Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas...

Since we have the pleasure of a big, family Christmas this year, Kent and I decided it didn't really make good sense to spend the money on a tree that won't be enjoyed or watered much. We'll probably spend most of our time at my sister's house where everyone will be staying. Still, I can't imagine doing my Christmas baking or sitting by the fire without some festive Christmas decor. So I got out my little pre-lit fir trees and used five to make a small forest on our sideboard. I hung mini ornaments and spread colored lights under white linen beneath them. Very cheery indeed!

Oh, and don't think I manage these things without help...

Here's to you, my little French press French roast with French vanilla creamer! Great, now I'll spend the rest of the day with an outrageous accent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

So, I'm going to post a few pictures of Thanksgiving Day at our house. Thing is, nobody had arrived yet and once they did I didn't even have time to figure out where I'd left my camera, let alone use it. So this is pretty boring stuff. Kent helped me hang my jar shelves on Wednesday night. He did the final sanding/staining so that the shop could be used for other things. I'm very excited. Now all my jars are handy, attractive, and not taking up counter space. Yeehaw!
It seems that even Bear thinks it looks pretty good! (See his sweet face in the bottom right corner of the photo above?)
There are over 70 jars/canisters on these shelves with a foot print of just 5.5"x42" Super exciting in my world!
So anyway, about that Thanksgiving feast... Our table came with four chairs, we added two wooden stools to make seating for six. When we decided to host dinner for eight I was able to find two folding bar stools so here's our table ready for eight.
And of course then there wasn't room for the food, so we used our sideboard as a buffet for the first time. I worked well. It was crowded but once we figured out the traffic flow everyone had a chance to fill their plate and we had a good time. I had a great time cooking on Wednesday. I made everything from scratch, including the mushroom sauce for the green bean casserole and the wheat bread and cornbread for the dressing.
The Menu
Turkey with Dressing
Cranberry Sauce
Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts
Asparagus with Shallot-Mustard Cream
Mashed Butternut Squash and Apples
Roasted Sweet Potato with Pineapple
Black-Eyed Pea's Baked Squash
Grean Bean Casserole
Cranberry Citrus Bread (Merry Rapp)
Pumpkin Pie (Stephanie Sherman)
Pecan Pie (Kathy Tripp)
Homemade Kosher Dills
I hope to have some pics from Stephanie or Perla soon so that I can have some here with people in them. Come on over for leftovers whenever you like. We should be eating them until next week some time...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Kitchen Prayer

Ok, it's late and I really should be in bed but first, the fruits of my labor...

(I used Photoshop to apply a "sketchy" filter,
'cause that's how I'm feeling about now.)

God bless my little kitchen
I love its every nook.

And bless me as I do my work,
Wash pots and pans and cook.

And may the meals that I prepare
Be seasoned from above,

With Thy great blessing
And Thy grace,
But most of all, Thy Love.

So I believe it was Brother Lawrence who, in Practicing the Presence of God, taught us that it didn't matter what we were doing, we could be communing with God and make our labor a prayer. That was what I think I did today as I cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom. Initially I was just going to mop the floor but I was inspired and scrubbed pretty much every surface. Of course, when I told that to Kent later this evening, he said, "Hmmm, let me see..." and he wiped a finger across the top of a cupboard door and, no, that wasn't one of the things I'd cleaned. He was trying to be funny but I felt compelled to grab a rag and right the situation.

Ah, doesn't this look like a kitchen just begging for someone to do some holiday cooking?

And I did get around to the floor. Actually, mopping was a small portion of the treatment I applied. Mostly it involved hands, knees, a brush and lots of Lysol 4-in-1.

Next up, I hope that Kent and I can hang my canning jar shelf on Tuesday so that I can properly store and display all the jars that are sitting around and getting in my way. Here we have oat bran, wheat bran, buckweat, dried green beans, carrots, orange zest, mushrooms, spearmint, granola, honey, barley, red beans, kidney beans, black beans, freeze-dried strawberries, marion berries, cinnamon apples, peas, broccoli, and sweet corn.

Herbs, bay leaves, chili powder, lentils, split peas, polenta, white beans, couscous, etc. They should look really pretty on the shelves.

It feels good when you get things in order. And just in time for Thanksgiving preparations and holiday cookie baking. I'm going to make pizelles for the neighbors and various friends this year. Come to think of it, I'd better get started on that soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My favorite breakfast

I call it "Playing with Fage" (That's "fa-yeh" for the non-Greeks of us). One cup Fage 0%, 1/4 cup Udi's natural granola, 1/4 cup dried cinnamon apples, 1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries. Cream and crunch. Tart and sweet. Protein and fiber. And to quote Donkey, "Who doesn't like a parfait?" Especially when it's in a funky martina glass. Nuff said.

The sun rises in the west?

I find Colorado beautiful for many reasons. Not just the majesty of the mountains, the crisp air, the beautiful rivers and lakes... but also for her juxtapositions. I can play in cold snow in my shirtsleeves while I tan. I can look down on a bird in flight. I can stand in the rain and feel the sun on my face. And I can watch the sunrise in two directions at once.
As the rising sun casts it's glorious shades across the eastern horizon, I also watch it's rose hues reflected on the western mountain range. It keeps you running from once side of the house to the other to take in every subtle variation until the pinks and peaches give way to high-altitude, clear-skied, unadulterated sunshine. Double blessing.
I wanted to share the loveliness of aspens from my walk a couple of days ago. If you want to fully appreciate aspen groves, you really need to look up, look down, look all around - then get up close and personal. When you are so often surrounded by the impenetrable green of coniferous trees, you really appreciate the aspens with their slim trunks, high branches, and grassy undergrowth. And there is a bit of charm in the way they only grow in groupings. You don't find a lone aspen. They like their own company best.
And with our unreal clear blue skies, even stripped of foliage they make a striking appearance.

And they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Or trunks. You can see every insult they have suffered, each abrasion and trial. Their trunks always tell a story.

Have you told your story lately?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Laundry Day

Having suffered a setback a number of days ago, it was time to take the bull by the horns, or the trees by the rope. Last spring we had purchased me a clothesline of the type that opens like an umbrella and twirls around in it's base. I could hang 5-6 loads on this wonderful contraption at once and it was mounted right on the deck. Unfortunately, I hung laundry on a particularly windy day, unaware that this wind contained a straw that would break the proverbial camel's back. My super handy clothesline was bent by the wind at the bracket that held it to the railing. I looked out and there was my laundry, draped across the deck and woodpile. Not a happy sight.
I had determined today to be laundry day - the ground is still snowy but it was shirtsleeves weather - and I came to the realization that drying clothes in a dryer has become as unpleasant to me as dental work. Necessity being what it is, I found that I could hang all the heavy flannel shirts and jeans directly over the railing, I brought out my little drying stand for unmentionables, and dug through camping gear to find a 50' length of clothesline to string between... Oh, wait, as part of our fire mitigation, Kent had cut down many of the trees near the house. Hmmm. Wait, there are two trees about 20' from the house and a deck for the other end. It worked quite well and I dried 5 loads outside today. You just can't beat line dried laundry.
Bear, my faithful pal since Cole's passing, waited patiently. He appeared quite comfy lying in the snow. He was more than willing to walk to the mailbox with me, though, and so we went on a fine afternoon stroll. So fine we walked past the mailbox and kept right on going. After about another 1/2 mile we (I) decided to turn back and we stopped for the mail on the way to the house. The views makes it particularly rewarding.

Walking with a dog makes for a more leisurely and thorough examination of the world around us. Bear pointed out to me that even though it may seem like the "bleak mid-winter", if you look there are always signs of life. Here is an evergreen-type ground cover with pretty little red berries hiding amongst the leaves. Very cheery.
So, line dried laundry, a fine stroll, and a world of beauty all around us. It was a fine winter day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wintry Day

Woke up to a pretty, snowy day. It is also pretty snowy. Even though it's quite chill out, it called to me and my dog, Bear.

We walked to our mailbox. Roundtrip takes about 30 minutes if we don't shortcut through the woods. It really is beautiful out. Bear kept trying to go offroad to sniff things but then he would plunge into the ditch filled with snow up to his belly and have to work hard to get back out. He gave up after only a half dozen times of that...

It was overcast and then we had a spell of sun, while we were taking our walk, no less. Here is the sun trying hard to punch through the clouds...
Ah! Success.
Too bad that this beautiful day was preceded by a very difficult evening of treacherous roads. Kent was rear-ended on I-70 as he drove from work to church to meet me. I was getting concerned because he was so late. Turns out that traffic had been reduced to one lane due to a tractor-trailer sideways on the interstate. As Kent sat in the non-moving traffic, an SUV who's driver wasn't paying attention plowed into the back of him. It was a hard enough hit that it sent his Stetson into the back of the Jeep. That's a pretty hard hit considering he wears that hat in high winds and it doesn't come off. The back of the Jeep is smashed in and the bikerack is a loss. Tomorrow I can start calling insurance companies and garages. I hope that Kent is right that he wasn't injured. I know whiplash can take some time to manifest.
This is still my Father's world.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This is my Father's world

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years:
15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.
23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good.

I listened to that passage today while looking at the world God had created, or at least my little corner of it. How many times have I read it? Hearing it and observing the diversity, the creativity, the beauty, the detail - I was struck anew by the unfathomable greatness of our God. Then tonight when we got home from church, I looked at the snow falling heavily and thought about how each snowflake is different and I see the little pinecones on the tree, promise of new life. They didn't have to be pretty but God throws that in for us.

Glory to God in the highest, his works are marvelous beyond compare!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stuff to do

So Kent decided to take the camera today and get pictures of me for the blog. Monday I spent hours cleaning the barn. Realized too late that I should have worn a mask. I reached critical mass after nearly 4 hours of working in there and gave myself a real asthma crisis. However, the raised beds are free of dead plants and covered with plastic for the winter. The tubs of worms (and the wonderful compost they create) have been aerated and seem to be doing well. I removed seven wheelbarrow loads of rabbit poo. And also rearranged things so that I had a clear span of counter for brushing rabbits and we could, in general, move around more freely.

Kent and I matched up three bunny couples last night and left them together until this morning. We're hoping that there were some successful unions. Since the New Zealand buck didn't seem to be making any progress with the does (and has since passed away, we suspect of old age), we put the New Zealand does with the Angora bucks, who were more than happy to have a little girlfriend action. We'll see if there are any litters in a month or so.

I'm thinking of planting some lettuce and arugula and seeing how it does in the cooler weather. It never fares well in the summer because the greenhouse is too warm and in the cold frames the critters ate it before we could get any. We are just now finishing up our tomatoes. When the first big freeze was headed our way, I grabbed scissors and cut off all the little bunches of green tomatoes. Some were marble sized, others perhaps, plum-sized. Kent didn't hold out any hope for them but I was optimistic. I spread them out in a seedling tray and covered them with newspapers and left them sitting indoors. Sure enough, every last one has been ripening and we've been enjoy and sharing our "bounty". Really, we ended up with several pounds of tasty tomatoes where otherwise we'd have had none at all.
Here's a picture of me holding our smallest and most useless bunny, Penelope. She is, however, sweet, cute and very silky to pet. She's a lilac Dutch and thus of no use even as a Dutch since lilac is a disqualified color. Stephanie rescued her from being sold to a pet store as snake food when she was still a tiny and adorable baby bunny. Oh, she's also skilled at eating and creating fertilizer. Yup. She's a complete indulgence.

Another project I've been working on is a set of shelves for my canning jars of dried beans, grains, veggies and fruit. They are beautiful to look at and a shelf would be attractive and useful to me. I don't have a lot of confidence that it's coming together well. It's my first real woodworking project and it turns out that my first mistakes were made when selecting the wood. It has many warps in many directions. And I'm sure those were only my first mistakes. We'll see... And, yes, once again Kent has caught me wearing my two mismatched shirts. (It wasn't cold enough for a jacket). And I've added an attractive dust mask. (I learned from my mistake on Monday, I wasn't about to sand without wearing protection.)
So, I've got stuff to do. And I should probably be doing some of it right now instead of blogging about it...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two pics to share...

Steph dressed for a party when she came to Kent's birthday dinner on Friday. Here's a picture of her vacuuming for me - in a dress and heels! Grandma would approve.

And at one point I went out on the deck to find Bear napping in the excess tarp created by using from our woodpile. I guess it had all the benefits of sunshine with a break from the wind. He just gave me the one-eye look.

What did I do all week?

Wow, I feel so much busier than I did when I worked. Still, sometimes the days just fly by and it makes my head spin... In addition to the usual chores and household stuff, I had to look back through my week to figure out what I'd done with myself.

Saturday, Oct 31 - Drove to Denver and spent the day with Stephanie. We ran errands, went to the last of the local farmer's markets, visited, watched a movie at her place and then I raced home to get Kent's dinner ready.

Sunday, Nov 1 - Drove to Evergreen to spend the day with Kathy. We also made a trip to the Golden Quilt Company so that she could buy supplies for her new project. Hurried home to get Kent's dinner ready.

Monday, Nov 2 - Cleaned house, washed and hung six loads of laundry, rotated pantry

Tuesday, Nov 3 - Kent was home! Yay! Had a slow morning together. I made a week's supply of food for Bear, repackaged and labeled my BePrepared order into vacuum sealed canning jars, helped a little bit with wood.

Wednesday, Nov 4 - Dentist appt in the morning; down to Golden Quilt Company to get some assistance from their handwork person; visited the Colorado Quilt Museum while I was in Golden; stopped at Home Depot for wood for my canning jar shelf project

Thursday, Nov 5 - Kent's birthday, took a load of wood to friends, out to dinner, ran Denver errands while we were down the hill (Joann's, Harbor Freight, Costco)

Friday, Nov 6 - Stephanie came to the house, spent the day cooking for Kent's birthday dinner - Turkey dinner with the trimmings; spent the evening cleaning up. In addition to Kent, me and Steph - Kathy, Ken and Perla come to dinner.

Saturday, Nov 7 - "Homemade for the Holidays" at our church - Kathy, Steph and I hosted a pizzelle making station. It was a fun but long day. Home in time for Kent's dinner and then I crashed big time. We both went to bed at 7:30pm. It felt more like midnight.

I realize that there was just too much running around last week. While it's great to see folks, sometimes I have to say no and just take care of home. I'm looking forward to a slower week.

Since I'd gone to bed so early, the other side of that coin is that I was also up for the day at 3:30 this morning. I've got the chores done and now look forward to a slow day of Bible study and contemplation. Maybe I'll actually get caught up with my Precepts class. I've come to the conclusion that living deliberately and frugally takes constant diligence. Nothing about our society encourages either.

I hope you have a great Sabbath, too!