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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Blooming


"It is not as we strain after feelings and experiences...but as we seek after God Himself, looking to Him as our Father, prizing His fellowship, and finding in ourselves an increasing concern to know and please HIm, that the reality of the Spirit's ministry becomes visible in our lives.  This is the needed truth which can lift us out of the quagmire of non-spiritual views of the Spirit in which so many today are floundering."

J.I. Packer
Experiencing God

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Day

Glory to God in the Highest, and Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men.
                                                            Luke 2:14

Never had I planned to take such a break from the computer and blogging. Missing you in terrible degrees and only misty thoughts appear whenever I begin questioning when I shall be able to get back to it again in any regular form.

  
Celebrating Christmas with family, at my house this year. 




Only Charlotte and I truly witnessed close-up the bittersweet moment when my parents saw each other for the first time since Thanksgiving. My mother's illness has required her to live in an Alzheimer's facility, the grief this has caused us is unbelievable.  But we managed to get her here for a few hours.
Daddy was carried downstairs by his grandsons, and then later they carried him back upstairs and to bed. He did beautifully.

Charlotte's dollhouse       


Claire was faithful in clean-up duty. What did I ever do without her in past years?????   She also brought along a delicious brussel sprouts dish and creamy mashed sweet potatoes.    


Amid the disorder  before everyone had left to return home, a family photo was in order, in our new sunroom.     

 Only a tiny peek into my home on Christmas Day. I have enjoyed sharing it with you.                             

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Mercy and truth are met together;
            righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
                                                                                          Psalm 85:10


My father is settled in a room upstairs. A regular daily caregiver along with Hospice will assist me and my family in caring for him.

Many visits these past two days from those gifted with mercy, willing to help.

Peaceful thoughts when you know Who is in charge.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

canning jars and pumpkin-y things

It is good that I do not have to live without canning jars, they prove to be extremely handy around my house. I use them for storing such a variety of things. Sometimes I even freeze leftover stock or soup in my quart jars. (Of course, the trick here is to allow expanding room at the top.)

Today roasted pumpkin seeds fill a half-pint jar. These are from the pumpkin I cooked over the weekend. The same pumpkin that moved from sitting on the steps of my back stoop, to being cut in half, scooped clean of seeds and set on a cookie sheet to bake in a 375 degree oven for 1 and 1/2 hours. Now I have unlimited (it seems) amounts of fresh pumpkin to incorporate into tasty fare.


Such as pumpkin soup and a pumpkin cream pie that unwittingly metamorphosed into a pumpkin mousse dessert due to a teeny mishap. As I was hurrying and scurrying about Saturday on my way to place the prepared pie into the refrigerator...OOPS! The gingersnap crust blended throughout the pumpkin cream and became a delightful consistency to make this dessert extremely yummy!

Have you ever tried Pumpkin soup?

Saute a medium onion and a clove of crushed garlic in 2 Tablespoons of butter. Cook these until the onions are tender and translucent. Add 4 cups of chicken broth (I used boxed). Add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Then add 2 cups of  fresh pumpkin (or one can if using canned pumpkin). Simmer at least another 30 minutes. Cool slightly and then process the soup in a food processor in small batches. Pour back into saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and one cup of heavy cream.  Garnish with tiny snips of fresh chives, a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg.

Now, I  do believe I have re-typed pumpkin from "pumkin" enough times already! Goodnight!

Friday, November 26, 2010

blue ribbon leavening

 The making of your own baking powder is so simple and economical. And the quality of it is steps above the canned sort you purchase at the grocery store.

 1/4 cup cream of tartar
 2 tablespoons baking soda

Sift together 3x and store in a clean, dry tight-sealing jar at room temperature, out of direct sunight, for 4 weeks.

This may be used for any recipe that requires baking powder. I give it a blue ribbon.

*Also, I have used it only recently with a batch of biscuits and it was over 4 weeks old, still worked like a charm.




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

giving thanks


As I walked in November's mellow sunshine this afternoon, my heart was absorbed with the matter in which these times of my life have stacked themselves. Like old suitcases with silk linings, solid mahogany dining room cupboards and tarnished pieces of silver, the familiar, the treasured, and the changed tell a story that scribbles across pages, creating chapters and requiring volumes, yet the words are not enough.

My mother has not lived near me since I officially left home and became a wife over thirty-two years ago. That changed yesterday when we moved my mother into an assisted living home only three miles from my house. Sounds neatly packaged and stacked, yet the tugs of my heart in this matter are strong.

But thankful I am, and my heart rests and daily lifts up genuine thanksgiving and praise to my Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving each and every one!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

no secrets here


It is no secret that this is my most favorite young couple.

No secret either that their birthdays are only two days apart in late October.

We let go of any clandestine tendencies and celebrate grandly with both families. Dinner, cake, and presents, 
              


the only secrets hanging around until the wrappings are peeled off.

And since it should not be a secret to anyone, I am simply pleased as punch to announce Claire's spot in the blogging world.

                                                                                       

Treasures gathered on an afternoon walk in the woods, that is except for the pink chrysanthemum, it was snipped from my front yard.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Amidst


I awoke in a strange bed. Mother must have heard my stirrings and quiet rustlings because she came shuffling down the hall, early. I read a portion of John 15 to her, "I Am the vine, you are the branches." 

I continually averted her attention from my father, who is currently not with her due to his recent illness, to childhood memories:

churning butter with her grandmother, 
springs of fresh water,
 deep in the country,
 country hams taken from the smokehouse and given to a hungry man who stopped by the porch, 
moustache cups from which Papa drank his coffee,
 and sleeping in the bed with Big Mama and Papa because the bats hitting against the chimney during the night aroused such fright. This personally was my most favorite because she would pat the side of the couch and smile, remembering the comfort.

The conversation ran along with me filling in the missing pieces of words lost.

I prayed, at times tears running down my cheeks, on the drive home that morning. A drive that took me through heavy traffic, where the sunlight danced across the windshield and the sky was so unbelievably clear after a weekend of mindboggling confusion.

He embraced me. 

It is good to be home with my family once again. Doing the routine things with revitalized appreciation.
Entirely different conversations than that of the previous days.

We laughed a lot last night. A hopeful antidote to balance the tears. 

It might possibly be time to add caregiving as a label. A portion of my day is spent with the concerns of my elderly sick parents these days. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The thinnest yellow light of November is more warming
and exhilarating than any wine they tell of.
The mite which November contributes becomes equal in value
 to the bounty of July.

-Henry David Thoreau



 


sketching
               knitting
                          reading
                                     a cup of hot tea
                                                             a lighted candle

                          
    

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

bluebird of happiness

The birdbird of happiness has landed at my house. She was discovered in a little shop downtown last weekend begging to come to my home and stay indefinitely.

The work has begun for the sunroom that is to be added at the rear of my house. The girls and I are becoming acclimated to work crews and the banging throughout the day. Right before Christmas I am expecting to have a room lined with windows, just in time to bring plenty of light in those darker months of winter.   Happy, happy, yes.


A new discovery of fascination in the world of sewing has dropped into my lap. The creating of a Victorian crazy quilt. Actually, this one will be a table runner. Late yesterday afternoon sunlight was pouring into the area I have dubbed my "sewing room", and even though it was time to go downstairs and prepare dinner,  I found my self saying "just one more piece, please". Addiction comes easily to me evidently.

Last night I gathered my colored threads and began embroidering a sampling of stitches on the luxurious silk fabric. Silk dupioni fabric from my stash. Happy, happy,yes.


Bright and early tomorrow morning I am taking a junket with my dear husband. A weekend away, just the two of us. Happy, happy, yes.


She is presently hanging in my kitchen. When the sunroom  is completed she will fly in there and make it her permanent abode. Happy, happy, yes

Sunday, October 17, 2010

presentation counts

Butternut squash bisque served in creamy-white soup bowls with gold trim dished from an ivory-white tureen with matching ladle.



Sunday dinners in my home are a time to gather and acknowledge a special day set aside for worship. The blessing of family creates a rich backdrop for gathering too.

Butternut squash bisque is noisy.
"Um mm". 

Each and every spoonful has a part in the choir of zinging taste buds.



Cornish hens,
       maple-syrup roasted sweet potatoes,
                          steamed broccoli with a dash of lemon also accompanied today's Sunday meal.

 One Christmas my dear mother gave me a creamy white soup tureen etched with curlicues. She especially loved the matching ladle and delighted in telling me how this is what made the difference in the decision to buy this particular tureen for me. Every time I use it I think of her joy in giving me this gift.


I believe that presentation counts when serving a meal and all the extra effort that goes with making it special  is definitely worth it.  China tureen and snips of chives floating in the bisque make for a good presentation.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

nothing wanting

"She was occupied in knitting; a large cat sat demurely at her feet; nothing in short, was wanting to complete the beau-ideal of domestic comfort."

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Magical Breakfast Cream

Inspiration: Mireille Guiliano's, The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook


I have certain staples in my diet. All it may take is variety to achieve higher levels from time to time. But I am thinking this might be the Mt. Everest in my life right now when it comes to breakfast food choices.

It is hailed as Magical Breakfast Cream. I first read about it in Mireille Guiliano's newest cookbook.

Breakfast for me usually consists of organic plain yogurt served with a topping of homemade granola and maybe some seasonal fruit. After reading about Tante Berthe's quick and healthy breakfast and  discovering it was similar to my thoughts of what makes a quick and healthy breakfast, I decided to make a few adjustments. So this is how I make it:

1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt
1 teaspoon local honey
2 Tablespoons milled flaxseed and soy grain cereal
1-2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon finely ground walnuts, I grind mine with a mortar and pestle.

First, mix the honey into the yogurt, pour the dry cereal over the yogurt and squeeze the lemon juice over the cereal before incorporating.  Next stir in the ground walnuts.

 She adds 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil bfore adding the honey. Since I am using a cereal with milled flaxseed I omit the oil. However, I might include this in the future because the oil addition might possibly have more benefits. She also recommends using any type of dry grain cereal, just make sure it contains no sugar. Nuts could also be finely ground almonds or hazelnuts. Fresh orange juice is an alternative to the lemon juice.

Yummy! Exceptionally yummy, surprisingly yummy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

pithy


Two seven-year old girls said it well in the backseat of my car today.

"Oh my goodness."

That is all I can claim considering my activity on this blog as of late.

 But such delicious days and gentle evenings we are having to be sure.


Buttered toast and hard-boiled egg for breakfast. There's no contest that the egg cups are keepers.


Saturday night grilling, wherewith, darkness creeps upon us like spilt ink.



School reviews and index cards, just another thing that carries clout around here.


Still getting accustomed to the wedding ring on his finger. Rose found some videos of herself when she was an infant, that made this one fourteen years old. Those visions of him at that age will not stop lingering in the corners of my mind.

I shall return tomorrow and give a breakfast combination that is quite satisfying. I have grown quite fond of it these days.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

small leaps

Sighting:

     My soul leapt with the sight of rolled bales of hay stretching across an open field.

Listening:

     My soul leapt while listening to M'appari, Tutt'amor. I had to close my eyes.

Touching:

     My soul leapt as my hands scrunched a skein of soft black wool, velvety softness to knit into a pair of fingerless gloves.

Smelling:

     My soul leapt when I came in the door and the smell of skillet cornbread welcomed me.

Tasting:

     My soul leapt upon tasting a small square of dark chocolate, my stash.





So what may be causing your soul to leap?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Laud

The rains finally came and if dreary has ever been a glorious word then it would apply to a day such as we had today.

Normal Monday school day, by this afternoon teatime was a treat proposed by Charlotte with hopes in surprising  Rose who was still laboring over Algebra and English poetry forms.



Rose recited a poem by John Bunyan, in keeping with her poetry studies.



I washed the tea things by hand while watching the drizzle come down outside my kitchen window. Listening to  Kirr te Kanawa sing "Laudate Dominum Omnes Gentes", it seemed as if the once-wilted zinnias were singing too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some things I did on this first day of Fall.

The leaves are falling, creating crunchiness when you walk and, in this case, sit down.


BSF, on the way home the sweater I wore while in the air conditioned church sanctuary, was quickly removed...the temperatures are still summer-like; I am wondering if today was a record breaker.

Came home to eating leftover spaghetti. If there is a viable syndrome for those who never get the correct amount of noodles balanced with tomato sauce then I most certainly have it! Being lovers of pasta and tomato sauce, we maintain a diet of spaghetti with tomato sauce in my home on a consistently regular basis.  I am always attempting to make it work out evenly, cooking the correct amount of noodles to go along with the sauce I cooked. (Now there is a longer version story here, little sauce remains, but not enough for another meal, so add more to it and you have the pot of sauce that never runs dry).  So for lunch today sheer determination drove me to boil just the right amount of spaghetti needed to go with the leftover sauce.


The dining room rug arrived today. Rose and I managed to get it down on the floor and underneath the dining table, without any extra help. Another example of sheer determination hitting the mark.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

coffee and cake


Or is it cake and coffee? Whatever, the pairing of the two on this afternoon topped off our meal quite nicely.

Rose made the almond- flavored cake with lemon icing, colored with bright pink or green.



Alan being home made the cake sweeter and the coffee smooth as polished alabaster.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Edamame

Boil in water, drain


Dip in salt


Pop into your mouth


Today I picked up my last CSA box of the season. Twenty weeks of driving to the farm, bringing the box home to discover what fresh organic goodness was contained within to nourish.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Several projects have been lying around my house all summer; depending on the room you entered or the basket you spotted, a project of some sort would be waiting for a free moment to be sewn or crocheted or smocked.
A crocheted afghan was completed and left at my Smockers Guild meeting this evening to be donated to Victory Junction. Very simple pattern adapted from this Mason Dixon book.


The colors were the organization's choice, I just went with the pattern mindlessly. It worked well for those nights we would sit on the couch and watch episodes of BBC's "Lark Rise to Candleford".


Hoping it will bring warmth of heart and body to a precious child.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The rooms were switched yesterday.

 We waited until Witt showed up around lunchtime to raise a chandelier, and he obliged us with helping to move the furniture. My old dining room is now the new living room and the old living room has now become my new dining room.


First photo this afternoon, and what you see is pretty much what it is, no pre-straightening up in the least. Charlotte's piano books are scattered all around the floor from her earlier practice session.

We are nicknaming it the Great Hall, a throwback from our medieval history studies.

It echos. Hoping the rug, on order, will arrive this week and quiet us with its presence.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

beauty in refraction

 
The art of learning in life's spontaneous moments, and seeing the beauty in refraction.

We are grooving in our new schedule, getting accustomed to all the schoolwork and extra curricula events that encompass our day. By this afternoon I was so tired by 4:30, I did the only thing I knew to do, or could do for that matter (besides cry)... I prayed.  The psalmist declares,"What is man that You are mindful of him?" Yet, He continually gives personal care to His own and what a manner of love is revealed even in our simple cried out prayers.

While I may get crinkled, or refracted, during periods of my day...He is always steadfast and absolute.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Switcheroo


The old dining room was painted this week. It will become the new living room.

I have been contemplating this switch for quite some time now. It just took convincing some that it was a tremendously smart move. More wonderful people will be able to fit around our dining table, and in this case, more is better.

This chandelier will have to go, but I plan to keep the medallion on the ceiling and add a formal light fixture more appropriate for a living room setting.

I will keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

time at home


Lunch outside.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

sweet partings

Summer, you sang your last song,

 Labor Day is in our rearview window.

Yet we were able to officially close summer our own way, in style... at the lake...on a boat.  Delft blue skies with puffs of white clouds, lukewarm water to tube in, sunshine to lightly toast our bare arms and legs, and an affable breeze to blow our sun-kissed hair, picnic baskets and coolers filled with pimiento cheese for sandwiches or celery, pickles, watermelon, key lime pie, and brownies.





And pleasing to some taste buds, a cracker spread with basil pesto, cream cheese, goat cheese and garlic...yummy!







I measure my years by summers.


Good-bye sweet summer... until next year.








































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