Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve Day


Late yesterday we got rid of an ugly brush pile.
Papa Pea collected much of this debris in the fall and was waiting for the required 3-6" of snow on the ground before burning it.  He's been frustrated looking at this eyesore while waiting for a good snow cover.
Since we have nary a bit of the white stuff on the ground, he checked to see if he needed a burn permit to set fire to the pile.  Most of our recent days have been very damp and foggy with no wind, as was the day yesterday with rain forecast starting last night and going through Christmas Day.
He was told they had not been issuing permits but the weather was certainly appropriate for burning a small pile.  
The question then remained could we get the pile to burn! 

But burn it did, although the flames looked a bit weak at first.

It wasn't long that our voiced encouragement helped the fire to really get going.

We had some impressive flames for a short time.

We were happy to see the pile burned quickly without producing any ugly black smoke, and with Papa Pea using a pitchfork to make the base of the pile smaller and smaller it was well out at last check before we called it a night.
* * * * * *

We got this good shot recently of a brush wolf (coyote) looking as though he was posing in front of the trail cam.  What a healthy, good-looking fella.  (Gal?)
* * * * * *

I'll close this Christmas Eve day post with this quote that is our holiday greeting to all of you.
'Tis the season for kindling
the fire of hospitality in the hall,
the genial fire of friendship in the heart.
                               - Washington Irving

Sunday, December 17, 2023

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas . . . Not

We're doing our best not have bah-humbug attitudes for the fast-approaching holiday season, but Mother Nature is not helping one bit.
Our landscape remains snowless, brown and drab as can be.  I'm reminded that a friend of ours always said, "It doesn't have to be sunny to be a good day."  Well, we can change this around to mean it doesn't have to be snow covered to put us in the spirit of the season.
The temperatures, day after day, remain too warm for any snow to accumulate.  This is if we had any snow.  Okay, yesterday morning I did wake up to an actual inch of the white stuff on the deck railing.  The first we've seen so far.  But the thermometer read 33°, started to rise immediately, and it all melted in a blink.  Back to our mantra of, "It doesn't have to be snow covered . . . "
I finally baked a couple batches of our traditional holiday goodies yesterday and if all goes well, some more may appear today.  'Bout time.
Two Christmas gifts ordered in plenty of time (we thought) have yet to arrive.  At least the companies ordered from have been good in communicating with apologies explaining they're experiencing delays beyond their control.  'Tis not the end of the world.
Early last week I broke out in a nasty red rash covering most of my body including certain areas where one should never (ever) have a stinging, burning, itchy rash.  Never having had personal experience of such, I was at a loss to know what the heck was happening.  Turns out it's hives.
In my ignorance, I had always assumed (never assume, eh?) hives were individual spots much like bad mosquito bites.  Nope.  Picture raised, red bumps covering my skin in areas about the size of Rhode Island.  Miserable?  Yep, it's not been fun and six days later I'm still feeling the effects, though greatly subdued, that are not allowing me to exhibit my normal stellar outlook on life or ramp up much energy or allow me to get a good night's sleep.  Could be a lot worse.
I have butter in a mixing bowl on the counter softening for a double batch of Spritz cookies.   (We add a titch of almond extract flavoring to ours -- yum.)  I think I'll get going on them because I know my current low level of oompf will require some couch time later on.
Hoping all of your holiday plans are coming along smoothly and that you'll have a White Christmas.  Or at least will have the sound of Bing crooning about one floating through the house! 

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting . . .

I can't guarantee you won't hear me some day soon bemoaning the fact that I've just had to shovel that pesky two-foot drift of snow that the wind regularly dumps across our door leading out to the front deck, but here it is this first week of December and we're still waiting for our first decent snowfall.  We've not had more than one or two weak flurries thus far.  No, our landscape doesn't look like the scene depicted in my current blog header photo taken a few years ago.  Our daughter did report she saw two rabbits in the woods a day or so ago wearing totally white coats so perhaps they know the snow is coming any day now.
I may have mentioned before that the Old Farmer's Almanac predicts a warmer and dryer winter season for us.  So far, gotta say they've been right on the mark.
Even though I have still been thinking it's autumn because of our continuing mild weather and no snow as mentioned above, in the last couple of days I packed away the Thanksgiving and all fall decorations.  I told Papa Pea it felt strange to be putting up the Christmas decorations but if one takes a good look at the calendar, Christmas Eve will arrive in a mere twenty-two days.  Eeeep.  And we all know how fast time flies.
Dear daughter has been experimenting making homemade egg nog (her dad's favorite holiday drink) and a knock-off Irish Cream (which her mother could live on).  The egg nog has been very good although I think she still wants to tweak it a bit.   We all agree the current batch of Irish Cream ain't gonna put Bailey's out of business.  We're so fortunate she loves fiddling around with recipes like these.  Not only am I in a period where I'd rather eat toast for every meal (with an Irish Cream chaser), but still have no desire to cook.  Period.  (I will confess to having taken a peek at our traditional holiday goodie recipes, however.)
Papa Pea is gone for the day so I'm logging in quilt room time.
Back to it I go.  I'm putting the binding on a baby quilt and then will listen to the audio book I'm in the middle of while doing the final hand sewing.  

Above is the quilt and although I didn't intend to make a wonky version of a Gay Pride Flag, I have heard comments that I did so.
Hope you're having a good day! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

It's All Hard To Believe

The calendar says it's the middle of November and we're having Indian Summer weather.  When I got up this morning at 5:45 the outside temp was 41.  Now in early afternoon, with a glorious sun having been shining all day . . . well, it must be in the 50s.
Shutting down for the winter months may be something we're ready for but with this kind of weather so late in the season, we can't justify doing it.  So outside tasks that we didn't think would get crossed off the list this year are being done during the short daylight hours in each day.  Ready for a rest we may be, but using this unexpected time to accomplish a couple more fall tasks is worthwhile.  As Martha would say, it's a good thing. 
* * * * * *
Recently my daughter noticed a small quilted wall hanging of an appliqued turkey I hung on the wall and asked if it was new as she didn't remember seeing it before.  "Gosh, no," I replied.  "I made that maybe about five years ago.  Or maybe even six or seven years ago."  Taking it down from the wall I looked at the date I put on the back when I completed it.  2003.  Twenty years ago.  Oh, my.  Where. does. the. time. go?
* * * * * *
I can't cook worth beans lately.  I've forgotten how apparently.  Nearly every meal revolves around something burned or missing an ingredient (or two) or it just has a strange (not good) flavor.  Same recipes, same methods of preparation but nothing seems to come out right.  Plus, danger, danger!  I walk away from the stove and leave a burner on.  I'm thinking the only sensible solution is to hire a full-time cook.  Yep, I need to be replaced with a newer model. 
* * * * * *
Friends are stopping in tomorrow on their way through to another destination so I should tidy up the house a bit.  But how dirty can it be?  I did a thorough vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, cleaning . . . when?  Couldn't have been more than three or four weeks ago.


Sunday, November 5, 2023


Rain threatening to turn into snow tonight and through tomorrow had us scrambling today to get a couple of those most necessary tasks done around the homestead.
I lent my brute strength to help Papa Pea haul our sport boat to its winter parking spot, unload it from the trailer, turn it upside down on blocks and then store the trailer.  It's really only a "little" boat but both of us have taken some Arnica to make sure a couple of tweaked muscles while manhandling the boat around don't bother us or inhibit a good slumber tonight.
I plant Scarlet Runner Beans in the garden each year mainly for the beautiful display of red flowers they give us for most of the season.

Our daughter then lets the beans stay on the vines for as long as possible hoping they will dry naturally.  Most years she has to hang them inside her house to complete the process.

The bean pods this year grew nearly a foot long and were plentiful.

Then she shells the dried beans, puts them in one of her homemade boxes and gives them to friends as Christmas gifts.  They're really an attractive bean with their black and pink coloring.

Papa Pea found the time to sort through our apple harvest of a week or so ago.  Not a good year for our apples as the harvest was light.

Our best ones are from our crab apple trees.  Or I should say one of the two crab apple trees.  The one from which this apple came gave us an abundant crop.  The other one didn't do much at all.  I like that these crab apples are quite a good size, and they're my favorite for an eating out-of-hand apple.

Another reason the main apple crop was disappointing is that much of the fruit was afflicted with either bitter pit or apple maggot.  At first I thought it was bitter pit but by the appearance of this one I just cut open, it looks very much like apple maggot.  Papa Pea thinks we have both problems.  Ugh.

It just seems the right time of year for gingersnap cookies (there's a wrong time?) so that's what I baked late this afternoon.  It created a delightful aroma throughout the house and happiness in bellies.
There.  I did it.  A new blog post.  And my brain doesn't even hurt.  Much. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Thanks For Caring

It's undeniable that the calendar proves I haven't put up a new blog post in over a month now.
I've been truly touched by the concern for my well-being by you dear readers.  I'm glad to say that my well-being is intact, but I have definitely lost my blogging mojo.  It's gone, disappeared entirely.  Where or why, I cannot figure out.
Do I have writers' block?  Or the fear of posting boring fodder that's of interest to no one?  Is it rebellion against the time that sitting and using modern technology takes from actively living in (what used to be) a more personally interactive way?  Do I suffer from the inability to intelligently  share my thoughts and pictures in a post?
Yes, to all of the above.
My daughter has more than once said, "You should write about that on your blog, Mom."  Huhn.  Each time, I realize to do so has simply never entered my mind, nor can I summon up the will to do it even with her gentle persuasion. 
I'm not throwing in the towel and deciding to never blog again.  But how long it will take to unscramble what's going on (or not going on) in my head is up in the air.
In the meantime, know a couple of things:  1)  All of us are alive and well while continuing to live our much appreciated lives making repairs, doing maintenance and creating improvements here on our little homestead while having taken time for some new mini-adventures and recreational outings during this past gorgeous fall season, and very importantly, 2) I want to say it warms the cockles of my heart knowing my posts have been missed by those of you who have communicated with me.  Thank you so much. 

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Would You Follow A Different Path?

Here's a hypothetical question for you.  If you could go back to a certain time in your life and change the profession you chose, would you?  It seems to me that as we gain the knowledge and experience of years . . . well, if we had only known then what we know now.
When I left for college, my father told me there were only two professions I should pursue.  I was to become a teacher or nurse so I could always support myself.  (This was way back in the early 1960s, you should remember.)  I should forget any inclination to follow my "artistic" aspirations.
Although I never became a teacher or nurse (good thing for both professions), I did have a successful career working for a vice-president of a large company.  My pay scale was extremely good which would have enabled me to support myself, if needed.  I believe I did a very good job.  Was my work truly enjoyable or fulfilling?  Nope. 
I've always wished I had pursued a degree in Fine Arts or Interior Design or Drafting and Design.  (In high school I wanted so much to take the Drafting classes offered.  "Sorry," said the administration.  "No girls are allowed to take Drafting."  Oh-kaaay.  I no doubt missed the chance to become a famous architect.  Or not.)
That's my "if I could go back in time" story.
You're next.  Would you follow a different path than you did? 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Can You Stand One More Trip Through The Garden?

My second planting of lettuce still looks good, 
but is becoming a titch on the bitter side.

The coloring on the strawberry plants 
could hardly be more in fitting with 
this beautiful fall season.

With all our rain the last couple of weeks,
these slicing cukes got away
from me.  These are so big they're
bitter tasting. 

I purchased a special packet of
colored gourd seeds that
promised a big variety of
different shaped and colored
gourds for my
decorating purposes.

Ninety-nine percent of them are
either this or the above shape.
(Yes, this one seems to be
growing upside down.)

Look at the mum sunflower that
just bloomed on one of
the stalks.

Our pumpkins are finally doing a
good job of turning orange.  
So far, names 
of four kiddles are
taped on ones they've picked
out for their own.

We're getting gorgeous red
peppers on our 
green pepper plants.

Last but not least, not in the
garden but cooling
on the back porch, is the 
first apple pie of the
season made with our
own apples. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Gingersnap Recipe

Katie C. had asked for my Gingersnap recipe in the comments section of my last post but I've been having trouble getting it to her so said I would post it here.  It's a perfect treat for this time of year and I hope you, Katie, along with anyone else who tries it will like it as much as we do.
Here goes:
3/4 C butter
1 C sugar
1 egg
1/4 t salt
1/4 C molasses
1 t cloves
1 t ginger
1 t cinnamon
2 C flour
2 t soda
Cream butter and sugar.  
Add egg, salt and molasses
and mix in.  
Then mix in cloves, ginger,
cinnamon, flour and soda. 

Shape into walnut size balls and
roll each ball in granulated sugar.

Place balls on greased cookie
sheet and bake at 375°
for 6-8 minutes.

Cool on cookie sheet a few 
minutes before cooling
completely on racks.

Store in air-tight tin and
immediately hide tin 
or cookies will be gone
by end of day.

My husband prefers them super-soft so I tend to bake them only the 6 minutes but I actually like them to "puff" up a little bit if left in a minute or two longer.  As they cool, they "crack" to give that traditional gingersnap appearance.

Good luck making yours, Katie.  And thanks for your interest.

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Best Time Of Year

Crisp days, cool nights, color galore and no bugs.  (Well, except for those nasty ticks that one has to take precautions to avoid.)
I'm always energized this time of year (good thing).  It enables me to (puff, puff) get the last of the garden harvest in and processed.  Even though the garden itself looks terrible now, it's still giving all it can to make the last of the harvest worthwhile. 
I was thinking of making potato pancakes for dinner last night so went out to dig up a couple of potatoes.

One would think I got carried away, but I found these spuds under just two plants.  What a haul.  Six and one-half pounds.  (No, we didn't eat them all last night.)  Methinks our potato harvest this year is going to be a bonanza.

Most of our pumpkins still look like the above.

But a few of them do show signs of coloring up properly.
We've had a too-long period of wet, damp, dewy, drippy weather.  Mowing the grass for the last time this season has been put off and put off which has resulted in thick, matted, green stuff that is impossible to get through with the lawn mower.  Papa Pea has had to "knock down" most of it with the rotary mower on the old Gravely garden tractor which leaves a lawn that would definitely not measure up to Martha's standards, but it was all we could do.

The grass between the raised beds always grows extremely well because of the fertility of the raised bed soil which "leaks" out to the surrounding area.  My dear husband will have to take his heavy-duty weed whip to these areas (the Gravely mower is too big to fit) because when I try to do it with the regular lawn mower, everything clogs up and the motor dies over and over. 

The weather has put the baking bee in my bonnet.  Yesterday I made a pan of brownies and early this morning a batch of Gingersnap cookies magically appeared from the oven.  Gingersnaps are a family favorite, and I personally think they go perfectly with autumnal weather.
Yesterday I made a batch of Stuffed Green Peppers for the freezer.  Ended up with sixteen servings for us which provide a quick and easy meal all winter long for the cook in the house.
This week we're planning our annual hike to a favorite spot which allows a gorgeous overlook of surrounding territory and the fall colors.  I told the troops I want to go as early in the day as we can get it together because it's such a popular hike that as the day goes on, the trail gets close to being downright crowded.  It may make me seem antisocial, but I don't think it's any fun hiking when there is a string of people in front and in back of you.

Isn't my new blog header photo stunning?  Another great photograph by our daughter.  Not taken this year but rather a few years ago as the colors aren't quite as full-blown yet as the photo shows.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

And Didn't It Blow!

 Yesterday turned out to be the last day (for the time being, at least) of our extreme heat.  Even so, as early in the day as we could, Papa Pea and I took our bowls and stools out to the blueberry patch to gather ripe berries.

I've been watching this bush (one of them planted two years ago) because of the intense pink coloring of the berries as they wend their way toward ripeness.  I can't remember ever seeing this particular coloration in any of our berries before.  Of course, the tag we keep on all the plants indicating their variety is missing from this one.  I could pull out my records and look it up, but I'm too tired to do so tonight.

I also knew there were pickling cucumbers to harvest so even though it was already getting hot, I filled a large bowl with a smidge over nine pounds of them.

Then to make sure I heated up the inside of the house, I came in and canned them.

That about took the stuffin's out of me so I tried to stay as cool as possible for the rest of the day.

In the late afternoon, the sky turned dark and started to look as though we might get some of the rain that had been in the forecast.

And rain it did along with winds so wild we weren't sure much would be standing when it quit.  It was a bit scary.

This trellis with colored gourds growing up it was staked on the four corners, but when I took a tour of the garden this morning I could see it was definitely listing to the south at an odd angle.

Cosmos stems are always a bit delicate and brittle.  These took a beating in the storm.

The two rows of sunflowers didn't fare well either.

Some fell on the pickling cucumbers next to the cattle panel on their left.  Some are left standing, some are upright but leaning at a precarious angle.

The wind damage could have been a lot worse.  But I did spend a bit of time this morning doing some earlier than usual garden clean-up.  We appreciated the rain which measured a good two inches, but could have done without the accompanying heavy winds.  But the storm did bring in a "cold" front and pushed out the heat.  Our high temp today reached only into the 60s and the same is forecast for tomorrow.  It will good sleeping tonight!

Monday, September 4, 2023

We Are Melting!

Hot, hot, hot.  Too hot for us northern people.  
Week before last, we were sure fall had arrived.  The colors started to turn, the temperature began dropping long about 5 p.m. each day bringing that feeling of autumn to the air, and our lawn was starting to collect leaves drifting down from the trees.
Then last week temperatures nearly caused whiplash to those of us ready for sweatshirt weather.  They soared right up to the hottest of this summer season.  Well, perhaps the apples, sunflowers and pumpkins will have a chance to reach their full potential yet.
As for humans, we've had a couple of sleepless nights.  Our body thermostats just don't adjust easily to 80-some percent humidity with sweat dripping off our noses.  
The lack of rain, for yet another period, coupled with the high temperatures has caused forest fire danger in the surrounding area to be listed as way too high for comfort.  Not much to do but put on our coolest (while remaining decent) clothing and keep our fingers crossed for mid-week when promised rain arrives along with lower temperatures.

Here's a lovely, wild bouquet a sweet nine-year old girl gave me when she came in yesterday from a walk on our property.  I was touched.  And impressed.  The rugged beauty of nature.  And the thoughtfulness of a child. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Just Call Me . . .

Yep, call me done in.  Pooped.  T-i-r-e-d.  It's that wonderful time of year when the garden is giving forth its bounty just about faster than I can get it harvested and processed.  But that's a good thing (puff-puff), and what we gardeners hope for all season long.  So I'm thankfully pushing along.
Actually, I'm doing a fair job of keeping up with everything (garden related at least).  Except for the weeds that have obviously seen this as their last chance to band together while I'm not looking (or have time to look) and are happily bursting forth.
Right now I have a second batch of Blueberry Jam on the stove after having done my first batch yesterday. 

I have to confess I cooked it too long yesterday and the consistency is thicker than we like.  Geez, after having made Blueberry Jam for umpteen years, you'd think I'd know what I was doing by now.
Also harvested and processed the last of the beets yesterday.  Last year, I kept all of our beets (unprocessed) in the root cellar which didn't turn out really well as it takes sooo long to cook beets that I always found something else to serve as a veggie with our meals that was quicker and easier.  (Emphasis on quicker.)  This year I'll be able to pull a packaged serving out of the freezer, pop the beets into boiling water for a couple of minutes and on the table they will go.

I've dehydrated some herbs already but methinks enough has grown back on the plants that another cutting can now be taken.  That's a shot of oregano above.
Blooms on the sunflowers are prolific and I have vases of them showing off their cheerful faces all over the house.  
I planted a packet of "mixed" this year and they are, indeed, mixed in size and color.

This is the tallest one so far.  I just measured and it's 8' tall and growing.

I'm particularly fond of this lemon colored one.  Not as tall as it's neighbor, but one of the bigger ones.  The plants range in size from about 3' to that big guy in the first picture.

Even the cosmos have decided to bloom, late though it seems to be.  I'm getting a good mixture of colors this year after having hardly anything other than pink, pink, and pink last year.  Same seeds planted this spring so I wonder what causes the wider selection of colors this year?  Is Mother Nature fooling with me?
The blueberry mixture is getting close to thickening so I'd better get it into the jars and water bath before it thickens too much again.  Fingers crossed I don't end up with blueberry syrup with this new batch.  "So what's wrong with blueberry syrup?" my husband would say.  If it happens, I'll just call it a win-win.
Now, as soon as the jam is done, I'm rewarding myself by spending the rest of the day in my quilting room.  Yahoo! 

Sunday, August 6, 2023

More Garden Progress and Pictures

I think the garden looks the best right about now.  It's lush and full and lovely, but won't stay this way for long.  It will be all too soon when it starts to look raggedy and blowsy (if that is a word).  All in all though, it's a natural progression as I harvest all the goodness the garden provides for us by giving it's all.

Even though we're once again very short on rain and considered in another drought period, things are looking good.

I finally have one single blossom from my two patches of cosmos flowers.  I've been questioning why these favorites of mine have not given me as many bouquets in the past few years as I'd like.  Did a little research and found cosmos don't like a very fertile soil.  I guess this falls under the "can't win" category in that the garden soil has apparently gotten just "too good" for them!  I still have hope, though, that I'll get more flowers if I'm just a little patient.  Hope so, anyway.

This trellis of sugar snap peas (or edible podded peas as they're sometimes labeled) is so lush and heavy that the whole shootin' match started to go south.  We propped it back up to a (almost) vertical position so now it's started to go west on me.  Next year I'll definitely thin the seed sprouts out so there aren't so many vines to grow on the eight foot trellis.

I placed pots of herbs in the bed under the hoop trellis where the Scarlet Runner Beans have done such a great job of completely covering the whole hoop.  So much so that for much of the day, the herbs were in too much shade.  The parsley is the one exception that can tolerate less sunshine.  So yesterday I repotted three of the herbs into bigger pots and then set them all in the bed where I harvested the beets a week or so ago.  The herbs should be happier in this new-to-them full sunshine spot.

I grow colored gourds to use in my fall decorating and the seeds I've been using produce not a lot of variety to my mind.  They've been mostly those green and yellow goose-shaped gourds and not much else.  So I planted a different variety this year which I now realize would have been happier on the ground rather thinking they would climb on a trellis as did the old variety.  I'm very curious to see the new gourds produced because the leaves on the ones this year are huge, and I'm having to tie the vines up to the trellis.  (Not my favorite task.)  Unfortunately, the vines are covering the lovely blue salvia plants I planted along the side of their raised bed.

Surprise, surprise!  I actually have enough dill growing that I'll have ample for making my dill pickles this year.  Maybe my threatening coaxing the plants did some good!