Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wonderful New Year's Wishes To You All!

Have a happy New Year's Day
And then when it is through
Have a lot of happy days
All through the new year, too. 

I found this New Year's wish when looking for a greeting to include with this post.

Then I found the following by Helen Keller which I think I'll adopt as my own personal "resolution" for 2016 to help implement the above.

Your success and happiness lies in you.
Resolve to keep happy,
and your joy and you 
shall form an invincible host
against difficulties.

Such great words to live by from a remarkable woman!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Only A Little Late . . .

In the days before the holidays, I've been spending time (here and there) making a new quilted table runner for our coffee table in the living room.

Yesterday was December 28th, and I finished it.  Just a little bit late.

Now that I see it on the coffee table, I'm thinking it coulda/shoulda been made a little bit bigger.  (Who measured for it anyway?)

I cut the poinsettias from a piece of material that was given to me.

The sashing and border were made from scraps of coordinating fabric in my stash.

In the future, I'll probably use this particular runner in another spot where it will look better.  I guess that means it's back to the ol' drawing board to plan and make another holiday runner for this spot.

That's fine.  Gives me more time I must spend in my quilt room!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Hold the joy and love
of the season
deep in your heart.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why Geese?

One of my readers, Rain who makes her home in Canada, left a comment on my last post asking a few questions about our newly acquired geese.  So here we go, Rain.  I hope this will explain why we deiced to make geese part of our homestead agin.

The above photo isn't of our new
geese but rather some of the ones
we've raised in the past.

Over the years we've found geese to be easy keepers and have had a few different breeds of them.  The last ones we had were Shetlands, and we were very happy with them . . . for a few years.  We kept a male and female and raised their offspring for our freezer.  Out of the last batch of eggs this mama goose hatched out, we got only one gosling, a male.  The remainder of the eggs she was sitting on didn't hatch for one reason or another. 

Then the gander of the pair suddenly turned very nasty.  We don't know why this happened as this pair of Shetlands (and all of the offspring they raised) had always been quite tame and inquisitive whenever we entered the poultry yard.  Father Goose's bad temper "did him in", so to speak, when one day he took a chunk out of the back of Papa Pea's calf leaving a scar that's till visible today.

Occasionally we have small children visiting and, of course, they are always interested in the livestock.  We didn't want to ever take the chance of Father Goose attacking a child or anyone else for that matter.

We considered putting Father Goose into the freezer and keeping the female goose and her son, but didn't care for the kind of inbreeding that would bring about.  So, all three geese went to Freezer Camp.

That was two years ago and we've found we really, really missed seeing the geese grazing out in the pasture and watching their antics on the pond.

Our good neighbor whose property adjoins ours grew up on a farm where his family raised ducks and geese.  They processed the meat in their homemade smoker and D says he remembers the smoked meat, especially the duck meat, as being some of the best he's ever tasted.  If we wanted to obtain some breeding geese and ducks, he'd be glad to share the expense with us plus do the smoking of any meat we wanted.

That gave us the nudge needed to get back into water fowl.

So the two main reasons we wanted to have geese and ducks again are 1) for their meat, and 2) for the enjoyment and liveliness they add to the homestead.  

We have a very large fenced in poultry pasture (the pond is within the fencing also) that will easily accommodate our current flock of chickens, our new ducks and geese and any offspring they may hatch out and raise over the summers.  We certainly won't be against using any "extra" duck or goose eggs for cooking and baking if they become available.

Like our chickens, the water fowl need protection because of the number of predators living in our area.  Year 'round they are all locked up at night, but happily roam about the pasture and on the pond during the day in the spring, summer and fall knowing they can hurry-scurry back into their enclosure or thick cover of shrubs and trees should the need arise.  The water fowl will generally swim to the center of the pond when they feel threatened.

For this winter (although we have plans for better housing to be built in the spring), the chickens live in their chicken house and attached 8 x 8' "solarium."  The four Pilgrim geese are in an 8 x 8' secure pen, the four Muscovy ducks in a 4 x 8' secure pen and the four Cayuga ducks in another.  They all have covered shelter and access to sun on sunny days.  If we ever see the sun again.


Monday, December 21, 2015

A Tale of Four Geese and Eight Ducks

Way last winter we ordered some Pilgrim geese goslings from a breeder in southern Minnesota.  The goslings were to be shipped as day old hatchlings to us in April.  The month of April came and went but we never received notification of the goslings being shipping nor did they show up.

A call to the water fowl breeder produced apologies from him along with the explanation of difficulties he'd been having with the Pilgrim geese not hatching out eggs.  He assured us he would get our goslings on their way to us as soon as he possibly could.

Spring turned into summer, more calls to southern Minnesota were made and we learned of more problems that had befallen the breeder.

I was losing faith and suggested we ask for our money back, but my dear husband said he still had a good feeling about this guy and felt he would stay true to his word and deliver when he could.

Lots more back and forthing ensued until about a month ago when the breeder asked if we would accept full-grown geese rather than goslings.  He even offered to drive more than halfway to meet us and deliver the geese.  Plus, because he was grateful that we had been so patient, he would bring some ducks along, too, since we had expressed an interest in getting some Muscovy and Cayuga ducks.

So a week ago last Saturday, Papa Pea loaded three cages in the back of the Suburban (after first lining the floor with a big tarp) and drove to meet the breeder and receive our geese and ducks.

Their meeting was a very pleasant one and they took time to visit for a while.  Papa Pea's intuition that this was a good man was reinforced.

We now have two adult pairs of Pilgrim geese, one young pair and one a few years old, plus two pairs of Muscovy and two pairs of Cayuga ducks.  All the birds seem to be very healthy and hardy.  And what eager eaters!  They see us coming with the green chop we made this past summer and a little whole grain and they start jumping up and down and clapping.  (Well, almost.)

After keeping them penned up for a week to get used to us and their new home, we let them out today in a small enclosed space so they could explore a bit more of their area.

First we had to do some judicious wing clipping of the Muscovy ducks as they are definitely "flyers" and we didn't want to chance them taking off into the woods or other parts unknown.  Although we've never clipped wings before, it was an easy job and neither ducks nor humans suffered.

We haven't come up with names for our new livestock yet; it's easy to tell the pairs of geese apart, but until we have time to scrutinize the ducks more . . . well, they all look pretty much the same to me.

No pictures yet either but I hope to be able to get some soon to post.  I can hardly wait for spring time to see them all splashing and swimming in the pond. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I Am So Proud

I am so proud of myself.  This year I am totally organized and ready for the holidays.  Just look at the list of what I have accomplished.

Early in 2015, I made a month by month list of all the handmade gifts I wanted to make and got each one done in the allotted time.  Such a satisfying feeling.

I had all my shopping done by Halloween.  Christmas gifts were wrapped within an hour of bringing them home.  No last minute rush of wrapping for me, oh-no.  And the carefully arranged display of the masterfully wrapped presents under the tree has been a sight to behold. 

I've baked an amazing assortment of luscious holiday cookies, candies and confections that have been packaged and sent off to relatives in various far-flung parts of the country.  I was so wise to have all the doughs made and in the freezer well before Thanksgiving.

I shopped months ago for some new holiday clothes for myself.  I bought red, I bought green, I splurged.  I bought several floor length skirts with matching festive tops and a lovely green brocade suit.  What a nice change from my usual navy and black turtlenecks and jeans.  Yes, I needed some new holiday clothes, and these will make me feel and look appropriate for the season.

For special friends, I hand crafted elaborate remembrances.  I have them all wrapped and ready for presentation.

I made two new wreaths with freshly gathered boughs and decorated them with ribbon, pine cones and berries.  The smaller is hung on the front door and the very impressive larger one is on the outside wall of the house you see when coming into our yard.  They look so lovely and professionally done.

Before putting up our Christmas tree and house decorations (immediately after Thanksgiving), I spent a week deep-cleaning the whole house, top to bottom.  Now when I take the decorations down after January 1st, the house will already be clean and ready for the New Year.

I purchased and/or made new decorations for my home replacing all those that were looking shabby and past their prime.  This gave my holiday decorating a sparkling new look and everyone asks if I hired an interior decorator.

In the coming weeks, I have a full calendar of dinner dates and casual get-togethers scheduled.  Invitations were sent out weeks ago.  (I made them myself, of course).  Menus are printed, foods have been prepared ahead and are in the freezer, holiday napkins and tablecloths are washed and ironed.  It will be no-hassle entertaining for me this year.

Oh, I am so proud.

* * * * * * * *

Ah, yes.  Sometimes reality necessitates we escape into our own little made-up fantasy world.  The truth is I've been operating under the influence of heavy brain fog for about a month now.

I read that extra doses of Ginkgo Biloba help clear your head.  I'd take some, but I can't remember where I put the bottle. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's the Pits . . .

Yesterday we were hearing reports of a big snow heading our way.  Well, 'bout time.  It would be our very first ground covering of the year. 

Our temperature had been staying right around 28 degrees for several days, and our continual rain had turned to freezing drizzle and a bit of hail.  Not nice, to say the least.

This morning when we got up, surprise, surprise.  The temperature had risen to 34 degrees and rain was coming down.  But!  Shortly the temp dropped a degree (yep, just one little degree) to 33 . . . and lo and behold, it started to snow.  Really snow.

In short order we had an outside scene that looked like this.  Hooray!  Has winter finally arrived to the north woods?

But back to yesterday afternoon when the temperature was still 28 degrees.  

I spent a couple of hours (silly me) making the decorations for a bird's Christmas tree which my dear husband had set up on our front deck. 

I used my donut cutter to make bread "wreaths" . . . 

. . . which I then "frosted" with a mixture of peanut butter and bird seed.

Previously I had made and dried apple slices and attached ribbons.  A couple of nights ago, I made a long popcorn string for the tree, too.

Hollowed out orange halves made festive little baskets holding more goodies for the birds.

The bird tree was decorated by late yesterday afternoon (too dusky/dark for a picture) so I figured I'd take one this morning.

Doesn't it look lovely?  Can you see all my carefully crafted ornaments?  Nah, me neither.

 And, oh look!  Now the snow has stopped and it's started to . . . yep.  Rain.

Good-bye, Winter.  Sigh.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let's Play 20 Questions . . . Plus 15

Since I've been sadly lacking in ideas for interesting blog posts lately (maybe it's the visions of sugarplums dancing in my head), I'm resorting to these questions (and my answers to same) that I saw posted on the Internet a few years ago.  Here we go.

1)  Do you like blue cheese?
      No!  That stuff is moldy, you know.

2)  Have you ever smoked?
      Yes, for one (stupid) year in college.

3)  Do you own a gun?  
      "Property protected by Smith & Wesson 4 Days A week.  You Pick 
      the Days."  (That's not original.  It's something I've heard my 
      daughter say.)

4)  What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite?
      Grape, hands down, but I haven't had any for decades.

5)  Do you get nervous before dental appointments?
      Yes, but not as much as I used to.

6)  What do you think of hot dogs?
      I only eat organic chicken hot dogs.  They're good.

7)  What's your favorite Christmas movie?
      White Christmas.

8)  What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
      Latte, homemade.

9)  Can you do push-ups?
      Sure, but only about 5.  Okay, maybe 3.  Or 2.

10)  What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
        My wide gold wedding band.

11)  What's your favorite hobby?
        Quilting.  With knitting running a close second.

12)  Do you have A.D.D.?
        Nope, too lazy to be that active.

13)  Do you wear glasses or contacts?
        Gotta have 'em for close work.  Sigh.

14)  What's your middle name?
        Ann.  Although I use my maiden name in my "official" signature.

15)  What are your thoughts at this moment?
        I wish those dirty dinner dishes in the kitchen would magically
        wash themselves.

16)  Name 3 drinks you regularly consume.
        Lattes, black tea (always iced), and kombucha.

17)  What is a current worry of yours?

18)  What do you currently hate?
        My uninhabited quilt room.  Because it's uninhabited.

19)  Where is your favorite place to be?
        Home.  I'm definitely a home-body.

20)  What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?
        Being home with husband before an open fire trying to stay
        up until 2016 arrives, but we usually give up and go to bed a little
        after 10 p.m.

21)  To where would you like to travel?
        The East Coast and the Maritime Provinces.

22)  Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their
        That's a hard one.  I could guess, but I don't want to put pressure
        one anyone.  (It's a busy time of year.)

23)  Do you own slippers?
        Huh?  Dancing?  Ballet?  Bedroom?  No.  No.  Yes.

24)  What color shirt are you wearing?
        Emerald green turtleneck and pale green hoodie.

25)  Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
        Never tried, but they sound cold.

26)  Can you whistle?
        Yup, but just as off-key as I can sing. 

27)  What is your favorite color?
        Orange.  Everybody gives me a hard time about wearing so much
        of it.

28)  What songs do you sing in the shower?
        None.  It would be too frightening.  (See #26 above.)

29)  Would you be a pirate?
        Heck, no.  I'm afraid of big ships.

30)  What's in your pocket right now?
        A bent roofing nail (we finished a little job yesterday) and a used

31)  What's the last thing that made you laugh?
        Oh, gosh.  Hubby, daughter and I laughed until the tears rolled
        today when adorable two-year old boy twin walked toward Papa 
        Pea with his little lips pursed and head pointed skyward to give a 
        good-bye kiss, forgot there was a step in front of him and went
        down like a rock.  Don't worry, Papa Pea saved him.  (Maybe
        you had to be there.)

32)  What vehicle do you drive?
        '93 Suburban.  (RIP, my beloved, old '84 Toyota Tercel.)

33)  What's the worst injury you've ever had?
        Broken nose.  Ouch.  Owie.  OW-EEE.

34)  Do you love where you live?

35)  Would you change your first name if you could?
        Absolutely.  I've never thought mine fit me.

Okay, now all the rest of you out there . . . how about YOU copying and posting these same questions on your blog with your answers.  Come on, I double dare ya. 

P.S.  Sorry about the wonky line spacing.  I couldn't get Blogger to print it the way I wanted.  :o(

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Addendum to This Morning's "Fruitcake" Post

Well, turns out I wasn't the only one who has been having problems pulling up info from older blog posts.  It's apparently been a "blogger" problem, but as usual my computer guru daughter solved the problem for me.

So if you wish, you may follow this link which will take you to my original blog post on making my mom's fruitcake complete with pictures which will give you more of an idea of what our traditional fruitcake is all about. 

Should you be having the same problem as I was, for a good glass of dry wine my daughter will be glad to make a house call and fix your system, too.*

*I just made that up.  It would probably take more than a glass of wine for her to make the trip.  On the other hand, maybe not.  She does love to travel . . . 

Our Fruitcake Tradition

One year when my husband was still teaching, someone at school decided to put together a little booklet of food traditions the teachers enjoyed at holiday time.

I kept a copy of the following that Papa Pea submitted.

* * * * * * * *

A holiday tradition in our home is my 
mother's-in-law fruitcake.  Shortly
after I got married, I discovered she
made a fruitcake that was nothing like
the too-sweet, candied fruit concoctions
I had known while growing up.

When we moved from Illinois to Minnesota,
it wasn't always possible for all of us to be 
together for the holidays.  But I can always
look forward to receiving a very heavy
package in the mail --- several loaves
of her fruitcake!

A couple of these loaves get tucked away
in the freezer to bring out for canoe, car or
backpack trips during the year.  (Once my
wife and I existed on hot tea and fruitcake
for three rain-soaked June days on a
canoe trip.)

Each year, we look forward to that fragrant
batch of fruit cake to continue a very special
holiday tradition.

* * * * * * * *

Here I'll add that my father was not happy that my mom baked these loaves of her fruitcake and paid a substantial amount (!) to mail them to us.  Each year he asked if I had the recipe (I did), and why didn't I bake our own holiday supply of it?

Of course, once Mom was no longer able to make the fruitcake, I did take over the tradition but, sad to say, mine has never tasted quite as good as the special ones we received from her.

I know I've posted the fruitcake recipe before, but for some reason my computer is currently refusing to retrieve and give forth recipes previously included in any blog posts.  So, once again, here it is.

Mom's Fruitcake

Mix together in a large saucepan and 
boil for 5 minutes:

1-3/4 cups honey (can use sugar)
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups hot water
1 cup butter
1 pound raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cool above mixture on counter overnight.
Next day add:

1 egg
1 cup chopped nuts
3-1/2 cups flour (can be part whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2-3 cups chopped dried fruit  (Mom liked
one cup of dates and the rest whatever
she had on hand such as dried apples,
apricots, peaches, cherries, figs, etc.)

Put mixture into three greased and floured 
loaf pans and bake at 300 degrees for one
hour and fifteen minutes or until toothpick
inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from pans and cool on racks.  
Slices better after being wrapped and
 refrigerated over night.  Freezes well.
Makes three loaves.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Good News:  Papa Pea and I got all industrious and thoroughly washed, inside and out, every single window in the whole house this fall.

Bad News:  As of this moment, they look as if they've not been washed in ten years.

 * * * * * * * *

Good News:  We were forecast to get out first real snow (hooray!) of the season yesterday.  We had a beautiful snowfall which was gorgeous to watch.

Bad News:  The temperature was 36 degrees all day.  There's nothing left but a slushy, muddy mess today.

* * * * * * * *

Good News:  We've been researching and designing a new chicken house we'll build in the spring.

Bad News:  Methinks the time spent planning the new chicken house will far exceed the time spent actually building it.

* * * * * * * *

Good News:  I've already baked three big loaves of our delicious traditional holiday fruitcake.

Bad News:  There are presently only three slices of the whole batch left.

* * * * * * * *

Good News:  This past weekend, I made a daily schedule for myself which would enable me to more efficiently get my household chores done of a day while at the same time affording me more time each day to pursue my hobbies and other interests.

Bad News:  It's Wednesday afternoon, and I haven't managed to implement the new schedule yet.