Sunday, November 30, 2008
My newly married daughter asked if I had made Christmas stockings yet for her.
"Ummm well, no, not yet," was my reply. I had told her earlier that I would make her and her husband special stockings if they wanted them but once I finished the babies' stockings, I kind of forgot about the idea. Dear Daughter and I had been shopping at a local store, following the sales, and decided that the stockings "out there" were okay, but that I could do something more unique and personal. So today I did it.
I found the patterns for the felt cut-outs here and here at Midwest Living. Check out all the seasonal patterns here. I like the calm spirit of these patterns which will easily flow past Christmas and into winter. The stockings won't, but some of the other projects will. I did not enlarge the patterns (as directed) for my stocking projects, but kept them the original printed size.
I had read somewhere that you must never iron synthetic felt. Well, I did. I even used Heat and Bond (the non-sew variety) to adhere my felt poinsettias and the reindeer (or is he an elk?) onto the stockings. I pressed them again, and again, and again. And no, this was not the wool-blend felt. It was a nice by-the-yard-felt, but not the very best quality. It worked well, and I was happy with the results. I had hesitated to do some other projects with felt mainly because of the directions: "Do Not Iron," but now I will move onward without fear. Just for the record, if I were making some of the Midwest Living projects, like pillows and throws, I would spend the extra money and buy a wool-blend felt. I think they would hold up better.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name,
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I burnt the first batch of fantan rolls. For the second batch, I raised the rack up another notch and turned down the heat. I usually bake dinner rolls at 400 degrees, but not this time. I think the fact that they have butter between the layers makes them more susceptible to burning. I love how these rolls peel apart in layers. I just used my sweet roll dough for the recipe.
To make the fantan just roll out a generous chunk of dough (a loaf's worth) into a rectangle approximately 1/8" thickness on a floured surface. Pour on some melted butter and smooth it over all. Next, take a pizza cutter and cut strips about 1 1/2 to 2 " wide. Now layer 6 to 8 strips on top of each other. Then cut them with a knife about 2" wide. Lay them in greased muffin tins so they fan out at the top. (not a perfect science) Raise to double in size. I baked these in a 350 degree oven on the middle rack for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. These are good with or without butter! Mmmmmmm.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I've always loved this Norman Rockwell picture, Freedom From Want. It reminds me of our Thanksgivings with everyone gathered around the extra-specially set table with as many matching dishes and glasses as possible. Always the table requires the bread plate, wine glasses for the grown-ups, the crystal water goblets, the cranberries in the white ceramic dish that the recipe fits in perfectly. There are platters of turkey and ham, a great dish of mashed potatoes piled high and more mashed potatoes reserved in the kettle "just in case," more-than-enough gravy, and traditional dressing with no fancy nuts, sausage or berries in it. The strawberry-pretzel salad or the orange salad or both must also grace the table, and a relish tray -- the only vegetables except possibly for green bean casserole or a few chunks of squash that very few will eat. The brown bean pot is a regular at a holiday table as well. The punch bowl is set off by itself with tiny punch glasses or large ones for those who aren't so dainty about punch drinking. And lastly there is pie -- pumpkin, cherry, or peach and REAL whipped cream with hot coffee. Can you smell it?
But the best part of Thanksgiving are those who fill the chairs around this table.
Here are some old pictures of some very special people who once gathered to celebrate Christmas. My Grandma Kathryn is in the apron at the very end of this table.
And my Grandpa Ray is at the opposite end of the table in over-alls and white T-shirt. My dad (the boy winking) and his siblings are gathered with the best Aunts and Uncles Ever. Doesn't it look like a Rockwell painting? I share these photos today to remind you to enjoy every moment with those special people on the chairs at your Thanksgiving Feast. And by all means, take a picture! Your kids and your grandkids will thank you for it one day. I'm so glad I have this little piece of my family history.
"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~I Thessalonians 5:18
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Main Event is done, the bulls are sold, the trucks and trailers have been rolling down the highway to deliver these big boys to their new homes while we're breathing a sigh of relief that it's over, and we can pay the bills for another year. God is good. We're blessed to be able to live and work in the country on our own land with our family.
I was out walking in the yards amongst the pens of bulls and saw this crew of cowboys catching some sunshine (it was 70*) and waiting for the sale to begin. They were visiting quietly amongst themselves, taking notes and no doubt telling a joke or two as they waited. I know they spied me stopping to take their picture even though I was trying to be very nonchalant about it. You'll notice that heads are down and hats conveniently cover their faces. That's the beauty of a hat, really. If you have bad hair or a bald head, wear a hat. If you're cold, wear a hat. If you don't want anyone to notice you much (in SD, ND, MT, WY, NM or TX) wear a hat, especially if you pull it down over your eyes like all real cowboys do. After all, a hat is to shield your eyes from the sun and your head from the elements, besides which, most fellas look mighty handsome in a hat. Think Marlborough Man or Gary Cooper (below).
Making a living on a ranch is risky business. There are never any guarantees, but are there ever? We live from year to year, season to season -- waiting for rain, watching to see if the stock ponds fill, hoping for green grass and hay, working hard for spring calves and lambs, anticipating the heat of intense summer sun, riding on the herds, preparing bulls for sale day, and working desperately to complete the fall jobs before the inevitable winter cold rushes in and settles the once-living into hard, cold, lifeless quiet. It's truly a challenge to rely so heavily on the weather and the Come-What-May Difficulties that country living throws at us, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's a good feeling to go to bed at night tired and ready for sleep, which reminds me of a quote I read recently in the livestock paper. Baxter Black said this about the uncertain times and economy in his article, Perspective, "Put your fears in God's hands and pick up a shovel." I couldn't say it any better.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
It's "That Time of Year" when my mind is spinning with ideas for gifts that I can make in my workshop. I just love doing this and you know, there are gobs of ideas out there that don't take a heap of time and energy to make.
I'm about to begin some pretty Rubblework Scarves from Pink Chalk Studios. If you like to sew and create, you'll love her blog. Kathy's having a sale on the PDF pattern which is well worth the price for the tips and ideas she adds within. There are also a free pattern for a water bottle carrier that's very cute!
You've seen the fun baby softies and scottie softies I've been playing with too. Those are freebies. Oh, and Chrisi mentioned in the comments where to find the Snow Baby embroidery pattern. It's over at Florisita's blog.
If you're interested in a give-away for a little quilt, you must visit Camille at Simplify. You might even consider purchasing one of her adorable quilt patterns to make as a gift for someone special or for yourself.
Look at this DIY website filled with oodles of fun crafty ideas and tutorials from several craft blogs and web sites, One Pretty Thing.
Do you have a Starbucks addict to buy for? Why not stitch up a personalized coffee cozy for that Starbucks latte? Look at this tutorial.
And don't forget Wee Wonderfuls' free patterns for softies and embroidery projects. I made the Elf Sitchettes for childrens' Christmas stockings.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Bitty Baby Booties!
I found the freebie pattern for these by Heather Bailey. They seem to fall off her precious lil' feet, but I think they're just a tad too big. I made them out of double-sided polar fleece for coziness. Remember when I made these booties for the Grandangel? She hasn't tried them on yet -- probably waiting for Christmas -- but I think the little bit of elastic will keep them on her feet better.
This is the Snow Baby softie I made my Grandangel for her Christmas stocking. I'm also making these cute little Scottie Dogs to add to the other babies' stockings. You can find the free pattern for the softie dogs at AllSorts.
I have one more Dolly to make and I'm still contemplating what she will look like. I found this cute Snow Baby at Hoop Love Flickr Group, but I don't see her there anymore. There is a darling boy on a scooter though! And you'll find other fun things too.
Here is Snow Baby all by herself. She's stuffed lightly with fiberfill so little hands can hold on. Too much stuffing and she'd be hard to grab, I think. Since the pattern for her is not "out there" anymore, you can click this photo and print it for yourself. Trace and stitch (but please do not sell).
Addendum: Here's the link to the snow baby and some of her friends. I enlarged her by 200%.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Sharp-tail Grouse tracks are above. They're a lot like chickens. They are ground birds that mostly walk around but they do fly... something like B-1 Bombers. (click pic to enlarge)
Jackrabbit tracks to the left, snowshoe tracks in the middle (can you say BIG FOOT?) and dog tracks to the right.
Raccoon tracks look like small hand prints in the snow.
The dogs love to come romp with me through the snow. Sue loves me, can ya tell?
(click any pictures to enlarge)
I went out for a walk yesterday, deciding I'd keep to the shelter belts to stay out of the wind. When I got there, I realized just how FULL of snow the trees were! So I walked back home to get my snowshoes. The first snowshoeing of the year!
The snow was like sand dunes piled high and hard...or something like frozen waves to surf. I had to really watch my step because one minute I'd be on top and the next minute my foot would step off a cliff of snow. I dropped a couple of times before I quit gawking around and paid a little more attention to my steps, thankful no one was watching me.
You'll notice in this picture how the snow drifts went over the fence, but the pasture right next to it in the background, is swept bare. Our winds were so high when the snow came (sometimes at 60 mph) that the high ground and the flat prairies were bared. It's hard to say how much snow actually fell. Notice how bluey-gray everything is.
Snowshoes strapped on.
My legs are sore this morning. Snowshoeing is something like marching. I love it.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
This is what we woke up to this morning. The wind and snow revved up last night and blew hard all night. We really thought we'd end up without electricity, but it was sustained. We even had the tractors fueled and ready just in case we needed to start the generators up.
I went out and helped Hubs this morning. Out in the feedlots, I opened, closed and guarded gates while he took the tractor in and out and cleaned away snow from the feed bunks and stockades. Look at these poor, snow-splattered Herefords. It's 25* F and we probably have about 30 mph winds which makes for a wind chill of 9*F. It's miserable out there.
This is my favorite corner of the house lately. I moved the rocker in front of the woodstove and find much comfort and warmth here. I don't even mind tending the fire and hauling in armloads of firewood. A hot cuppa and a book makes this a very cozy spot.
I've had a spell of heartsickness since the election has been decided. Obama was not my choice, but I wasn't all that wild about any of my choices. Now that all is said and done, I am off to do the next thing. I know that nothing comes about that hasn't been through My Father's Hands first and so I accept it. I'll accept that the people have chosen, but I'm not about to sit still and shut up. I won't sit quietly by because the President-elect doesn't know when life begins. I won't sit idly by if he chooses to raise my taxes because it's patriotic. I won't sit still when he decides to "spread the wealth around" or when he establishes socialized medicine. I AM going to carry on with living the way I always have.....worshiping God, loving my husband and kids, being the best homemaker I can be, living on a budget, loving my friends and strangers alike. I'll keep on doing what's right and good, and.... I'll expect my government officials to do the same. I'm going to have to carve out some extra time in the next four years to write my senators and congressmen more than I have been and perhaps I'll write the President too. It's nothing new to me, but I'll be redoubling my efforts.
Elections have their purpose. We will get what we deserve. I think about the chapter in I Samuel chapter 8 (I recently read this) where the people asked Samuel for a King. "We want to be like other nations. We want someone else to judge us and fight our battles for us...." Samuel prayed to God about this, but God answered, "Listen to them and give them what they want and warn them...." I think God is saying the same thing once again. Nothing's new under the sun.
Now for a little laugh from some of my favorite folk singers/comedienas -- The Smothers Brothers.
Take it, Tommy and Dicky!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
I'm proudly wearing my "I voted" sticker on my shirt, even though no one will see it tonight except my family. It's a day I treasure, despite the long, long, L O N G campaign. Today, The People will speak -- not the talking heads, not the ad-makers, not the poll-takers, but The People. We'll sit before the TV and watch the results roll in. For us, it's an American holiday... The Once-Every-Four-Years Election Super Bowl.
I did a little research today on Election Day and how it came about. From what I gathered, the date (the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November) was decided upon back when America was a mostly agrarian country. November was chosen because the fall work was done, crops were gathered in, and the roads were generally passable. But why Tuesday? It was chosen because Sunday was a Sabbath day and Monday would be a day for travel. Many people had a day's journey to get to their county seat on horseback or by wagon. Tuesday would be voting day and then Wednesday was, in some places, market day. Thus, the day stands.
"Woman Suffrage in Wyoming Territory. Scene at the Polls in Cheyenne"
- Nov. 24, 1888
I found some other very interesting historical tidbits here where Kate Kelly is promoting her book, Election Day, An American Holiday an American History. If you explore the links there, you will find bits like this....
In a hotly contested election to decide the location of the Essex (New Jersey) county seat, people cast as many votes as they could, traveling by horse and carriage from polling place to polling place. At the time, women had the right to vote in New Jersey, and young men dressed as women to vote. The largest number of votes ever cast before in the county had been 4500; for this election, nearly 14,000 votes were counted. The township of Acquacknonk, where 350 voters lived, polled nearly 1900 votes. Because of the very obvious abuse of the voting process, the results of the election were declared void. In 1807 New Jersey reverted to limiting the franchise to free white male citizens.
Grover Cleveland, elected in 1884, was accused by Republicans of having an illegitimate child. It was a charge he never denied. When his advisors asked what to do about newspaper reporters who were on to the story, Cleveland replied: “Above all, tell the truth.” The Republican cry that followed him on campaign stops was, “Ma Ma, where’s my Pa?”Cheating and scandal is nothing new to politics.
I hope you voted today!
Monday, November 03, 2008
"The Way Home" by Tandi Venter
There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation." ~Madeleine L'Engle
If everyday life is our prayer, the moments we offer up to create an authentic life are our sacraments. The "Book of Common Prayer" defines a sacrament as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." The outward and visible way in which we move through our daily round -- the time, creative energy, emotion, attitude, and attention with which we endow our tasks -- is how we elevate the mundane to the transcendent.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance
Sunday, November 02, 2008
We had burgers and oven fries for supper last night and ended up with 4 left-over burgers. I can't stand to throw food out so I refrigerated them with intentions of re-heating them the next day. If you save grilled hamburgers, I have a tip for you....
Do NOT re-heat them in the microwave. They will taste terrible. Blech! Really, they do.
Instead, do this....
Put a little olive oil or veg oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Allow it to heat up a little and then add your left-over burgers.
Put a lid on top to capture more heat. After just a few minutes, flip over and heat the other side, being careful not to burn or char your burger.
Add a piece of cheese to melt over top and serve on a bun, the way you like it. It tastes just like a fresh-grilled hamburger.
Ta Dah! You've done it! You have just saved a hamburger from the dog dish or the trash. (I'm so proud of you!) Yes, this can be done with other grilled meats as well.
A little clip from a movie I watched recently, The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin. In this clip, Steve is learning to speak clear English before flying from France to NYC so as not to be conspicuous while on his secret mission.