Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas 2013

...having ourselves a very merry December 1-7...

Our December begins with attendance at a presentation of Handel's Messiah,  and the beginning of the lighting of  our Advent candles.

Memories of Christmas' when sitting around the table and shelling nuts was the norm at Grandma's house at this time of year. It settles me somewhat to buy a bag of nuts and pull out the old metal nutcracker.

And speaking of nutcrackers...we were...right?...
costuming always involves hours of altering and handsewing to get every dancer dressed for the performance.. Thankfully, I was allowed to bring some of the work home.

Charlotte danced in the Nutcracker as a soldier and marzipan this year. This creates a whirlwind of activity literally weeks before Christmas, but I will not go into that in detail in this space.

This was the second go round, Rose baked me a flourless chocolate cake, rich and delicious. This lemon cake with buttercream icing was baked and decorated by Claire. It came with yet another round of song, candles and birthday wishes, naturally.

Piano recitals upon which renditions of Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells were played.

This cute idea was happily snatched from Pinterest. A tasty peanut butter cookie, fun to decorate too. I realized I love peanut butter cookies and I wondered why I never bake them to keep around.

...having ourselves a very merry December 17-24...

Violin recital in the sun room.

Widow's luncheon

"Lets' have coffee"....a coffee tray waiting for anyone who stops in for a visit.

Another birthday to celebrate, at home, gathered around the table. 

Charlotte and her best buddy's annual gingerbread house decorating one morning. It began quite early...

Charlotte' s new hair bob, no more buns for awhile; and her delight as well as ours, when she plays Christmas songs on her violin for us to enjoy.

This has definitely won the place of Honorable Mention this year!
 My husband and I wait until all shopping is done, events to attend or host are over, and then we plan a quiet, unrushed evening upon which we dress up and enjoy a meal dining at a favorite restaurant. Even though I could not finish my meal, dessert was still ordered... and boxed and brought home after only a few bites. 
I got up the next morning, and while no one else was around I sat down at the kitchen table and finished it off in its entirety, enjoying every single mouthful. I should blush, and I did actually feel remotely shamed when my husband and daughter portrayed their disappointment in my execrable actions. Even if you do not imbibe whiskey, this recipe might involve a discreet visit to the liquor store because the whiskey is a key ingredient to the sauce (yet you do not taste the whiskey).

...having ourselves a very merry Christmas Day...

We missed Alan tremendously this year! I am thankful over and over for skyping. We skyped him while we opened our presents that morning, then when Witt and Claire came over later, we gathered once again to have him "with us".

And speaking of "with us".

 Emmanuel, God with us. 

Our Savior is not thousands of miles away, being missed until it hurts,
 He is, with us.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

"Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever. Even though you grew up and found you never could quite bring back the magic feeling of this night. The melody would stay in your heart always-a song for all the years."
~Bess Streeter Aldrich
A Song of Years

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 22, 2013

picky eater

Do you have one that lives at your house? 

We do, and after around nine years of having a "food tyrant" in the home, we decided enough is enough.

It is certainly taking time, baby steps, and there are still many things she will not eat, but it is improving month by month. Ah, the sweet smell of progress. I am contemplating embroidering her a napkin with the above quote...but I fear it might just get lost in the wash.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

a cowl to knit and some books to read

While Charlotte practices Christmas pieces on the piano, reminding me of the approaching season, I do my own prep of sorts with the knitting of these cowls to be given as Christmas gifts. With fifteen inch needles and requiring only one skein of  *Lion Brand Wool Ease* yarn, they are extremely easy, very quick and so inexpensive to knit. I thought some of Ginny's yarn-along readers would enjoy making some also.

For concentrated reading, God is King by Tom Wells is an excellent book on God's sovereignty.  By my bedside is a book by Lynn Austin, Eve's Daughters,  which meets my need of before bedtime reading material when I find books must be of a lighter fare, but still must be an engaging story. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

capturing interludes

An interlude is needed in my day, so here I give you two small interludes that were intentionally captured.

A view from an upstairs window of the maple tree showing off. 
At times George would abide here during the day; I think the beauty perhaps lured him too.

The leaves are falling, the bees are slowing, and I am slowly pruning and putting my garden to sleep for the colder days ahead. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

blue-footed marvel

I am in love!

It all began with a TV documentary about the Galapagos Islands. Then it spanned into a library book by Ruth Heller.

 From there we pulled up this video on YouTube.

                                          "Oh LORD, how manifold are Thy works!
                                              In wisdom hast Thou made them all: 
                                                      the earth is full of Thy riches."
                                                                                                       Psalm 104:24

Friday, October 4, 2013

soup around the fire

We made a day trip to visit with my mother-in-law for the day. After being in the car for a quad of hours, we knew without a doubt that being outside to enjoy our evening meal would be the most satisfying leisure

 A fire was kindled and bowls of kale and sausage soup were served.

Everything met with our expectations.

Monday, September 23, 2013

a walk in town

Always looking for a way to make the use of my time as profitable as possible when my children are at their private lessons.

Charlotte has a new piano teacher this year. This means she takes a 45 minute private lesson twice a week, and a 45 minute group theory class once a week. I only have so many errands to run while I am out, so I may chose to read, do handwork, or take a nap (after all, one of the classes is at 4:15 in the afternoon), while I am waiting for her.

I was glad the gorgeous fall temperatures allowed for a walk this morning while she had one of her lessons.

It was more of a walk in town rather than in a neighborhood, as I am accustomed.

Around the YMCA, through the city park, and across the parking lot of the city pool/tennis area, mainly I walked on the sidewalks.

 I wanted to share this sand sculpture that was created in the park for this past weekend's special event. 
The detail was amazing.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

flat pastry cake topped with blackberries

In other words, the French meaning for the word galette.

I like to call them rustic tarts, but since we are studying French things, galette it is for now.

  Comfort food in simple form; make a buttery crust, throw in two cups of blackberries and a handful of raspberries, add three tablespoons of sugar and 3 teaspoons of cornstarch (I also tossed in about one tablespoon of flour because my berries were juicy), fold the edges of the crust around the mound of berries and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
 Of course, I will serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

pleat...to smock...to sew

Once upon a time

someone sold me a pleater that was practically brand new,

never again must I run to find someone else to do my pleating for me when the fabric is purchased, the pattern is bought, and the project is begging to be smocked and sewn.

Joining up with needle and thREAD  today,
right smack dab in the middle of September.

I am now on to the smocking on what will be an autumn skirt for Charlotte to wear just when the leaves will be turning those gorgeous colors of fall.

In between reading The Story of the World/Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer to Charlotte,  I am pilfering bits of time to read Martha Peace's book,

 It's high time to admit,
"I am the older woman now".

Saturday, August 31, 2013

the possibilities of apple preservation

Perhaps you remember a few years back when I posted about  my accumulation of a rather large apple supply. Certainly this year has been no different in that respect. I find myself with boxes of apples and on a hunt for ways to be creative preserving them. This book

has become one of my favorite cookbooks on the subject. The making of apple pectin with the cores, skins, and scraps has entertained me for hours and in the process has taught me the joy of making all sorts of jellies using apple pectin as the base.

Last year we spent a full day with my friend, Laura, and her girls in the making of apple pies to freeze with our abundance of apples. These apple pies froze beautifully and provided bubbly hot apple pies during the winter season to serve our guests. This summer I have make one pie and one tart to freeze so far, but the thought of making all those crusts this year gave me an idea. How about making apple pie filling and canning it to make the pies fresh during the winter months? This is the recipe I used. The only alteration to this recipe was the elimination of the yellow food coloring, instead, I tossed in a few apples peels with the syrup to give it a natural color.

As of today only a few lone apples sit on my kitchen counter. I am not complaining.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Impossible n'est pas francais

After having studied Latin for the past several years we are on to expanding our language study. Rose chose French, and frankly, I'm glad she did.

Before deciding which program I wanted to use, I did some reading on foreign languages and the suggestions of course studies, the specific programs, and even looked at the possibility of an online language course. The majority of the programs I researched were prominently programs of listening and conversing, but finding a program that taught the structure of the language, including grammar, was not as readily available.  Since we are not planning a trip to a French speaking country in the near future, I hoped to find a program that would promote learning to read French, as well as speak it. After all, we are Latin students and reading Latin is the goal of any serious Latin students.

Memoria Press offers this beginning course for learning French. It consists of a teacher book, a student book and an accompanying CD. This along with cd's from Berlitz and another French program (thanks to Alan's stash) we are on our way to learning French.

Good thing too. We found out this weekend that my nephew is marrying a young woman from France. She will be moving here which will give us a fabulous opportunity to converse with a native French speaking person.

Tres bien!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

untouched photography

Witt and Claire invited us over for dinner the other evening.

As always the food that Claire laid before us was delicious to the eyes and the taste buds.
 There's no doubt about it, this couple knows how to put together big events as well as intimate gatherings.

My little iphone sufficed with untouched photos of some of the presentations, but the evening  lacked nothing but the grandest brush of goodness.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

lassoing summer

Yes, I realize the typical topic of my posts focus on summertime lately, and today will be no exception. Here I sit with the windows wide open enjoying the low humidity  and 75 degree weather that today has brought. As July is singing its "cicada songs" leading us into August, I have a mental picture of myself twirling a strong rope with a grimaced face and feet firmly bored into the ground attempting to lasso summer, to slow it down, just a little.

The plan was that the scrap book album of our summertime vacation was to take two weeks to complete, the girls and I  were to devote those two weeks to getting it done, period, finis. The project is still spread upon the entire surface of my dining room table.  It seems the girls did not "have the vision" I had...sounds familiar...so I trudge on, almost at the finish line though. Today I worked on it for the greater part of the day.

I also made some soup with fresh corn and potatoes.  First, I sauteed shallots and garlic in olive oil, tossed in some chives, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper along with the red potatoes, and then added chicken stock pulled from the freezer. The fresh corn cut from the cob was added after the potatoes were almost tender. It will make a delicious supper.

I received a letter today. This friend and I continue to write to each other, we have been doing this for close to twenty years.

Do you see the date? She began the letter in May and just discovered it unmailed, in late July! She just continued on writing and sent it along with a knitting pattern for a scarf.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

a summer luncheon

A friend and her five lovely daughters came to visit yesterday. We all rallied together in the kitchen and prepared a lunch of pasta with fresh veggies, ricotta and feta cheese, cucumber sandwiches, and watermelon with pieces of mint.

Then we set a lovely table under the trees. After we carried the bowls of food and bottles of freshly brewed tea infused with sprigs of rosemary, we sat down and ate our fill of this delicious summer meal.

 Conversation of the feminine kind was in abundance from start to finish.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

capturing another yarn along

The last time I joined in with Ginny's yarn along I was knitting a green market bag. I finally completed it and wanted to share it amongst a garden of green. I knitted this bag with the thoughts of gifting it to someone. I followed the pattern and as most knitters, or even seamstresses, know patterns can be adjusted to our own adaptions. For this particular bag, my first thoughts are I would make the handle more stout by adding 4-5 stitches. Due to the handle's length,  which is certainly needed, and the purpose of the bag being to hold market items, it will stretch when weight is added.

As a side note, I bought the yarn over two years ago with the thoughts of a project in mind, an apron. It is an inexpensive cotton, Sugar n' Cream. When I purchased the skeins I obviously paid no attention to lot numbers. As the market bag was carried outside to make the photos in the herb garden, what was hidden in inside light was highlighted in natural light, the colors of the yarn were slightly different. I like to think it adds rustic goodness.

I believe I recently posted about some of my summertime reading. I Capture the Castle is picked up most evenings to read, or carried from here to there in case I have a few moments to escape into another place. I am enjoying reading this book, but I hesitate to give a review per se until I finish it. I keep thinking something is coming up, yet maybe that is the heart of its beauty, a simple story with complex, intriguing characters. Characters that you wish you knew, which can be the best part of any fictional novel. I will mention one of my most favorite chapter scene so far was when two of the characters took an evening swim in the castle's moat, a moat that swans inhabited.

amongst a garden of green

Friday, July 19, 2013

it's summertime

Summertime is grabbing me with its delights.  In my garden the hummingbirds make regular visits to the monarda, the butterflies flit from bloom to bloom on the butterfly bushes, while the daisies are content to smile pertly around corners and over the stone walls.

 A bounty of vegetables and fruits, ripe and irresistible, fill my refrigerator and counter tops. Cooking is simple and tastes like, well, summertime.

I want to mention a summertime dish that you really must try this summer; it certainly is a familiar dish for sure. Easy to assemble and prepare with just a few ingredients, so easy in fact that it seems like, "So-what", but please believe me when I say is so much better than it appears at first thought.

 Take a baguette, slice it and drizzle with olive oil and a few sprinkles of salt. Toast in a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes (less depending on your oven). Then add fresh mozzarella cheese and a slice of tomato to each baguette. Roma rounds fit nicely, but you can cut and slice in half any tomato and it does not mater in the least. Once more drizzle with olive oil, grind some fresh black pepper and sprinkle salt over the tops. Then pop them into the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Top with a fresh basil leaf after removing from the oven. I have also splashed some balsamic vinegar over these before eating them.

Try some and please tell me what you think.

As far as other things happening this summer:
 I am almost finished knitting the market bag. I like how it is coming together, and I have not decided yet if I will give it away or keep it for myself. Sometimes I like to try using new things I have made  before giving them away, that allows me to make any possible alterations if needed.

Reading,  because what is summertime without reading after all:
 In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Left Neglected  by Lisa Genova

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ping listening

I am listening for the pings.

One of my very most favorite things to can or preserve involves the process of pickling. So for the past two days I have made pickles from cucumbers, the bread and butter variety being my personal choice. How satisfying to hear those pings to let you know your jars are sealed.

moving lugubriously...

Noteworthy that the day is wet and grey. Not just a misty rain, but a gentle rainfall. We all pulled ourselves out of our beds this morning...