Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For the Birds!

With the arrival of our (brief) cold weather that blew in this past weekend, I decided it was time to make an ice wreath for the birds.

In the past I've seen this done in various places on the Internet and in magazines.

I've have an old, round aluminum jello mold that I don't use anymore, and it was the perfect shape for a "wreath."

The idea is to fill the mold with seeds and any other things the birds might find appetizing, add water, and place in the freezer until solid.  You can add decorative items such as cuttings from pine boughs or colorful leaves of a natural source.

I was so pleased with the way it turned out.  I put a ribbon hanger on it and hung it off one of the clothes line hooks on the deck.

I did learn a lesson of something to try to avoid when making another wreath:  Millet seeds sink to the bottom.  For future wreaths, must figure out a way to keep them suspended in the mix with the other goodies. 

After hanging the wreath, wouldn't ya know, that afternoon our temp rose to the low 30s . . . and my wreath started to drip.  ("Hellllp, I'm mellllting!")

So I moved it from the position on the deck to the north side of this big birch tree to give it a little protection.

But with the unseasonably warm weather we seem to be experiencing (again, still and yet), my lovely ice wreath for the birds is quickly disappearing.  And I've yet to see a bird go near it.  (Hrumpf.)

No matter.  The wreaths are fun to make, they're decorative, and I've got three more made and waiting in the freezer.

For when winter weather finally arrives in northern Minnie-soda!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Blanket of Mulch

It looks as though our unusually warm beginning-of-winter weather is over.  High winds started two nights ago and have definitely blown in a new weather front.  Our high temps for the past two days have been only in the low 30s and high 20s accompanied by snow flurries.  One to three inches of snow is forecast for Sunday.

Whoo-ee, gotta say this is more like our typical November weather.

Later into the season than usual, today was the time to cover the strawberry plants and asparagus with straw mulch for the winter.

These are three rows of the new strawberry plants we put in this year.

They sure have remained robust and healthy looking late into the season.

The everbearing strawberry plants are in a different area of the garden and are even bigger than these June bearing plants.  By all rights (and with a little luck -- and sunshine -- thrown in) we should have as many strawberries as we want (and then some) in the 2016 gardening season.  Good thing 'cause we were really short in the strawberry department this past summer which did not set well with my strawberry-lovin' husband!

Now if we do, indeed, get those couple inches of snow this weekend on top of the mulch spread today, all will be snug and cozy in the garden 'til spring.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Just finished this pair of socks for the 2-year old twins our daughter cares for.

I know, they are twins, and I've made only one pair of socks.  As soon as I'm sure these are a good fit, methinks I will have to get busy and start another pair.  

Daughter had asked I make the tops a little longer than usual for wearing with boots this winter.

The twins have never been dressed alike (kinda hard to do when they are a boy and a girl) but frequently share certain items of clothing (especially shoes and boots) so until I get a second pair of socks knit, perhaps they can share these.

These little socks sure do knit up faster than big people socks.  And so much fun to do!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weather and Housekeeping

(Could there be a more banal topic for a post??)

Too lazy to get out the vacuum yesterday morning, I was doing a quick sweep of the kitchen floor with broom and dust pan.  Since I was home alone with granddog, Tucker, I asked him how so much debris and so many dust bunnies can accumulate on a regular basis . . . to which he replied with a sneeze so large he banged his chin on the floor.

Truth to tell, our summer and fall seasons do seem to bring more dirt into the house than other times of the year.  We're in and out more during the "nice" weather and don't always change our footwear at the door.

In the winter, boots come off in the entry way and if anything does get tracked in, it's clean snow which melts into clean droplets.

However, when true winter time does arrive, it brings its own challenges . . . in the form of dust.  Wood burning dust.  No doubt about it, burning wood as your main source of heat is not as "clean" as other methods. 

I guess no matter the time of year, there's no escaping a certain amount of dust and dirt, grit and grime that an active household generates.

Laurie over at 111 LaLa Lane asked yesterday if we have been keeping warm.  She's in a more southern part of the country than we are up here in northern Minnesota.  In answer I have to say we've not been challenged by any really cold weather yet.  We've had an unusually warm fall and early winter.

Talking with the check-out clerk in our local co-op yesterday, he commented that his yard, garden, trees, and shrubbery have never looked so good.  Our pleasant weather has enabled him to continue to have one more day, one more day, one more day to work on those fall outside projects much later into the season than usual.

Having said that, this morning we have our first dusting of snow on the ground.  The above picture was taken at first light this morning.  It isn't more than a dusting and will undoubtedly disappear quickly.  With our overnight low only 34°, you know no real serious snow could make an appearance.

So, Laurie, to answer your question, we've had no problem keeping warm into this early winter season.  Plus, I've heard reports that our region of the country will have a warmer winter with less snow than we normally do.  Snow lovers that we are, we'll probably be bemoaning the lack of that snow, but on the other hand, our supply of dry wood in the sheds may still look pretty good come spring.  

We're scheduled to have a few "colder" days, including this weekend, but then back to our mild weather again.  Go figure.

So for a time yet, it seems the house (and the housekeeper) will get a reprieve from the winter wood heating dust.  The other debris and dust bunnies?  I'll just keep sweeping . . . and maybe even have to get out the vacuum cleaner one of these days. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thoughts Going In and Out of My Head Today

Most movies leave me feeling I've wasted my time.

Old-fashioned, good manners need to be brought back.  Quickly.

Plant a vegetable garden, no matter how small.

There are so many wonderful books to read, never plod on through one you're not enjoying.

I'm not tolerant of people who are habitually late.

We all need to voice our positive thoughts and feelings, not just our negative ones.

Admit your mistakes without rationalizing your actions.

I once worked in a factory that manufactured a cream that was "guaranteed" to remove freckles.

Don't waste time in any kind of a relationship with a dishonest person.

When you lend an item, always write down what it was, to whom you lent it, and the date.

My physical surroundings are very important to me.

I can figure out an intricate quilting pattern, but I can't program the TV to record at a future time or date.

Never tell anyone the way they feel is wrong.

Bottling up your true feelings will make you sick.  Always.

No one fails to appreciate a sincere, handwritten, thank you note.

Listen to what your body is telling you; it never lies.

Be polite and conscientious enough to return phone calls.  And answer e-mails.

Try to find something funny in any upsetting situation.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Something Not Heard In Most Households

Our daughter stopped for a visit yesterday morning with the twins she cares for during the day.  (The adorable little munchkins -- a boy and a girl -- turn 2 years old tomorrow.)

They joined us for lunch which was warmed-up leftover meat loaf, potato casserole and freshly cooked broccoli.  The twins  have always been eager little eaters of just about anything set before them, but are especially fond of broccoli whether it's raw or cooked.

Forkful after forkful (and sometimes handful) of broccoli disappeared into their wee maws until their dishes were devoid of green at which time they both asked for more, please.  To this, Bopee (their name for our daughter) told them, "Eat some of your meat and potatoes and then you can have more broccoli."

Now I ask you, how many parents/caregivers of young children would be ever so pleased to have the need to speak that sentence?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Come again some other day.  (But preferably not for a while, please.)

Talk about dismal!  We've had nearly a week of very gray, rainy days.  Our day time temps have been well into the 40s but the dampness makes it feel much colder.  Much, much colder.

We were so very fortunate to have gotten our potatoes harvested the day before these rains started.  I hate to think of what a totally mucky, muddy mess it would be to try to dig them now.

The trees are now bare of leaves and our landscape has taken on a drab, monochromatic look.  We shall have to tolerate this blah scenery until snow cover arrives.  I do know that if this past week's rain had been snow, we'd be plowing and shoveling non-stop to get out from under it.

Papa Pea and I have been sleeping better the last few nights.  (I'll bet you feel so much better now, right?)  He claims the changing of the seasons wreaks havoc on our body clocks and that certainly did seem to be the case for both of us earlier this fall.  Or now maybe it's just the shortened amount of daylight that has finally convinced our bodies that it's the season for more hours of good, sound shut-eye.

We've been enjoying the apples our friends from the southern part of the state brought to us on their visit a couple of weeks ago, and since harvesting the apples from our own trees this past week, we have even more to make use of and enjoy.  I made a huge batch of applesauce (or applesass, as I like to call it) yesterday with the ones from our trees that had bruises, blemishes, or bird pecks (blast those Blue Jays) in them.  My dear husband sat and helped me prep all the apples.  How much faster that task went with four hands rather than just two.

A pan of Apple Slices I made yesterday just bit the dust as dessert after our dinner tonight.  Dear daughter helped by eating one good size slice yesterday, but the rest of the 10" x 15" sheet pan easily slid down the gullets of me and my housemate.  With no trouble at all, I might add.  (Hey, it's the season for apple-anything, right?)

I changed my decorations this morning from Halloween to Thanksgiving.  I've also been giving some thought as to some new and different dishes I can try in the next couple of weeks as possibilities to serve on Thanksgiving.  Not sure how many will be around the table yet, but getting a start on the planning makes me feel ahead of the game.

My hands and fingers have been wanting to have needles and yarn in them lately so I've been working on some small projects.  Gotta love those small projects in that they get done so quickly.  Instant gratification.  Well, not instant.  (Rarely is anything instant, is it?)  But whipping through a miniature knitted bell or mitten to put on the outside of a gift definitely gets done faster than, say, an Aran fisherman's sweater, you have to admit.

Tomorrow they say we will see some sunshine.  Should that happen, it will be much welcomed.  Our solar panels might even become useful rather than just a very large, drippy ornament out in the field.