Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give thanks...

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more--a grateful heart:
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose 
Pulse may be Thy Praise.
~~George Herbert 1593-1633

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Frog Eye Salad....

The salad is a long-standing family tradition made only for holidays or big celebrations like graduations or weddings.  Why is it we don't have these family favorites more often instead of just for holidays?  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the recipe makes a gallon of salad!  Could be.  The Left-Handed Housewife (whose son makes pies) asked for the recipe so here it is.  Enjoy.

Frog Eye Salad
~ inherited from my MIL

3 cans (11 oz) mandarin oranges
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple
2 cans (20 oz) tidbit pineapple

Drain all fruits and reserve juice in 2 qt. pot.
1 ¾ c. (of reserved juice)
1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. lemon juice
½ t. salt
Mix sugar and cornstarch together first and then combine the rest and whisk over medium heat until thickened.  Cool.

16 oz. acini di pepe  - cook according to package directions and rinse under cool water.
In a very large bowl, combine fruit, sauce mixture & pasta.  Chill.

Before serving, add the following and fold together.

8 oz. Cool Whip
2 c. mini marshmallows (more or less)
1 c. shredded coconut

Makes about 1 gallon of salad.
May halve the recipe.

Happy Day of Preparation....

Today is what we call, The Day of Preparation, the day before a big holiday like Thanksgiving.  It usually consists of baking pies and breads, making the cheese ball and cranberries, and also the frog eye salad or goodies that can be made ahead.  There are table cloths and napkins to launder and shirts to iron, the glass turkey candle holders must be found and some candles for the Thanksgiving table.  This year all of our kids are away for the Thanksgiving holiday.  The "outlaws" get them this holiday, and they'll all be home (we think) for Christmas.  It's a good plan.  Our youngest two sons are not married, but one lives far away in Tucson and the other is on-call at the campus where he works.  We figured it would be "just the two of us" this Thanksgiving, but we got a nice invite from my parents and my brother and his family will be there too.  It'll be good.

I've always dreamed about what it would be like to show up to a Thanksgiving feast with a salad in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other.  And now the dream has come true.  Actually, I will be bringing the homemade dinner rolls and a broccoli side dish, but hey, it's not an entire meal!  Oh, I decided to make some spiced nuts to share so there is still a Day of Preparation for me.  I'll call it Preppy Lite.  The real dream is to show up at my one of my children's homes for Thanksgiving dinner and bring the salad and wine.

I don't know about you, but I absolutely can't wait for the dressing and gravy -- my favorite part of  the Thanksgiving dinner.  That, and pumpkin pie with REAL whipped cream.  What do you look forward to?  Football?  A nap?  Left-overs?

Let's give a rousing cheer for all the Thanksgiving cooks out there! Wooo Hooo!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Children and sleeping and other things they do and do not....

I've been chatting with my daughter a lot lately.  Well, we honestly talk every single day on the phone and least once and usually more than once.  It might be for just a minute to clarify a recipe, or it might be five minutes to discuss the current weather, or it might be for an hour, depending on the children's decibel level.  Why is it when you're on the phone and there are children in your house, the decibel level goes up and they want to talk to you?    Anyway, much of the time my daughter talks to me about her children and the difficulty of raising them.  Sometimes she asks for advice, but much of the time, I think she just wants someone to talk to about it who can commiserate and say, " Don't worry honey, this too shall pass."  (My MIL used to say this to me.)

One days while talking to OnlyDaughter on the phone, she was telling me about how her children don't sleep which translates into -- she and her husband don't sleep.  I don't think they've slept a whole night through since 2010.

As she was dumping her no-sleep woes on me, she said curtly, "It must be nice to sleep every single night, all night long."

I truthfully yet cynically said, "Yes, it IS lovely."

To which she sheepishly replied, "Ummm, I guess you've paid your dues."

To which I replied, "Ah, yes, I have!"

I am certain that I invented the shared family bed that is touted as the new modern family norm.  It wasn't meant to happen in my world, because I intended for every family member to sleep in his or her own bed always and every night without waking up, but when the mother is a totally exhausted zombie and the baby needs to nurse and the 2-year old has been up with a cough most of the night, everyone gets to sleep in the big bed.  One of our babies slept with us so much that he thought my silky nightie was his blankie.  In fact, he dragged it around the house with him to suck his thumb.  It was fine at home, but we couldn't have that in public or when the grandparents came so I finally bought a couple silky neckerchiefs  to stuff in my purse.  (Ah-hem.)

Just this morning I got an email from OnlyDaughter with the following video.  It was so hilariously true I just had to share it with you.  She said it reminded her of her just-married-brother who wants to start a family soon.  I hope it makes you laugh-out-your- eyes like it did me. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


It was a cold day here so I've been holed up in my workshop today, busily and happily creating Christmas stockings for the newest family members and giving another stocking a much-needed facelift.  I mainly used felt for the stockings themselves, and for the cut-outs I used felt with heat-and-bond. 

I was so tickled to be able to use a sweater collar on the cuff of this stocking.  I had been saving it from when I made no-knittin' mittens last year from old sweaters.  When I cut it off, I was worried that it might begin to fray.  I put a little fabric glue around the cut edges, and it held perfectly so I sewed it on the front.  I think it gives the stocking a Scandinavian look.

This plaid wool stocking (red felt on back)  has a masculine look for the grandboy, and I just love the stag reindeer head too.  I searched and searched for the pattern and finally found a copy in drawer and then hunted it down online for you in case you'd like to use it.  There's a pretty poinsettia template too.  Find them HERE at Midwest Living.

Are you working on some Christmas Elf Projects?  Do tell!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bracing up...

We've had some pretty nice days for mid-November -- all of them used to the fullest to brace up for the coming cold days.   The propane man came to fill our tanks, the water tank heaters have been turned on for livestock, calves have been weaned, and the granaries have been filled with corn for winter feeding.  I have also been finishing chores that I needed to get done before the big chill arrived.

Yesterday, a beautiful 50 degree day, I pulled up the last of the carrots from the veggie patch.  I always try to leave them in the ground for as long as possible because they just seem to keep better in the soil than they do anywhere else.  Just a few days ago, I pulled up a two gallon bucket and yesterday another two gallon bucket was filled.  Needless to say, the two of us don't need four gallons of carrots so I've been sharing my organic treats.  They sure are sweet and crisp!

Today my folks came out to help butcher a few chickens.  The coop is now a quiet and peaceful place without the four roosters. We weeded out some of the non-laying, old hens too.  The folks took a bag full of fresh chickens with them before they went home, and eggs too --  the beginning and the end.  We didn't have chicken for supper tonight.  It's hard to eat chicken after spending the afternoon killing and cleaning them.  'Nuff said.

As the day progressed, the big chill came in.  As I type tonight, we've sunk down to 12 degrees, and the wind has whipped up to make the windchill about -9* according to my windchill table.  We're expecting a little snow to blow in tonight too.  Thankfully, everything's buttoned up for winter for the most part.

It always amazes me how quickly we brace ourselves up for the cold.  Frosty mornings force us back into the winter coats, the heavy socks, boots, gloves, caps and neck scarves -- all in full service now.  It seems we don't miss a beat adding them to the daily dressing routine now that it's cold outdoors.  We just do it.  It seems natural.  We don't even have to look for those things in the closet because they are always at the ready when you live up north.  We know it can turn from bikini weather to parka weather overnight, and that's no kidding.  All summer long the winter coat stays on the peg right next to the light sweatshirt, and gloves have a permanent place in the pockets of that winter coat 'cause you never know when you're going to need them.

The weaned calves look great.  They've got a good, thick, curly coat of hair on them, and the mother cows are fat and ready to go through the winter.  The sheep are heavy with wool.  The migrant birds are all gone, but the chickadees have arrived and spend time at the feeders along with the wood peckers and nuthatches.  The American Goldfinches have changed from their summer golden tuxedos to their winter gray tweeds.  I noticed a jackrabbit in the pasture has turned it's coat from gray-brown to winter white.  The green world has gone to sleep, the hoar frost has coated bare trees, and thankfully, winter friends remain.  Everything, every creature, and every human here has braced up. 

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.” 
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dog diet experiment...

Chubby Sue and Toodles (a year ago)

I've been doing an experiment on my dog.  She was getting fat.  No.  She has been fat for a couple years.  I tried feeding her less dog food.  I tried low-fat dog food and dog food for mature dogs.  Nothing seemed to budge her pudge.  Her hair seemed dull and she seemed rather blah.  I started thinking about what dogs would eat naturally -- raw meat and maybe raw eggs.  In the spring she eats lots of afterbirth.  I did a little reading about feeding dogs raw foods and made the decision to try it on Sue.  What happened in just a few months is miraculous.  She got slim and not just that --she feels spunky and acts like a 2 year old instead of a nine year old dog.

 Healthy & fit Sue today.

All I did was to add 2 eggs a day to her regular once-a-day feeding of dry dog food.  About two times a week or so, I feed her a little raw meat and raw bones.  That's it.  I didn't take away her dry chow, but merely added the raw foods.  She is full of energy, happy, shiny and healthy.  I was telling a vet assistant about what I had been feeding her and she asked me, "How old is Sue?"  When I told her almost 9 years old, she couldn't believe it.  I'm tickled that Miss Sue is so much healthier and happier.

The Holiday Cactus (blooms Halloween through Easter)

Guess what else is happy and healthy?  The Holiday(Christmas) Cactus is joyfully blooming in my laundry room again. I love it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Louise's new do...

Miss Bee loved her new dolly, Louise.  She even loved her hair, but the yarn I used for the hair was, shall we say, extra frizzy and shedded like crazy.  I told Bee's mommy that if it got too bad, we could always take Louise to the Beauty Parlor and get her a new do.  And we did.  Bee picked out the hair color and I like the choice.  Do you?

I admit, I miss the wavy, big hair she had before (see the post below this one).  I really do.  But the lint and shedding was just too much.  If any of you knitters or crocheters have a good suggestion for non-shedding "curly/wavy" hair yarn, I'd love to hear your ideas.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Louise, a Wee Wonderful doll...

I just love Hillary Lang's Wee Wonderfuls dollies and patterns and embroideries.  Miss Hillary is such a beautiful creator of all things childlike and full of wonder.  That is why I decided to try my hand at making one of her dolls.  This one is from her pattern:  Kit, Chloe, and Louise -- three doll ideas in one.  I chose Louise although I didn't quite make her hair the same as the pattern.  I wanted my dolly to have reddish-golden, curly hair, and I wanted the small hands that receive her to be able to put Louise's hair in ponytails or clippies or leave it wild & frizzy.  I made Louise out of the fabrics in my stash.  The only purchase I made was the yarn for her hair.

It was a fun project, but a little bit fussy for me.  I guess dolly projects aren't the kind that happen over night.  I must say, the pattern instructions were clear and easy to follow.  Now that I have made one, I think I could make another dolly in less time since I've learned by my mistakes and successes what to do and not to do.

If you have a notion to do some sewing or embroidering before Christmas, you will find lots of lovely patterns in Hillary's shop.  I've made the Seasons Stichettes, and I'm fond of a freebie, Elf Stitchette.  I hope you find inspiration at Wee Wonderfuls like I have.  Enjoy!


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