Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow? What Snow?

The weather forecasters did it again. After warning for two days that we had a 90% chance of snow over night last night and a 100% chance of heavy snow today . . . they seem to have missed their mark. Again.

We woke to no snow this morning. High winds though and I kept thinking that if we had some snow with the winds, it might look something like an old-fashioned blizzard.

The temp has been waffling around 32-33 degrees all day. And we have had some light snow coming down for a few hours now but it melts as soon as it hits the ground.

Snow is sliding off roofs and icicles are dripping. I sure hope all this doesn't freeze and make an bad imitation of a huge ice skating rink for us to navigate on.

I suppose if the temperature drops, we could get some accumulation of snow yet, but for the time being, it's just very damp, windy, gray and bone-chilling cold out there. Nasty.

And drat and dang, my raised garden bed frames are starting to poke up through the snow we got a couple of days ago.

So don't be worried that the Peas are having to shovel their way out of the house to do chores. It'll be more like we'll be having to dig out our mud boots to slosh through the slush!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another Snowstorm Warning

We're expecting to get some more snow starting later tonight and all the way through tomorrow (Wednesday) until 6 p.m. But I can't help but wonder if anyone really knows what's going to happen because depending on the source you check out, we're told to expect 4 to 14" by the end of the storm heading our way. Hmmm, would I want to shovel 4" if I had the choice or 14"? Quite a bit of difference, wouldn't you say?

Chicken Mama, who seems to have a knack for reading radar weather maps, says most of the storm and snowfall is going to be south of us. (Frankly, I'll be a little disappointed if that is what happens.) I guess we'll just have to wait to see what actually comes to pass.

But juuuust in case, Papa Pea went to the farm today to pick up fresh milk and cream . . .

. . . and we filled the wood box on the porch . . . um, ah, plenty full!

A short while ago, I got a new post up on my quilt blog. Go take a look if you would like to do so.

See ya after the snowstorm!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lowly, Lovely, Iron-Filled Lentil

In the comments section of my post earlier this morning, Sparkless over at Madness from the Brink of Insanity said she could use a good lentil soup recipe. I'm almost positive I posted this recipe a year or so back, but do you think I can locate it? Nope. (I know . . . here comes another lecture from my dear daughter on the wisdom of labeling my posts. Bad, Mama Pea, bad. Sigh.)

I had never even seen a lentil until I married into my husband's family. His mom cooked them often because a niece of hers who stayed with them frequently when she was growing up had been diagnosed as anemic and told she should eat a lot of lentils for their iron content. Whether lentils are nutritious or not (they are), I found I loved the taste of them and have enjoyed them prepared in many ways over the years.

But back to the soup. This recipe is super-easy to throw together, very flavorful and I make it often. It freezes well so I always make a giant pot of it and store it in quart containers in the freezer. The original recipe was found in "Laurel's Kitchen," the 1978 Edition, and I've adapted it a bit. I've probably gone through about a ton and a half of lentils in the past however-many-years making this soup.


2-1/2 cups lentils
10 cups water or vegetable or chicken or beef broth
(Its' still a yummy soup made with just water.)
1 medium chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 carrot sliced
1 rib of celery sliced
1 medium potato cubed
2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
Good sprinkle of black pepper
2 teaspoons vinegar, apple cider or wine

Put all of the ingredients except the vinegar in a large soup pot, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, stirring now and then until the lentils are very soft, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves, add the vinegar and serve. Serves 8-10.

This soup is excellent served with homemade croutons.

Being from "Laurel's Kitchen," it was originally a vegetarian recipe, and a darn good one. But if you want to add ham chunks, sliced sausage (as ours had today much to the chagrin of Chicken Mama [the non-meat eater] who popped in for lunch) or some other meat, that's fine, too.

If you have any left to reheat the next day, the flavor is even better.

Sparkless, I hope you give this a try and that your family likes it.

Glorious Monday

Although I didn't get to go the twenty miles down the road to meet with my friends for a morning of hand work because the roads were not in very good shape (whine, whine), the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day with all the new snow.

Who wouldn't be energized by all that beautiful solar energy streaming in through the windows?

This was taken plowing our driveway this morning. All in all, we got about 11+" of snow. Not a great huge amount as far as snowstorms go, but the largest amount we've seen this winter.

On the way plowing out the driveway, four or five deer bounced across in front of the truck. Then about two-thirds of the way back in on the driveway toward the house, these guys were spotted in the woods. They didn't move a muscle when I got out of the truck, and walked around to the back of it to snap their picture. They sure are beautiful critters, aren't they?

Papa Pea is still out finishing up the hand shoveling. I hear him on the roof as we speak. I've got lentil soup heating on the stove for lunch. I think I'll make some croutons, which he loves, to go with the soup.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Some Snow!

No, we're not snowed in, but we did get a nice amount . . . finally! We have somewhere around 7" with a bit of drifting. It started snowing about mid-morning and looked as if it was going to stop right about the time it got dark, but now at a little after 7 p.m. it's snowing again. According to the forecast I just saw, we're to get maybe 2-4" more by 2 a.m. at which time they say the snow will be over.

It was coming down so hard early this afternoon that we lost Internet access for several hours. I guess the signals just couldn't see to plow through the snowflakes!

This was taken through our living room window around noon time. The temperature was in the high 20s all day so it's a wet snow and with the wind a lot of our windows are plastered with snow.

The white ground area in the right half of this picture is where my raised garden beds are. It's the first time this winter they've been totally covered.

The kitchen window over the sink is tucked in a little nook protected outside on one side by the entrance to the back porch and the wall of my pantry on the other. It hardly ever gets any snow in there but you can see how much snow the wind blew in today. The window box outside the window has evergreen boughs stuck in it for winter decoration and they are covered. To the left is an old plastic thermometer, and it's nearly hidden by snow, too.

We went out between 2 and 3 p.m. to do some preliminary shoveling of paths, cleaning off vehicles and getting in wood.

Above is a shot into the woods on the road back to the wood shed.

And another taken in the same area. A real winter wonderland with the snow coating and clinging to everything.

I can hardly wait to see what the scenery will look like by tomorrow morning. Snow, snow, snow. Yippee!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Not a Miracle, But Close

I just finished putting a new post up on my quilting blog. (Quick, someone get Karen some water. I think she's fainted!)

As I stated in the post, even though I've wanted to get back to doing posts over there, I've hesitated because of fear that I wouldn't be able to do a good job of posting with regularity.

All I can say is that I'll do the best I can because I miss sharing my quilting with all of you and miss seeing what you've been doing in the way of hand work.

So if you're interested, take a hop over to Mama Pea Quilts and leave a comment so I know there are at least a couple of you still interested in my quilted meanderings. (Get it? Meanderings? Quilted meanderings? Pretty bad, huh?)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Guess What?

I spent the WHOLE day yesterday in my quilt studio! The whole day.

It was hubby's suggestion (have I been THAT awful to live with lately?) and he made the day so easy for me.

We had granola for breakfast (have I mentioned he does NOT like cold cereal?), he made us smoothies for lunch (mine was delivered to the quilt studio and I leisurely slurped it there while working) and then he made us fried egg sandwiches for dinner. AND he did all the dishes that accumulated throughout the day.

I tell ya, it felt like one of the best days I've had in a long time. I plan on posting what I got accomplished later today. I had oodles of fun and finished a baby quilt (except for the binding) that has been half quilted for ages!

Now what do I have to do to get a repeat of the day . . . oh say, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and alternate Sunday of each week? (Greedy little bugger, aren't I?)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Requested Cookie Recipe

I promised a couple of you I would post the recipe for the Molasses Refrigerator Cookies I made yesterday. So here goes.

They are a little different because of the strong molasses flavor that dominates, but as both of the two individuals who repeatedly dipped their paws in the container of them on my kitchen counter said, "These kinda grow on ya."


3/4 cup butter
1 cup molasses
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and blend in molasses. Beat in egg. Add flour and baking powder and blend well. Stir in the raisins.

Divide dough roughly in half and shape each half into a roll about 12" long. Roll the "logs" in the chopped nuts trying to coat them evenly. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate about 12 hours or overnight or freeze for approximately 3 hours.

Cut into 1/4" slices and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks and store in an air-tight container.

So give 'em a try and see what you think. Remember molasses is high in iron and will give you the strength to get up and do what needs to be done! (Apologies to Garrison Keillor and Buttermilk Biscuits.)

It Finally Snowed!

Just a short post with some pictures taken at first light this morning to prove we actually got some snow overnight. Hooray!

When I got up for a pit stop (shouldn't have had that glass of wine) at 2 a.m., the snow must have just started because the deck wasn't even covered then. I think we had gotten about 2-3" by the time we got up this morning.

The birds were out full-force gobbling down their breakfast.

Mr. Squirrel was also looking for something to fill his belly.

When we went to bed last night the temp was 31 degrees. Exactly the same when we got up this morning. So you know the snow was very wet . . . which made for lovely scenery this morning as the snow was clinging to every branch. Now at noon, the temp is 32.9 and the snow has stopped . . . and probably will be melting through the rest of the day. We'll take whatever moisture we can get right now. Snow is poor man's fertilizer, as the old saying goes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Got Plenty of Nuthin' . . .

Last night I decided to make today a marathon baking and cooking day while getting the laundry done. I feel like I put in a marathon all right but didn't get as much done as I had anticipated. (One of these days I'll have to start living in reality.)

Although I pulled recipes for five different kinds of cookies, I only got two made.

A batch of good, ol' Chocolate Chippers.

I also made a batch of Molasses Refrigerator Cookies which I haven't made in a coon's age. Maybe longer. You form the dough into "logs," roll them in chopped pecans and refrigerate them overnight or put them in the freezer for a couple of hours which is what I did.

Then they get sliced and baked. They have a cup of molasses in them and I just love 'em. But if you don't care for molasses, run the other way.

I got two different batches of soups made, packaged in quart containers and squirreled away in the freezer. I still have a big pot of Navy Bean Soup simmering on the stove right now.

Laundry is all washed and dried. It isn't folded or put away yet, and ironing needs to be done also. Maybe yet tonight. Maybe not.

Long about two o'clock this afternoon I was ready for a fresh air break so hubby and I hiked the loop up in our woods in back of us.

Normally at this time of year the snow in the woods would be measured in feet. About half the trail has no snow as shown in the picture above.

We saw some wolf scat which I decided not to take pictures of (you're welcome), but I couldn't resist showing you these deer droppings. The whole loop trail was littered with them! I don't think I've ever seen so many deer droppings before. Geesh. We must have a huge population of the critters in our woods right now.

Along with the wolf scat, we saw many wolf prints in the snow. The one above is next to my boot for size comparison.

Weather Bulletin: The good news is that the forecast is for a 100% chance of snow tonight. However, total accumulation is only to be 3-5". But we'll take whatever moisture we can get for the ground in the way of spring melt. We sure are going to need it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Landscape is Grayer than Yours . . .

This post is for my bloggy friend Sue who did a post this morning lamenting the shades of gray (or grey) she sees when looking out on her winter landscape.

Well, Sue, I think my pictures show that my little area of northern Minnesota beats yours in northern Michigan all to heck in the drab, gray (or grey), downright bleak-looking department.

This is a shot of some of my raised garden beds. Woebegone and bedraggled, for sure.

Here are our very attractive (not) solar panels facing straight east this morning. Do they see any sun? Anywhere? Please? Nope.

My blueberry bushes are down near the woods line where the snow is the deepest. But they aren't even covered with snow this year.

Wait! Do I detect a smidgen of color? Why yes! If you look closely, there is still a slight blush of reddish (okay, brownish) color left on this lonely apple clinging to a barren apple tree branch. Not quite as attractive as Sue's lovely blue roofs, but a little color nonetheless!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stop World, I Wanna Get Off

At this stage of my life, I should have all the time each day to do exactly what I want. (Obviously, I'm not doing something right.)

Earlier this week I started getting out and exercising each day (power walking) in an effort to perhaps lose some weight and definitely tone up some flab.

It's killing me.

I can't believe the muscles that are sore. Not just in the lower part of my body which you would expect, but should my rib cage and shoulders be stressed and strained, too? I am holding my arms in an upright position (you know, sort of like a boxer) and close to my body and working them as I waddle (I mean walk) along. Maybe I need to relax more as I'm waddling (I mean walking).

Also I have a feeling this more-than-I'm-used-to exercise is releasing some toxins from various hidey-holes in my body because since I got up this morning I've felt drugged and . . . well, just not very good. Oh, I tell ya, trying to stay in shape is H-E-!-!.

We got about 1/2" of snow overnight but the temp went back up in the high 30s today so all of it has melted. The new blog header photo I put up a couple of days ago is one I took back in 2009 and shows one heckuva lot more snow than we've seen this winter in our little portion of the county.

I'm even behind on blog reading and communication with a bloggy friend. Well, if truth were to be told, there is a list of people I need to make contact with before they start making inquiries as to whether I'm still among the living. Yes, it's that bad, and I'm that far behind.

I know! I'll quit my day job and declare retirement. I won't miss the salary, because there is none. Then I'll have all the time each day to do exactly what I want. Right?

(Obviously, I'm not doing something right.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Put on your thinking caps. I've got another question for you.

What is your "go-to" dinner when nothing from the freezer has been defrosted, you haven't had the time to even think about, let alone create, a healthy, nutritious meal, your creative juices are nowhere to be found, it's time to eat and you can actually hear stomachs growling? What do you serve for dinner that night?

My choice in this sad circumstance seems to be grilled cheese sandwiches. (I also hedge by always promising that I'll make popcorn later if this doesn't quite fill all the cracks and crannies.)

This post is actually very selfish on my part. I'm hoping that in the comments you all will share what you manage to get on the table under these same circumstances and that I'll pick up some wonderful ideas that *I* can use instead of my old standby of grilled cheese!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A New Home for Froggie

I listed all you dear readers who said you'd like to have my frog pattern that I blogged about last Saturday. I wrote your names in the order your comments came in and then numbered them 1 through 9.

Papa Pea was making himself an afternoon cup of java and was about to go up to his office (to hide from me, I think) when I told him his assistance was needed. I asked him to pick a number between 1 and 9, number 1 and number 9 included, of course.

Now I'm not even gonna suggest that there were some kind of male vibes flying through the air or anything like that, but the number he sang out was 5. And number 5 on the list was:

Tom of Worms-A-Crawling Farm! So, Tom, I'll get the pattern in the mail to you next time I croggle on into town and make a stop at the post office.

Congratulations, Tom, and thanks to all of you who entered this giveaway and/or commented with such interesting snippets of the sewing history in your families.

With Apologies . . .

It's not fair that any of you should have this awful picture of us inflicted upon you even one more time, but I had to show you the Valentine's Day card we got from our daughter this morning.

Across the top it says, "And you wonder why I turned out the way I did?"

Underneath the picture reads: "Happy Valentine's Day 2012 to my parental unit."

Then the last line is, "It takes a village . . . even if all the residents have escaped from the lunatic asylum!"

Ah yes, a sentimental card I will treasure forever!


P.S. My Valentine (aka Papa Pea) fixed breakfast for me this morning AND did the dishes afterwards! Wa-HOO!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crocheted Rag Rug Tutorial: Part Four

I finished my scrap rag rug this morning so I'll show you just two more small things you need to know (not that you couldn't have figured them out yourself) as the last steps to making your own crocheted rug.

Decide where you want to end your rug. I chose to put an all-blue border as the last round of my rug.

So I single crocheted right up to the starting blue single crochet.

Then I cut my fabric strip leaving about a 6" tail.

Next I'll put my hook through the starting blue loop, the one my left index finger is on in the picture above.

Hook is through that loop.

Hook your fabric tail and bring it through that first blue loop.

And then continue pulling the fabric right on through the top loop of the last single crochet you made. (The one that was on your hook.)

Continue pulling that 6" tail all the way through the loop.

This forms kind of a slip knot. Pull it tight.

Now we're going to flip the rug over and weave in that tail over and under any stitch loops you choose on the wrong side of the rug. (We're looking at the wrong side of the rug in the above picture.)

Weave it in and around through loops until you have only a small length of the tail left. Snip it off with scissors.

Now is the time to deal with the tail you've had on the back of the rug since first making the chain stitches we started with.

Weave this tail in on the back of the rug in the same way you just did the ending tail. Hidden and gone!

Then I took my rug to the ironing board and gave it a good steam pressing to coax it into a nice oval shape and to flatten any lumpy and bumpy sections.

Here's the finished rug. Final measurement is 23-12/" x 34-1/2".

I'm very happy with the way this "no rhyme or reason", scrappy colored rug turned out. I hope you'll be pleased with yours, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

View on the Roof

The situation on our roof was a smidge more "extreme" than I was led to believe (ahem) . . .

. . . but not disasterous.

Now, I'll give you one guess what happened when we got ourselves and all of the tools we thought we'd need up on the garage roof this afternoon. Yupper, the dang wind started blowing like heck again.

Papa Pea made the executive decision that we were not going to work that high off the ground in the frigid weather fighting gusts of nasty wind, so we did some temporary (please, please, please hold!) repairs until tomorrow when it's forecast to be much warmer and more condusive to remaining upright and working on a slanted roof. (How do people with metal roofs do it?)

Mother Nature, We Need To Talk

No, I'm not going to go on a rant this morning about our lack of snow this winter. (Although if I let myself, I could get stirred up about that.)

What I want to comment on is the increasing frequency of horrendous winds our area has been experiencing in the last couple of years.

The howling started again last night after dark and went until . . . ? I don't know as we both finally passed out in bed around midnight (although I have a fuzzy remembrance of Papa Pea getting up once after that and saying he was going to sit up a while to make sure everything was okay), and there was no wind this morning when we got up.

Why were we up until midnight? The chimney of the wood stove in the garage/workshop area blew down. Well, fortunately not all of it toppled because we had a good fire going in the stove at the time. Enough section of pipe was left on the roof that we were in no fire danger but we did lose the top two sections.

We knew the tall chimney was vulnerable to winds so earlier this winter we bought and Papa Pea installed a special chimney brace/support kit. It didn't hold as Mother Nature unleashed her high winds last night.

More to come later today when we go out to take pictures and put things back together.

So much for our Sunday day off . . .

* * * * *

I was about to post the above early this morning when we got a call from our friend B saying she had a large cedar tree blow down on the back of her house last night. It managed to hit all three of the roof lines. Her main concern was getting it off the roof without it twisting and hitting her L.P. tank. Her partner is currently out of town (feeling very frustrated he isn't home to help) and she asked if we could come lend a little assistance. So we threw what tools we thought might come in handy in the truck and took off.

After trimming off all the branches, it looked more manageable. That's Papa Pea with chainsaw and B leaning against the stump that was left. The tree was leaning toward an open space and shouldn't (famous last words) have hit the house but it must have twisted in the wind as it came down.

We're just now back home and happy to say the mission was accomplished. Now a little lunch and we'll go tackle our fly-a-way chimney.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Anybody Wanna Frog?

Years ago I was in a fabric shop with my list of needed supplies. Although I am not an impulse buyer, the second I saw the little stuffed frog up on a display shelf, I knew I had to have him.

Or rather I had to have the pattern to make him.

This finished fella is about 12" high and takes 16 oz. of fiberfill for stuffing.

All the pattern pieces and instructions are on this yard of material.

The pattern has lived for too long in my To Do box so I'd like to give it away to one of you.

Enter your name in the drawing by leaving me a comment on this post. Of course, I have to make the process interesting so in your comment, tell us all if your mother sewed. Can be as simple as a "yes" or "no" or you can elaborate if you wish.

My mom was a whiz at the sewing machine but not in the traditional give-me-a-pattern-and-some-fabric-and-I'll-sew-something way.

She worked outside the home in a professional setting and needed to dress nicely every day. However, she couldn't buy clothing "off the rack" because it would never fit her figure. She had a large bust and hips . . . but a very small waist. Although her figure was ample, it had the advantage of being very, very hourglass in shape. Because of this, she would purchase two or three outfits, bring them home and go directly to the sewing machine where she would proceed to tear the clothing apart and make the alterations necessary for them to fit her properly. And she was very good at it, too. She also had the talent for making slipcovers (with no pattern, of course) and reupholstering furniture.

So, wanna have this little project come to your house? Froggie would make a great friend for your toddler, an adorable gift for a newborn or a fun present for someone who has a thing for frogs!

If you'd like a chance to win this giveaway, leave a comment. I'll close comments Monday night, the 13th, when I shut off my computer . . . usually around 8 or 9 o'clock . . . and draw the winner on Tuesday.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Where's My Long Underwear?

We're battening down the hatches and putting an extra log on the fire tonight. The forecast is for a temp of -13 degrees tonight with a bit of a wind (of course) giving us a wind chill of 25-40 below tomorrow morning. (I always think of the kids waiting for the school buses in that kind of weather. Brrrr!)

A similar night is expected for Friday into Saturday morning also. Saturday is expected to warm up to 11 degrees above during the day.

I don't think we have to go anywhere off the property during the next couple of days so we'll wear triple layers and our ear-flap hats when outside doing chores.

(I think it's probably a good thing we don't have to go off the property looking like this, don't you?)

Is it winter now?

Supplies Running Low . . .

I went searching into the bottom of my freezer this morning looking for another container of fresh-frozen chives.

Oh, no! This is the. last. container! This ain't gonna last until the chives are up this spring, folks. I thought for sure I had more left than this one lonely little cup-size container.

They still look about as good as when I harvested them last May. Dried chives are super-expensive to purchase and with the two abundant chive plants I have in the garden, it's silly of me not to preserve them each year for winter's use.

I tried drying (dehydrating) them once, but what a chore that was. (Maybe that's why they're so expensive?) So I gave a go at freezing them and it's worked out so well that I put up lots of containers of them each spring. However, . . . and oops. I did not do enough this year. Note to self: This spring do about twice as many chives for the freezer.

One other little item I found while freezer diving today . . .

Near OCD labeler and dater of freezer packages that I am, I've always wondered how people could talk of coming up with packages of "mystery meat" from the depths of their freezers. But . . . um, well, uh, . . . seems I've had it happen to me. I frequently package up small amounts of meat like this because we don't eat much meat. I use it more for flavoring rather than a main entree. This package had no label, no date, no indication of what it might be. I let it defrost and upon examination . . . well, I'm still not sure what it is.

I think it looks most like chopped liver but if so, it was no where near the correct "filing" place for raw meat. Guess our granddogs will be getting a little treat of "mystery meat" soon.