traditional individual batches of Pfeffernuse . . . I like candied fruit in mine while Papa Pea prefers more "natural" fruit. She also made some bee-yew-tiful candles and I received six of them . . . fat pillars that I love, both short and tall in assorted colors.

But the best gifts we received from her were three gift certificates.

Papa Pea was the happy recipient of this one. (Click on image to biggify if you can't read the printing.)

Then another one was addressed to both of us. The picture of the three snowpeople at the top resemble us greatly, don't you think?

However, the gift certificate that made me really happy, and was for me the bestest of the bunch, was this one.

(The very small print at the bottom says, "Requests may or may not be honored.")

For someone like me who regularly cooks three meals a day, has a husband who has many, many fine qualities but does not cook at all and dislikes going out to eat, this Christmas gift was a real winner!

Talk about giving of oneself . . . all the gifts from our daughter were pretty special. Her dad even went so far as to suggest she never again spend money on our gifts . . . just keep these much appreciated gift certificates coming!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Between Holidays

"Run, Mama Pea, Run! Stop being such an old sluggard or The Lazies are gonna getcha!"

We here in the Pea household are really taking it easy this week between Christmas and New Year's.

There are a couple of social obligations I wouldn't mind getting taken care of this week. I mean what sounds better than having folks over for a quiet, casual evening of soup and homemade bread after all the rich food and sugar-laden goodies surrounding Christmas? On the other hand, just existing with no pressure of any kind feels really good right now, and I don't care if the phone doesn't ring or no one comes through the door for a good long while. Don't mean to sound anti-social, but I'll be happy putzing in my quilt studio, watching a couple of DVDs, and reading a new book I got for Christmas.

I even did the unthinkable this morning. I crawled back into bed! Well, first off I woke at 3:30 a.m. (you can take your whammy off me anytime, dear Sue), laid there until 4:45 trying to talk myself back into slumberland. Finally got up and played in my quilt studio until 7. Then slithered back into that cozy, comfy, warm bed for two more hours of sleep. Why did I do that? BECAUSE I COULD!

Now I'm on my second latte of the morning (how decadent will I become?) and am contemplating another stint of quilting. Leftover soup for lunch so I don't even have to think about that.

Still, every now and then, I find I have to get out my big stick and beat off the monkey voices that I hear yelling, "Run, Mama Pea, Run! The Lazies are gonna getcha!"

Sorry (lalalalala), I'm not LIS-tening. I AM lazy and I'm just not available for any work this week.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Charles Dickens wrote, "Oh, would that Christmas lasted the whole year through, as it ought. Would that the spirit of Christmas could live within our hearts every day of the year."

I couldn't hope to say it better than Mr. Dickens.

Sending all of you warm and heartfelt wishes for some good, old-fashioned Christmas cheer. Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa Can Use His Sleigh

We finally got some snow! Only about 2" of it but it does a lot to make things look more like the holiday season.

Two days ago it was so warm here that Papa Pea washed all the vehicles in the back yard. Today he had to spend time clearing snow off of them.

I even got to shovel the deck off for the first time this winter. I always keep it shoveled because the dogs like to stretch out on it and take a sun bath on sunny days. This winter it'll just be granddogs Maisy and Tucker when they're visiting.

Will everyone please notice that under my down jacket I'm wearing MY APRON!? Yes, I've actually gotten into the habit of putting it on when I know I'm going to be doing a couple hours of cooking. Today I baked Italian Bread . . .

. . . to make into garlic cheese bread to go with the Cheddar-Cauliflower Soup I also made for our Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow night. Then I stirred up some Amaretto Freeze for dessert and set it in the freezer to firm up. Got some sugar cookie dough half done which I'll finish tomorrow.

Kinda nice to have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on a weekend, don't you think? Seems to make it a little more special.

Just In The (St.) Nick Of Time

I didn't think it was going to happen this year, but we did finally put up our little Christmas tree late yesterday.

We've never put up a tree so late . . . it's usually the weekend following Thanksgiving that our tree gets decorated. That way we can enjoy the lights in the dark morning hours and then again shortly after 4:30 in the afternoon for a little more than a month.

When we cut this tree down in our woods, we didn't realize it had a forked trunk up by the top. It was a tall, spindly tree but the top looked nice and full. It wasn't until the tree was on the ground and we examined it closely that we discovered the trunk split into two forks about two-thirds up the tree. This meant that the top which looked so plump and round was actually two trees (two forks) smooshed together. When we cut them apart, we saw both little trees had one completely bare, flat side! Well, no matter as we had to place it up against a window anyway.

Our Charlie Brown tree doesn't look too bad in the above straight-on shot, but glancing at it from the side kinda makes you wonder why someone took a chainsaw to the whole back side.

A friend stopped in this morning who had seen the tree in its bucket of water in the garage and couldn't believe it was the same tree all decorated up and looking as good as it does. Now that it's done, I'm glad we did go to the effort of getting this little yule tree up this year. Ho-ho-ho!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Really Matters

Yesterday Stephanie over at Caffeinated Homestead Dream wrote a post entitled "Little Things Matter." It was very well-written and a great reminder of what is important especially at this busy, sometimes hectic, time of year.

Her post reminded me that when we spread kindness with a compliment or by what may seem like a small gesture, by sharing a word of encouragement, by giving a smile here or a hug there, we can affect someone else in a way we might not even realize.

Many years ago, I attended a family funeral and introduced myself to an elderly woman I had seen only very infrequently in my life. She said, "Yes, I remember you. You're Maggie's [my grandmother] granddaughter with the beautiful smile!"

I must admit her lovely compliment took me back a bit. No one had ever commented on my smile before. I had never had even an inkling that I had a "beautiful smile." On a good day when I'm all cleaned up, I might be called attractive but I'm not a person who's ever had the label "beautiful" thrown at her. Yet I didn't doubt the sincerity of what that dear lady said. That night at home I stood in front of the bathroom mirror . . . and smiled. Hunh. Maybe she saw something in my smile not visible to me. Maybe I did have a nice smile . . .

All these years later when I'm feeling down or upset or sad or tired, I think back to her kind words and decide that perhaps using my "beautiful smile" will make things better. And it usually does.

Needless to say, I have never forgotten that simply spoken compliment. You just never know how much your simple gesture will mean to the person on the receiving end of a small, heartfelt kindness. Little things do matter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanging Up The Hammer

We're pulling the plug. Giving up the ghost. Throwing in the towel. We're tired and need a rest period. Time to make some changes.

As much as I desperately want to get the living room finished, there's still too much to do. One hundred and twenty-five mile trips (one way) to the big city for supplies on icy roads and working outside just isn't fun or safe this time of year. Time to make some changes.

We've been doing the power saw cutting in the garage because it's either been too cold or wet to set up and do it safely outside. This has made a terrible mess with sawdust in every nook and cranny of the garage and everything stored in there. It will take a major clean up job to get it back to less than the despicable state it is now. Plus with all the tools set up in the garage, there's no way to get a vehicle in there for inclement weather protection. Time to make some changes.

Papa Pea and I have been losing brain cells from too much pushing. We're both getting a little flaky and unable to make intelligent decisions or even remember where we stashed important materials and hardware or that special bottle of liquid libation purchased for the holidays. (Now THAT'S serious!) Time to make some changes.

I now has this fantastic, beautiful kitchen but because of our continued push to finish the rest of the house, I haven't even had the time to cook or bake the way I want in it yet. (Well, phfffft! That's downright silly, isn't it?) Time to make some changes.

So . . . we've made the decision to shut down on the remodeling for about three months. Until milder weather arrives. We're taking the pressure we've put on ourselves off and are going to spend the rest of the winter months recharging our leaky batteries. (As our daughter would say, "Sounds like a personal problem to me.")

It will also give us a chance to coax the old checkbook balance back into a healthier state. Along with our bodies and brain cells, finances have been taking a pummeling in the last year we've been seriously working on the house. They say money can't buy happiness, but it can buy building supplies!

The kitchen is completely done except for the new exhaust fan over the cooking stove. That's going to involve punching a hole either through the roof or out a wall so we'll tackle that in the spring.

The living room has all the paneling up on the walls and the trim work is done around all the windows and doors except for the pocket door that will close off the stairway up to Papa Pea's office. The permanent stairs are installed and the stairway is enclosed. The ceiling is still the joists upon which the office rests. The floor is plywood. But we've temporarily installed the wood stove in there with fireproof Duroc on the floor and walls behind it and will use the old furniture we have in a (halfway) comfortable arrangement. I can't tell you how nice it is to have a soft chair to plop into after having nowhere to sit other than at the kitchen table for months.

At any rate, this decision we've made to stop the remodeling push for a couple of months seems like a really good one to both of us.

No early alarms in the morning.

No waking with the feeling there are things we MUST get done that day.

No staying up late at night to catch up on the "everyday" things after a full day of remodeling work.

Days with no lists.

Good food without sawdust in it.

Lying under a quilt snoozing in the afternoon.

Time in front of the open fire reading.

Time in my quilt studio.

Evenings watching a DVD with a big bowl of popcorn.

A snowshoe hike. Assuming we eventually get snow, that is.

Doing all of the above until we're re-energized and ready, really ready, to pick up hammer and saw and brush again. Sounds good to me, so bring it on!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Something I've Always Wondered About . . .

What do you think? Is the egg on the left a double yolker?

It sure is a honkin' big one compared to the normal sized egg on the right.

Yup, it really is a double yolker!

So here's a question for all you fellow keepers of the coop out there. I've always wondered if a double yolker were incubated, would twin chicks hatch? Or would there not be adequate room within the shell to allow two chicks to develop properly?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's Soup Weather

We've eaten a bowl of this soup I'm writing about today every day for four days straight. Fortunately, it's good. (Wonder when I'm going to get the urge again to cook some meals that are a little more creative?)

This is another recipe that I must have brought from the Old Country a hundred or so years ago and then carried west with me in a covered wagon, because it's been in my recipe box about that long.

I used to make it in the restaurant because it's such a different, tasty soup, but it had a rocky start there. The name is Alsatian Sauerkraut Soup. At first, we didn't sell much of it. A wise waitress told me one day it was the name that was the problem. Huh? She said the "sauerkraut" in the name was what turned people off. Why didn't we rename it Alsatian Noodle Soup?

Ya know what? That did it. We sold much more from then on. Of course, the soup still had the sauerkraut in it, but people really liked it once we got them to try it. They just had to get over the hurdle of thinking they were going to be served a bowl of warm sauerkraut in broth. Aren't we humans funny?

So here we go. I'm going to label it as it is on my original recipe card. I know you can handle it.


1 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
2 cups tomato juice
6 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 cup uncooked rotelle
Salt (depending on the saltiness of your beef broth)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Saute the onion and celery in the oil until tender. ( I confess I never measure the celery and probably toss in more than 1/4 cup.)

Add the sauerkraut and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add all the remaining ingredients except the rotelle. (Not having any tomato juice, I put two cups of stewed tomatoes in the blender, gave it a whizz and that worked fine.)

Bring ingredients to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the rotelle and cook, uncovered, until the rotelle is tender, about 20-30 minutes. (I didn't have any rotelle other than the veggie rotelle which is colored . . . you know, beets, carrots, etc. . . . but that didn't really matter.)

Remove the bay leaf and serve. Serves 8-10. Enjoy!

P.S. and Arrrgh! Let me tell ya, yesterday was not a day I should have attempted doing ANYTHING that required the least little bit of brain power. (Hey! I coulda napped all day. What an opportunity missed!) The comment on this post I received this morning from judy reminded me of what I should have added about this soup.

It is, indeed, a vegetarian recipe I used when we as a family were following a vegetarian diet (just use a beef broth substitute). However, it is very good with pork or beef added when you add the rotelle which, I also failed to mention, can be any pasta of your choice such as macaroni, tortellini, egg noodles, etc. (See? Told ya I was operating at a very low intelligence level yesterday.) Papa Pea happens to be on a kick where he is CRAVING protein so I added some chunks of cooked pot roast I had in the freezer. Leftovers from a pork roast are always yummy combined with the sauerkraut. Or brown some ground beef and add that. So although it's a delicious vegetarian soup, it doesn't have to be if your family balks at not having meat included in a meal.

That's all. Over and out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Never Take Life For Granted

We had a horrific incident here in our little community yesterday afternoon. Thankfully no deaths resulted, but lives were changed forever.

A man entered the courthouse with the intention of inflicting bodily harm. The victim who was the shooter's target and who was most seriously injured is a county employee and friend of the family. He was shot three times in the torso. The shooter also put three bullets into another man (who was not a county employee) and shot a bailiff of the court once. Another county employee sustained non-gunshot related injuries. Because our community is small, most everyone knows all of these people.

Two of the victims were treated here in our local hospital and released. Our family friend, T, and the other man wounded three times were rushed to the big city 125 miles away in ambulances over treacherous, icy highways. We were experiencing snow and rain with winds clocked at 53 mph so the life-flight helicopter was unable to take to the air.

T underwent extensive surgery and, miraculously and thankfully, is expected to come through it all, but has a long road of recovery ahead of him both physically and mentally. The other man shot three times was not injured as severely for which everyone is thankful.

Obviously, whatever problems the shooter had experienced previously are now magnified greatly.

It's true what they say. Your life can change in the blink of an eye. This incident was a wake-up call to me to find a way of better handling the piddling little trials and tribulations in my own life. I'm going to think about the important people in my life and hug 'em and kiss 'em and tell 'em I love 'em. I'm going to make a concerted effort to appreciate all the good and wonderful and awesome things in my life. I don't want to ever take them for granted. I'm going to try to ignore all the things I wish were different in my life except if I can move in a proactive, positive manner to change them.

Each day is a fresh beginning and, if you don't find yourself unexpectedly starting it in an ICU hospital bed after surgery for three gunshot wounds, there's not a lot to complain about.

There truly is a difference as to whether the problems in life are mountains or molehills. Yesterday's incident was a mountain for the people involved and has definitely changed their lives. Some of them just for the length of time until this crisis is over, some of them forever.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not Much, But A Little

We had rain all day yesterday, but the temp dropped enough today that we are getting a little snow.

It's sure not any great amount, but at least it's something. I don't think you can even see the snowflakes in the above picture, but it's been coming down steadily.

Even a little covering of white helps brighten up the bleak landscape we've been looking at since the fall color season left us. Maybe we will have a white Christmas after all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Start of My Holiday Baking

Or it might be the sum total of my holiday baking. I haven't really decided yet if I'm going to go for it with zip and zing or be a (more rested and relaxed) Scrooge and skip it this year.

However, I found myself in a spot this afternoon between tasks and wavered as to what to do to best fill the small amount of time I had so decided to mix up the batter for Cranberry-Walnut Loaf. I never make this sweet bread except at holiday time although there's no good reason not to do so.

Having these little loaves baked and ready (they freeze beautifully and don't take long to defrost) makes me feel more comfortable as far as not being caught with absolutely no holiday-ish treat on hand.

The recipe says to bake the batter in two regular sized loaf pans but I almost always bake it in four small pans because then the slices are just right for eating with your hand. (Give 'em a napkin and no plate or silverware is required.) There are only three small loaves in the above picture because one loaf has already left the premises.

I think the flavor is greatly improved by wrapping the loaves in foil after they have cooled on racks and storing in the refrigerator over night before serving. Doing this also makes slicing much easier with very little crumbling to worry about.

I'd gladly give credit where it's due for the origin of this recipe but I've had it for so many years, I truly don't remember how it came to be in my recipe box.


3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cup whole cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and cut in the butter until mixture looks like corn meal.

In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk and grated orange rind. Pour into dry ingredients and stir just until dampened.

Fold in cranberries and nuts and spread into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean. (I bake the small loaves for 50 minutes.)

Cool pans on rack for 10 minutes before removing loaves from the pans. Then cool the loaves thoroughly on racks.

For easier slicing (and I think better flavor) wrap in foil and store in refrigerator over night.

I'm not too sure I gained as much as I anticipated in my effort to bake and stash away this yummy sweet bread to have on hand. As I said, one of the four little loaves went home with someone already and I know Papa Pea is going to want to sample another one (just to make sure it's good, he always says). Oh well, that still leaves two loaves for the freezer. I think I'd better hide them well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winner of Holiday Cook Books

Okay, everybody ready for some holiday cooking and baking?

I used my Mama Pea's Fine Baking tin to hold the names for the drawing of the cook books.

Only four names entered for the drawing so each of you had a good chance.

Without further suspense . . .

The winner is Akannie. Congratulations to you! If you will send me your mailing address ("Contact" button over on my right hand side bar), I'll get these two books off to you pronto.

Now it's time for all of us to put on our aprons, get into the kitchen and do some holiday baking. Mmmm-mm, I can smell those delicious aromas already!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Books, Books, Holiday Books!

I have two more cook books to give away. Anybody interested?

The one book has recipes and menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The other one has special recipes and menus for holidays throughout the year: New Year's Eve Buffet, Chinese New Year Dinner, Valentine's Day Dinner, Easter Brunch, Mother's Day Breakfast, Memorial Day Family Gathering, Father's Day Dinner, Fourth of July Celebration, Labor Day Dinner for the Family, Halloween Party for the Kids, Thanksgiving Brunch, Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Open House and Christmas Dinner. (Whew!)

Both books are soft covers, about 8-1/2" x 11" with luscious color photographs. They were both published way back in the 1980s . . . when most of you were just wee tots.

At any rate, you might find them interesting to look through for new ideas or recipes. If you'd like to be entered in the drawing for these two books (they go as a two-deal package), just leave a comment stating so. Also, within your comment, how about sharing what main entree your family traditionally has for Christmas Dinner. I think it will be interesting to see if that special dinner is pretty much standardized across the board or if each of our families has their own specialized menu.

Since time is running out before Christmas and New Year's gets here, you only have one full day to let me know if you'd like these books. I'll close entries when I shut off my computer Monday night (that's tomorrow probably around 9 p.m.) and draw the winner early Tuesday morning.

I admit I got a little hungry just paging through these books tonight for the last time. I think you'd enjoy having both of them.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm Behind My Behind

At least that's how I feel right now. But I'm sure many of the rest of you have exactly the same feeling these pre-holiday days.

This behind-the-eight-ball feeling is always more pronounced after spending a day making a trip to the big city as we did yesterday. We've racked up so many more of these trips than usual during this remodeling stint that the feeling that the 5-hour round trip ride plus the day of intense running from place to place, stuffing the truck to the gills (and tying thing on top) to make the trip worthwhile . . . well, the feeling it generates is just this side of me wailing, "Please, please, PUL-EEZE! I don't wanna go! I'll be a good girl. Just let me stay home."

Nonetheless, we made the trip safely (no highway crossing deer were hurt in the making of the trip) even though an hour or so of driving in the dark both morning and night were necessary. We did the critical unpacking of the truck last night, but still have some to do this morning and then need to find a protected place to store everything.

Oh! Before I forget, I wanted to give you an explanation of my new blog header photo . . . compliments of my talented daughter's photographic and computer skills. As a Christmas present a couple of years ago, she gave me a tin with this picture and lettering on top. It's a nice sized rectangular container and could be used for a batch of cookies or caramel corn or whatever, but I use it as a holiday decoration. This year I had it on top of one of my kitchen cabinets and the other night when Chicken Mama was here (probably at the end of the third day we worked her tuchus off helping us with our wood working), she suggested taking it home with her to photograph and put up as my new blog header photo. Which she did, and didn't it turn out great? I love it.

Okay, deep breath. This morning finds me with a headache I can't seem to shake (totally stress induced, I know) and wanting to do about 17 different things today. I'd like to start some Christmas baking, work on finishing some small handmade gifts, do the general house stuff that always needs doing (said tasks would fill two pages of typewritten lists, I know), financial accounting from yesterday's trip, catch up on blog reading and commenting, answer some e-mails, go to our co-op for stocking up on some food supplies, finally get in and tour our wonderful local library that has just reopened after a total remodel, take hubby 20 miles down the road to pick up our trusty Toyota that has had some repair work done on it and try not to feel guilty about not sending out Christmas cards (again) this year. As they say though, hope springs eternal and I truly do want to add that little task (the Christmas card and letter) back into my holiday preparations . . . one of these years.

Hope this all didn't sound too much like whining. Just trying (at your expense) to collect my thoughts and make some sensible plan as to what I need to do today to get out (well, at least partially) from behind my behind.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Curious . . .

My parents always kidded that my brother and I weren't their real children. They said we must have been switched at the hospital because as we grew into adulthood neither of us developed a taste for coffee. Mom and Dad were staunch strong, black coffee drinkers. My husband (who loves fresh, strong coffee -- with the emphasis definitely on the fresh) would often nearly pass out when handed a mug of the not-at-all-fresh, reheated, sludge from the pot that my folks drank with abandon. (Hmmm, maybe that's why my brother and I never became coffee aficionados.)

Anyway, a morning cuppa java never appealed to me . . . until I discovered lattes. Now there was something I could drink and enjoy. So much so that several years ago I purchased a cheap, espresso machine that faithfully turns out my morning drink nearly every day of the year.

So as I was whipping up my latte this morning, I was wondering what each of you have for your morning beverage of choice. Black coffee, coffee with cream and/or sugar? A double shot of espresso? Are you a tea drinker? Black or herbal . . . or green? How many cups of what start your day? Do you continue to drink coffee or tea all day long?

Come on, nobody's gonna lecture you on too much caffeine intake if you admit to mainlining the stuff. And do your preferences differ from season to season? Iced drinks in the summer, but only the hot stuff in the winter? Or doesn't it matter? (I drink iced black tea all year round.)

How about the industrial strength coffee versus decaffeinated? Do caffeinated drinks perk you up or stimulate your system or are you like me and feel absolutely no effect from them?

I'm just curious. And let's face it. It's always interesting to hear what someone elses preferences are that they consider absolutely normal but may seem quite exotic to you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pushing Along

Still no snow in these here parts. The temperature on this partly sunny day rose to the low 20s but we've had a wicked wind blowing for the last two-thirds of the day that about knocked you flat out and made you feel like it was 20 below zero.

We're working on getting the paneling up in the living room.

This is the left side of the wall of windows looking out to the south.

The other half of the south wall. The stud wall you see to the right in the picture is the wall of the enclosed stairway. It will get paneling on it, too.

This is the wall shared with the kitchen. You get a glimpse of a storage cabinet in the kitchen through the doorway.

The paneling sure is a marked improvement over the studs and foil-backed insulation. (Just about anything would be.)

We're hoping the wind (which I can hear still howling as we speak) dies down over night because we're going to try to get in another day to finish up the wood pile in back tomorrow. Can hardly believe we're getting by so long without getting snow on it.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I suppose it's especially pronounced at this time of year. Or maybe I'm just trying to do too much on a regular basis.

It's driving me crazy the way time each and every day zooms by leaving me at the end of the day wondering why another day is over and, hey, no fair! There are still heaps of things I wanted to do today and I'm. Out. Of. Time.

Draggin' my wagon is what I did all day today. Last night I woke at 1:30 from a bad dream, laid in bed trying to fall back asleep until 2:30, gave up, got up, went into my quilting studio and sewed until 4 a.m. Got back into bed and tossed and turned until . . . ? All I know is that I sure wasn't ready to bounce out of bed and whip my weight in wildcats when the alarm went off at 6.

What was my bad dream? I was repeatedly startled awake by being positive (I was positive, I tell you) I heard Zoey the Wonder Dog's single bark at the door that always meant, "Let me in!"

Now our Zoey died at fourteen years of age this past spring, but I have this totally irrational feeling she's not really dead (I'm not crazy if I know the feeling is totally irrational, right?), but is going to appear at the door as she did in my dream. Or at least I have flashes of that happening before my mind snaps back to reality and know she's gone. (She collapsed and died one night while walking between her bed at the bottom of the stairs to Papa Pea's office and her bed in our bedroom.)

She was a hunting dog, and the little devil would stick by you (as she knew darn well she was supposed to) if she was outside loose. Yeah, she'd stick by you until you turned your back for more than 30 seconds at which time she'd streak straight off into the woods to do what she was bred to do: hunt. ("You're not going to take me hunting? Fine, I'll go by myself.") I think the reason I had the dream is because I always feared we would lose her that way. That she'd run off into the woods populated with wolves and bears and the occasional trapper's trap, not come back and we'd never know what happened to her. That we'd not be able to find her and always be waiting for her to come back.

Well, anyway that was the reason I didn't get my needed amount of beauty sleep last night. Because I was operating on only two cylinders, lots of other dumb, stoopid, weird things happened today, too, but you'd really send me an application for the funny farm if I related them all to you.

I'll just end this nonsensical rambling, do what I should do and go to bed right now hoping to make tomorrow a more profitable day that maybe will have a few more hours in it than today did.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yesterday's Wood Working Effort

The three of us put in another long day wood working yesterday. Got a lot accomplished but couldn't completely finish the task.

See that big empty spot? That's where the first pile of wood to be split was. Friday we got most of it done and then finished it yesterday morning before moving on to the other (bigger!) pile.

Why didn't I take before and after pictures? Too much sawdust on the brain, I guess. Anyway, I took this picture this morning of what is left of the second and last pile. There was just too much to work through even though we gave it a good try.

(Yep, we had a very light dusting of snow last night, but nothing to write home about.)

You can't see much in this picture except the last tier of stacked wood (and the wood splitter and some other equipment) in this, our smaller wood shed, but Chicken Mama stacked and stacked and stacked wood on Friday and Saturday and now this shed is nearly half full.

None of the wood we've been working on will be used this heating season. The wood that we'll burn this winter is in the bigger wood shed shown here and has been drying there since early this summer. When this heating season started, we still had some year old wood in the smaller wood shed so that's what we've been using and haven't even touched this stash yet.

I've posted this picture before but for those of you who may not have seen it, this will prove Chicken Mama is used to doing wood work as we broke her in early on. For several years we had a contract with a local state park to provide bundled wood to them for their campers. Although she used to complain (mightily) about it, she was a big help.

Drawing for Apron Pattern

Oh, the excitement around here this morning!

It was time to draw a name out of a hat to see who would be the recipient of the 1941 Apron pattern.

I put all the names in a hat . . .

See? There they are!

Coerced Papa Pea into closing his eyes, sticking his paw into the hat and bringing out a name. (If I'm going to keep this up, I must have Chicken Mama show me how to use that Random Number Generator thingie so I look a little more professional.) And the winner turned out to be . . .


Carolyn, if you'll go over to the "Contact" button on my right hand side bar and send me your mailing address, I'll get the pattern sent off to you first of the week.

Thanks to all of you who entered. Wish I had had an extra pattern to send to each and every one of you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Wood Workin' Day

On one of his last jobs of the season our neighbor, who owns and operates an excavating business, cleared some forested land for a house and septic system for a client of his. D and his wife don't burn wood so he asked if we would like the birch and maple trees he cut down. (The home owners asked him to remove the downed trees from the property.) Sure! We can always use wood so we gladly accepted.

With the time we've been spending on our remodeling, Papa Pea has had very little spare time to get out back into our wood working area to get this wood cut up. However, within the last week he did spend two really long days in close communion with his chainsaw and got the huge trees cut into lengths to be split. That in itself was a humongous job.

His work left two huge piles of cut wood in a bad spot. They are right in the path of where we push plowed snow all winter long. This means that we need to move the wood. This means we need to get it split and stacked under cover in one of our wood sheds. Before it starts snowing.

So far this early winter season, we've had only one snowfall of a couple of inches but that melted and our ground is still bare at this point in time. If we get snow on the ground before getting this wood moved, it will make splitting it and moving it twice as hard. Hubby and I spent yesterday working at the task but quickly realized we needed to call in reinforcements. So we coerced Chicken Mama into spending a couple of days of quality time with her Mom and Pop . . . working on the wood with us.

Do you see the size of these logs? Papa Pea said it was some of the hardest chainsawing he's ever done. What a shame these huge, beautiful trees had to come down. Many of the pieces are so heavy we can't lift them onto the splitter. We have to roll them up a plank . . . making darn sure they don't tip off and smash a foot or two.

Today it took the two of us moving as fast as we could on the splitter (while still working safely, of course) to keep up with our daughter who was in charge of taking the full wheelbarrows into the shed and stacking the split wood.

Here's a shot of Wonder Woman (aka Chicken Mama) stacking wood in the shed while the two of us were making like Energizer Bunnies trying to get another wheelbarrow filled before she came looking for it.

A picture of our daughter and granddogs. Notice the tennis ball in Maisy's mouth? She carries it around just on the off chance somebody (Anybody? Puleeze?!) will throw it for her.

So guess what the three of us are going to do tomorrow? Put in another day of fun and recreation on the wood pile.

What is it they say about a full wood shed being like money in the bank? We be RICH!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apron Pattern Giveaway

Giveaways seem to be running rampant in Blogland these days, but who's complaining? 'Tis the season for giving gifts and spreading cheer so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

This is a pattern for an apron I want to make, but I sure don't need two of the patterns . . . which is exactly what I found when looking through my stash of patterns a couple of weeks ago.

Would any of you like to receive this pattern? If you don't wish to keep it for yourself, it would make a nice little Christmas gift.

The pattern contains three Adult sizes, Large, X-Large and XX-Large. Three Child sizes Small, Medium, and Large plus a pattern for an 18" doll's apron. The apron looks like a slip-over-the-head, loose fitting style that would be comfy to wear while providing pretty good coverage of your clothing.

If you'd like to be put in the running for the apron, just leave a comment saying so and for the fun of it, also include a little blurb on the one gift you would like most to receive for Christmas this year. It can be fanciful, funny, frivolous or practical. (Me, I would ask for one thing: To have our remodeling done! In lieu of that, I need a new pair of black leather gloves.) Let your imagination run wild . . . or take this opportunity to provide a written suggestion for Santa that might actually appear under the tree.

Get your comments in by this Saturday night, December 3rd., and I'll draw a name first thing Sunday morning.