Sunday, December 30, 2012

Soup Sundays

In my post of last Friday, I rambled on a bit about how January seems to be a good month to try out some new soup recipes.  In the comment section, Tami (500 Dollar Tomato) suggested all of us who are interested share a soup recipe on the weekend so we'd all have the opportunity to try it in our own kitchens.  (Okay, so maybe that wasn't exactly what she said.  I admit I'm kinda putting words in her mouth.)

What say we try to post a soup recipe (one of our own favorites or something new we've stumbled upon) every Sunday for the month of January?  Just imagine all the new, yummy soups that could end up as keepers in our recipe boxes!

I know it's not January yet (however, watch out, 'cause it's approaching on waxed sleigh runners!), but I'll kick off Soup Sundays by posting this soup I made yesterday.  It's adapted from the More-with-Less Cookbook, Suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources.  I tried the recipe once before but wanted to tweak it a bit before giving it another go.  And lo and behold, I actually took the time to write in the book the changes I wanted to make so throwing it together was fairly simple.

Guess I'll deem the revised recipe a resounding success because even Mr. I-Need-Meat-to-Stay-Strong (aka Papa Pea) said more than once how hearty and flavorful his bowlful of soup was.

I used homemade turkey broth (thanks to that big, ol' turkey carcass at Thanksgiving time) and I'm sure that added part of the good, rich taste.

Don't tell my hubby (we wouldn't want him to get overly excited) but I'm going to add some chunks of turkey meat to the ample amount of soup we have left.  Ham or crumbled bacon would also be very good.

So here's my recipe for Vegetable-Rice Chowder.

* * * * * * * *


1/2 cup rice, uncooked (I used white Basmati)
5 cups broth
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 cup cubed potatoes (I just used a medium-sized potato)
1 medium chopped onion
3/4 cup sliced celery
1 cup canned tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt*
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1 cup milk

* * * * * * * *

Put all ingredients (EXCEPT milk) in large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.

Before serving, add 1 cup milk and heat until very warm, but don't boil.

Serves 6.

*Note regarding the 2 teaspoons of salt.  My homemade broth is never very salty so the 2 teaspoons of salt in the recipe was just right.  If you use commercial broth, which is usually on the salty side, you might want to reduce the amount.

I served the soup with (fake) Boston Brown Bread and slices of dill pickles.

Without meat, this is a very inexpensive soup to make.  And as I said, even my hubby didn't object to the lack of meat in it.  But it would also be a great soup in which to use up that last half cup (or so) of ham chunks getting chilblains in the freezer.

If you have a hankering to join in on Soup Sundays, get your recipe ready for posting next Sunday.  This will be fun.  And tasty!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


We did get some snow over night.

Even our back door (the only door we use for coming and going) wreath which is in a semi-protected spot got some snow on it.

There's not much more than 4" of very light, fluffy snow but it's enough to make things look clean and winter-y.


Friday, December 28, 2012

He-e-e-e-ere's Grumpy-Dump!

My mood has been matching our landscape.  DREARY.  Ugly and monochromatic.

Fortunately, the weather forecast is calling for a few measurable inches of snow to fall on us this afternoon and over night so if it happens, that should spruce things up outside.

I commented to my hubby this morning that I sure hope I snap out of my grouchy, lethargic mood soon.  He seconded the motion without hesitation.

* * * * * * * *

It's time to think about going through all my garden seeds.  The latest garden catalogs are forming a formidable pile on my desk so it's time to fill out my orders.  I don't feel really secure about each upcoming gardening season until I have all my needed seeds squirreled away.

I know I need to hire someone to hold me back from planting so much Red Kuri squash this coming year.

Although they are keeping well on a shelf in my pantry, we're not going through nearly as many of them as I still have.  The darn things grew so big this year (pint jar in picture for comparison), one of them serves four or five meals for us.  I cooked and froze many of them last year but didn't care for the texture (a bit on the watery side) or taste as much.  Although they are a great substitute for pumpkin, how many pumpkin pies or pumpkin muffins can you eat?

* * * * * * * *

Once the holidays are past, I start thinking about hearty, healthy food.

Just picked up a cook book at the library dedicated to using quinoa.  Quinoa is touted as a really nutritious grain and I should use it more than I do.  If I come across any super-doo recipes in the book, I'll be sure to share them.  (Take note, Susan . . . 100% gluten-free!)

My freezer needs to be restocked with soups.  And what better time to try out some new bread recipes than in January?  Yup, soup and bread will taste good in the upcoming weeks.  (Months?)  It seems that especially some members of the male sex don't care for soup, but my husband loves it.  I'm fortunate in that because soup is such an easy, all-in-one meal.

* * * * * * * *

I'll leave you today with this quote I came across last night:

"Year by year the complexities of this spinning world
grow more bewildering and so each year we need
all the more to seek peace and comfort
in the joyful simplicities."

- Women's Home Companion, December, 1935

Food for thought.  Both in the words . . . and the date. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unexpected Day At Home

Well, our game today (trip to Swamp River Ridge and back with a load) was called because of icy roads and high wind.  We were all suited up, packed and 'bout ready to go out the door when Chicken Mama called from the road (she had left 20 minutes before us) saying conditions were not good and she didn't want us to chance it today.

Papa Pea and I stood in the kitchen looking at each other and I said, "We really should do something outside since we're both dressed for it."  

He decided to go work on our hiking/snowmobiling/snowshoeing loop on the back of our property.  It suffered a lot of blow down damage over the summer (always does) and we never got around to cleaning it up this past fall.  So off he went and I went back to the wood shed and spent an hour or so chopping kindling in an effort to (start to) fill the kindling bin which I never got around to doing this past fall.  (We must have both really sloughed off this fall, eh?)

Then I came in and made a batch of Coco-Mint Cookies (Christmas-type thingies) that I haven't made in years.  By then hubby was back and walked out to get the mail since we probably aren't going out or needing to start a vehicle today.

I had made a big batch of potato soup day before yesterday and we had a lot left over.  I've gotten into the habit of adding veggies to the potato soup the second (or third) time around which I did for lunch today.  I added (frozen from the garden) broccoli and peas.  Frozen turkey meat from Thanksgiving and corn went into the pot, too.  Tasted pretty darn good!

But that isn't the soup I wanted to blog about today.  In answer to the request for the Cheddar-Cauliflower Soup recipe from my Unknown Nephew (I still don't know which nephew.  In California?  Or Illinois?  Or Florida?  Come on, fess up, Fella!), here it is.  (Dang, I know I wrote this recipe in a blog post before, but I sure can't find it in the archives.)


1 head cauliflower
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4-1 cup)
1 teaspoon dried parsley (fresh, if you have it, of course is better!)
2 cups chicken broth (about one can if you don't have homemade)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon  flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch each of nutmeg and white pepper
2 cups 1/2 & 1/2 (I've used whole milk and/or half cream and half milk)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Wash cauliflower and cut into bite-sized chunks.  In large saucepan, combine cauliflower, onion, parsley and chicken broth.  Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer til cauliflower is tender.

In a smaller saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, salt, nutmeg and pepper.  Cook stirring until bubbly.  Remove from heat and gradually blend in 1/2 & 1/2.  Return to heat and cook, stirring frequently, until very hot (but don't boil).  

Stir in the shredded cheese until melted.

Add cheese sauce to cauliflower mixture.  Makes about 6 cups.

The above picture isn't a fair depiction of the soup because it's the batch I was going to take out for our work day today, so it's cold and has been patiently waiting in the refrigerator right now.

The flavor of this soup improves the second day and it also thickens a little overnight so you may want to add a little water or milk when reheating it.

I use the same recipe substituting broccoli for the cauliflower.  Good stuff!

Okay, back I go out to my kindling project.  I love splitting kindling.  It's kinda mindless work, but provides good thinking time.  (For me, it's mostly thinking about not whacking my fingers with the hatchet!)     

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Somebody's Stealing My Hours

Okay, so I realize we're coming up on the shortest day of the year.  Dawn these mornings seems to take for-EVER to arrive while 4:30 p.m. and complete darkness arrives . . . right after lunch it seems.

So daylight is definitely in short supply.  But come on, folks, we have electricity and a lot of lights and lamps in our house so there's no reason I should feel as if these days are super-short and going by at warp speed.  But I do.

Once again I'd like to issue a public apology to those of you whose e-mails have been languishing in my In Box waiting for a reply. It WILL happen.  It's just that the herd of turtles (that is propelling me along these days) is not moving very fast.

Each day I promise myself I'm going to get caught up reading all of your blog posts and get back to regular posting myself, but one thing or another keeps pulling me away from doing so.  (Ha!  Right now it's the timer telling me to go take bread out of the ovenBack in two shakes . . . )

* * * * * * * *

We're still involved with moving Chicken Mama out of Swamp River Ridge and the Oatmeal Bread (cooling on the counter) and Cheddar-Cauliflower soup I made earlier is to be lunch for the crew of five we'll have working there tomorrow.  It's scheduled to be another big push day and we're hoping the 50% chance of snow doesn't fall on our parade.

Our wonderful neighbor to the east told us a week or so ago that he was offered an 8' x 12' solidly constructed wooden shed if he would move it off a client's property.  D said he'd be glad to set it up on his property and let Chicken Mama use it for storage.

We simply couldn't ask for better neighbors and friends than these folks.  We feel so blessed to have them in our lives.

So D and Papa Pea spent part of yesterday and a couple of hours this morning getting it up on  our flat bed trailer and moving it (very slowly and carefully) the 15 or so miles to D's property where it is ready for some of Chicken Mama's packed away things.  (I think she's moving some boxes in there as we speak.)

* * * * * * * *

I finally got some Almond Spritz cookies baked today to round out the Christmas cookie selection.  I swear spritz cookies are so temperamental that each year I should just plan on eating (quickly before anyone sees them) the first batch (or tossing it into the compost heap maybe even) because they come out so misshapen.  It takes me the whole batch of dough to get the "feel" of the press and be able to turn out something that actually is recognizable as a wreath or Christmas tree.  My spritz cookies are never pretty.

* * * * * * * *

Yessir, 'tis busy enough around here and I'm not finding adequate time in each waking day to do half of what I want to do.  The only explanation is that somebody is stealing my hours.  And I want it to stop!     

Sunday, December 16, 2012

From Decoration to Deer Food

I grew large pumpkins in the garden this past year to use as fall decorations.  'Twas a good pumpkin year and we had some real whoppers.

They added gorgeous autumnal color at the base of trees, by the garage door, our main entry door, on the deck, etc.

We had some cold, freezing weather early on and the orange pumpkins kept their color but turned into rock-hard, ceramic-like globes.

Then, drat and darn, there followed some unusually warm weather, the pumpkins thawed but could no longer maintain their lovely, round shapes.  Old age quickly set in and they started to sag and bag.  We decided they'd have to go to the compost pile soon.

One particular pumpkin that was at the base of a tree started showing signs of being gnawed upon.  At first we wondered what critter was helping himself to an animal version of pumpkin pie, but soon realized since the pumpkin was near a path the deer often use (and noticing deer prints all around the spot . . . well, duh), it was our deer population consuming the pumpkin.

So we gathered up all the rest of the pumpkins and took some out to our small hay field, and placed others by different deer trails.  (The chickens got a couple of them, too, which they seemed to enjoy.)

The ones placed out and about for the deer disappeared faster than we would have ever imagined.  There was quickly no evidence at all of the ones left out in the field.  Even the coarse stems were gone.

This picture of not much more than a little pumpkin pulp was taken late in the day.  It had been a nearly whole pumpkin that morning.

So my pumpkins served us well this year . . . decorations that we enjoyed for well over a month and then food for the wildlife.

Neat fact:  Did you know that pumpkins are a natural vermifuge?  That means they contain a substance that expels or destroys intestinal worms.  Works the same for humans, especially the pumpkin seeds.  (Sorry, hope you weren't eating while reading this.)     

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Will It End?

We don't watch much TV.  It's infrequently on during the day.  Yesterday morning I was home alone so popped on the little set in the kitchen to check out a couple of shows I haven't seen in a long time.

As with others hearing the horrible news, I was at first stunned, then felt physically ill, then plunged into a well of depression.

Not again.  Please, not again. 

 I watched the TV screen transfixed, tears streaming down my face while I became sadder and madder.

When will this end?

It's not about gun control.  Anyone who thinks it is, is refusing to look at reality.  It's about our sick, sick, sick society.

Fellow blogger Ruth Dixon over at Hope, Faith and Joy Farm wrote a post that says it better than I can.  You can read it here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Not to Worry . . .

Many thanks to all of you who have inquired as to my health.  I totally understand why you might question it.  (Oh.  Were you speaking of physical health?)  I mean I haven't put up a blog post in over a week which is an unusual rarity for me.  ("Unusual rarity" . . . my mom was fond of saying this because she had a friend who used the phrase frequently and didn't understand why it caused people to do a mental shake of their head.)

Admittedly, I've been in a no-post rut.  Not only haven't I been posting, but I haven't even been reading (gasp!) or commenting on favored blogs.

* * * * * * * *

We're still involved in The Great Moving Adventure with Chicken Mama, although I have nothing to complain about because she's the one carrying the big burden on that.  (I'm just carrying boxes.  Hahahahaha!)

The above is an old snowmobile trailer that Chicken Mama wanted to keep.  Papa Pea pulled it home on his last trip out to get a load.  It made it the whole way . . . before one of the old, cracked and dilapidated tires went flat as a pancake.  What luck on that one.

* * * * * * * *

My temporary lack of blog enthusiasm may have a lot to do with the time of year.  I do know I'm feeling emotionally and physically exhausted.  Just plain TAH-red and lacking the oompf to do what needs to be done.  I have the urge to fill the wood box, lock the door and hibernate for a couple (or three) months.

It seems that so many people are going through tough times right now.  When someone says, "Did you hear what happened to (fill in the name)?" I want to cover my ears and run the other way.  Too much sadness, stress and down-in-the-dump-difficulties for people to have to deal with.

* * * * * * * *

Well.  Not good to dwell on the negative.  I think if those unreliable, wayward Christmas elves would just show up and get going on baking some Christmas cookies, things might start to look up around here.  Yeah, that's what we need.  Christmas music on the stereo, and some holiday baking with a little sugar-sprinkle crunch on the floor.  (I so remember that sound from when I had a little helper exuberantly shaking sprinkles on the cookies.)

* * * * * * * *

On the weather front, we didn't get the big dump of snow that was forecast for northern Minnesota this past weekend.  It went south of us where some areas got as much as 17".  Seems storms going to the south of us is happening a lot these past several winters.  What's with that?  We did get about 3" though which helps to brighten the landscape and give a boost to holiday spirit.

* * * * * * * *

Again, thanks to those of you who wondered why I disappeared.  Rest assured that other than having a case of blog block, I'm just hunky-dory.  And if all goes as planned, I will get some Christmas cookies baked today.  With or without the assistance of elves.    

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Didja Ever . . .

Didja ever spend a couple of days in a row away from home thinking all the while of what you were going to do when you could be back at home and actually do all the things you were mentally listing?

But then when that day at home arrives, you walk aimlessly around and around the house with absolutely no direction and seemingly lacking the ability to do what you know you have been planning on doing?


Fine then!  I'll suit up, go to town and get a few errands done.  Maybe when I return, my head will be screwed on tight, the cobwebs will be gone, and I'll be able to function.

Here's hoping!

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Think I Could Be A Hermit

Good thing we're retired or we'd never be able to keep up this pace of life.

Thanksgiving decorations are down and tucked away for another year.  My house that was so clean and sparkly a week ago is not so clean and sparkly now.  Christmas decorations are . . . well, 50% done if I stretch the truth a little.  Hope no one pops in to check out the look I've currently got going 'cause they'd say to themselves, "Hmmm.  Looks like she tried . . . and missed."

Wednesday night we got a scary call in the middle of the night which started some stress and scrambling but, I'm very happy to say, ended a lot better than expected.  (Heck, what's a potentially serious injury thrown into all the rest of the hubbub currently going on?)

We've been traveling 404 miles back and forth (okay, it's not that far . . . just feels like it) to daughter's old place helping her move out.  We had a "party" out there yesterday with good friends who helped with willing hands and strong backs, not to mention excellent packing abilities.  Got a lot done but worked 99% on outside stuff and everyone had tingling fingers and toesies at one point or another.  (Don't think the temp ever hit twenty above.)  Got back here near civilization in total darkness and unloaded by headlights.

Off for a moving day again today.  I see we got another inch of snow over night.  Hope it doesn't add to the slipperiness of daughter's 4-1/2 mile winter driveway we need to navigate on the way in and out.

Tomorrow will be a catch-up day here at home.  My favorite seed catalog came in the mail yesterday so I'll have to have hubby hide it from me until I get the holiday decorations finished.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is That A Moose On The Loose?

Actually, it's a couple of 'em.

Tramp 2 of Tramp's Camp noticed the bookends on the bookshelves in the picture of the Christmas wall hanging in my last post.  She commented they looked interesting and wanted to know more about them.

They are a pair of moose head bookends made as a housewarming gift for us some sixteen years ago by our good friend and carpenter helper, B.  Whenever she notices them these days, she grimaces and says she wishes I'd toss them.

B does beautiful, intricate wood work of all kinds and I think she made these as kind of a joke and didn't realize I would love them and display them forever.

So, toss them?  No way!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fun Projects

My long "after Thanksgiving weekend" was great!  I quilted and knitted mostly and it felt wonderful.  It was curious (and velly intellesting!) to note that I had three good nights of sleep . . . Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  No waking in the middle of the night and lying staring at the ceiling for a couple/three hours.  (Hmmm . . . it may behoove me to give some thought to the implications of that.)

Here's my new Christmas wall hanging in place and ready for the holidays.  It could have been a little larger for the space, but I'm very happy with it.

I did mostly hand quilting on it . . . 

. . . except for the machine meandering stitching on the light colored inner border.

I also worked on my knitted afghan.  I'm a smidge bit over halfway done with the second of the four strips.  Funny how when you put in blocks of time on a project, you can really see some progress.  (Ahem.)

Yesterday I got around to getting out my blue sweater and working on it.  Finished the first sleeve and have the second one pretty close to done.

Not only have I been sleeping better but I've found that giving myself "permission" to do things that feed my soul are making me feel better (well, duh, good sleep alone does wonders!) and I also have a strong suspicion that I'm not such an old grouchy she-bear to be around.

Such a win-win situation this is that by heck or by golly, I'm going (to try really, really hard) to stop listening to that nasty little voice in my head that keeps telling me I should be doing tasks and chores the MUST BE DONE.  (Insert loud, crashing thunder and lightning.)  To that voice I now  say, "Piffle!"

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

On a totally different subject, I do believe winter has arrived in northern Minnesota.  Our overnight low was 10 above zero with a wind blowing.  It's going to be even colder tonight because it's just now 4:45 and the temp is already down to 12 degrees.  We have about 6" of snow cover on the ground and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon.

This is the first year in a long time that we've had much of any snow before Christmas, but it feels kinda good.  As Papa Pea said yesterday, "Well, I guess there are a few outside projects I can cross off my list until spring."

That's what I love about the very definite change of seasons in our part of the country.  Now if we could just learn to go with the flow, learn to live more with the seasons, I think we'd be a lot better off.  If we would really take the few months of winter to relax, rest and rejuvenate (maybe even a little hibernation?), I think we'd be in much better shape and have lots more energy for the spring/summer/fall seasons.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sneak Peek

Just have to sew the hanging sleeve on the back of my new Christmas wall hanging, give it a good press and it will be done!

More later today.  Or tonight.  Or . . . 

Hope you're all having a good weekend.  I am!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Full Steam Ahead to a Perfect Weekend

After the Thanksgiving festivities ended last night, I decided I was going on a mental health/handwork break for the next three days.  And the weather couldn't be more conducive to just that!

We got our first snow of the season over night!  Only about 3" but lots of blowing and a few drifts around and about the house and out buildings.  Temp dropped to the low 20s and we're supposed to stay there (during the day . . . into the low teens at night) for the next week.  Hubby made a trip up to the storage loft first thing this morning to bring down our heavy Sorel footwear.

I think this is the first year in quite a few that we've had snow cover before Christmas.

Now it really feels like time to get these guys and the rest of the fall/Thanksgiving decorations packed away and bring out the Christmas things.  Hubby and I even came to an agreement as to where to put a little tree this year.  The previous location is no more because of the remodeling.

I have oodles of leftovers (a BIG advantage to hosting Thanksgiving Dinner) to package up for the freezer.  We both really like turkey and will have no trouble using every last little bit of it.  The turkey carcass and all least desirable parts are simmering on the stove this morning to make several containers of rich broth.  Can you smell the divine aroma?

Christmas music is playing on the stereo and I'm heading into my quilt room.  My new holiday wall hanging is sandwiched . . . but not one stitch of quilting has been done on it.  I hope to make big progress on that particular project within the next few days.  And I'd like to finish up the binding on the holiday potholders I'm making for little gifts.  And complete the knitting on my blue sweater.  And quilt the new holiday shower curtain I started (how many?) years ago.  And lie on the couch and read.  And watch that Netflix movie I've had for two weeks.  And give myself a much needed pedicure.  And . . .

Bye.  Gotta go start having fun!     

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Wish

Times they are a'changin'.  At least weather-wise for sure.

Here's another Thanksgiving that I was (perhaps foolishly) hoping we could ice skate on the pond.  Not going to happen.  Not even close.  Our day time temperatures have consistently been in the 40s and dropping into the 30s overnight, but many nights not even freezing.

Okay, so the mild weather thus far this November is something to be thankful for.  None of us around here are spending great amounts on heating fuel whether it be gas, oil or wood.

There is no snow on the ground.  We haven't even had a light covering yet.  Haven't had to spend time moving snow.  No ice even to contend with this early winter season.  That's something not to be overlooked when being thankful.

Growing up in Illinois I can remember many Thanksgivings with enough snow on the ground for us kids to go out and play in.  Likewise in the late 70s and early 80s up here in northern Minnesota.  By this time of year we were often well into winter time.  Hubby just today reminded me of one Thanksgiving night when the temperature plummeted to 25 degrees below zero.  Times they are a'changin'.

I'm thankful to be able to spend the day tomorrow with family and friends in a warm, secure home.  I'm not forgetting to be thankful that we have the wherewithal to purchase the food (or have it tucked away in the pantry) we will eat.

My Thanksgiving wish for you all is that you get to spend it with loved ones in a way that is enjoyable, relaxing and happy.

My Thanksgiving wish for myself (selfish little bugger that I am) is that next year, somebody else makes dinner.  This year (and not for the first time recently) I'm just plumb-done tired of all the preparations involved.  As soon as I post this, I'm going to write myself a (strongly worded) note to put in my planner for next November as a reminder to orchestrate things differently next year.

Wonder if I could arrange for ice on the pond, too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

It Held!

Ah, yes, it's the little things in life.  Could hardly wait to hang the door valance and half-curtain this morning.

All is right with the world.  (Ha, don't we wish!)  Our cobbled together curtain rod hanger job seems to be firmly attached to the blankety-blank thin metal, hollow-cored door, and my sewing project of yesterday is officially finished.

So tell me true.  That outside door off the living room (yeah, I know, strange situation anyway) now looks like a kitchen door, right?

I'm hoping it will look better when I paint the door (it's only been primed) once I pick out a color.  A color that will go with the color of the living room furniture.  When I get the living room furniture.  Someday. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Sewing Sunday

I spent most of the day today making valances for the big south facing windows in the living room and a valance and half curtain for one of the doors.

Valances and a simple half curtain are truly easy to make, but require miles and miles of straight stitching which always seems as if it should go faster than it does.  (And don't cha just hate it when you sew for nine feet . . . with no bobbin thread?)

It's amazing how a simple valance can soften up not only the windows but the whole room.

We also have blinds for this expanse of windows.  They had to be taken down for the remodeling in the living room when that was started over a year ago.  When we went to put them back up yesterday, uh-oh!  Do you think we could find the mounting brackets for them anywhere?  We looked and looked and looked to no avail.  Soooo frustrating!  They should have been in a baggie taped to the blinds.  Should have.  Weren't.

This is Papa Pea working on installing the hangers for rods for the valance and half curtain on this metal outside door.  Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy, was that a challenge.  We got it done, but I'll just say it involved more tools than you would have thought possible and some super-strength glue to install four little hangers.  Hubby decreed that I should not even think about touching the hanging hardware until tomorrow morning.  Yessir!  Far be it from me to mess things up at this point!  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Feeling Holiday-ish

I've been thinking about mixing up Christmas cookie doughs and stashing them away in the freezer.  I've found I like making several different kinds of cookies on one mess-up-the-kitchen-for-a-good-cause day when I can just bake, bake, bake rather than having to mix up a dough and then bake the cookies.

You'll notice I said I've been thinking about mixing up Christmas cookie doughs.  It hasn't actually happened yet, but with Thanksgiving coming up in less than a week (eeeek!), I am starting to get a titch of a holiday feeling.

In the bits of time stolen here and there when I've been hiding in my quilt room, Christmas themed potholders have been appearing.  I tell ya, I get one set done and it gives me an idea for another.  I can't seem to stop.  No new fabric has been purchased for the potholders.  Each one can be made from small pieces of leftover material from my Christmas fabric bin.  I still have the bindings to do on all of them so no pictures yet.

A while back I started working on a new quilted piece to hang on the wall for the holidays.  The only Christmas-y one I have was made for Papa Pea's classroom when he was teaching.

It's large, I like it and I'm proud of the way it came out . . . it's got a lot of applique work on it (what was I thinking?) . . . but it does look a little more juvenile than I want to hang in the house.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  The new piece I had in mind was going to be a combination of a couple of patterns I saw and liked.  I never got very far with it before I decided it wasn't going to turn out as I had imagined (funny how that happens, isn't it?) and I lost interest in it.

So I started going through pattern books again and found a pattern for a four foot square tree skirt that appealed to me.  Fortunately (yippee!), the book also included a variation for a smaller 24" x 24" version that could be used as a table topper or wall hanging.  (The little book I found the pattern in is Snowshadows by Kathryn Squibb and Deborah Jacobs.)

I've gotten this far on it and am really pleased.  It gets another border around the edge and it will be ready to sandwich and quilt using a combination of machine and hand quilting.  At least that's what I'm thinking of at this point.  With luck I'll have it finished in time to hang after the Thanksgiving decorations come down.

In the meantime, if any of you are of the mind to get out your cattle prod and remind me I don't have time to lollygag around on finishing this one, it might be appreciated!   

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Harker's Body Shop

Jane, of Hard Work Homestead, wrote a comment to my last post which detailed all we had to go through to get our smooshed high-sided trailer brought back to life.  Jane wrote:

"Hum, I feel like I could use a little resurrection
myself.  A little fix to my frame, bring in my sides.
Breathe some new life into me. 
Can I get an appointment with you 'cause my
wagon has really been draggin' . . . "

Jane's words brought some pleasant memories back to me from long ago.

This tale started way back before I was born.

My mom, her five sisters and one brother were born and raised in a little house in a typical residential area in a town in northern Illinois.  In the first half of the 1900s there were no big malls or even anything resembling a strip mall or big box store anywhere to be seen.  Privately owned and operated businesses were interspersed right within the residential neighborhood.  Often there was a small grocery store (the only one the people in the surrounding houses ever used) on the corner of the block.  The neighborhood in which I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s had a funeral home across the street from us, a grocery store one house down and a store that sold wallpaper and house paints in the next block.

So it wasn't at all unusual for my mom's family to live next door to Harker's Body Shop when she and her siblings were growing up.

Uncle Frank, the only male child of the seven siblings, was first-born in the family and used to complain mightily about being the only boy among six sisters.  The family wasn't well to do financially so Uncle Frank went to work sweeping floors (literally) at Harker's Body Shop when he was thirteen.

Harker's at that time was a small establishment and did a little of everything having to do with vehicles.  They did mechanical work and sold tires along with doing all types of body work including repainting cars.  A one-stop service store for your car.

Being a very willing, hard worker, Uncle Frank slowly worked his way up in the business (he never worked anywhere else) and eventually ended up owning Harker's which had grown substantially into a much larger establishment that specialized in vehicle restoration.  He chose to not change the name of the business so it was always Harker's Body Shop.

So, in a way, Harker's was a very real part of my close-knit, extended family when I was growing up.  (I have to admit it caused a bit of jealousy when I became a teenager and got my driver's license because the only car available to me -- on not very frequent occasions, I might add -- was our family's 1956 Chevy.  Uncle Frank's two kids, a boy my age and a girl a couple of years younger, had sole access to their own snazzy cars.  [Can you say Jaguar or MG?]  Uncle Frank would take cars in as a total wrecks and then painstakingly restore whichever one his kids wanted to have as their own.  Me?  Envious?  Nah, what makes you ask?)

Anyway, whenever anyone in the family (usually my mom or one of her sisters) would have any kind of an ailment, they would say, "Somebody call Harker's and make an appointment for me to get in for a tune-up."  Or if one of my aunts was seen walking across the floor with a hitch in her get-a-long, someone was sure to comment, "Looks like you'd better get in to Harker's for some realignment."

I can remember my youngest aunt sitting at our kitchen table after giving birth to her fifth child, laying her head down on crossed arms and saying, "Call Harker's for me.  I'm sure my valves are stuck." 

One of the times my mom came up here to Minnesota for a visit, she was sweeping the kitchen floor and collecting the debris in a metal dustpan.  I heard her say, "Uh-oh!"  I asked what the problem was and she said, "I think I'd better take this dustpan home with me and get it into Harker's."  I was puzzled so asked why and she replied (Mom was a hefty gal), "'Cause I just stepped on it."

Silly little memories, I know, but when Jane alluded to needing some body work done (which I know for a fact she is NOT in need of) and maybe a tune-up, it brought back these memories.

I don't even know if Uncle Frank's business exists anymore.  Probably not.  Uncle Frank, my mom and all of her sisters are gone now, too.  But back in the day, our family sure got a lot of nonsensical mileage out of Harker's Body Shop.