Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Blazin' Trails - Watch Out 2020!

After 2019, I might need a nap!
It was a year of many changes for us.
The biggest change was moving from my home of 18yrs.
Then a few months later changing my job of 6 1/2 yrs.
Then all those adjustments that go with those two moves:
where the vinegar is in this grocery store,
what cupboard the tablecloths are in,
how do I do X at work?
There are so many things in a routine that we take advantage of.
Change is difficult, Good, but difficult.

So a few things looking back before we plow forward.
There have been some challenges, to be sure.

Taking care of two homes that are an hour apart took its toll on me.
Becoming my own employer is/was a particularly difficult transition.
I wasn't sure what I was "supposed" to do as there is no job description.
It's been a good transition but difficult to wrap my brain around.
I tend to put myself in the helper role rather than the leader role.
(That's so backwards from my younger years.)

My word of the year for 2019 was Prosper.
It wasn't really for financial purposes though that was included.
For me it was about the changes we made and wanting them to be good ones.
I wanted the year to be prosperous with friends, 
 family, home, work, and goodness.
Of all of that, I would say I was better at keeping in contact with friends.
I'm generally horrible at that since I'm not on social media.
So Prosper served me well for the year but I'm ready to move on.

In addition to learning, I've had to relearn.
An example was our tomatoes.
I planted 1/2-2/3 as many plants as I usually did up the mountain
and my oh my.
We had a tomato jungle!
By season's end, I was tired of seeing them
even though my inner being loved them for the winter sustenance.

What's ahead?
This is always more fun, isn't it?
My word of the year this year is Grace.
It has multiple meanings and all in all is what I'm after.
If you do a word of the year, I'd love to hear it.

I will be taking a CAD class beginning next week. Yikes!
It was kinda funny when applying.
There were questions like:
Can your parents claim you on your insurance - haha.
How 'bout it Medicare? 
Will I have graduated high school by the beginning of the term?
I sorta remember high school-heehee
Anyways, that was a hoot!
We are designing our own home and whenever the time comes
will general it ourselves.
We have some time ;-)
It will also be a huge perk with work.
I will be able to do the detail drawings required for many jobs.

I'm very much hoping to sell the mountain house this year.
We'll work on that more towards spring,
but I'm hoping not to have to keep up with 2 yards this year.
(Prayers on that one greatly, hugely, enormously appreciated!)

Along that note, I'm looking forward to the garden this year.
Now that I have a glimmer of what gardening here is like,
maybe I can plan a little more appropriately.

Beginning January 1, I am challenging myself 
to see how long I can go with no spending.
I did this a few years back and made it to April.
I will do the envelope system for groceries
and pay our regular monthly expenses but nothing more.
I don't beat myself up if something arises that I spend.
I just start again at the beginning of the following month.
The trickiest part is being mindful of what day it is so I remember to do it.
I do keep a list of things we need or could use.
They are usually in the form of an antique so are things
that take time (sometimes years) to find.
I know if a cider press came along for the right price
sometime in February, I wouldn't think twice about breaking my challenge.
It would cost me more in the long run to wait and pay a higher price.
Bottom line is, I do what I can but don't take it to unreasonable extremes.

The other thing I'm hoping is to decrease my fabric stash.
Rather embarrassing, but I donated 3 carloads full of fabric.
Much of it had been given to me, but more and more I tell myself
"I'm not a storage unit."
At one time I made most of my clothes so had quite a bit of apparel fabric.
I enjoy quilting so primarily kept quilting fabrics - totes and totes of it!
I'm hoping to do a show or two next holiday season
which if anything sells would also generate some green stuff.

There are one or two other things I am hoping to make happen,
but I'll keep those a secret so you can be surprised.
Ain't that just like me - save the juicy stuff - heehee.

I'm looking forward to 2020 and to settling in to life here and now.
I don't anticipate any major life changes this year which is a relief.
 I have found the vinegar and tablecloths and
 am figuring out what needs to be done at work and when.
Are any of you routine people?
It sure throws me for a loop when my routine is upset for any length of time.
I do pretty good with short divergencies.
I think it's because I have that base routine to get back to.
Anyways, 2020 holds many promises for each of us.
Each day is getting just a little longer and each day brings us closer to our tomorrow so we might as well enjoy it, because
tomorrow it will be a memory.

Wishing you all much Grace
and many Blessings~

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Little Corner

I don't do a lot in the way of decorating,
but this is an odd little spot in the kitchen
where I happen to eat my eggs each morning.
I was quite sick last week for the first time in years
so I've missed much of the hubub and frinzie.
That part is actually fine by me.
But I'm not a good sick person.
I'm pretty sure I snarl and growl and bare my teeth, etc.
Anyhoo. . . 
Feeling better now and am looking forward to tomorrow.
I just wanted to take a moment to wish
each of you a very blessed Christmastime.
May your day be beautiful and your worries be few.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Fowl Christmas

(Disclaimer: For entertainment purposes only, not to be taken too seriously.)

The blizzard just won't let up
It's blown a week straight you know
The coffee pours cold in my cup
and I'm plum tired of trudging the snow.

This drafty shack don't stop the wind
The fire spits when the snow falls in
Only two more days 'til this torture's end
I'll be home for Christmas with all my kin

I bundle up to go lay down
And dream of the feast the folks will serve
I awake to more snow on the ground
Is this really what I deserve

I throw the saddle on ol' Red
He tries to blow snot but it sticks to his nose
He's mountain grown and ornery bred
I climb atop and off we goes

We've just made it down into the trees
The wind dies down but there's still a chill
Only one day left out here to freeze
I'll stop at the cave 'neith Donner Hill

Ol' Red must know, he's actin' spry
Off once more, not many a mile
The cold bright sun has lit the sky
I'm thinkin' of grub the whole darn while

I can finally see the homestead
Ol' Red picks up his pace
I can almost taste the homemade bread
Can't wait to feed my face

As I pull in, greetings to all
Unsaddle Ol' Red and throw him some hay
Inside's the cheer of a Christmas ball
What a wonderful happy holiday

Time for dinner, we each take our place
No more cussin' "You dirty dyer"
Then the shock, it shows upon my face
On the table sat an overgrown fryer

If there's a cowpoke in your clan
Don't make this grave mistake
Instead of pots use a cast iron pan
And fry up a thick beef steak.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving and a Restoration

There are a thousand tutorials on how to restore old cast iron
so I won't bore you with the how-to's of it.
But. . . 
I did want to share.
You might already be aware that 90% of my cooking arsenal
Love them both!
For the longest time, I had what I called "a stew pot," of cast iron,
but I really wanted a true Dutch oven.
I wasn't really impressed with the poor quality or the high price
 of the new ones available in stores.
My mother-in-law is just awesome.
She likes to go to yard sales etc.
so I let her know a couple years ago that I would like one.
Not long ago, she sent me the following picture

with a message that read "$25 ???"
I said "YES!"
Brought it home, hubby took the wire wheel to it,
then I scrubbed and seasoned it.
And the results~

Oh but there is more :-)
It wasn't evident in it's rusted state,
but after cleaning it up,
we saw that it had one of our family names
 that is not entirely common
engraved on both the lid handle and bottom of the pot.
That makes it even more special.
MIL is going to go back over and ask about where they got it
as she kinda knows who the folks are who had the yard sale.
Until she finds out for certain,
we will be left to wonder.
I've not had a chance to use it yet,
but oh I will.
I am just thrilled to have it at hand.

Also, I wanted to wish each of you a very
happy Thanksgiving.
I hope you find the day enjoyable and are able
to give thanks for the many blessings received.
We are taught that we should be thankful not only for our easy times
but for our trials as well.
I know first hand how difficult that can be.
But, if that Dutch oven could feel & speak,
I have a feeling it would have known even in the rusted state
 what it was made of
regardless of what was present on the outside.
Because life isn't pretty at the moment,
doesn't mean it won't be beautiful 
in what is yet to come.
And yes, I see cast iron as a thing of beauty­čśŐ
If life is trying for you right now,
I would like to wish you even a greater blessing
in that there is beauty yet to come.
Happy Thanksgiving dear friends.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Quiet In Betweens

There are quite a few folks out there
who don't like the days growing shorter or
being on Standard time.
I'm not one of those folks :-)

I love this time of year.  
I love being on Standard Time.
In the "war" against time change,
the only two options proposed were
Daylight Savings Time or continue switching back and forth.
Heeey! Hold on just a minute there.
What about the real time?
(Squawky - see below)
I would be curious to know how many of you are morning people???
Mr. LB and I wake up between 4:30-5 o:clock.
(My mom says that's an afternoon time.)
Yep, even on weekends.
We just do.
I do set an alarm clock weekdays, just in case.
But generally speaking, we are awake before it goes off.
Hubby requires far less sleep than I do (about 6 hrs.)
I like my 8 hours.
But we are morning folks.
We drink our coffee and are often off and running before the sun
raises its head from its mountainous pillow.
By evening, we are ready for supper and relaxation.
We are not entertainment oriented.
I'm not sure what to call us (that's a loaded statement, I know!)
But we are work oriented
or doing oriented
or living oriented.
We are not watching oriented.
I once wrote a piece that was called "The Watchers."
There are folks who seem to just watch life go by.
I think many children are being raised to be watchers
by parents who are watchers.
It seems they have to be entertained.
I'm not saying this to blame anybody.
I'm not even sure when it happened.
It's just sad when folks don't get to feel
the feeling of accomplishment or
the feeling of helping or
the feeling of giving or
providing, or growing, or 
well. . . . living.
Working with and raising critters of any sort is a lot of work.
There's usually physical as well as mental work involved.
They require feeding, tending, occasionally moving, etc.
And yes, it is work.
It's a commitment with a real consequence.
If you don't feed them, they will die.
That's pretty real.
But the rewards~
When that baby critter takes its first wobbly steps,
or you get to run the barrels in great time,
or you serve a home-raised meal.
What sort of price do you put on that?
Many folks see only the output of labor and discount the rewards.
Critters are just one example.
There are hundreds more.
I happen to love haying. 
Sounds crazy, I know.
Being out in the blazing heat to cut it,
then waking up at o:dark:thirty to rake and bale it
doesn't really sound like a barrel of monkeys kind of fun.
But. . . 
the smell of alfalfa in the morning dew,
and seeing the deer at the edge of the field
and hearing the quail begin to stir 
as the sun is just beginning to light the sky,
I think that is a treat in itself that you can't buy in a store.
Then there is the reward of having a healthy source of nutrition
for the critters come winter.
On winter days, when you are breaking off flakes to feed,
that sweet scent of summer lingers in the frosty air
and it's all worth it.
Who needs more entertainment than that?
We are old fashioned, what can I say.
During the longer evenings, we are finally able to find time for
that book that's been staring at us, or that stitching project,
or the research required to figure out a new endeavor.
These long evenings are a welcomed joy.

From what I hear, it might be the last winter
we have Standard time.

I will tell you one thing,
for the next 3-4 months,
I am going to revel in the morning light
and long evenings.
How 'bout you?

We call him Squawky and have watched him since spring.  
In early summer, he would walk out front and squawk and beat his wings
looking for hens.
Now we say he is serenading Hucklebunny.
We have been greatly entertained by him.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Squirrelling :-)

It's autumn.
Isn't it lovely?

One of my favorite things about autumn is the smell.
I know, that sounds a little weird,
but the crispness in the air brings about a scent that notes the season.
The other thing that begins to happen is the oven can be used again.
During summer months, we do more barbequing or simple meals 
that don't require a lot of cooking time. 
Now we can bring out the crockpot or
put a roast in the oven.
We tend to start nesting
or as I like to call it "Squirrelling."
I am hesitant to even use that word as folks go straight in their mind to women.
But men nest too, it just looks different.
Women tend to bring the throws out of storage and clean and arrange certain areas of the home for the upcoming season.
While men tend to sharpen blades, store certain things until next spring and
prepare for upcoming weather and tasks.
So you see it's the same really. . . . but different.
And there are scents that go along with those activities.
Woodsmoke, pot roast, a favorite candle~
And even better - spices.
I love spiced cookies.
I finally made a batch of speculaas which I hadn't made in about 7 years.
They are so good, I could eat the whole batch.
Woe is me!
I put most of them in the freezer to keep them out of easy reach.
Another favorite is spiced apple anything.
It's apple season.
Hubby likes when I slice them, sprinkle them with cinnamon and dehydrate them.
My mother-in-law tried them a while back.
I gave her a jar.
She later informed me she ate the whole jar before she got home.
I told her she should stay close to home for a day ;-)

There is a recipe I have that is actually scribed into the bottom of an apple shaped dish.
I usually do make it with apples, but have also made it with other fruits.
One more thing about autumn is we tend to begin gathering.
Critters do this as well this time of year.
I always find it interesting when people follow suit with nature unknowingly.
If you have a gathering to host or attend,
this recipe has served me well.
I hope you enjoy it also.

Oh yea, if you would like some spiced cider to go with it,
you can find my recipe for that here.

Apple Torte~

Before you get too far, let me share.  
I don't actually mix the apples in with the dough.
They don't really"mix" well.
The dough is a little dry-ish but never fear, 
the juice from the apples moistens it.
I just put down a layer of apples then some dough crumbles, 
then apples then dough, etc. 

One other warning~
I measure generously when I am making the dough,
because I'm pretty sure it is physically impossible not to snitch a bite of the dough :-)

That is some cinnamon apple goodness right there.
Serve with Homemade Vanilla Icecream and enjoy!

Happy Fall~

Monday, October 14, 2019

That Place Still Exists

"But that was a different time."
"That's all changed now."
"None of it's there anymore."
"There's nothing left there now."

Those are comments I'm sure we've all heard many a time.
They are spoken with a tone of remorse, sadness.
Usually what preceeds it is a wonderful memory of an instance
or event that is fondly recalled and with a grin or smile
which softens the face of the speaker.
The eyes sparkle with the reflection of the film that plays in the minds eye.
And the tone of voice is rejouvenated and is pitched 
in accordance with the event be it exciting or severe.
Once the tale is spun full length, it's snuffed out
by one of the phrases above.

Peculiar as it might seem, 
those recounted scenes are still alive and present.
Contrary to what is usually hurled at us as the current state,
there are still good folks out there,
funny folks out there,
hard-working folks out there,
and kind and generous folks out there.
Out where you might ask~

Well, there's this door. . . 

There's something I've said so many times over the years I've lost count.
"Whatever you look for, that's what you'll find."
Rather than taking what is being hurled at you,
maybe look for your own truth.
There's a place where a door is held open.
There's a place where people are smiling and friendly.
There's a place where a hand is offered,
where "Thank you," is said,
where a load is bared,
where a compliment is paid,
where a "Good Morning," is heard.
There is a certain kind of gravity that pulls folks 
to one who is in tune with such occurrences.
There will always be someone who will fill in the role as sour grapes.
It's pretty seldom that anyone gravitates towards them.
Most folks still appreciate kindness, and 
there are still plenty of baby boomers and generations
sandwiching them on either side who know how it was before,
who've been there.
There is as much work to do now as ever there was.
And believe it or not, folks who are willing
though their experience might be lacking.
We take them by the hand and show them, not shame them.
Yes, the wheel of time continues to roll forth.
That is a given.
Isn't it a comfort to be able to count on such a thing?
We can look back and reminisce and on the very same reel 
is a projection of what's yet to come.
If we have any part to play,
why wouldn't we choose the better ending.
If we can share and create value,
shouldn't we?
We have the ability to make that change,
to bring it back, or
to keep it here where it belongs.
We don't need to turn back time after all,
because that place still exists.
I hear you asking again,

Well, that door above~
It's the door to my home.
Is it the door to yours too?

Monday, September 30, 2019

First Snow

This weekend we went over the mountain to see some friends.
It snowed!
September 28th - the first snow!
That's crazy.
(Had to get a pix in a spot where it wasn't snowing so you can actually see.)

I've heard from a few sources now that winter will be harsh this year.
It's interesting how Mother Nature makes provisions
to feed and care for her critters..
I mentioned earlier that the elderberry trees were loaded.
Between last weekend and this weekend being in the mountains
(or passing through,)
I've also noticed the mountain ash berries and rosehips
are both abundant this year as well.
Image result for mountain ash berries
We've not yet had snow down here in the valley,
but it's cold.  The high yesterday was 48*.
I've been getting the garden put to bed and trying to get things cleaned up and ready for "the snow goose to molt" while flying over.
We have to have that sort of goofy humor when we are talking snow in Sept.
I was hoping the spaghetti squash would ripen a little more
before I had to pick them, but I might just have to get them in.
There was a light frost this morning so I'll take that as a warning.
I am looking forward to not mowing the lawn at two houses though.

Still praying for the right folks to find our mountain house.
It's so beautiful with so many attributes.
Then next summer I will only have one yard to tend.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Learning the Old Ways

Have you ever thought about
just spending a week in history?
Or even a day for that matter?

Over the past several years, I have had a garden,
canned , made soap and lotion,
learned to spin - well...sorta,
tanned hides, and used a loom.
Some of these things were "once 'round",
but I tried them out and learned something.

Growing up on a ranch and living out of town,
we did plenty of make do or do without
which is a saying that seems to have come back into fashion.

I've put up hay,
had my arm up the south end of various critters,
fed, fattened, and butchered others,
made feeders with nothing more than scrap wood,
a few previously used nails and a skill saw. 
(no trip to the hardware store, YouTube, or lumber yard)
there was/is something missing.
And so I digress~

Growing up,
we always looked forward to Grammy's 
home-canned green olives.
(Good Italian family!)
Grammy is my only grandparent left - 95yrs. young.
In talking with her a while back,
I asked her how she made her olives.
Her reply...
"Well, I just do it how Grandma did it."
Meaning her mother, my great-gma.
Of course she did.
My aunt still has the giant crocks she used for curing them.
That knowledge wasn't passed down,
because along came a generation or two
of those who found it easier to buy a can of olives and such things.
As Grammy told me the process, I took notes.

I don't think I am alone
in wanting to restore and preserve the knowledge
not only of the 'how-to'
but also the why and to what end.
Grammy said when she picked olives,
she was very careful with them and
set them in the bucket or they would bruise.
If you just drop them in you would
end up with brown spots on your olives.
That's what I'm talking about.
Those little details of life
that had meaning and reason
that were passed from one generation
to the next seamlessly without even realizing it.

I have a tendency to love talking with
let's say 'well-aged' folks.
My mom says even when I was little 
and other kids shyed away from the old,
I was right there.
Maybe this is part of the reason.
There's something I connect to,
a wisdom I crave,
and a knowledge I may never realize.

I am in a continual state of learning.
Bless my dear husband.
He is so patient as I try out a garden idea,
bring home an antique tool of some sort,
and share tid-bits of facts like
"If you pick green beans with the dew still on,
 they will get rust spots."
We found that out the first year we planted them - 
now we know why.
It would have been so much easier to
learn that from someone
we picked them in the early morning dew.
Multiple generations of a family used to live together or
at least within close proximity to one another (generally speaking.)
We are so distant now - in so many ways.

I'm not certain if there is a real point to all this,
or if it's just the sharing of a feeling,
but if it keeps you from picking green beans in the morning, or
encourages you to call and visit your grandma or grandpa
well then,
that is enough.
If you are a g-ma or g-pa, please share.
We need you.

PS Thanks Grams:)