Friday, November 29, 2013

The Sillies

OK, scroll down real fast and you get the idea. 

They really are little "angels" but they have way too much fun being together to sit still for a grandma picture.  I would think they'd be used to it by now, but instead they get sillier.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was just too much fun.

I hope your turkey was delicious and your family silly.  Ours was!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving snow

It snowed lots last night and this morning.  It's beautiful.  Really it is.  But, sigh.  It IS snow.  Sigh.
 I title this one    Lavender in Winter.   Sigh.
 There's nothing like new, fresh, deep snow and two little girls to get us up out of our chairs!!!
 They were forging a path the the back yard.....
 Where they took the cover off the sandbox to use the tools to build a fort.

Elizabeth decided to start eating.  There's nothing that tastes like fresh, new snow. 
 Yummy, delicious, sweet, cold, crunchy.
"Sit down," she said, "there's plenty here!"
And so we did.
After our snow lunch Grandpa and Adelaide took a walk to the end of the road to see the snow on the lake and check for westerly clouds.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend wonders

 Saturday was a big day.  The first train ride for the girls, and we were on our way to Chicago on a special mission. 
The girls were troopers from the first.  The excite-o-meter dial was moving wildly.
 But there were glitches.  The train was an hour late in leaving our station and a few...a very few miles outside Chicago there was a glitch in a bridge sensor and we were stopped for another hour and a half.  Two and a half hours behind schedule and by now, the only thing that made sense was a little Chardonnay.
 After begging and cajoling, exactly five minutes from Union Station they finally fell asleep.  Five minutes.

  Destination:  American Girl Store!

 It was sensory overload. There was so much to see, it was so hard! I never saw such crowds....oh, wait, yes I have.  New Year's Eve at Times Square. 

 By the time we left this one was way past her shelf life.  She would have fallen asleep standing up.
 And after no delays coming home, we got off the train and discovered it had snowed on this side of Lake Michigan and the girls couldn't run in it, or eat it fast enough.
 Next day, Patient Husband and I went hunting.  There have always been rules about our Christmas tree.  When the kids were growing up the main rule was the top of the tree had to touch the ceiling.  Lisa would carry along a piece of string that she measured by standing on a chair and letting a ball of string drop to the floor while she held it at ceiling.  We would cut it and take the string with us. Somehow that system always failed.  We always found a tree, measured the string and yet had to cut off at least a foot when we got home.  In this house we don't use a string.  It depends on how far we have to hold our head back to determine if it's tall enough.  This house has higher ceilings and it really doesn't matter how tall.
 PH is getting too old for this.  We are discussing a small chain saw for future years.
 But this is what I love.  The gift wrap at the end.  We don't have a truck and PH is way, way to trusting of tying things to the top of the car and expecting one ribbon tied in a bow to hold it on.  We have stories.
 So the baler is the important thing for me.  The tree goes in like this......
 and ...
 comes out like this!!  Oh so worth it.
 Now, for the really important part.  We have one of those stands with a spike in the bowl and we need to have a hole drilled in the trunk so the tree can sit nicely on the spike and not ever fall over.  We have stories.
See the drill bit at the bottom?  Up it goes...     Love this thing. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

 Everybody knows the chestnut Christmas song.  I don't even know the real name of the song, to me it's always been "the chestnut song" and only Nat King Cole can sing it.  
We were at my daughter's on Sunday to celebrate Colin's birthday and he roasted chestnuts for us.  One of their fun things to do in fall is to go gather them. The girls run around the grove like squirrels scavenging and filling a large tote bag with the nuts.   I can't remember ever really eating a whole hot one.  I've taken "no thank you bites"* before but there was something really intriguing about them Sunday.

 They came off the fire hot.  They smelled heavenly.  They tasted like something I just couldn't put my finger on so I kept eating them trying to figure it out.  They were sweet,  a little smoky from the fire, the consistency (I have a consitency issue so that had to be ok or I couldn't/wouldn't go any further) was solid but soft.  What WAS it????   As we talked, Colin casually mentioned baked potatoes.  That's it!  They taste a lot like a baked potato with a little fire smoky baked potato peeling flavor.
Elizabeth ate them like she had a bowl of pretzels in front of her.  Colin couldn't peel them fast enough.
 It stormed huge that day and after it was over it left this gift.  You can't see it well, but it was a double rainbow!  Way up at the top left corner, see it?

 Today I can finally mention the Secret Santa gift exchange I'm in.  I sent the package off today.  Hope Santa can swim!  This has to cross lots of water.

This is the square I'm sending off to our round robin with friends in Germany.  I will mail our group's package of eight center squares the first of January.  This is finished except for the corner triangles.  Before I cut I want Friend Marilyn to see it because she has to do the math for me.  I don't cut without her math. I love applique, don't like or do much machine work and this caught my eye.  It's from the book Pretty Petals by Sheri Howard.  She calls this a geranium.  I think you need a couple glasses of wine to see it, but I love geraniums, especially red, red ones.  So.

 I do think I'm getting a handle on the stray projects laying around. Finished three pillow cases for the kids today, this is done, the table top is cleaned off except for this.  Whew!

*"no thank you bites"
We always told the kids at school they had to take at least one bite before they said "no thank you."  You can't say you don't like it till you try it, right? ( Except for me and the texture thing.)  Last year one little girl offered that she took 11  no thank you bites of something - just to make sure, she said - and what do you know?  She decided she liked what she was tasting!  She made me laugh and I'm still telling that story.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Got you covered!

Today was peppermint patty day.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Night Before Christmas

Yesterday I was going on and on about Thanksgiving and a book by the same name.  Today, another book.  Each year I purchase one Christmas book that really speaks to me.  It's our "family" book for the year.  And yes, there have been times I bought more than one, but that's because it was something irresistible. 
 This year, this is the one.  Hands down.  I know there is nothing new or different about the poem by Clement C. Moore.  We all  know the poem and can probably recite it in our sleep.  So why would I want this?  Well, the only thing that can be new or different is the illustrator.  Holly Hobbie is one of my absolute favorite illustrators.  When I was working in the library at school I would tell the kids that the illustrator can sell me a book faster than the author can.   What Holly Hobbie did was put her own stamp on the perennial poem and I couldn't resist.  Didn't even hesitate.  Didn't even take a breath.
 I'll probably get in big trouble showing you these pages but you just have to be sold on this.  I gasped and stroked this page, this gray, cold, nighttime expectant page.  How many times have you seen this?  A house in the dark, a snowman greeting the person coming into the driveway.  Your eye goes immediately to that lit tree by the door.  On the page it sparkles.  Here not so much.  You just have to trust me.
Holly Hobbie's new spin on the story poem was to see it through the eyes of a toddler, not the father.
I just want to stroke the pages.  I'd love to just be able to just touch her paint brushes.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


   I just finished a book I can't stop recommending.  But the problem is it's published by a company that only publishes e-books.  While that's good on one hand it's bad for handing it off to people I want to share it with.  And this is the first time this has happened to me!  Usually we have a choice, don't we?  We can buy the book or buy the e-book and sometimes I do either and sometimes I do both.
     I love the Thanksgiving holiday.  I love the historical story of Thanksgiving.  I put Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts as one of my favorite top of the list places I've been.  I love the food, the weather, the feeling, the smells, the traditions, and that we don't have to buy any presents to enjoy the day and our people.                                     
   So, when the invite to read this book popped into my email box one day I immediately downloaded it and read it.  It didn't sit in the que like so many other books are doing.  It didn't sit on my shelf like so many books pile up.  I took to this one immediately just because of the title.  And I wasn't sorry from the first paragraph.  I can't say that very often.

    This was the most unconventional, original treatment of how to hold a story together and how to make it flow that I've read in awhile. 
      Three hundred and fifty years,  the same family, the same house, the same time of year. Unconventional because though each chapter is named for an element of a Thanksgiving meal as we would know it,  turkey,  squash, veggies, silver, plates, etc.,  these elements of the dinner are only props.  First chapter includes a turkey, but at first only incidentally.  We are with the Morley family through those years. In this house, at this table, always that table, sharing their lives.  Sometimes the ingredient for the meal is only incidentally mentioned.  But that turkey is a story carried through the family like all family stories are.  Told and retold and retold and demanded by the children we see not only how time changes customs in a family, how a family changes in dynamic, how a house is passed along through that family, how the women carry the family and each other, we see how the story of the turkey changes, as all stories do. 
    You can buy this book very inexpensively ($4.99) through any e-book source and I hope you will.  It's just a shame I can't put a copy on my real book shelf and pull it down every year with my other favorites and run my hand over the cover, smell it, and re-read it again and again...holding it as a book.  But at least it was published and I could enjoy it at all!
    Have I gushed enough?  No.  Not enough. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What to wear?

Do you use your quilts?  I do.  Constantly.  I never sit in my chair or on the couch or nap or read without one over me.  Sometimes two or three at a time.  It isn't pretty, but this is how they're usually stored, these four winter ones.  Folded quickly and piled on this chair.   But last week all that changed for the "Oh My!" better.  When I retired at the end of May my good friend Harry promised he would make a quilt rack for me.

 And last Friday he and Friend Marge delivered it.   Isn't it beautiful?   It's tall, it's stained cherry to match most of my woods, it holds five quilts in front and two more can be stored on the back. It sits flat against a wall using minimum floor space.
 Harry does beautiful woodworking and it's a real honor to have something he made specially for me.
The rocking chair is still there but now my quilts are hanging beautifully.  I still use them everyday but now it's like looking into the closet and wondering what to wear for the day.   Hmmm...the antique that Friend Marge ALMOST GAVE TO THE ANIMAL SHELTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  or the one I call the Cinnamon quilt or the flying geese embroidered with the Over the River and Through the Woods scenes my mom worked,  or the gingerbread men or the square in a square that was my second ever quilt....I don't just grab one anymore.  Now I look at them and think about it and thank Harry all over again.
Harry would like that, knowing I think of him every day!

p.s.  No, I'm not keeping this in front of the window so they can fade.  I needed the natural light for the pictures.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


OK, so....The other day I was at the grocery store and honest, sometimes you just can't turn your back for a minute.  These jumped into my cart.  I had no control. None. As I scolded myself on the way home I had a brainstorm.  I don't have to BUY these things.  I can MAKE them!

During the summer I kind of go crazy making ice cream.  It's so simple, easy and superbly delicious there's no reason not to.  And I had several different kinds of leftover flavors still in the freezer.  Wait a minute.  Who has leftover ice cream??  That's like having leftover wine.  Come on, get real!
But I really did have some strawberry, some mint chip and some cherry chocolate chunk and some of that luscious lemon in the freezer.

 So, this morning I used a melon baller and made ice cream balls of all but the lemon ice cream.  Put them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and made sure they were really frozen hard.

Here's the other thing,though....
your freezer can't look like this.  You have to be able to get the sheet pan in somewhere.  I made it but it wasn't easy.

 PH went to the store for some Ghiradelli chocolate chips.  Don't even bother using anything less than this quality.  The meltability, the smoothness, it's the best when I dunk things into chocolate.  And then I just dropped those frozen little balls of ice cream into the chocolate and fished them out with a spoon
 and put them back on the cookie sheet to harden, which they did because the frozen ice cream solidified the chocolate immediately.  I put the tray back into the freezer for about 5 minutes and then

put them into a container, put the lid on and voila! Instant dessert someday when company comes.  They don't look perfect.  Perfect is highly over-rated. These say "a machine didn't make us!" The flavors are all mixed in so someone might bite into strawberry while someone else might get chocolate cherry chunk and someone else the mint chip.   PH thought I was brilliant.  Pshaw, it was nothing.

Disclaimer:  I can't guarantee what this would turn out like with regular grocery store ice cream if you decided to try this.  You really need good quality, custardy, sturdy ice cream.  The grocery store kind it too airy.  I guess you just have to go get yourself an ice cream churn and make some yourself.  It's addicting.