Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's Better Homemade

The last four days have found me either languishing on the sofa, bed, or in my favorite chair. Some very nasty little guy at Walmart who was in the Christmas spirit decided to share his crud. If I live and if I find him, I will lick his face. Hard.

In the meantime, I haven't really wanted to eat anything. After all, food isn't very good if one has no sense of taste. But, today, the thought of tomato soup was enough to make me take up my bed and walk... all the way to the kitchen... Since commercial soups seem to have high fructose corn syrup added, I opted to make my own. This is what I made:

Tomato Soup

2 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped onion
1 T. chopped garlic
1/2 t. ginger powder (or 1/4 c. chopped ginger -- I used the powder)
1 can or jar of tomatoes
1 c. vegetable or chicken broth (I used veggie bouillon)
1/2 c. milk  (or almond milk)

Cook onion and garlic for one minute in olive oil. Add ginger, tomatoes, broth, and milk. Heat to just boiling (milk will curdle if it gets too hot too quickly).

Slowly put soup in blender and liquefy. Reheat and serve with one tablespoon mozzarella cheese as a garnish.

Add a few good crackers (we like the Kashi multi-grain) and you have a great lunch with the added benefits of a lot of vitamin C and garlic for that nasty cold.


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Between Time

The time between Christmas and New Year's has always felt a lot like the lost weekends of a misspent youth. You know it is there, but what to do with it, or worse still, what you did with it is beyond you.

When should you take down the Christmas decorations? Keeping the Christmas decorations up for a few more days feels like the right thing to do, but then you are fearful that you will get caught on New Year's Day with them still up. By then life is "normal", whatever that is, and you might not get them down until Labor Day --- which might not be a bad thing since most stores seem to start putting out Christmas items on Halloween.

How long after Christmas should you play Christmas music? Is there someone at the radio station who watches the countdown clock, kind of like that doomsday clock you hear about from time to time, and, when it hits Midnight on December 25 all the Christmas music is put safely back in the lock box until next Halloween? Confidentially, I have a friend who plays it all year round. She also still has her inside nativity (which was an outside one, but she liked it so much she wanted it inside) up until after Easter.

Is it poor taste to mail Christmas cards after Christmas Day? Should you put a note in that you just recovered from Monkeypox and you are sorry these are late? Or should you confess that you are a loser and just didn't get them done before the last mail call on December 24? I wonder if there is a post date option on special mailings from the post office? There should be. It would help their bottom line, frankly.

What about Christmas returns? Do they have to be done before the New Year or can you wait? Trust me; I had to run to the hardware store, big box store, and grocery store today. You Don't Want To Willingly Do That. Seriously.

Is it considered poor style to spend the "between" week sleeping and eating all the candy you got for Christmas? Everyone Knows that after the New Year you are going on a diet and start exercising. And, it is, after all, a sin to waste anything you can eat. Sugar rushes only last a few hours; go for it!

As you can see, this between time has me very confused. Personally, I don't think I will deal with it At All. Chick-fil-a still has peppermint shakes available, even though it is "for the holiday and a limited time." Now this is the way to spend the between time. Care to join me??

Friday, December 23, 2011

Deep Sigh and Love Feast

The Airman left this morning at 7 a.m. which means we had to leave the farm at 2:45 to get him there on time. Once again, the airline was Wonderful and allowed me to go back and stay with him until his flight left. I am forever touched by the kindness of people to my son. As we went through the security line, the TSA man checked the Airman's id and then thanked him for his service. How generous!

It took another three hours to get home --- meaning that out of this day (check my post time: 10:15 a.m.) -- I have spent six hours driving.

And now, it is time to get one with what I hope to accomplish for the holiday break.... if I can keep my eyes open!

We will have lunch with my parents tomorrow and that is all the Christmas we will do, unless we go to the Love Feast at the local Moravin Church. If you haven't been to one, let me share what it is. The Moravins practice "breaking the bread" at Christmas. They make wonderful buns which are served with a very creamed coffee during the worship service. The service itself is mostly song (which I love as Quakers don't usually have music in meeting) and there is even a brass band. There is a short homily focused usually on Christian love and the Miracle of His Birth which is given while the buns and coffee are distributed. The final hymn focuses on the "light of the Christ" (the song "Morning Star") and all attendees have a small beeswax candle (with a red paper ruffle around it) which is lit from one candle to another. It is magic!

Moravin Love Feast Buns

Heat oven to 375 degrees



1 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
4 -5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 eggs, beaten


1/4 cup cold butter
8 teaspoons sugar


Place cubed potato and enough water to cover in small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook potatountil fork-tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the potato water. Mash potato to measure 1/2 cup; set aside. In the same saucepan combine potato water, 1/4 cup of water and1/2 cup butter. Heat until very warm (120 to 130 degrees F).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the sugar,salt, and yeast; mix well. Add warm potato water mixture; beat until well blended. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.

Grease cookie sheets.

Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead dough 6 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 16 pieces. Shape each into smooth, round bun; place on greased cookie sheets.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F) until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Uncover dough. Cut 1/4 cup cold butter into 16 equal pieces. Press one piece into the center of each bun. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gritting My Teeth

There are very few things that make me grit my teeth. One of them is the movie "Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer." Maybe it is because I don't care for stop action animation. Or, I don't care for the songs. Or, maybe, just maybe, it is a very annoying movie in general. Whatever it is, when we are going through our 30 days of Christmas movie marathon, I dread when this one comes up.

The music gives me a twitch, frankly. It is superficial and makes my head ache. It seems to me that the lyricist had to strain to find a reason to even write some of the songs, such as "Silver and Gold." Bleh.

The storyline is weak. Come on, why do we have to go to the Island of Misfit Toys? Seriously?? Santa's elves are such poor makers that their work is less than perfect? I doubt it.

And then there is the whole "I Wanna Be a Dentist" storyline. I'm sorry. When I hear that line all that I can think of is "Little Shop of Horrors" and this song:

In fact, let's just watch this and forget that "Rudolf" exists.... Excuse me while I go to my happy place...Enjoy!

Is there a "Christmas" movie that gives you a shiver? Come on, 'fess up!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

First Day Musings --- Under Tension

If you look carefully, you can see there are three
different patterns in the towels. I haven't cut them
apart yet, so they are difficult to photgraph.

Everyone was gone last night, so I sat down to the living room loom and finished weaving the towels. They are wonderful and I am very pleased with them. As I cut them off the loom, they sprang to life. Under tension, you see, things on the loom look very different. The texture is different --- tighter and more stretched out, less detail. And the shape even changes --- things "relax" when the tension is released, allowing the project to transform into the shape it is meant to be. These are fascinating things, really, because everything on a loom starts out square or rectangle. It is the nature of it. And, all things are "put on" the same -- with warps and then wefts. Yet, each project emerges differently. It makes me think of knitting where one uses only two stitches, a knit or purl, and yet the options seem numberless.

And, so it is with life.

We are all born with essentially the same things .. eyes, ears, hands, brain... desires, dreams, hopes... Yet, it is what we do with them, especially under tension, that determines what we become.

I reflected on this as I dropped off to sleep the other night. Then, I dreamt of the option of going back into my life and changing Just One Thing. Instantly, I was whisked back to when I was 28 in my little dear house in Florida. I loved that house. My life seemed perfect. It was just me and the Airman. I had a good job and was getting by. But, I made a decision that changed my path forever.

As I stood there in my back doorway, looking over the garden and all my fruit trees (I even had an avacado tree --- heaven!), I realized that there was no place to put my goats or chickens. This made me unhappy and I realized that I didn't want to change that moment or any other. Each had lead me to where I am Right Now. And, Right Now, I am satisfied. I woke up content and somewhat astonished by the realization.

Aren't there times we want to go back and change Just One Thing so our lives would be perfect (or so we want to believe)? Yet, if we did, we would not enjoy the many things we love now. It is rather like my weaving project. I had one warp on the loom, but had the option of making five different patterned towels based on just how I raised the harnesses. Each is unique, but each started with the same stuff. It was what I chose that made the difference.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Looking for Jesus for Christmas

My Sissie wants a Baby Jesus in a Manger for Christmas. Today, the Airman and I went looking for one in Boone. Ten stores later, we had yet to find Him.

We did find:

Santa and children
Santa and reindeer
Santa and cookies
Shiny packages (that light up!)
Palm trees with lights
72 sizes of Christmas trees and 16 different colours (don't ask!)
M&M guys

No Jesus. No Nativity. Nothing related to the reason for the holiday...

I am puzzled. Where is Jesus? What has happened to Him at this time of year? Better offer? Left town? Or have we forgotten Him?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Joyful Things

These are things to make one joyful:

Having the Airman home -- healthy, strong, happy!
Decorating the house and making it homey and comfy.
Enjoying fresh eggs for breakfast.
Finding beautiful shebert coloured tea roses on sale at the grocery store.
Noshing fresh lettuce, a tad tart!, from a friend's winter garden.
Walking a country road with a certain Mother and Daddy and rejoicing they are still here and able to do so!
Admiring the stars as they twinkle into being one at a time in the early December dusk.
Giggling over the Airman's latest tales.
Watching a Christmas movie with the Mister.
Celebrating life!

Here's sending you a Joyful Day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pray and Push

Late yesterday I had to run to the Mt. Airy farm for hay. When I got there, our farm hand decided he "didn't feel like loading the hay" and left. (May be looking for a job, soon! :) ). I loaded it myself. All 22 bales. That is all my little truck will hold even when it is stacked three rows high.

When I got home, after dark, the Mister was here.
"Who helped you?" he asked.

"I did it myself. C didn't 'feel like it,'" I responded.

After he unloaded four bales for this morning's feeding, with a promise to finish tonight, he remarked, "some of them were pretty stout. How'd you do it?"

"I prayed and pushed," I giggled.

I think he has a new respect for me! And, I think I learned a life lesson -- pray and push no matter how hard!

What are you doing today? Any baking going on?? I smell sugar cookies from someplace.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When the Airman was a wee lad, I was nursing him one evening and singing (er, wailing) "House at Pooh Corner." He turned his face from my breast and, as milk ran down his little fat cheeks, he put up one tiny hand, placed it over my mouth, and said his first word, "NOOOOOO!!!!!"

Since then, I have sung little in public, but today, my friends, I am singing to the roof tops. My Airman is coming for Christmas!

Grades are all done. And, while the weaving isn't, I am decorating today like it is nobody's business! And, as I pull things from the attic, I am singing my favorite Christmas song: "O Come, Immanuel."

There was a TRIPLE rainbow this morning, so I am taking it as a sign that this will be a glorious day!

Hope yours is as well.

And, for your listening pleasure, how about a little Loggins and Messina??

Saturday, December 10, 2011

First Day Musings -- Do It Now!

One of my biggest faults is the fact that I have a tendancy to procrastinate. A lot. It's not that I don't want to do the things I say I will, but that it seems so many things get on the plate that I put off many of those that aren't like dessert. Let's face it, we all would rather have dessert than the liver, right?

I read some place that procrastinating was like carrying around a huge weight on one's back. Until we complete the tast, it looms over us rather like the Sword of Damocles. This is a fact and I can attest to it! Whenever I do this I always promise myself that I won't do it again and that I will be more focused Next Time and Get It Done -- whatever "it" may be.

Now, you ask, how has that worked for me?? Not Too Good. A few years ago, I put together a list of all the started projects. I am ashamed to admit that it filled a legal pad page and then some. Yeppers. That's me. What happened? Well, I put off looking at it until I lost it, of course!

As we are approaching the New Year, I have been thinking of what my new word will be. This year it was moderation and I feel that I did pretty good -- all things considered. I didn't work too much as I took this past summer off from teaching. I didn't grow a big garden or can anything. After all, we need to eat the 57 quarts of green beans we have already (Have I mentioned that I don't like green beans... so why do we have 'em?? For the MIster, of course!) I haven't bought any new yarn or weaving fiber this year -- only the cotton for the dishcloths I sell at the Farmer's Market and even that I bought on sale. I didn't go wild and buy a lot of clothes for work this year (I always swear I will lose weight -- and I did!). And, I haven't replaced the 22 eye shadows I had to toss because they were too old (Really. I happen to love eye shadow. I confess. I need a 12 step program when Clinque has a new colour.I am working on it....).

So, the moderation thing has worked pretty well for me.

This coming year's word? Well, I am going to work on it. Really. After final exams. And after grades are in. And the towels are off the living room loom. And I have touched up the paint in the bathroom. And painted the dining room. And... sigh... let's just say, I'm thinking about it....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Friday

My mind is all over the place today. So, here we go...

After waiting A FULL YEAR to finally get someone here, we have the tile man coming today to finish the kitchen tile! Yeah! One of the problems of living so far out in the boonies is that no one really wants to come here to do any work for us. It takes 30 minutes just from the closest town, so you can see that this poses a real issue for most repairs that we can't do. I am thrilled this fella is actually coming through. So, there, all six of you other guys who didn't!

Weaving. Weaving. Weaving. I have warp on the living room loom for four towels. I want the loom out of the living room so I can put our Christmas tree in the front bay window... just where the loom is now. So, yesterday, I wove, wove, wove. One towel is done! At this rate, we will be decorating the tree on Christmas Eve!

This year I want to do a country Christmas theme using only what I have or can recycle. This will be fun as I want to use as many natural elements as I can. As beautiful as everything looks this morning with the heavy frost on it, I wish I could capture that look and bring it indoors!

Gifts. I have a table full of gifts to wrap today. The Mister and I adopted three boys from the Angel Tree. So much fun to shop for little people! Now, the wrapping. Not so much fun... And, speaking of gifts. I have a very special one coming next week. Can't wait to show you!

You see how I am mind mapping today?? Crazy. What are you up to today??

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More and More Projects!

I am in love! I read about this book on Deb's blog a few weeks ago and ordered it immediately. It is wonderful! The projects range from a simple cell phone cover to a more complicated sweater. And all these can be completed in a week or less. Now, that is my kind of knitting!

For several years now, I have toyed with knitting all the projects in Knitter's Almanac, but I haven't done that yet. Now, however, it intrigues me to work 52 projects in one year. Yeah, I know, I probably do that many now, but this somehow seems more interesting to me. They are pretty little things -- things that I wouldn't normally make. And, the yarns are sumptious -- and most of the projects won't always require more than a skein. And, I can use what is in the stash for those more ambitious projects.

Right now I am only toying with attempting this challenge. But, I keep going back and looking at the books and dreaming and planning and dreaming and planning and... well, you see how it is.

Have you ever done such a challenge? How do you set your goals?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Keep It Clean!

Eight weeks ago I was diagnosed with an ulcer --- which isn't a surprise considering what my only child does for a living! However, the doctor, whom I adore, suggested three things: drugs, diet, and exercise. So, I took his advice and started a med to heal the ulcer, changed my diet to a "clean one" and have started exercising -- a little. However, it is the eating clean that has been the most interesting!

Eating clean means not eating processed foods or things that have a lot of preservatives. Now, we had been eating, I thought, pretty much this way. We eat local foods and we eat mostly veggies. But, going to the full "clean diet" has been fascinating!

For each meal, we have a bit of protein in some form -- egg, dairy, cheese, beans, or even white meat. To that we add at least one cup of veggies of some kind and at least one fruit serving. Our foods are distributed thusly: 45% protein, 35% carbohydrates, and the balance in healthy fats. This translates into about 365 calories for each of our three meals and two snacks.

We have nothing white -- flour or otherwise (yes, I miss my potatoes -- I am, afterall, Scot-Irish). There is little caffeine and a smidge of sweetener (gotta have those!). The result: collectively we have dropped more than 30 pounds without even trying!

Eating locally and in season has always been our guide and so it is now. However, we are finding that combining this philosophy with the clean eating one has given us more vitality and a better overall feeling of health and well being.

Try this for breakfast and see what you think:

1 c. either fresh or frozen peaches
1 c. steel oats, cooked
1 T slivered almonds
1/2 -1 t. vanilla

Cook the oats your usual way or in almond milk. Add the peaches, almonds, and vanilla. Toss in a dollop of organic or homemade yogurt.

Add a side of veggie sausage or bacon or turkey sausage / bacon for the additional protein.

Eat until you are completely satisfied and are ready to lick the bowl! Yum!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Day Musings --- I Sing Of The Body Electric

When Walt Whitman wrote the poem that he entitled "I Sing of the Body Electric" he was vilified. The poem celebrates the human body and all it can do and be. This morning, I am reminded of that poem and how lovely it is. He wrote:

The love of the Body of man or woman balks account—the body itself balks account;  That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

He goes on to write how lovely every body is for what it can do and how the body reflects its owner. It is a  lovely poem by any account...

I am reminded of it today after spending yesterday working outside. We cleaned the chicken coop (overdue by a month!), hung new outdoor lights (with the days shorter we find we need these to feed on occasion), hauled trash to the dump, and ran errands. Our bodies lifted, stooped, squatted, stretched, crawled (okay, I confess, some of the coop required on the ground attention), walked, scurried, and ambled. By last night, my legs and feet were telling me how hard they had worked and how grateful they would be for a little elevation and rest. I agreed.

We choose how we live and, really, how we die. My most favorite poem is "Ulysses"  by Tennyson. The poem centers of the mythological character Ulysses and how he, upon growing older, realizes that his life isn't over, but rather, he can still dream and do. My favorite lines are these:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. 

These past months I have watched people a lot more than usual. I have thought about their choices and their lifestyles -- not in a judgmental way, oh no!, but as a matter of information --- trying see how we choose to grow old. I know that I am; I am past the double nickel, yet my mind tells me that I am still that buoyant 24-year-old who could do anything. What I have discovered is this: those who remain young in their minds are young in their bodies. Those who choose to do what they can, regardless of infirmary or illness, are much happier than those who sit on their tuffett and wail that they just can't do such and such any longer. Those who  stay involved in life, going, doing, giving, caring for others are much happier and better satisfied than those who don't. It matters not what the body is capable of doing, it is the attitude of the person, to do what one can, that seems to determine their joy and contentment.

I have a friend whose mother was found patching a hole in her roof when she was 94. I love that. This is the woman I want to be. I plan to sing of this old body until it is transformed into the perfect one I am promised on the other side. Until then, this one will do just fine.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back to Normal -- Whatever That Is...

Update first. My friend's husband is doing much, much better. And, we have the story finally straight. He rents pasture land next to his calf barn. He had noticed a strange truck spending a lot of time sitting in the parking lot of a church that had been burned a number of times because it was integrated. He wrote the tag number down for Just In Case. Fortunately.

Later in the day, as he went to feed, he saw the truck in the driveway of the house that went with the property he rented and that he watched over for the family who lives away from here. He stepped out of the truck and asked the man what he was doing. The man told him it was none of his business. My friend's husband replied that it was as he was responsible for the house and that he rented the farm that went with it. At this, the fella jumped from the truck, slugged my friend's husband, knocking him to the ground. Then, he straddled him and proceeded to hit him more than 30 times in the face, breaking every bone in his face, all while my friend's husband begged him to stop. Somehow, my friend's husband managed to get an arm free and poke two fingers in the man's eyes, wiggled his cell phone from his pocket and call 9-1-1. This caused the fella to get up, run to his truck and go home.

He, along with his father-in-law, returned to see if my friend's husband had gotten up from the beating. Apparently, when they saw all the rescue works and deputies, they fled. Since my friend's husband had the tag number, however, he was detained before my friend's husband was even in Winston-Salem. He remains in jail under $250,000 bond.

My friend's husband, meanwhile, has managed to get from the ICU to home in three days! The bleeding on his brain stopped on Thursday and by Friday the blood was re-absorping and the swelling in his face was going down. He could open his eyes and the opthamologist determined that he would not lose his eyes. While he will have at least one surgery, after the swelling is gone, we are all blessed by his quick turn around. We feel optimistic and he feels well enough to watch basketball and talk about going fishing!

This incident has reminded me how fragile our lives are. We never know who or what will happen even in the next minute. We take for granted that we are safe and secure in our worlds. The idea of violence or cruelty seldom enters our minds; it isn't what we would do, but we forget not everyone shares our values. Yet, we mustn't forget that there are many who don't have this assurance. And, we must work to bring peace, safety, and kindness  in any way we can.