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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.


  1. Ah, you were up a half hour before me! As I sat with second coffee in hand, reading your post, I smiled. I could smell the fresh air and the stew and rolls cooking! Yum.
    I wondered where those two moo moos went!
    I am looking forward to my next visit!

  2. I like your stew recipe. Not too scientific. Instead it is instinctive. We had a stew last week and I made dumplings to sit on the top. Lovely it was and we had enough for two days.

  3. When that stew is ready, may I come over? Oh, it's already eaten? Well, I'll settle for some coffee since that never runs low on the hilltop. ;)