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Monday, December 7, 2015

Elk for dinner, Turkey soup all Canned and Fruitcake soon to come! It's December!

 They find me.  Ok, so I actually sort of, well, look for them...slightly.  Anyhow, 37 sewing machines followed us home the other day.  Can I keep them?   NO.  That's not what I was going to say!  Here's the real story:  In a round about way, I found out that within a mere two hour drive there were sewing machines languishing in a barn.  Now, that might be okay if you live somewhere dry (are there such places??), but I live in wet western Washington and let me tell you, it is not dry.
We drove, we saw, we obtained.  None are show pieces.  About 4 are going to stay.  The others will be restored, if possible, and made available to once again, well, sew!  Some, sadly will become parts donors.

I shall not lack for something to do.
 Poor, poor things.  (Now I'm speaking of both my daughter and I AND the machines!)

The day we drove & collected them was a stormy, windy & rainy day.  Each machine had to be stuffed into a plastic bag, set on a cart that held 4 machines and then wheeled through the rain, wind & mud to my truck.......maybe 30 or 40 yards away.  Pure insanity.  Each one weighs about 30 to 40 pounds as well.

The couple who sold them to us were like as out of a fairy tale.  They fussed over us and seated us at their table to drink coffee, eat cake....They wanted to feed us sandwiches (and maybe keep us?) but the machines were calling and the drive was long.  By the time the truck was loaded, we were mud from head to toe.  Well, maybe from toe to knee.
 On a brighter note, THIS is my beautiful new collectible quality addition to my little museum.  It is a New England style hand crank.  Very small and very cute.
 This is what remains of our Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner.  I made broth from the carcass and then used the leftover turkey to can this convenient turkey soup. 

Now I have a cold and I think I'll open one up for my lunch as a remedy!
 During the bleak and dreary days of November there comes a season that riles up the menfolk.  It's called Elk hunting season!  

My dear husband was napping in his easy chair one morning.  I tapped him on the foot and suggested that he might want to leap from his chair, arm himself and bag us some meat!  He did just that and a nice cow elk now resides in my freezer!  Of course, it was a  long slow process getting there, but we'll just gloss over all that hard work and see the finished product....

 Dinner!  Nothing like elk tenderloin (think Filet Mignon...super lean).

I pan fried it with onions, peppers, a few sprigs of rosemary...freshly ground salt & pepper, dash of thyme.

Out of the oven we took our parmesan roasted asparagus spears and sweet potato (yam, actually) fries and VOILA, a delectable meal, fit for a king. 
 Here's my next December/Christmas season project....The fixings for homemade fruitcake.  I realize there are two camps on fruitcake - the lovers and the haters.  I actually like both store-bought AND homemade, but if you've never had homemade, you can't vote fruitcake out.  It's just not the same.  Kind of like the difference between homemade bread and store-bought.  Just not the same animal.  Anyhow, soon I shall begin the fruitcake process and then we will snack with thin slices alongside our steaming hot coffee!
 This is my comfy spot.  Oh, and my husband's, too.  As the years go by we seem to add to them.  Now he's got a pillow for his back and I've got one for my feet.  We each have a warm blanket, I've got my phone & laptop handy, pile of books & magazines, notepads & pens.  And, of course, the most important pieces......coasters for the coffee, of course!  At least we don't stack our barn boots handy nearby!
 With my sweet mother's passing, we had an extra room downstairs.  It is now my sewing machine collection!  Well, part of my collection.  In this room reside most of my treadles and handcranks.  I have others scattered about as furniture in the house and all my electric machines are upstairs in my sewing room, but the main people-powered ones are down in this room.
 Once in awhile, someone will ask me (usually in a stinky tone) just how many sewing machines I actually NEED.  I don't collect them out of need, but out of a sense of preserving them for future generations.  The current fads of recycling, reusing etc. are destroying many old machines and I just want to preserve this bit of history.  I'm an old soul at heart and these old gals have much of the long ago seeped into their wood & iron. 
 I'd love to know where they've been & see just a bit of the life that played out around them.

 The lower part of this one is a Wheeler & Wilson in a library cabinet.  The faux books and beveled glass mirror apparently made it a nicer piece for your home decorating with your sewing machine hidden nicely inside.

The drawer belongs to the Boye needle case, which both contain needles & shuttles in small wooden tubes and bobbins for long-bobbin machines.
 Well, Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is just ahead.  We had a quiet and enjoyable Thanksgiving Day with just the family here.  Other than me bursting into tears when we first sat down to dinner without my mama at the end of the table, we did pretty well.  One daughter fetched kleenex for me and for the other daughter who was kind enough to join me ;-)
My Christmas shopping is done and we're trying to slow things down.  I've actually worked on a couple of puzzles and we've watched a couple Christmas movies.

I've got several primitive orders to fill, so will be sewing this week for sure.  I've caught a cold, so am feeling a bit sorry for myself.  This cherry pie helped....but for some reason it didn't last long.  I did share, by the way.

That's it from the hilltop for today.  Be sure to count your blessings every day - each and every good thing is from God our Father, who is the same yesterday, today and forever!   I cling to the blessed hope & promise that I WILL see my mother again someday!  Don't wait til tomorrow to do that nice thing you've wanted to do, or say the loving words you know you should say.  Hug your mama & all those others that you love!  Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Crockpot Beef Stew to Comfort you in Bleak November!

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

Thomas Hood
 I love this poem by Mr. Hood!  I laugh every time I read it as I picture him sitting with his coffee on a bleak November morning, contemplating the long winter ahead and the joys of summer all behind.  Sounds like a bit of a pity-party going on there!

Joy is a choice, for sure.  We can look on the bleak & dark side and let it suck us in or we can make the choice for JOY!   Each and every day is a gift and November is no exception! 
This is my cookstove.  We've had exactly ONE fire so far, only to find that the chimney should have been cleaned and so we put it out (the fire, not the chimney).  Above pictured are the ashes just under the cooktop.  That's just one spot to clean.  Hubby used his muscles to scrooch all 500 or so pounds of cast iron, steel & nickel forward so we could pull the black stack chimney pipes out & scrape them as well.

Now it's all cleaned up and ready for the winter burning season!  Yep, all smooth & easy sailing now....just cut kindling, haul in some firewood, rustle up some paper....more firewood....fill the woodbox....Well, you get the picture!
 What do you do when life gives you November?  Well, make a nice big crockpot of beef stew, of course!

A very good friend with an exceptionally green thumb gave us veggies from his late Fall garden - great stuff like parsnips & leeks and I added fresh carrots from the Farmer's Market, some spuds, rutabaga, onions & garlic.  Beef from our freezer...Oh I DO love those two troublesome steers much better in little frozen packages!
 How to make Stew:

Toss cubes of beef in flour seasoned with garlic, salt & pepper.  Brown in shortening of choice in a skillet.  Toss into your crockpot.  Add a cup or two of water to your skillet to loosen browned bits (cleans the skillet nicely, too!) and pour over beef.
Now chop up veggies of choice!  I routinely use potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, onion, garlic and this time I threw in some parsnips and leek because I had them.  Cabbage is nice, too.
 Now you can pour beef broth (aren't you glad you've got it in the cellar from canning season?  Oh, you don't???  Well, you should have thought of that earlier, but you can get away with using store-bought beef broth or just water and beef bouillion.)  Season with salt, pepper, bay leaves, what-have-you.

Slap the lid on that puppy, turn it on low and go to work for the day.  If you're impatient, you can turn it on high and eat earlier.

 Whip out a batch of fresh bread rolls and (drum roll inserted here) TA DA!  November is no longer bleak, but cozy and warm!

Throw another log on the fire and we're good.
 Here's the view from my front porch.  This is what a nice day in November looks like.  It's even more interesting on a nasty day in November. 

The hills are beautiful year 'round, but I love them best when it snows.

I'm so thankful for this farm I live on and the family that God has given me.  I am blessed.
 Fasten your seatbelts - like it or not, Thanksgiving Day is a mere 2 1/2 weeks ahead and Christmas Day is only 6 1/2 weeks down the calendar!

Get your Christmas gift shopping done early and beat the crowds!  Plan a party!  Dig out the puzzles (I'll take the big easy pieces one......) Where are those games?  Start on the holiday goodies and EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS!  Listen to Christmas music, write a holiday letter, CALL YOUR MOM.....OFTEN!  Take a 'hostess' gift to any gathering you attend!  Leave little gifts for the postman, favorite bank tellers, your dentist!  (Ok, maybe NOT the dentist.)
 I've been working on Olde World Father Christmas/Santa Claus dolls and have a few in my Ebay shop and will have some in my Etsy store, too, by Monday.

Crows were requested, so I've made a trio of them so far.  This pesky fellow is getting the most attention.
 These guys are fun for me to make.  Each one is similar, but unique.  This fellow's clothing is homespun fabric and he's holding a fat red bird.
 This one is also homespun but has a burlap sack of goodies and a very bushy wool beard.  Some of them are dressed in woolen clothing.  All depends on my whim at the moment.

It's very satisfying to start with a couple bolts of fabric, a little paint, some wire and other misc. stuff and create SOMETHING!  I expect that God was quite pleased when he started with nothing and put together Adam & Eve!
 My attention span is short and my sewing room is a disaster as I flit from one project to another, then back again!  In between Santas I made myself this wool Crow pinkeep/pincushion.  He is LARGE.  The spool is an industrial size and all together it is about 8 inches tall.

I used to draw when I was younger.  This is an original 'selfie'!  Last time I was in town I bought a sketch pad & drawing pencils and I'm going to see if I can still do a bit of drawing.  In my spare time........
The last couple of weeks have flown by with some joyous times with some wonderful friends and sweet children visitors.  We laughed and played.

Other days I've struggled to focus on the JOYS of life.  Grief is a hard path to trod.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18King James Version (KJV)

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

And then I am comforted.   

My coffee is cold now so I shall get up, refill and begin another day (it's now about 7am).  I've got Christmas gifts to work on and time is going fast!  Be comforted!  Be blessed!  Call your mom.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Wind is Blowing and the Air has a Chill to it...

 The wind is blowing and the house has a bit of a chill.  Not quite enough of a chill to warrant starting a fire in the cookstove, but the thought crossed my mind....warm & cozy, reading by the stove in my favorite chair with a good book, steaming cup of just-enough-cream coffee. Then I remembered that I have hot flashes.  Oh, well, I'll wait until it's colder.  A lot colder. 
 I miss my mom.  Most people would think they understand my loss, but our family was a lot closer than some.  Since Mom was single all her life, when my love & I first got married we only lived alone together for our first year.  After that we asked Mom to join us in our adventures and we've had a glorious life ever since.  All the joys and hardships of life, the ups & downs, heartaches and blessings....she was there for them all.  She's left a big hole and the house seems quiet.  Oh, what a reunion we're going to have someday when we all meet again in Heaven.  Save me a place at the table next to you, Mom.  We'll have a lot to catch up on.

 I'm SO excited.  My little primitive Fat Lil Crows are IN A MAGAZINE!!!  Not only that, but my favorite magazine....PRIMS.  Prims is one of the Somerset group of magazines, designed for primitive artists.

  I got an email one day from a fellow prim artist who wanted to know if I'd mind if she used my little crows as a component in her primitive creations.  I was pleased that she'd want to, and even more pleased when she told me she would be featured in PRIMS Magazine..........and my little crows, too, as a result!  Woo hoo!  We're famous!  (Ok, maybe notorious?)  Not only that, but they're pictured 4 or 5 times throughout the magazine, including on the contents page!

 I'm slowly realizing how much time I spent care-giving and how little time I spent house-cleaning.  Ugh.  My house suddenly looks huge...and...well.....where does all that DUST come from?  And why are the windows so hard to see out of?  And the top of the refrigerator? Well, no one's that tall anyhow....
I'm working on Christmas primitives now.  I used to despair that the stores put Christmas stuff out so early...until I started making primitives.  Now I'm elated that all the materials I need for my creations are readily available early in the season when I need them!  Besides, what's not to love about the Christmas season?  Ignore all that controversy about what's correct and what's not.  Just enjoy!  Hot cider & doughnuts.  Gatherings of friends and relatives to reminisce.  Imagining that just-right gift for that special person.  Cozy winter evenings, cheerful lights of home.  All those wonderful blessings that God has given us.  Every good and perfect gift comes from Him!

My youngest daughter just had a birthday yesterday.  She is now twenty six and that means that   I used to be.  It doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but now I am closer to 60 than 50.  People occasionally ask me if I qualify for a senior discount.  I'm sure I look at them incredulously.  Me?  Let's be serious.  I am very young.  At heart.

Well, 'nuf rambling.  I've got snowmen to create and a good book to read ("Unspoken" by Dee Henderson") and my coffee's getting cold.

Enjoy this day that the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  And don't forget to hug your mom.  I have no regrets and I didn't need to say anything to my Mom except "I love you" before she left.  How about you?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

On Grief & Sorrow, Blessed Hope and Frozen Vegetables

It has been three months since I posted.  I've thought many times about it but first I was too busy with life and caregiving for my mom, then later I couldn't put into words my heartache.  On September 30th, I lost a piece of my heart when my sweet mother was ushered safely into the waiting arms of Jesus her Savior.  I know without a doubt that she's now healthy and whole, in her new body as promised, but oh how hard it is for those of us left behind for now.

I've lived with my mom or she's lived with me for 55 of my 56 years.  I know that time will dull the ache and we'll find a new 'normal' but right now we're suffering and missing her so much.

I'm going to catch up really quick with an overview of what I've been up to in the last three months and then I'm hoping I'll post more often in the future.

 My daughters and I worked at the local Fair in August.  This is my youngest child and me as we were setting up for Fair time.
 I worked on my old Singer 301 sewing machine, making a few primitives during the Fair.   People always enjoy seeing our old machines hard at work.
 You can see my little Christmas window pane quilt in the upper right of the display case.  It got a blue ribbon!

I entered a couple of quilts, some canning and a whole bunch of primitives!
 ...and bread, which won the Grand Champion award in baking and earned me a lovely ribbon and baking prizes!
 After the Fair, we buckled down to some 'farm' stuff....tending the garden and then harvesting.  It was a great year for pears and apples.  We did some canning and made a bit of cider and apple pie filling.

 Some lovely King apples.
 Basil for pesto and some nice pumpkins.  We grew Sweet Meat squash and that's what I actually make my 'pumpkin' pies from.  They have more 'meat' than pumpkins and I like the cooked texture much better.
 These marigolds 'volunteered' in my planter from last year.  What's not to love about a flower that just seeds itself and blooms like sunshine?
 Last Sunday we drove to the coast and enjoyed the sunshine and a little Cranberry Harvest festival (think VERY small town...).  We bought 15 or 20 pounds of fresh cranberries and I got them all cleaned up and in the freezer.  Later, when I get up enough gumption we'll can some cranberry sauce with part of them.
 A good friend still has veggies in his garden (ours went by the wayside while we cared for Mom).  He graciously called and invited us to come and help ourselves to the veggies still growing.  Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and some others came home with us.  I had carrots on hand, so processed it all into.....
....lots of mixed veggies for the freezer!

I'm still working on primitives and now I'm starting on my Christmas items. 

This post is very subdued and I apologize for that.  I don't want to give all the details of our grief but I do want to say that no one should put off getting right with God and accepting Jesus as your savior.  Every one of us will meet Him, we just don't know the day or hour.  I hope you're ready.

And don't forget to hug your Mom.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Not-So-Lazy Crazy Daze of Summer on the Farm!

 ARGHHHHHHHHH!  Do  you see these bald spots on my head and the handfuls of hair I hold???  That's because my old computer died and the new one DOES NOT LIKE ME.  I couldn't sign into this blog because my old (and well-loved, I might add) computer remembered things for me.  This one's head is empty and when I depend upon it to know my huge collections of passwords, it fails!  Now how would I know what my password is???  Remember, I said the computer's head is empty...

 I had to eat three slices of fresh zucchini bread and a snickerdoodle before I could come back and try it again.  Hmmm.  Wonder if a cup of coffee would have helped even more?

Here's my garden again.  Things have grown nicely because we've had our generator down in the valley (750' or so, the way the crow flies) pumping water up from the creek.  Tonight my hubby has told me that the pump is now seized and it may mean the end of the extra water for the season.
 Sigh.  Seems like things just can't run smoothly!

My pie cherry tree had enough fruit for a couple of double batches of cherry jam.  OH MAN.  Just like eating pie!  I made a batch of biscuits to go with dinner the other night and we tried the first jar.  Delicious.  Don't know why I've never made it before, and let me tell you I am no novice at canning!  Wonder what other delectables I've been unaware of?
 The bright pink dessert below really WAS that bright.  It's a Rhubarb Dump Cake.  Very easy.  Very tasty.  Very sweet.  I changed the recipe and lessened the amount of sugar, but if I were to make it again, I'd add even less sugar.
 We've been plagued with a family of big black crows this summer.  Mom and Pop hatched out a healthy trio of demanding, noisy cry-baby crow-babies.  They get up at the crack of dawn and caw & gargle in the yard under my bedroom window.  When they're pretty sure I'm awake, they move on to harass the livestock.  They've been clinging to the rabbit feeders and pecking the food out as well.  I think we're about to declare open season on crows.....
 The weather has been cooler and just slightly damp here the last couple of days.  It actually feels like it's much later in the season than it really is.  Get's me to thinking about Fall, my ABSOLUTELY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR!!!!!   I started making Fall primitives, like the squirrel & acorns--------------->

We've done most of the prize shopping for our county's Southwest Washington Fair coming up in August.  My two daughters and I will be working as assistant superintendents in the Living Arts building once again from August 12th until August 23rd as we work our way from entering, judging, decorating, setting up and then do the Fair itself.
 My oldest daughter now sells fabric on Ebay & Etsy, including some scrumptious wool - 33 or 34 different patterned wools for applique & what-have-you, so of course I've had to have samples to play with.  I made this pinkeep from a pattern by Buttermilk Basin.  It was fun & quick to put together.  You can look at my daughter's beautiful stuff here:
 I usually make five loaves of bread at a time.  It keeps well in the freezer and then I don't have to make it so often.  With my KitchenAid mixer, it's just as easy to make and knead 5 as it is one, so there you have it.  My grandmother had 8 children and she always told me that she made 8 loaves of bread every other day.

My mother said that they ate lard & sugar on it.  I think I'll stick to cherry jam!
 A sweet little friend of ours is having a baby soon, so we made her a Frog and Toad set - quilt with flannel backing, matching pillow & picture,  Frog and Toad storybook.....and of course, a frog and a toad to read with!
 This is Ransom.  She's a youngster English Lop and she's what's known as a 'charlie' Black-Orange Tri Color.  The term 'charlie' means that both her parents were 'broken' (spotted) patterned rabbits so she got double broken genes and has very little color on her white coat.  Charlies cannot be show animals as they do not meet the requirements of color.

I went to the dentist recently for the first time in about 10 or so years.  Three cavities were my punishment.  Two have been repaired now and I've one more appointment to go.  I am amazed at how dental practices have changed since I was a child.  When I told my kids that when I was young the dentist worked for a bit, then every few minutes you had to sit up and spit in a sink, they were horrified.  I can't say that I enjoy it any more than when I was a child, even with all the amazing new technology.  Of course, one filling cost around $248 and when I was a kid, it was $12.  I must be old.  Wow. 
So, we come to the end of the blog for today.  Here is my chihuahua, Maddie, who has finally worn herself out playing with rubber ducks and hedgehogs.  She simply MUST sit on my lap.  Usually she feels the need to stand up with two feet on the desk to be sure that I cannot see the computer screen.

There's most likely more life to be lived tomorrow, so, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand!