Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Since I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions . . .

. . . I've decided to just live by these ten points I found in a quilting magazine many years ago.  Apologies to the author since I no longer have a name to credit.  I'm sure any of you who quilt will be able to relate . . . and maybe adopt them as your own for the coming year.

* * * * * * * *

1.  Eat more chocolate.  (In my case,
it would be potato chips.)

2.  Never cook when I can quilt.

3.  Begin at least 10 new projects.

4.  Learn to love UFOs.  (Unfinished objects.)

5.  Never miss a fabric sale.

6.  Start a dust bunny collection.

7.  Spend more time in the sewing room
than in the kitchen.

8  Make sure my credit card
never feels neglected.

9.  Never count the number of
stitches per inch.

10.  Quilt only on days ending in Y. 

* * * * * * * *

Sounds like a great start to the New Year to me!  (Feel free to change any words in this list to reflect your own personal addiction.)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Holiday Snow

The following few paragraphs were written Saturday night, December 28th:

They say ("they" can certainly cover a lot of ground) we have a big storm coming our way.  I wish it was to be all snow, but the temperatures are supposed to be right at the freezing point so we're warned to watch out for a rain/snow/ice mix.  Not the kind of winter weather anyone wants to see.  We're looking for it to start tonight and hang around until sometime Monday.

We're fully prepared for such weather having as much food, of course, as we could possibly want to ride out any nasty weather, and the wood box on the enclosed porch is piled high with a double load of dry wood along with the two wood holders inside the house which are filled to the brim.

It's not unusual for us to have a spate of winter weather right around Christmas so this is not surprising.  There are certain things that must be done outside every day to keep our little place going, but other than that I'm kind of looking forward to tomorrow and possibly Monday being enjoyed without doing anything extra.  I have two books I ordered from the library that I'd love to dive into.

Did I mention I've been ordering holiday themed movies from the library for us to watch during the time leading up to Christmas and through New Year's?  Darn, but a couple/few of them have been returned unwatched (where does the time go in each 24-hour period, where?!), but we currently have two here waiting that I picked up earlier this past week.  The weather just may turn out to be conducive to actually picking a time for both of us to sit down and watch them.

And here I am again, Sunday, December 29th:

We woke to this snow covering this morning.  The temp has stayed a degree above or below 34° and the snow is about as heavy as can be.  At that temp, why is it snowing rather than raining?

Morning chores entailed clearing off poultry houses, steps and walkways.  Since the snow isn't predicted to be over until sometime tomorrow, we won't do much more clearing until then.  The forecast says we may get rain with this storm, too, which won't be much fun at all.

When we got up this morning, I had visions of spending a good portion of the day in my quilt room but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men . . . and apparently me, too, as I haven't made it in there yet.  Papa Pea just said he's going outside to do a little more shoveling (the guy really knows how to have fun) so I'll probably guilt myself into clearing off the front deck and wooden walkways on either side.  If this snow continues as predicted, it will definitely be easier to clear off the 4-5" of wet stuff we have . . . than waiting until we get more . . . or it becomes soaked with rain.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Best Wishes to You All!

I'm thinking of all of you this holiday season, and want you to know 
I so appreciate our supportive community
 and look forward to the New Year before us. 

Let's make it a good one 
with lots of laughter, love, caring and sharing!


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

My daughter just put up a blog post (first one in years . . .  okay, not quite that long, but it feels like it) and I am pleased as punch.

I've nagged her to get back into blogging for a long time, but to no avail.  (Apparently mothers don't always give the best advice -- who knew?)  

I'd all but given up on her finding the time and impetus to do so.  

Therefore, I was so happy to see her back in the writing saddle when I opened my computer this morning. 

If you find time during these last few days before the holiday season, go take a peek:

She's a darn good writer!  (Ask her about the couple as-of-yet unpublished books she has in her files.  Hee-hee.)

Friday, December 20, 2019

A Good Friday and End to the Week

Just as fast as our recent cold weather spell seemed to arrive, it's now gone and our temp today was up to 32°.  No noticeable melting occurred but the fact that rain and snow and ice were predicted (never materialized) kinda kept us on our toes.

It was very dark and gray all day.  At 3:45 p.m. it looked as if Mother Nature was setting daylight on the lowest dimmer switch.  Well, only one more day before we start gaining minutes (technically anyway) of daylight each day.  Makes one look forward to the usually lighter and brighter days we get in January.

I wrapped presents yesterday afternoon and placed them under our little tree.

This is the third year we've had our artificial Christmas tree (best decision I ever made) and I still keep thinking about adding water to the stand so it doesn't dry out.  (Some of us apparently are slower learners than others.)

My plan was to attack the pantry today, do some rearranging, wipe down the shelves and make note of anything we might be short of to make it through the remainder of the winter.  Didn't get to it.  I did manage to get the top of my desk cleared which feels really good.  Happily, I didn't find anything such as an overdue bill I had neglected to pay.

Early this morning, all the tins of the various Christmas cookies were brought out to the kitchen counter from the pantry, and I made up five plates to be given away as a holiday thank you or "just because."

Speaking of goodies of the unbaked kind, I'm a lover of pears and I've been eyeing them in our co-op for a while now but have hesitated buying any because we have plenty of our own apples in the root cellar which should be eaten as our fresh fruit.

However, a friend stopped by today to share with us (yippee!) part of a box of pears she had received as a Christmas gift.  They look like "real" pears, not hybridized for cosmetic purposes.  I can't wait to taste them.  On the last piece of property we owned in Illinois before moving up here, we had two old, old pear trees.  One bore luscious, juicy fruit we ate almost right off the tree and the other one produced a harder pear that turned out delicious when I canned them in a light syrup for a good, simple dessert.  Yep, I really like pears.

Enough jabbering on for this post.  Seems like it will be a good night to get all ready for bed and then spend some time on the couch knitting.  Of course, an open wood fire will add to the relaxing ambience.  Cozy, cozy, cozy.  A good Friday, a good end to the week.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Welcome Winter!

Old Man Winter seems to have moved into our area.  After high winds during the day yesterday, we were warned of an overnight low of around 14° below zero with a dangerous wind chill factor of -37°.  That's cold.

Papa Pea does such a good job of banking the fires in our wood stoves last thing at night that we had half a log perking away inside each stove when we got up this morning.

School for today was put on a two-hour delay with reports saying conditions would be better around mid-morning. 

Papa Pea heading out for morning chores.

Upon rising today, our thermometer showed a low reading over night of -11° and there's only a little wind ruffling the tops of the trees.  That's all good news.

I do wish we had this much snow (old picture shown above) now as we go into the coldest part of our season, but we don't.  It was taken in 2014 and we've not had that much snow on the ground of a winter since.  Currently, there is an almost-adequate covering on the ground, which will help, but we could use more.  The raised beds in the garden are just barely covered.

More Christmas cookie baking for me on the schedule today.  And I want to (really have to) get started on wrapping the presents that will go under our tree.  Sadly, my gift wrapping skills seem to have fallen by the wayside in the last several years, and it's become a bit of a chore it doesn't seem as much fun as it used to!

Well, what am I grousing about?  This is going to be mighty fine day for staying inside, filling the house with the aroma of baking goodies . . . and wrapping presents.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Poultry Yard Visitor

Our daughter stopped in just before dusk tonight for a short visit and announced I should get a picture of some of our youngest Muscovy ducks sitting on top of the Samurai just outside the poultry yard.

Why are they out of the poultry yard sitting on top of the Samurai?  At almost that same time, Papa Pea called from his upstairs office to come see the fox running back and forth on the inside of the poultry yard fencing trying to get out.

Mr. (?) Fox had gotten in and harassed some of the poultry, but then forgot how he gained access through (over?) the electric fencing which isn't turned on because of the build-up of snow at the bottom portion of it.  If he had jumped in, why couldn't he jump out?

Papa Pea went out to check the situation at just about the time the fox went under the fence (we think) at a spot we couldn't see, ran down the driveway and into our thick woods.

There were some scattered feathers in evidence in the poultry yard but no casualties.  Papa Pea thinks our big Muscovy adult male probably went after the fox and discouraged him a no uncertain terms.

Tomorrow in daylight, we'll check out the fencing to see if we can figure out where the fox got in.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

That Holiday Feeling

The holiday decorations are up and the house looks festive and cheery.  Whadda relief to have that done!  I'm finding the actual act of putting the decorations up isn't as much fun as it used to be (an understatement), but I still enjoy seeing the color and the memories everything brings to mind once it's done.  (There's no free lunch, is there?)

A treasured cross-stitch picture
by my daughter
given to me one Christmas past.

While unpacking these decorations, I made the decision to eliminate many items that I've not used in years and/or ones that don't have any sentimental value.  That felt really good.  (Hey, I'm getting good at this de-cluttering thing.)

A 32" x 32" applique piece
I did a a couple of years ago.
(It stays.)

Now it's time for me to bake a big bunch of sugar cookies for my daughter.  No, it's not that she allows herself to indulge in copious amounts of the cookies, but rather gathers together her little group of six happy urchins (children of her dear friends) and has her annual, huge Christmas cookie decorating party with them.  Thus far, the boys are still eager to enter into the spirit of the season (and frosting and assorted toppings) and dive into the project with as much enthusiasm and gusto as the girls.

I love this large jingle bell wreath
given to me by a friend
a few years back.

And then there are my own Christmas goodies to start making and baking.  Each year I waver between getting them done early (and often having too many disappear too soon) or waiting until right before the 25th and feeling we don't have adequate time to enjoy and share them.  Also, I kinda like to have them ready to make plates of assortments to give before the (sometimes glut of) sugar-laden goodies appear in everyone else's homes.  Such a dilemma, eh?

The little Santas on the right are
from Iceland and were
a gift to me from my daughter
when she visited there
about 15 years ago.

At any rate, I'm definitely experiencing that getting-close-to-the-holidays feeling now and plan to relax and enjoy the season to the utmost.  

Bring on the aroma of cookies baking in the oven and Christmas music on the player.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A Really Hungry Flying Squirrel

We seem to have a flying squirrel with a voracious appetite that has been making nightly visits to our . . . 

. . . peanut butter feeder and . . . 

. . . suet ball.

If you have ever seen a flying squirrel up close, you know they are adorable, velvety soft-looking little creatures with huge eyes.  But this one is starting to border on the destructive side.

As you may note from the above picture of our peanut butter log feeder, he's doing a good job of starting to eat the wood from around the holes that I fill with peanut butter.

What was once a perfectly round suet ball surrounded by a string net bag suffered an awful beating last night.

We've seen flying squirrels on the peanut butter feeder at night and the seed feeding platform outside the window of Papa Pea's office upstairs so we know they are around, and we've always been happy to provide them with their nocturnal goodies.

But this guy has got to learn some manners and maybe knock on a window to let us know he's especially hungry and wants a refill of his snacks.  Like pronto!


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Cutting Down Our Christmas Tree

Did I fool anyone?  Even a little bit?

When we plow snow from the area in back of our house (and main entrance), we have to make a rather sharp left hand turn to go farther back and around our semi-circular driveway.  It's a tight turn with our 9' wide snowplow blade and Papa Pea has been threatening (for about 20 years) to cut down a tree that's too close to the plow path. 

The tree was removed yesterday and the turn is now considerably widened.  He dropped the tree exactly where he wanted it, and we should now be able to make the turn without the usual "back and forthing."

Just in time for the predicted heavy snow coming this afternoon through tomorrow.  But will we really get it?  So far, all the appreciable amounts of snow have gone south of us.  What does Old Man Winter have against all of us snow lovers up here in northernmost Minnesota? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Sending Thanksgiving Wishes to You All!

Here's to enjoying the company of good friends and family. 
 Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and yours!

"Toasted, roasted, baked and done!
Hope your Thanksgiving
is loads of fun."

                               - Anonymous

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Is It Winter Yet?

Yes.  And no.  We've had colder weather than usual so far this fickle weather month of November, right along with alternating spells of temperatures above freezing which makes . . . 

. . . for icy conditions.

I ventured into town last Friday and was glad to make it back home without sustaining bodily harm by falling on the horribly icy conditions on sidewalks, side streets and parking lots.  I simply don't understand why merchants these days aren't afraid of being sued by someone falling and seriously injuring themselves trying to get into or out of places of business.

Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching for those of us living here in the States.  I don't like the fact that it falls so late in the month this year.  That really shortens the time before Christmas, at least in my mind.

Last night I pulled out some felted wool ornaments I started to make after the holidays last year and am hoping to get them completed in time to hang on our tree or possibly soon enough to send off and have them arrive as little tree trinkets for others.  I'd better get on the stick if I want that to happen.

Today appears to be a mild one again.  Up to the mid-40s already at mid-morning and lots of sun streaming in our south windows.  However, more rain/snow/sleet is forecast for tonight and into tomorrow.  But I suppose that's just the way it often is in this unpredictable weather month of November.  We'll survive.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Remembering A Friend

Whenever I see ice beginning to form on ponds or lakes in our area, I think of my slightly crazy unique friend Lenore.

Lenore's mother wanted her to become a world-class figure skater.  That never came to pass mainly because, much to her mother's chagrin, Lenore had no desire to do so.  But, boy howdy, could that gal ice skate.

There is a special spot off the main highway near here that makes me think of Lenore every time I drive by it.  We would meet on a sunny, early winter day, drive to the area, park our venicle as far off on the side of the road as we could safely get, grab our ice skates and hike through brush and stubble until we got to a secluded, mid-sized pond where early in the season, before snow became deep on the ice, she and I would spend a couple of hours skating.  I often thought perhaps Lenore's mother had been right; she could have been a fantastic figure skater if she had so desired.

In the deep winter time, we'd go cross country skiing together.  Most of the time she'd lead the way and although I was in good shape and a competent skier, I'd often come around a curve to finally catch up only to find her waiting for me while taking one of her regular cigarette breaks.  I would be puffing, too, but only to catch my breath since keeping up with her was a challenge.

It wasn't just in physical activities that Lenore excelled.  She hand-crafted quirky, colorful dolls out of leather dressed to look like the French voyageurs who once paddled great distances across the Great Lakes.  Selling the dolls to select big city stores turned out to be such a success that at one time she employed fifteen people working for her.  Then one day she decided it wasn't fun anymore and she never made another one except as a special gift.

Each early spring, Lenore volunteered to check wood duck boxes that the local Department of Natural Resources had constructed and mounted high on trees on the shores of various lakes in the area.  Lenore's job was to determine whether the nest box had been used the previous year, clean it out in anticipation for the current year's nesting ducks and fill out a form to hand in to the DNR.

Gaining access to these nest boxes required carrying an extension ladder through some fairly rugged territory and then using it to reach the boxes.  Since someone had to help carry the extension ladder, she talked me into joining her on one of these expeditions.  But only once.  

I don't remember ever being so cold and muddy and miserable.  Spending the day slogging through mud and water up to my whazoo while carrying the I'm sure heaviest end of a long extension ladder turned out to be an experience I never cared to repeat.  Two or three times, I know we were "lost in the wilderness" but Lenore, of course, thought it all a great adventure while I felt lucky to get out of the woods and safely home before dark.

She was a skilled carpenter, quilter, photographer, flower grower and arranger and never hesitated to climb up on a neighbor's roof to clean out a wood stove chimney.  

Lenore passed away several years ago sooner than anyone who knew her would have expected.  Had she had more time, who knows just what other adventures she would have experienced.

Seeing ice forming on ponds, streams and lakes early this year brings back lots of memories of a fun-loving, very talented friend.  She's missed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Cozy Day

Despite the fact that our weather has been "winter-y" for a few weeks already, today is the first day that I've actually felt like I'm settling in for the upcoming, delightful slower (please, please, please) months spent to a large part indoors enjoying my home and all that goes with it.

I'm sure this "nesting" has a lot to do with the 3+" of snowfall we got over night and early this morning.

The raised garden beds have pulled their winter blankets up to their chinny-chin-chins.

Ooops, never did get the deck furniture stored away.  Must get that done pronto.

No question I'm into the winter baking/cooking mode and have welcomed it as I know Papa Pea did when he got a dinner last night of meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy and baked acorn squash.  (Okay, he's never been too thrilled about the appearance of squash on his plate, but add enough butter, salt and pepper and it's passable.  Besides, a couple slices of meat loaf make up for most anything else in his book.)

I'm baking our first batch of holiday fruitcake as we speak.  Wonderful aroma wafting throughout the house!  Our fruitcake doesn't have any resemblance to what one normally thinks of as a tasteless batter containing chemically produced chunks of artificially dyed fruit and other questionable ingredients fruitcake.  (Not prejudiced at all, am I?)

Ours is made with a treasured recipe of my mother's containing honey, molasses, butter and other organic ingredients in the batter and organic dried raisins, craisins, sour cherries, dates, apricots and, of course, nuts folded in.

We've each been trying to eat a raw apple a day now.  Of all the varieties we grew here on the homestead, the ones we've voted to have the best flavor are ones from our crab apple tree, a Chestnut variety.  I've always thought of crab apples as so sour tangy that they were good for nothing but crab apple jelly.

Besides their flavor, look at the size of these little, red gems.  A good two inches across which is large for a crab apple.  We're really enjoying them.

I've been searching out new Christmas cookies to try for this season.  Like all of you, I'm sure, there are those traditional, tried-and-true goodies that would cause a family revolt if they didn't turn up at holiday time.  But as with my everyday cooking, I find myself yearning for something new and different to tempt my taste buds.  (Did I just intimate I needed urging to eat more holiday goodies?  Uh-oh.)

We had thought of making a trip to the big city today, but for a couple of reasons we made the decision last night not to do so.  And, boy howdy, am I happy with that decision.  'Tis a simply delightful day to be home.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Our winter weather has arrived in one heckuva big hurry.  We woke to a light dusting of snow yesterday morning and none of it has melted yet.

What's more, the weather for the beginning of this coming week is going to be much colder than we usually get this early in the winter season.

How about a low tonight of 6°F?  A high of 13°F tomorrow and down to 4°F tomorrow night?  Oh, ya, winter has arrived.

"Welcome, winter.  Your late dawn
and chilled breath make me lazy,
but I love you nonetheless."
                            - Terri Guillemets 

"Winter is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand
and for a talk beside the fire:
it is time for home."
                               - Edith Sitwell


(We've kept this fire in the kitchen
wood stove going all day.)

"The fire is winter's fruit."
                          - Arabian Proverb 

I've definitely been hit with a bout of lazy today, and I'm enjoying our good food, and am planning on plunking myself on the couch in front of the open living room fire for a few hours tonight.   Welcome, winter!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Have you ever gone bowling?  I don't know if bowling is something that has gone completely out of style these days or not.

My dad was a good bowler and for most of his adult life, he regularly bowled on a league, sometimes two leagues, if I remember correctly.

As a teenager, my brother set pins in a bowling alley a couple of blocks from our home.  This was, of course, before automatic pin setters were installed in all alleys.  Prior to that, the teenage boys who took on that job had to be quick and pay attention at all times.

When I was in college, there was a small bowling alley in the town and I frequently double dated with a good girlfriend, the guy she was going with and . . . now this is weird but I can't for the life of me remember who was my date.  (Oh, my brain cells must be elsewhere tonight or else that info is buried so deeply that I can't bring it forth at the present moment.  What do you want to bet I'll wake up in the middle of the night tonight trying to remember who that guy was.)  Anyway, the four of us all liked to go bowling and did so quite a few times.

One New Year's Eve, many (many!) years ago, I had a date with an old friend from high school.  (I do remember who he was.)  The company he was then working for had a huge holiday gala on that night which we attended.  The party was okay, but the company was a large one and since he was a fairly new employee, he didn't know a lot of the people.  I knew no one except my date.  We left before midnight.

As he was driving me home, he suddenly asked, "You wanna go bowling?"  

Why not?  To a bowling alley we went.  Upon arrival, there were only a couple of other alleys occupied.  Evidently, bowling wasn't an activity most people chose to do on New Year's Eve. 

I can still remember the dress I had on.  A sleeveless, emerald green brocade with matching long-sleeved jacket that ended at the waist.  Very classy!  Lucky for me, the dress wasn't a long one, but ended just above the knee.  I'm sure the rented bowling shoes added some real style to my whole look.

What fun the two of us had that night.  We bowled three games and I beat him at every one scoring just over 200 in the last game.

So, have any of you ever gone bowling?  What memories does thinking about your bowling experiences bring to mind.  Did this silly post jog a memory of a personal bowling experience?  Do tell!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Making My Own "Punky Pie" Filling

When I was growing up, I don't remember ever having pumpkin pie, which my mom always referred to as "punky pie," except at Thanksgiving and no Thanksgiving dinner was complete without it as the dessert.  As our daughter grew up, she put pumpkin pie at the top of her list of favorites, and I made it several times throughout the year.

These days, since Papa Pea and I both enjoy it, we still don't need a special occasion for it to turn up on our table.

A place to grow pie pumpkins always appears in my garden, even this year when I had to grow them in a 4 x 8' raised bed.

A good friend in New York state generously sent me seeds for her favorite pie variety, Winter Luxury.  Even in their small area, they produced prolifically for me.  I had more lovely, round, medium-sized pumpkins than I needed.

Here's how I prepare mine for the freezer.

The rind is tough so I needed a hammer and my longest chef's knife to cut them open.

The easiest way for me to clean out the innards is with a melon baller.

Although I have saved the seeds and made roasted pumpkin seeds in years passed, this year all the cleanings went to the chickens.

I tell them it's their Halloween candy . . . and they do gobble it up.

All set for the cookie sheets.

I've found covering the cookie sheets with parchment paper makes for much easier clean-up.  I bake them at 350° for 55-65 minutes.  Test with a fork on the meaty side until they are sufficiently soft.  Then scoop the pulp out with a spoon and place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher or you can use an electric mixer if the pulp seems stringy to you.

After baking, I measure the pulp into two-cup amounts.

Then I put it into small freezer bags, flatten to get the air out, and freeze.

Here's our first pie of the season.  Was it good?

Oh my, yes!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

More On Witches' Broom

Although this may be an appropriate post title for this time of year, it has nothing to do with Halloween.

Back in the spring of this year, I did a post on May 11th entitled "Big Trouble in the Blueberry Patch" about Witches' Broom which is a fungal disease, a growth, we've seen on our domestic blueberry bushes.

Over the summer months, more of this dad-blasted, blankety-blank growth has appeared so yesterday I took my pruners out into the blueberry patch to cut off all of the new growth.

Some bushes had only a small amount on them.
 (The dark growth is the Witches' Broom.)

Others were almost totally covered with it.

Last spring, per the information I had gathered, I dug out three of our twenty-one bushes because of the growth coming out of the crown of the plant at ground level.

Yesterday I decided to cut that type of growth as close to the ground as I could leaving the bush in the ground.

Unfortunately, the outlook for our bushes is not good as supposedly the fungal growth will limit the amount of berries a bush produces and eventually kill the bush.

Seems there's not much we can do to prevent or halt the problem (as indicated in my previous post in May) as it's spread by spores on the balsam trees being carried to the bushes by the wind.  We live and garden in the middle of a heavily forested area and removing all balsam trees within a 1,200 foot radius of the bushes (as suggested by articles I've read) is not possible.

So what's the solution if we want to continue producing a crop of blueberries?  I still don't know.  I do know we had a heavier crop of berries this past summer than we've had in a few years.  Go figure.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Cranberries for Breakfast

This is a mama deer with her yearling offspring breakfasting this morning on our high bush cranberries.

Because of our heavy deer population, any garden produce we're serious about growing and harvesting for ourselves needs to be enclosed within our 7' high deer fencing.  These high bush cranberry plantings are not.  No wonder we never get a good harvest from them.

Pictures taken through our (less than sparkling clean) back porch windows.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Apples and Coziness

Our fall color season is over and most of the tree leaves are now on the ground.  The scenery is starting to get that black and gray look that will last until the white of a snow cover is added to the mix.

The dear lady who writes wisps of words posted a lovely blog today which echoes my feelings about this time of year.  It's such a cozy time of warmth in the home, a pulling in and gathering in preparation for the winter season, oven meals and thick soups which seem so delectable now, and even a pan of Apple Slices that I couldn't keep myself from sampling earlier today.

As you can see, I wasn't the only one sampling.

Speaking of apples, even though we've had two frosts already, the forecast for this coming Tuesday night is for it to get really frigid.  So on the schedule for tomorrow afternoon is harvesting all our apples.

We've been sampling them for what seems like weeks now and saying they need "just a little more time."  Well, time has run out and we can't dawdle any longer.  It's time for all apples to be gathered.  Our small orchard of the dwarf trees has produced abundantly and a couple of our big trees have some apples, but not many.  Friends of our daughter's have offered us as many apples from their large, old tree as we want so we'll be in their yard tomorrow gathering some of that bounty.

What will we do with the apples?  Make a lot of applesauce as we've been plumb out for well over a month now.  Daughter wants to try making some juice/cider, we'll eat out-of-hand the best tasting ones, and of course there will be the occasional apple pie, apple crisp, pan of apple slices, etc. during the coming months.

What a glorious time of year.  Candles, quilts, nights before an open fire reading a good book while sipping a warm drink.  As words of wisps says, this is The Season of Quiet . . . and rest and enjoyment and visiting around the harvest table.

Addendum:  I've posted about my Apple Slices before here on my blog and if you're interested in seeing the original recipe (as some of you here in the comments have indicated), go way down on my right hand side bar to the Search box and type in "Apple Slices" and it should take you to posts wherein the Apple Slices have been mentioned.  Scroll down to the post dated October 12, 2010, titled "Only Because You Made Me Do It" and the recipe will be shown there.

A year or so ago, even though the crust in the original recipe was good, I finally gave up on it because it was so hard to work with and roll out.  I started using my regular pie crust recipe and feel it's just as good.

This time around I simply used my pie crust, about 10 apples (they weren't too large), added 2/3 cups sugar (apples were a tad under ripe), and a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon.  Much simpler and just as tasty. 

Thanks to you all for your interest.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Did You Ever Have A "Pen Pal?"

Long before the computer age, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, people would communicate with each other by writing letters and sending them through the U.S. Mail.  Often a person you corresponded with on a regular basis was called a "pen pal."

When I was in third grade, my teacher was Miss Kuter.  (Yes, it was pronounced "cuter" but she was such a beloved teacher that I don't remember anyone ever making fun of her name.)

Miss Kuter, bless her heart, was my very first pen pal, the first person I ever corresponded with via posted mail.

She was a wonderful, dedicated, long-time teacher, warm and loving toward her students, and on the last day of third grade, I remember telling her I wished she could be my teacher "forever" and that I would miss her as summer vacation began.

Our family lived in a residential part of our town in Illinois and Miss Kuter lived with her parents in a farming community about seven miles outside of our town.  In that day and age, I suppose she could have been labeled a "spinster" or even "old maid" as she was well into her forties (or perhaps even fifties) and had never been married.

She told me that if I had time during the summer (what did I have but time?), I could write to her and tell her what I was doing.  She gave me her mailing address, we said good-bye and I went home wondering how long I should wait to send her a letter. 

I don't remember specifically how long I did wait to write to her, but I can't imagine it was long or that my letter was full of stimulating information.  I'm sure my correspondence must have been fairly hum-drum and boring.

But write to her I did and almost immediately received a reply from her.  I was thrilled.  Her letters were full of things happening on her parents' farm and I remember folded inside her first return letter was a small sample of the wallpaper she was putting up in her bedroom.

I eagerly looked forward to her letters which always were so interesting (to me) and usually contained some little trinket that made me think her life was extremely interesting.  Once I even received a black and white glossy print of a picture of her father's herd of milk cows grazing in a pasture.

We wrote letters back and forth all that summer.  What a considerate, sweet person she was to take the time to correspond with a nine-year old girl.

Near the end of that summer, I was looking forward to seeing her in person when school started up again.

Then one evening as my mother was reading the local paper, she commented that there was a marriage announcement for Miss Kuter!

Unfortunately for me, this turned out to mean she didn't return to my elementary school as a teacher that fall, and I never saw her again.  It was also the end of our correspondence.

But I still will never forget how kind she was to take the time to be my "pen pal" for that summer of 1952.  I do believe that started me on the track of becoming a frequent letter writer, and probably prompted me to eventually become a blogger when the age of computers came on the scene. 

So thanks, Miss Kuter, for introducing me to the art of writing letters and being my pen pal.