Monday, November 25, 2013

Is It The Lack Of Daylight?

It's darn near scary the way I've been feeling and thinking I need more sleep lately.  Today around 2:30-3:00, I felt like I really, really needed a nap.  Now, I am NOT a napper.  You could most likely count the times I've taken a snooze of any kind in the middle of the day in the last umpteen years on one hand . . . without using the thumb.

So did I listen to my body this afternoon?  Of course not.  I didn't take a nap or even plop in a comfy chair or stretch out on the couch.  I had laundry to finish folding and putting away and a small basket of ironing to do.  I kept moving and must admit I felt a little revived.  Then around 4:30 I sat down in my quilt room to do some hand quilting until time to trundle on into the kitchen to rustle up some dinner.  Thirty minutes later, as soon as I got in the kitchen, I felt so tired again that it bordered on feeling uncomfortable/sickish.  I had very little appetite for dinner.  (What?!  NO APPETITE?  Call 911, she must be on her way out!)

Sitting at the table (trying to summon up enough energy to rise and do the dishes) after eating, I told hubby I didn't think I was going to be able to accomplish anything tonight except getting into my jammies and collapsing on the couch.

So what's wrong with this picture?  If it were summer time at 5:45 of an early evening, we'd still have four hours of daylight and I could/would accomplish a lot in that time.  Heck, this evening I could do lots of neat things before bedtime:

*  Bake an experimental recipe of new Christmas cookies
*  Make the batch of caramel corn I've been wanting to make since before Halloween
*  Clean, sort and rearrange my pantry (I love doing that!)
*  Order the gifts I've picked out for myself for Christmas from Papa Pea
*  Go play in my quilt room
*  Plan my garden for 2014

But let's face it.  This is the time of year for all of us to kick back and stop thinking about everything we could/should be doing.  When darkness falls at 4:30 in the afternoon, not only does my body register a signal that it's time to call it a day, but I need to learn to allow my mind to do the same thing.  We push enough in the spring, summer and fall.

Yep, gotta learn to live more with the seasons and go with the natural cycle of the year.

That settles it.  I don't care if it is only 6:31 p.m.  I'm going to bed.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lonely Whipped Cream Seeks Pudding

I had some whipped cream left in the refrigerator this morning (we ran out of pumpkin pie before we ran out of the whipped cream) so I decided to make some chocolate pudding for dessert tonight.  (Why did I make a pumpkin pie less than a week before Thanksgiving?  I have no explanation, but it was really good!)

Top each dish of pudding with a dollop of the leftover whipped cream, and it was a nice finish to tonight's dinner of fresh fish.  (Thanks to Chicken Mama for providing the fresh fish!)

The pudding recipe I made this morning is straight out of my More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre, published in 1976.  It's unique in that it calls for no eggs.  I've found this a go-to dessert when our chickens are molting around the first of the year and I ration every egg I get from them.

Here's the recipe:

Quick Chocolate Pudding
1/3 cup sugar or honey
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups milk

Combine above ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (8-10 minutes) stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon butter.

Serve warm (yuck) or cold (yum).  Makes 4-6 servings.  Very smooth and very good!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Quilting Day

In celebration of our first really cold, winter day, I stayed inside and quilted for the better part of the day.  (My kinda day!)

What did I work on?  The appliqued wall hanging that I'd like to have ready to hang for the Christmas season right after Thanksgiving.

It was way back in the first week of October that I started this project thinking I'd have plenty of time to get it done for this holiday season.  


Isn't it funny (so who's laughing?) how the seemingly little, everyday occurrences of life (some planned for, some not) eat up the hours each day so you never seem to end up with that smidge bit of free time you thought you would?

Bottom line, I just haven't had as much time to work on this quilt as I thought I would.  But today I did finally get the pieces for the top completed and put together.  It measures about 32" square.

Next I'll sandwich it with batting and backing and start the quilting.  I really want to hand quilt it which will take much longer than machine quilting but after putting in all the time for the hand work on the applique, hand quilting seems the way to go.

Will I have it done by the deadline I set for myself?  Most likely not.  But that's the way the cookie crumbles.  Life is still good . . . and I'm enjoying the creative process.  It'll get done when it gets done.

Maybe if we have more frigid days soon that are conducive to forgetting that old bugaboo of a To Do List and spending more days in my quilt room . . . 

P.S.  So how cold was it here today?  'Twas 4° when I padded out of the bedroom this morning a little after 5 a.m.  Our high of the day was 14° and now at 7:30 p.m. it's back down to 4° and dropping.  Gonna be a cold one tonight!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Blog Header Photo

Have you noticed my new blog header photo?  It's another picture taken by my talented daughter.  She labeled it "November's Tears" and although it's a very appropriate title, I don't think there is anything teary or sad about it.

I understand one could look at it as a damp and dreary depiction of the boreal forest in which we live, but to me it has a quiet, enveloping, soothing feeling . . . almost as if the woods is settling into itself in preparation for a long, restful, comfortable winter.  Come to think of it, maybe this annual period (what I tend to think of as "drab November") prepares us for our most closed-in, restful season.

As a present a couple of years ago, I asked for a framed reproduction of "November's Tears" and since then always hang it as part of my house decorations at this particular time of year.

Chicken Mama's portfolio contains many photographs that are outstanding, and though it's hard to choose, I do have to say this is my personal favorite.  It simply speaks to me.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Amazing Display

The past two days have been gray, wet and foggy which has done nothing to enhance our colorless November scenery.

Hubby and I were sitting at the kitchen table having brunch this morning and looking out at the stark and bare trees at the edge of the woods to our south.

We commented that this time of year between the brilliant colors of autumn and the sparkling blanket of winter's snow is certainly dreary and drab.

Our Sunday was winding down toward dusk when Papa Pea called to me, "You've got to come see this sunset!"

I grabbed my camera and . . . WOW!

This is what we saw, straight out of the camera.  Not much drab and dingy in that scene, is there?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thinking About Thanksgivings Past

Last night while doing dishes, I started thinking about Thanksgiving and how we will spend it this year.  That led me to thinking about the Thanksgivings of my childhood.

When I was growing up, my folks frequently hosted Thanksgiving Day at their house and a large turkey was the centerpiece of the meal.  (Do you always have turkey on Thanksgiving?  Or was/is your family brave enough to have something different such as . . . oh, say, ham?)

My parent's modest house did have a separate dining room with a table that had leaves which could be added to seat quite a few people.  Most often our guests were my mom's sisters, their spouses and kids that gathered for the feast.

We had a large archway from the dining room to the living room, and I took it upon myself to cut construction paper letters spelling out "Happy Thanksgiving," attach them to a string and fasten it from side to side of the archway.  (Such creative talent, huh?)  I did the same thing, with the proper greeting, of course, for Christmas, New Year's Eve, Easter, birthdays, etc.  (There was no stopping me if I could get hold of colored paper, glue and scissors.)

Back in that day in Illinois, we would sometimes have snow on the ground around Thanksgiving time.  (Yes, Virginia, we are experiencing global warming.  These days we're lucky if we get snow up here in northern Minnesota for Thanksgiving.)  That meant that after the big meal which was usually in early afternoon, we kids would bundle up and go outside to play in the snow.  Someone always got hit in the face with a snowball or got snow in their boots and ended up crying.  We all ended up soaked and cherry-cheeked.  Back inside and dried off, we played endless games frequently dividing up into small groups according to our ages and/or game playing abilities.  I can remember some of the games getting so wild that the adults put an end to our fun by separating us and insisting we take a rest period.

My dad was the one who always ate too much at our bountiful table and complained mightily about it.  However, relaxing in front of the TV with a football game and the rest of the male relatives soon relieved his discomfort.

I had one uncle who was apt to imbibe in too much of the start-of-the-holiday-season alcoholic spirits.  Being a naturally shy, kind person, the only effect upon him of his over indulgence was that he got very jovial and forgot his normally quiet nature for a couple of hours.

Back then there was still the clear delineation between male and female behavior and duties at such events.  The women left the table to clear things away and do the dishes in the kitchen.  I remember trying to eavesdrop on the women's sometimes "confidential" and hushed-toned conversations while the mountains of dishes were being washed . . . by hand, of course, as there were no automatic dishwashers then.  The aforementioned football watching males would have moved to the living room to . . . relax.  And perhaps stir themselves enough to put another log or two in the fireplace which in our house went virtually unused except at holiday time.

Speaking of that fireplace, I enjoyed my very first taste of liquor in front of it.  I don't know exactly how old I was although I'm guessing I was in my early teens.  My dad was a lover of Mogen David Concord Grape wine, and I constantly pestered him for a taste of it.  One year he gave me a shot glass full of the wine and told me to go sit in the living room and sip it slowly.  This was at Christmas time, and there was a fire crackling in the fireplace.  I sat down with my wine in front of the warm fire and felt quite grown up and special as I slowly consumed it.  It was a family joke for a long time (brought up frequently to my embarrassment) that I was found stretched out on the rug in front of the fire, sound asleep with the empty shot glass by my side.  (Truth be told, alcohol still affects me the same way.)

My one regret of moving up here to Minnesota so far away from my large extended family is that . . . we found ourselves so far away from  family.  In the past many years, we've gone "back home" for a couple of Thanksgivings, family has come here, we've had friends to our house and we've gone to celebrate the holiday at friends' homes.  Some Thanksgivings have been a pleasant, quiet day with just Papa Pea, our daughter and me.

Not to say that I haven't spent many enjoyable Thanksgiving Days as an adult, but I think there's a special quality about the day (perhaps all holidays) that we remember from when we were children.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mother Nature Can Be Cranky

Our early morning temperature was a mere 9°.  That's our coldest so far of the season.  But we had lovely sunshine so it didn't feel too bad.

Then about mid-morning, the wind started blowing.  And, boy howdy, did it blow!

When we were eating lunch, we heard a "noise" out somewhere around the east side of the garage and wondered what had blown off, down, or away.  Upon investigation, we found the insulator on the electric pole where our grid power comes into the house was twisted off its moorings and hanging halfway down the pole.  We also found our phone lines (yes, we still have a land line phone, dinosaurs that we are) had been ripped out of the box attached to the house.  Peering through the woods, we could see electrical lines some of which were drooping in an unusual formation and some were lying on the ground.

About that time our neighbor on the east came hustling over through the road we keep open between our two places.  "I knew I should have taken down that big spruce!  I just KNEW I should have taken it down!" were the self-chastising words coming out of his mouth.  He was in the middle of a machinery crisis which frustrated him even more since he couldn't stop everything and help.

The wind had blown the tree over onto the lines coming from his property to ours and created the tangle of electrical wires and phone lines.

Being Veteran's Day, we couldn't rouse anyone at our public utilities office or our phone provider.  Long story short, we called one of the linemen who lives within a couple miles of us, told him the situation and asked who we should call to report the problem since everyone seemed to be unavailable on this holiday.  Good guy that he is, he said he'd be over as soon as he could to check out the situation.

This is the trunk of the toppled tree left after Kind-Hearted Lineman and Papa Pea got it cut up enough for repair of the damage.

It's hard to get the perspective of how big this lovely old spruce was, but it was a big 'un.

The surprising thing was that neither we nor our neighbors lost grid power during this little incident.  (We were operating on solar energy when it happened, but tested grid power and were happy to find it still working.)  

Papa Pea finally was able to get a live body (albeit one in India) to talk to about the sad state of our phone lines and the phone being inoperable. We were told a repairman would be out to look at it "sometime" tomorrow.  Never one to be stymied by a situation, my dear hubby fiddled with the wires until he got them jury-rigged so that we now have phone service again.  (We're still hoping the phone repairman makes an appearance tomorrow though.)

A beautiful, sunny, clear day and then Mother Nature decides to add high winds to the mix . . . and the picture changes.  You certainly can't be prepared well enough for any and all kinds of weather nature throws at you, although good neighbor D really wishes he had taken that big spruce tree down before Mother Nature did.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Great Blogs, Not Enough Time

I have been finding more great blogs lately.  And it's frustrating the heck out of me.

I try to keep current with my core group of favorite blogs and even manage to comment on them often.  There are others that I read and really want to comment on, but time constraints keep me from doing so.

Just recently I've stumbled onto even MORE good writers penning (key punching?) educational, inspiring, uplifting, funny posts and I want to follow them, too.

Could I spend all day sitting here at the computer enjoying the blogs I currently follow, adding more to my Favorites listing and searching out even more than that?  You bet.

However, my life would quickly become severely unbalanced, and my derriere would spread in direct proportion to time spent on my little, (nearly) antique secretary's chair with wheels on which I am perched.

Time, time, I need more time!  But if I had it, I'd only use it and then complain about wanting to gain more.  Back into frustration mode.  Silly girl.

Friday, November 8, 2013

And the Winner Is . . .

Written in my less than steady hand this Friday morning . . . 

Little Homestead in Boise, please go over to my Contact Me box on the right hand side bar and send me your mailing address so I can get the little Thanksgiving wall hanging off to you asap.

Methinks there will be more giveaways coming up of quilted pieces I made for my husband's elementary school classroom.  No sense in keeping most of them, and I'd like for someone else to enjoy them a bit.

Thanks to all of you who entered your name in this drawing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Anyone Want This?

It's a small Thanksgiving themed wall hanging I made for Papa Pea's 3rd grade classroom many years ago.

It measures 10" across by 25-1/2" long . . .

. . .  and the three framed squares depict teddy bears dressed in pilgrim garb.  

I machine quilted it and it has a hanging dowel attached. 

'Tis no great shakes as a quilted masterpiece(!), but would look cute and colorful in a child's room.

If you'd like to be included in a drawing for this giveaway, just say so in the comment section.  Maybe also include what you plan on doing for Thanksgiving Day this year.  We haven't decided what our plans will be yet, but I had to laugh when I came across a note I wrote to myself after Thanksgiving last year.  

It said, "If I decide to host Thanksgiving dinner here next year, I'm too dumb to survive.  Plan to go out for dinner and spend the day in total relaxation!"

If any of you (please . . . somebody!) are interested in this little wall hanging, I'll draw a name this coming Thursday night and announce it Friday morning, November 8th.

Any takers??  Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 4, 2013

It Doesn't Have To Be Sunny . . .

It's gray.  It's dismal.  It's been raining steadily all day.

Now at only four o'clock, it's looking like dusk is approaching quickly.  Inside the house it could hardly be more comfortable and cozy.  It's a great day.

Lucky, lucky us to be able to enjoy a day like this so close to home and hearth.  I must admit I've been thinking of curling up on the couch and watching a DVD (or three) ever since finishing breakfast this morning.  (What weather could be more conducive to that than this which we're currently having?)  But I haven't quite made it yet.

I baked a batch of blueberry/raspberry muffins before breakfast this morning, then got the laundry started.  Made a big pot of potato soup for lunch.  Lots left over for a couple more meals this week. 

Got thawed venison from the freezer browned and then simmering on the stove with seasonings for Swiss Steak for dinner.  Combined with mashed potatoes, gravy and Brussels sprouts, we will have a tasty meal tonight.  (The slow cooking meat is making the house smell pretty darn good all afternoon, too.)

Both hubby and I have gotten a little damp when going outside to do what needed to be done at one time or another today, but fortunately we've dried out quickly and it hasn't kept us from enjoying this lovely November day.  It doesn't have to be sunny to be a good day.

Now.  Wonder if I can get in half a movie before dinner time?  The couch and quilt are calling me . . . 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Bring On November!

I did it.  I worked like a demon in October to get as many outside tasks done in readiness for winter as I could.  Big cleaning jobs inside the house were crossed off my list day by day.  It was all worth the push, 'cause I am really, really going to take some down time in the month of November.  And I started today.

Although the day was gray and damp, hubby and I took a short hike outside for some fresh air and exercise, but otherwise I spent most of the day inside doing just what I wanted to do.

First thing this morning, I curled up on the couch with my latte in front of an open fire and got into the new Rita Mae Brown book I picked up at the library.  Actually, that little adventure wasn't very successful and had to be aborted, because it wasn't long before the words started getting blurry, and I was feeling v-e-r-y sleepy.

So enough of that.  Into my quilt room I went.  Shortly thereafter, I heard Papa Pea in the kitchen cutting up one of our recently harvested apples for a snack.  I trundled out there to have a sample.  Verdict?  Still no taste.  Sigh.  There may or may not have been some cajoling involved, but I volunteered to bake an apple pie to see if the apples were passable to be consumed that way.

I made a Dutch Apple Pie, and at least the appearance was pretty good.  Chicken Mama stopped by to pick up Tucker on her way home just as we were finishing dinner so she joined us for a sample piece.  Both she and her dad thought the pie was quite good.  Me?  Meh.  All I could taste was the crust, cinnamon seasoning in the apples, and the crumb topping.  Oh, well.  Maybe the flavor of the rest of the apples will improve as they  age.  Or  not.

But I did get more time back in my quilt room this afternoon.  Made more progress on the appliqued Christmas wall hanging I started way back . . . when?  The first part of October, I think it was.  I haven't had but a little time to work on it since then, but I made a lot of progress today.

I finished up the second of the four 12" squares that make up the center of the wall hanging.

And I have a good start on prepping the pieces to be appliqued on the third square.  (Ugh, blurry-bad pictures.  I'll try to do a better job next time around.)  So much fun watching the blocks take shape.  I'm really enjoying the whole process.

Okay, back into my quilt room now for another hour before trying to read some more tonight.  This taking time off is really nice, and I could get used to it!