Sunday, November 28, 2010

O Come, O Come Emmanuel...

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Advent!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tutus, holiday wreaths and Advent...

We had a lovely Thanksgiving and I hope you did too.  The turkey wasn't stuffed, but the rest of us definitely were!  All the kids were here, grandparents and my brothers made it out.  This is the weekend of  leftovers and for that, I am grateful.  We'll gobble them up with gladness.  I plan to make a turkey-noodle soup with homemade noodles for tomorrow's lunch.  I can't wait!

So.....why are there two tutus on my blog?  Because we made them over Thanksgiving to give as gifts.  We girls put our hands to work and came up with pretty pink and white tutus -- one for my 3 year old niece and one for Hazel Peach.  They were so simple to make using instructions from MomdotCom.  We used tulle-on-a-spool which was 6" wide so all we had to do was to cut it in lengths and tie on.  Easy!

 Today daughter-in-love and I got together while HP was napping and made ourselves some Christmas wreaths out of coffee filters.  Another almost-instant-self-gratifying project.  We figured it took us about one hour to make a wreath.

Various instructions call for a styro wreath base or a straw-filled wreath, but we made ours with cardboard circles.  I traced around a 10" dinner plate and then used a small bowl to trace out the center.  Cardboard bases are very easy to work with.  One thing we figured out after our first wreath was to put a row of rosettes on the back of the base first and then fill in the top of the wreath by going around the outside first and working inward.  In the picture above, I had the wreath completely filled and and decided to put the extra layer on back so I took the picture to show you how it was done.  The second wreath below is made from an 8" piece of cardboard as the base.  The smaller size is really cute.  I added bows to mine, but you could just loop a pretty piece of ribbon on back to hang the wreath. 

We found the idea on The Nester and I highly recommend that you go look at some of the other projects she has made with coffee filters.  I love the light pendant and think it would be fabulous for a wedding.   There is a rectangle-shaped wreath on Pleasures of Homemaking that I think you'll like too.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.  Our family has always taken time to reflect upon The Coming of Christ by observing Advent.  I like to burn a special candle or make an Advent wreath with candles to light every night as we read our devotion or sing a hymn.  One of our favorite books to use is Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader.  The daily readings are interesting and the book comes with a CD which includes selections from Handel's Messiah that go with each reading.   When the children were Littles, we used Family Celebrations by Ann Hibbard.  Back then, I made all the felt symbols that went along with each daily devotion and the kids put one of them on our tree each night.

This weekend I ordered some sweet Advent Calendars for the Littles in my life.  Did you ever have an Advent calendar that counted down the days till Christmas?  I loved them!  I remember some from my childhood that had small chocolate candies behind each numbered square and some calendars had pictures behind the windows.  I found this Advent calendar on sale!  Perhaps you made a paper chain that helped you to count down the days to Christmas?  Such anticipation and excitement.

Wishing you all peace and joy as you prepare your homes and hearts for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tea experiment....

A couple of days ago, I mention that I love Masala Chai tea.  Since my Rishi Masala tin is near empty and the nearest seller of my tea is two hours away, I decided to make my own blend.  I went to my health food store which carries lots of nice herbs and spices in bulk, and bought the spices and the loose China Black Tea I wanted to make my own mix.  I was looking for whole green cardamom, but only found cardamom seeds which would have to do.  

On the plate and moving clockwise starting with the cinnamon sticks at the bottom, whole star anise, cardamom seed, dried ginger, whole cloves, peppercorn.  In the middle is the black tea.

I really had to fiddle around with amounts to put in my mason jar.  My first cup of tea was pretty good, but I think it needs more umph.  Maybe I should make my tea in small batches like this recipe:
I think with tea mixes like I'm trying to create, you don't always get a good dose of each and every spice when you scoop it into your tea ball.  More experimenting is in order through these cold days.
For a high today, 8 degrees with 20 mph winds
I went out to feed the chickens and that was all!
It's frigid.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Young buck...

 Look who I saw nibbling in the snow-covered flower bed in the backyard?
This young white-tail buck deer was all business about eating what was below the snow.

Even though not fully grown, he's majestic and beautiful.  Around these parts we must guard against the deer.  If you look in the background, you see a round piece of fence and two steel posts.  It is protecting a young tree from bucks such as this one.  They love to rub and scrape their antlers on trees and they sometimes eat young trees too.  Deer are browsers and will give most anything a nibble.  One year the deer moved in so thick and ate everything down to the nubbins.  They ate all the flowers, pulled up carrots, ate the potted geraniums on the front porch, and even ate my rhubarb--leaves and all-- and here they've always told us rhubarb leaves are poisonous.  Not so for the deer I guess.  They tend to gather in hay corrals in the winter and lay on the hay and leave their scat there to soil it.  And of course, they like to eat the hay that we have reserved especially for our livestock. Sometimes we end up sharing whether we want to or not.
Despite all this, I still think they are beautiful creatures, and I like to watch them all through the year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cattle & Cold....

Herd Bulls await a bucket of alfalfa cake.
Cows coming  out for their cake.

The days are turning colder and colder.  This morning it was a meager 6 degrees as we headed out to feed the cows.  The sky was beautifully bright and blue and the air was brisk.  
We are expecting single digit temperatures tonight with windchill temperatures as low as -10.
And snow.
About 4-5 inches of snow overnight.

For comfort, I'm building fires in the wood stove and lighting candles.  I like the hazelnut candle best.  It seems any type of flame makes the home feel more cozy and warm.
Lately I'm drinking more hot tea and trying to keep it herbal (Stash Lemon-Ginger) since I don't need the extra caffeine of my favorite drink, strong fresh-ground coffee or my second favorite, chai black tea.  I really like the Rishi Teas and so far, my favorite chai is Rishi Masala.  Add some hot milk and a tiny bit of honey and you've got something good in your hands.  It makes a nice dessert!  What's your favorite wintertime drink?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Around home...

 I've been seeing and hearing this Northern Flicker (red shafted)  around the bird feeders the last week or so.  He nibbles on the seeds that fall on the ground.  Normally, I see him picking bugs from the trees but I suppose gathering seeds and bugs from the ground is easier picking. 

 He's showing off his red mustache and black neck tie.

 There, now we've seen him from three angles.  Isn't he handsome?

 Who needs toys?  
Spruce cones are great fun to count, "One, two, six, sefen, nine..."  
I have very few "real toys" but my Peach likes the real stuff that we have around the house.  Wouldn't you like to count soft spruce cones into a yogurt cup?  Or lay them straight on your blankie?  
Earthy-Gram likes natural things like cones, dirt, and garden carrots to share with her grandkids.

Another owl project happened just last night after I visited Cassie at You Go Girl.  She always has the cutest stuff to share and this Hoot Owl is no exception.  The free pattern comes from Juicy Bits.  I increased the pattern size on my copier to 150% just as Cassie suggested.  I really want to make a few more of these.  They're fun to stitch on these long, dark evenings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pine cone fire starters and more....

 Talk about your recycled project!
The pine cones were free for the taking at the golf course, the candle wick I had in a box of candle making  stuff , and the wax was recycled from the paraffin wax bath that Hubs uses for his arthritic hands.  It was time to change the wax for the season, but instead of throwing it away, I dipped cones.  It worked perfectly.  I found the idea for fire starters here.  It really is fairly easy to do except that the pine cones have very sharp bracts that you must watch for as you thread the wick around the inside of the cone.  I added a sprinkling of clear glitter to some of the cones just as they came out of the wax dip. Won't a basket of pine cones wrapped in cellophane be a pretty gift?

 I had to experiment with the dipped cones to see if they would  light easily and burn.  
Yes, they did!

I received my Cath Kidston "Dec the Halls" catalog today and guess what?  It had USA prices and a Cath Kidston USA website to order from!  Talk about thrilling!  The CK fabrics are still WAY overpriced for my budget, but it's fun to think I can actually shop this catalog and get a chunk of that fabric without doubling the price of  British pounds to US dollars.  No international shipping either!  Woo Hoo!

Don't you just love Cath Kidston's vintage Christmas look?  The paper, the bows, the tags?  Be sure to check out the holiday wrap and spot ribbon on the drum!

How about making a magnetic paper doll set?
Stop by and see the Betsy McCall Paper Dolls for inspiration.
  Take the kids or the grands along with you and don't forget your scissors. 

 Just one more thing....
Look at these cute mittens made with a recycled wool sweater.  Just launder a thrifted, wool sweater, dry on high heat, and shrink it down so it is felted.  Then cut and sew!
Full instructions are by Waxwing over at Craftser.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The wee folk now has a face.
She has a smile.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Feed my sheep....

 "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord, You know that I love you."
"Feed My lambs."

"Simon, son of John, do you love Me?"
"Yes, Lord, You know that I love You."
"Shepherd My sheep."

 "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?"
"Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you."
"Feed My sheep."


(Excerpt from John 21:15-17, NKJV Bible)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The best cookies ever, ever, EVER!

Soft Molasses Cookies are my family's all-time-favorite cookie -- the perfect blend of spices and molasses and the best eating cookies ever.  Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.   Yup, just like Lays Potato Chips, no one can eat just one!  I'm sure I've eaten a dozen already today.  That's what happens when the weather turns cold; the thermometer hovered around 32 degrees for a high.  Baking becomes a terrific idea!

Soft Molasses Cookies
~copied from an old Country Woman magazine

1/2 c. butter, soft
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
2 eggs
3 1/2 to 4 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. ginger
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves

Cream first five ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the dry ingredients a cup at a time, mixing as you go.  Roll dough into 1" balls and then roll balls in a bowl of sugar.  Place balls two inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Do NOT over-bake.  Eat hot out of the oven!  If there are any left, keep cookies soft by storing them in cookie jar or covered container with a small chunk of bread.  Makes approximately 3-4 dozen cookies. 

HP and I played follow-the-leader in the snow.

 She not only eats snow, but icicles too.  Who can resist licking a long, clear-as-glass icicle, I ask you?  Back to eating cookies.  I'll make it healthier by drinking a big glass of milk!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eat snow. Sleep with owls.

 It snowed!  We had about 3-4 inches stick, but it snowed all day on Tuesday and never quit.  It was warm enough that a lot of it melted into the ground, but this much stayed with us.  It was a chilly day here so not much melting happened.  It always amazes me how we go from 60 degrees one day to 30 degrees and snow  the next and merely change our coats, pull on our winter boots and carry on.  This is how we roll on the Northern Plains -- always ready for a change. 

Hazel Peach came for part of the day while her mommy and daddy ran some errands.  We think it's a good thing to eat snow.  Do you eat snow?  The sunshine was nice and warm-ish  right after lunch so we breathed the fresh air, walked in the snow, played with the dogs, and of course, ate some snow.

While HP took her afternoon nap, I went to Grammy's Workshop and threaded up the sewing machine to make this fun owl pillowcase. I used  this tutorial from Plain Ol' Vanilla.  It's so easy!  I think I cranked this pillowcase out in half an hour.  The fabric I used  is "Life's a Hoot" collection by Adorn It.  Wouldn't a Christmas pillowcase be a fun gift?  Now Miss Peach can sleep with all of her (h)owls.  Hoot!

Monday, November 08, 2010

A day of simple pleasures...

It was one of those days that you appreciate every little thing; you see things and hear things and feel things  that most days, slip by unnoticed.   Do you ever have a day like this?  When I awoke this morning, my window was cracked open just enough for fresh air to breeze in and to hear the gold finches and robins saying their last farewells.  I know they won't stay long.  It reminded me of a morning in spring when I first heard them arrive.  In God's Good Earth, there is constancy in the seasons -- in coming and going, in new arrivals and migration, in the earth's slumber in fall and winter.

My morning started with a walk through the feedlot where nervous calves bolted as they heard me traipsing by (I am not a light walker) and saw the dogs trotting along beside me.  My goal this fall and winter is to walk down the alley every day to gentle them and to look for sickness or any distress.  I see innocence, contentment, watchful eyes.

At the end of the alley is a gate that leads into a large pasture with a stock pond that is always loaded with waterfowl.  Now it is mostly bare, but my eyes caught hold of something unusual.  A large bird.  Perhaps a goose or a swan.  I walked home for the camera to see if I might be able to capture an image of this lovely bird to identify it.  My photography went from careful, distant shots so as not to disturb it to close-up shots right at the water's edge.  This creature did not mind my curiosity one bit.  It kept on feeding, dipping it's long neck and head down to graze the bottoms of the pond.  I kept on slowly walking closer and closer and spent some time just watching it graze -- focused, hungry, unaware.  After my return home, I consulted the bird guide and decided it was either an immature Tundra Swan or Trumpeter Swan.  The more I searched images online, the more I was convinced it's a Trumpeter.  I'm so excited for I don't think I've ever seen a Trumpeter Swan in the wild, and rarely have I seen a tame one in the parks.  It appeared to be all alone.  It is surely migrating, but why it is not with others, I don't know.  I said a prayer that it might find other swans to migrate with.

 In the mud beside the water, you can see imprinted tracks.  All the wild things nearby come here to drink at night.  The hand-like prints are raccoon and the others are duck or goose or swan prints.  It's fun for me to think about a raccoon family all trailing down to the pond to drink.  Soon the raccoons will decide to hibernate for the winter.  It hasn't been cold enough yet, but this week promises much colder weather.

 Since we are expecting snows tonight and tomorrow, I chose to spend my time deliberately enjoying the outdoors all afternoon.  I dug the rest of the potatoes and came up with two 5 gallon buckets full.  The purple potatoes made an impressive showing this year.  There were several of them the size of a small roast beef!  I sorted out the spuds that I accidentally sliced with the shovel and brought those in the house to use up first; the rest I will store in a dark place in the garage.  I also dug up more of the carrots, ate three, but left quite a few in the garden to dig up later.  They tend to get sweeter the longer they stay underground.  The trick though is getting them before the ground freezes and turns the carrots to rubbery mush.  I'm thinking of a hearty potato soup for tomorrow's lunch. Food from the garden is best!
 I've been slowly collecting pine and spruce cones.  The pine cones came from the golf course and the spruce cones came from underneath my parents' huge spruce tree that towers over their house in the backyard.  I collected some spruce cones with Only Daughter one afternoon from underneath the Lutheran Church's spruce.  The president of the church council drove up as we were picking cones and asked us what we were up to.  I told him, "Community service."  He smiled and said we could have all we wanted since it would be less for him to rake up.  I'm thinking of many ideas to use my cones.  Here are some of  the ideas:  pine cone garland and another garland, fireplace starters, pine cone bird feeders.  I think cones are lovely sitting in bowls and in clear jars all about the house too.

After shutting the chicken coop, I walked home and noticed how perfectly God hung the moon over our  house -- somewhere, out in the middle of nowhere.  Simple pleasures.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Stitching wee folk....

I began this morning...
cutting a tiny shirt and jumper pattern out of wool felt.
For such a small creation, my table was covered with stuff...
 embroidery thread, scissors, chenille stems, glue,
beads, yarn, snippets and pieces, the book.
Then there was the patience.

 I used this wonderful book  called
Felt Wee Folk by Salley Mavor.
Here is her beautiful blog, Wee Folk Studio.

While balancing Hazel Peach on my knee in the morning
 I stitched while she played 
in the box of embroidery floss,
and admired every color, 
touching each one to her cheek saying, "So sof(t)."
In the afternoon I sat on the porch in the warm sunshine 
(catching some rays)
wrapping wee legs and arms.
In the evening after supper I dressed my wee girl,
made an acorn head that was supposed to be a wood bead,
(which I did not have)
and added yarn hair and a bonnet.
Here she is.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Honey -- to your health!

I've been dabbling in the cookbook, More Food That Really Schmecks by Edna Staebler, and I noticed in the section called "Odds and Ends and Uncategoricals," there was an entry called "The Honey Cure."  Since I think raw honey is good food, I wanted to share this part with you.
The Honey Cure

If you are run down, irritable and always tired, try taking 3 or 4 teaspoons of honey a day for several months.  (That should sweeten and fatten you.)

Do you believe that honey is good for insomnia, constipation, and poor blood?  (Mother's little old book says it is.)

Twitching of the eyelids or the corners of the mouth can be cured by taking 2 teaspoons of honey at each meal.

Muscle cramps can be cured by taking 2 teaspoons of honey at each meal.  (What a friend we have in bees.)

After  reading this, I decided to do a little honey research of my own.  Oh my, there is a lot out there about honey!  Did you know that honey contains these important vitamins:  B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids?  Minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.  That nearly covers most of the vitamins and minerals in a daily supplement.  It is said that raw honey (unfiltered, unprocessed, unheated) has the most nutritional value. The Benefits of Honey is an excellent source of research, recipes, nutritional information, and honey facts.

Have you ever heard of the Hibernation Diet?  I hadn't, but it sounds like a good idea to me this time of year -- eat all you want and then sleep the winter through!  The basic premise of it is that you eat sensible meals, but at night, you take a spoonful or two of honey before going to bed.  I'm thinking -- honey as in Pooh bear, and hibernation as in going to bed.  I'm starting tonight!  I just stirred a good glob of raw honey into a hot cup of chai tea and added a little warmed milk.  Yummy!  It is said that honey can aid in a good night's sleep and it helps to fuel the liver at night while you rest which in turn will give you more energy for your day.

Here are a few ways I have used honey in my home.

+  Excellent cough syrup recipe:  1 part honey, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part whiskey.  Mix well and take a couple spoonfuls before bedtime.   I learned this from a local doctor.

+ To sooth a sore throat, take honey straight or in hot water or hot tea.

+ Put honey on a burn, cut or scrape.  It has antibiotic properties that promote healing of the skin.

+  Moisturizing facial mask.  Find recipes here.  As a face wash,  mix a little honey with water in your hand.  Dab it onto your face and rub it in.  You may like to keep it on your face for a couple minutes.  Rinse with water.  It cleans and moisturizes.

+  I use honey (and molasses) as sweetener in homemade breads.

+ Spread raw honey on your morning toast and then sprinkle on cinnamon.  Delicious and good for you!

How do you take your honey?  Do you have any favorite brands or kinds of honey to share?  I am currently using Stakich Raw Honey.  I like to buy local honey when it is available.  Please tell about your experience with honey or bees.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...