Thanksgiving

 

 

Last week was filled with Thanksgiving preparations.The pumpkins were  all  cooked up into delicious soups, pies and breads.   Cranberry compote and apple pies bubbled away in the oven.  Winter squash and potatoes were brought up from the cellar and readied to be roasted along with the turkey that we got from a small family farm a few miles away.The house was scrubbed and shiny clean .  My girls all came home.  I had so many things to be thankful for.  This Thanksgiving in particular we were all acutely thankful for each other. Time is so fleeting and things can change on a dime.  This was a good holiday to remember to treasure the moments and those that share them with us.

Thursday’s turkey remnants are simmering on the stove.  The good stock will make delicious soups and stews  for these cold winter nights.  Christmas is coming and there will be lots of baking, decorating, sewing, and cooking, making my herbal concoctions and painting. This house is ready to be filled up with the joy and magic of the Season.

 

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Cream Cheese, Quilts, Cars & Gratitude


Clearing through the attic last week, I found a treasure. When my girls were little I used to make their clothes. Whatever material was left was cut into patches to make simple quilts. I found a bag of these patches, wrinkled but otherwise perfect. I ironed them and sewed them together into a quilt.  I showed it to my daughters this weekend and it brought back such nice memories for all of us.  My middle daughter is the most sentimental of my 3 so I’ll do some hand quilting on this and have it done for her by Christmas.
I’ve been wanting to make my own cheese so I started with an easy one..cream cheese. It was just a matter of getting the milk to the right temperature, adding the culture and letting it sit until the whey separated. Then I set it to drain. It came out delicious.

Now that gardening season is over, I’ve been putting aside time to take walks.  There’s woods, fields and streams right outside my door and this time of year is especially beautiful.
I’m mad at myself for not taking better care of my car.  It’s 9 years old and the road treatments for snow have created a big rust problem.  I should have  rinsed it down and parked it  out of the elements but I never did.  Soon I’ll be traveling a lot to help my daughter take care of her baby since she has to go back to work.  I was hoping to trade in my jeep and get something newer but the rust has devalued it.   Lesson learned.  The money part is a problem but what bothers me most  is that I didn’t care properly for something that I was lucky to have.  Poor stewardship.  To me , that says there’s a lack of gratitude.  Not a good thing.  I started this blog for the opportunity to stay focused and thankful for all the wonderful things in this world and in my life.  It’s been  so great to see, read, learn things and make blog friends from all over the world.   Thank you all!

Family & Fall Cleaning

My college girl was home this weekend. I made a big pot of chicken and dumplings on Sunday and we ended up having a nice family dinner. My sister joined us and my other daughter came with her baby and husband.  Everybody stopped along the way at Farmer’s markets and Fall festivals and brought donuts, apple cider and pumpkin cakes, adding to the feast.

The weather had been continuously dry and hot.  The hibiscus went onto a second bloom.  Overnight, rain came and a cold snap with it.  Now, the leaves are suddenly turning  and daytime temperatures have dropped 30 degrees.  The outside plants have been brought in, cut back and repotted and Fall cleaning  has begun.  I guess that’s sort of a nesting instinct… getting things clean and snug and organized for the long, cold stretch ahead.    Curtains, walls, floors, pillows  and windows washed.  Area rugs dragged outside and damp mopped with soap and water,front and back, spot cleaned and dried in the sun.  Winter blankets pulled out of storage,  washed and dried on the clothesline.  Summer clothes put away.  All the cleaning agents I use are natural..vinegar infused with orange peels, borax, essential oils, homemade soap.  Soon my little old farmhouse will be sweet and sparkling.

Prolific Peppers & Bee Stings


I spied a particularly fat and juicy blackberry in the patch yesterday. As I reached over to pick it, a bee swooped in and stung me right in the armpit. Ouch! A paste of baking soda and water works like magic to take the pain away. Luckily, it was just a honey bee that stung me. I saw this ominous looking creature in there today and backed off. Does anyone know what this is?
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This summer has been so dry here. The gardens are looking very stressed and haggard. The cucumber patch finally succumbed to powdery mildew so I cleared it out and discovered a metropolis of moles. Ugh… my nemesis. They’ve infiltrated the blueberry bushes too.
Calendulas are still plugging away. I add the dried petals to the soap I make.. they retain their color and shape beautifully. The rest of the heads, I steep in jojoba, olive or grapeseed oil. After a month or so, I strain the oil and use it as a base for skin cream.
The heirloom Napolitan peppers I had so much trouble getting to sprout earlier,ended up being good little producers. 15 plants yielded over 100 peppers. I’ve had my fill of them so I’m seeding, coring and slicing these and whatever else comes in and popping them into the freezer to use over the winter. The seeds I’ll save for next year.
It’s cool out today. I have chicken soup bubbling on the stove and oatmeal cookies baking in the oven. My kitchen smells so good. I’m going to pack it all up and bring it to my daughter.
I hope all of you are having a wonderful day! Thanks for stopping by:)

Blackberries, Dilly Beans and Babies


I stayed with my daughter for a few days, helping with her new baby.    I’d forgotten how exhausting being on call around the clock with a newborn can be.  It was good to be a mommy again, fixing  healthy meals for my daughter and pampering her a little.   Keeping her company at 3 am in a cozy nursery while she fed the baby  was special and kind of emotional.  Lots of memories from when she was little and  hopes and dreams for our new little girl.

I came home to bring my youngest back to college.  She’s all settled in and I’m catching up here.

The last of the beans, cucumbers and red peppers are picked. I made a couple more batches of pickles and dilly beans. Everything that was left, I fermented together and added garlic, onions and fennel seeds. Since my tomato crop is so sad this year, I won’t be pulling out my food mill any time soon. Any extra tomatoes I have this year, I’m just coring and freezing whole…..I learned this from my blogger friend from New Gardener Blues last year.   It’s a good tip… so quick and easy.

The blackberry crop is wonderful. I made a batch of jam and have lots of blackberries in the freezer with still more to pick on the bushes. The second flush of raspberries looks good too.
The mornings are cold and the very first leaves are starting to turn. There’s still lots of cabbage and kale in the garden. The pears are knobby but I’ll put them to good use and I might even get a few peaches.
It’s good cleaning weather. Now that everyone is gone again, I’m starting the fall cleaning and organizing. That includes tackling the attic. There’s lots of good coats and things to donate up there, before the weather gets really cold.

Avery Grace


We have a new,sweet baby girl in our family. She arrived this weekend. It was a tough delivery but both my daughter and her little one are doing fine, thank God.
I’m holding my first grand baby for the first time. I still can’t believe it.

Fruit Toppings & Keeping Flowers

A few weeks ago I made strawberry topping for ice cream sundaes. There was some left so I refrigerated it used it to top the yogurt and kefir I make. It was delicious.  I decided to do a healthier version with the small amount (1 cup) of gooseberries I harvested. I mashed and cooked them down for a few minutes and then once they were cooled, I stirred in raw honey. Heat kills the enzymes in the honey. Had I been sweetening with sugar, I would’ve just added the sugar in the beginning with the berries. I’ll keep this gooseberry topping in the fridge and make blueberry and strawberry as well.

Flowers are so pretty I wish they would last forever. My cousin told me that Mod Podge preserves fresh flowers. I printed out some quotes that I like in a dimension for bookmarks. Then I decorated them with fresh flowers and glued and sealed them with Mod Podge. (Elmer’s or white glue works just as well but needs to be thinned a little bit with water.)

I posted about our losing my cousin John a few weeks ago. His daughter Stacey (she is so much like her Dad), sent me roses. I wanted to keep them so I made rosepetal beads . The link gives easy directions and a wonderful story of how they were used in Medieval times. The only ingredients were 4 cups of petals and water. They were very easy to make. I strung them on a chain that I wear with my Grandfather’s wedding ring and a few other things that are meaningful to me. Body heat imparts the rose fragrance. It’s a beautiful reminder to me of people that I love so much.

Hard Goodbye.. live, love, laugh

When I was a little girl, I went to a fairy tale wedding. My cousin Kathy looked like Cinderella and the man she married had fallen in love with her at first sight. His name was John and known as ‘Crazy Johny’. He had wild black hair and a big laugh. He danced on tables, sometimes got into trouble and was known to disappear into the woods for days on end. He was intense….strong, fiercely loyal, always learning, positive and kind. He played hard and worked harder.  That paid off.  He had lots of friends, fun adventures and a beautiful house and family to come home to.  His wife and their children were always the loves of his life.

A few years ago, my life changed. My Mom died suddenly. My Dad needed a lot of help. 2 of my 3 daughters left home. My business began to fail and eventually closed. It was a lonely and disorienting transition. I spent my down time playing Scrabble on the computer. I was surprised one day when my crazy cousin Johny challenged me to a game. That developed into a relationship that I will also be thankful for.  He told me lots of stories that made me laugh and sometimes cry.  Life through his eyes was a beautiful world to see. He let people be who they were. The ones he loved would always be loved, no matter what. He laughed, had fun and ate lots of good food. He was true to himself, his word and the people in his life. (there were many!).

I didn’t realize at first that he was battling a disabilitative disease though it was already into advanced stages. He didn’t allow his illness to define himself, his life or his relationships.  Last week the illness claimed his life.  It never claimed  him.

Strawberry Moon


Today’s full moon is called ‘Strawberry Moon’ by the Native Americans. Right on cue, the strawberries have started to ripen. I am wondering how this season will pan out with all the erratic weather. The temperature dropped more than 30 degrees, it’s barely made it into the 50’s the last few days. Cold temperatures have come with heavy rains and flood warnings.
The peach tree I planted in early May is looking distressed. Leaves are turning yellow and dropping. I’m hesitant to dose it with anything. Transplant shock, extreme temperatures and water fluctuations are most likely the cause. I took a superstitious route instead and planted Hyssop around it.
The blueberry bushes are chock full, Clematis is just opening and the Irises are winding down.
The rainy days have been good for catching up on indoor work. I finally cornered my college girl into going through her clothes and weeding them out. No easy task! Her older sisters send everything they don’t want her way so we waded through a LOT of things and donated more than we ended up keeping.
My oldest daughter is 7 months along with her pregnancy already and she is doing great! The baby is now the size of a coconut and weighs over 4 pounds. I have a tiny room upstairs I’d like to make into a nursery for when baby comes to visit. I’d planned to use the crib I had from when my girls were little but my daughter wants me to buy a new one with current safety standards. Hmmm… I understand her wanting everything ‘just right’. This is her first baby and she’s the first born herself…very much a type A personality, she’s a lawyer. I think the crib may just be the beginning, lol.