Sunday, February 21, 2021

Alive, Well and Busy

When one goes outside on a twenty degree day and it feels balmy, you know you've made it through a cold spell.  While I realize other parts of our country are still struggling mightily with unusual weather conditions, we have had a break in our couple of weeks of frigid temperatures.  The more tolerable conditions allow us to do more things outside without risking frozen fingers and toes.
Papa Pea and I remind ourselves on a daily basis how fortunate we are and appreciate our physical location and lifestyle here on our little homestead in the woods.  Nary a day goes by when we find ourselves with time hanging heavy or wondering what to do to fill the hours.  The one disadvantage of having a full life is making sure it's a balanced life.  Seems as though we wrestle with the concept of keeping it balanced continually.
On the handwork scene:

I finally finished my latest crocheted rag rug.

It ended up a bit smaller than I wanted at only 17" wide by 26" long, because (dang and drat) I ran out of fabric.  But it fits in with my blue and white decorating theme for this time of year, and I'm happy with it.  (Even though I wanted to have it done and on the floor at the beginning of January.  Sigh.)

This little experimental quilted piece is sandwiched and ready to be machine quilted.  Like so many I make, it has had to hang on the quilt room wall for a while until I figured out just how I want to quilt it.  That decision has now been made so I'll get on with it as soon as I can.
I think I've spread out my notes, charts and lists of seeds to plant all over the kitchen table three times now intending to get the garden plan for this coming spring nailed down.  Each time something comes up and the scattered mess project has to be gathered up and shelved for another time.
Making sure I have a good rotation of crops each year is vital for our garden soil and the nutritional needs of the various plants so that in itself takes a bit of shuffling before all is to my liking.  I still have time to get this done, but I always feel better if it's completed before time to start seeds inside.
And the way times goes by, that will be here before we know it.  Right now, I need to go resupply the wood rack in the living room and the one in the kitchen.  Milder weather, yes, but still a need to keep the home fires burning.   

Friday, February 12, 2021

Just Plain COLD

I know some of you in other parts of the country are experiencing really cold weather, too, and you're probably just as ready for a change as we are.
Our overnight lows for this past week have been -17° (that's below zero, of course), -19°, -18°, -17°, -12° and this morning, -9°.  We should have a high today of +2°.  Wow, a real warming trend. 
We know how to dress for this kind of weather, but when temps this low are accompanied by wind chills that say 40°-45° below zero, you'd better be careful when going outdoors.
My dear, thoughtful husband has been doing just about everything required outside while letting me languish inside in the warmth.  He has good, warm, protective clothing for these circumstances, and I have been making sure to have lots of good, hot meals (including his quota of cookies) for him during this period so he's remaining upright with no frozen appendages.  So far.
We've got lots of seasoned, dry, hardwood under cover for feeding the stoves so everything inside is cozy.  However, the amount of wood we're chucking into the stoves is slightly amazing.  It seems to immediately vanish up the chimneys.  I've got almost too much ash build-up in both house stoves, but can't figure out when I'll be able to let the fires go out so I can remove them.
These temps and wind chills are supposed to abate around noon on Sunday, although the coming week shows temperatures that are still very much winter time.
Our chickens are doing well, mostly I think, because we've had full sun all of these frigid days.  They're snug in their night time quarters and it's remarkable how warm the sun makes their attached solarium.  The waterer set in the solarium doesn't even freeze until the sun sinks behind the trees in late afternoon.  And best of all, the hens are laying (moderately) well which we appreciate.

So this has just been a check-in to let you know that we're fine and are very fortunate to be able to stay comfortable during this cold snap.

Now, pass the Hot Buttered Rum and nobody will get hurt.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Speaking of Succulents . . .

As usual, Tami over at 500 Dollar Tomato had an interesting blog post yesterday.  She was talking about succulent plants, specifically about her aloe vera plant.
We have always kept an aloe plant around because of the "juice" inside the leaves that is excellent for treating burns.

Above is one of our plants kept in the kitchen.  The leaves or spears have grown so tall and heavy that I've had to "stake" them up.
Years ago when stepping off our old tractor, Papa Pea (in a non-thinking moment . . . or perhaps he was thinking but of something other than what he should have been) grabbed the very hot exhaust pipe which burned his whole palm.  He came (quickly, to say the least) into the house where we immediately chopped off a spear of the nearest aloe plant and smeared the juice all over his hand.  He never even had a blister when it could have been a serious burn.
But I digress.
I know succulents are currently popular as house plants, but the only variety I have is our aloe veras.  However, thinking of succulents (back to Tami's post) reminded me of my grandma's love of cactus plants.
She had a large south-facing window in her dining room and for all the time I can remember, there were many pots of cactuses lined up on the window sill.  We grandkids, who were always welcome and spent quite a bit of time at Grandma and Grandpa's house, delighted in seeing if we could "touch" the cactuses without bloodying our tender little fingers.  (Grandma was not particularly fond of this game of ours.)
Whenever I'm in a plant store or nursery and see cactus plants, I think of Grandma and that sunny window sill that held all those prickly plants.
What memories do you have of the houseplants your grandmother or mother grew indoors?  What variety of houseplants do you have in your home?  Please share. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Of A Cold Winter's Day

We managed to get 3-4" of new snow within the last 36 hours, but now we've plunged into the deep freeze.  It's late afternoon now and our high for the day was a whopping 8°.  It's currently 4° and will be well below zero for the next several nights.  Not terribly cold temps but the wind chills are going to make it nasty.  About 35 below is forecast.

This is a frost-covered single pane window in our unheated entry porch today.  Kinda pretty, don't you think?
We're warm in the house, of course, but being outside for even a short period of time causes dashes back inside for another, hopefully, warmer pair of hand protection.
It was a good day for baking Chocolate Chip cookies especially since there was nary a cookie to be had in the house.  My batch made enough that I've got a good sized container of them tucked away in the freezer.

Look at my three triplet Amaryllis blooms!  Each are at least 6" across and they're on a plant my daughter resurrected after it bloomed for me last year.  She took it home with her where it spent several months in the dark under her bed (cool bedroom), then she trimmed all the dead leaves back, started watering it and had hoped it would be blooming at Christmas time, but I'm just as happy to have it now to add cheerful color to our house.

Speaking of color, I've been trying to decorate with more color this winter (especially after all the glitz and glitter of Christmas was put away) so this is the new wall hanging I finished for the bathroom.  The red, blue and yellow colors remind me of the way Swedish interiors are decorated to make a sunny environment during their long, dark winters.

On the design wall in my quilt room are these 4" square "Castles in Spain" blocks that are part of my current quilting project.  A total of sixteen blocks will be needed for the center.

I think I'll use one of these solid black fabrics and one of the black prints for the border and sashing, but haven't made up my mind which ones yet.
Great weather for good food, good books, the occasional glass of good wine (or your beverage of choice) along with creative hours in my quilt room and cozy evenings in front of the open fire.  Hope you're all finding time for some of the same. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

I Should Have Burned It

We've become quasi-grandparents to the smart and adorable little 2-1/2 year old our daughter is nanny for during the day.  The two of them come here to visit every Thursday and A has a section of one of our bookcases that holds a good supply of old and new books we've gathered for him.

There has been one of those books he frequently picks out when we snuggle on the couch for a reading session.  This book is one both dear daughter and I detest dislike very much.  The illustrations are ugly and the text is just . . . dumb.
The last time I read the book to A, I whispered to my daughter that I had a feeling it was going to mysteriously "disappear." 
The next trip I made to our local resale shop, the book was among the other items I donated.
This morning I got a call from our daughter at A's house.
She said, "A and his mama went to the resale shop this weekend, and guess what A brought home."
I must admit we all, including Papa Pea, got a good laugh out of this.
But, it just goes to show that I really should have burned the darn book.  The only saving grace is, at least, it is now on the bookshelf at A's house rather than mine.