Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all the joys of the season to each and every one of you.  I hope you have friends and/or family to spend time with.  Our thoughts and prayers are especially with those who are dealing with tragedy at this most festive time of year.  We have several friends and relatives who are facing the first Christmas without a loved one and that is always difficult.  Of course we have that hope of seeing them again because of the birth of our Lord...there is hope in sorrow and in joy.

We went to the light show at the Boise River in Caldwell on Tuesday evening as we thought it might snow last night....

The park is alongside the river for several blocks and they had light strings and nets on every tree and bush, and silhouettes of deer and sleighs etc. in between!

Both of the bridges were decorated - the light reflecting on the rapids and small waterfalls were impossible to photograph with a point and shoot digital but lovely to see.  It was freezing (literally) with a bitter breeze, but we had a wonderful time.

We did not get snow last night, it waited until 8:30 this morning and has not let up since.  This photo was early, the blanket of snow is thick and the world is always muted and quiet in the snow.

Since I was a small child Christmas has always been that time when we prayed for snow, that 'white Christmas' was the ideal.  Sleds and snowballs and playing with the cousins, grandma making hot chocolate as much to warm our hands as our insides. I suspect my parents were not as thrilled as I was when the snow got there before they had to drive to Grandmas house!  (I do understand that now!)  Part of the magic of the snow is the way everything is beautiful in it!  Junkyards become works of art, fence posts wear little white hats, and the world is lovely.

Today, in our world, there is turmoil and fighting, loss and sorrow, fear and hate.  I will look out my window and remind myself that there is also peace and beauty, and that during this season, we celebrate the birth of the author of that peace.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Feel of Winter

Oh I know the actual start of winter is the 22 of December but it is feeling like winter now, and I love it.  Hubby is not having as much fun, but I suspect really that raking the leaves doesn't bother him that much and he does enjoy being outside in the cold and crisp!  We both love the grey days - as long as we can stay warm, and we are noticing that this year with the new roof we think we are having an easier time keeping the house warm. 
Leaves on the ground and the firewood on the porch!
I am finishing up the Christmas presents to send to the kids, so every spare minute is crafting!  I have begun a new part time job, working 2 or 3 days a week for about 5 hours a day.  It really did just fall into my lap, it is working in insurance and I know how to do it and it is kind of nice to get out in the public again for a little while, the money that I bring in will go into the emergency fund and the travel to see the grandkid fund!!

As we are getting close to Christmas I will share my new favorite candy recipe, and the story of how I found it.  On our trip to California we had stopped at this roadside attraction called the 'Barn at Avila' between Pismo and Avila along the coast.  We looked at the wares and then went into the ice cream and candy shop, I bought a 3 inch square of 'Butter Pecan Fudge' and we all had a small taste - it was wonderful and I decided I had to get a recipe for it, this recipe tastes very much like the fudge at the coast and is really easy to make.  It is modified from a "Taste of Home" recipe.

Butter Pecan Fudge
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  1. To toast the pecans - place in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until you can smell the pecans. You can also toast the in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Measure out powdered sugar in to a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with butter and set aside.
  4. Combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar, whipping cream and salt in a medium size pot. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil and the bubbles do not disappear when you mix them. It will only take a few minutes to come to a full boil.
  5. Set a time for 5 minutes and stir the mixture constantly while it boils.
  6. Once the 5 minutes are up, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in pecans.
  7. Pour the fudge in to your prepared pan. Allow fudge to cool until room temperature before cutting, mine set up pretty fast but the recipe said the preferred time was 24 hours.
single blurry piece, it sets up firm
 This stuff is melt in your mouth delicious!!  You can diet in January!!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the best holidays in my mind is Thanksgiving - I love the idea of stopping and thinking about all the things I am thankful for, remembering to thank God for the blessings in my life.  No matter what is going on in the world, no matter the political, economic, climatic or social vagaries of the world and of life - God is good, and I am blessed.  Every year there is a new thing, an old thing or something special that happens and when we stop to remember and count our blessings I always feel that I am blessed!  So as another year winds down I give thanks for all my blessings, remember that He is in control (and I am not required to understand) and I have all I need and more!
One of the cuter blessings!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thinking of Paris...

Illuminating Souls's photo on facebook
Sometimes I say something silly like - "I wish I could do more"....truly - prayer is the most powerful thing I can do.  Join me.....

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Completing the catch up...

As I type tonight, hubby is starting the first fire of the cold season.  We had nearly freezing temps last night and we expect the first hard freeze tonight, we picked the last of the green beans, tomatoes and strawberries this week in anticipation.  It is time for soups and stews and chili!!

After our trip to California for the wedding and our visit with son and daughter in law, my friend Anita and I had planned a trip to CA for over a year (son and wedding were a late addition to our calendar this year!) she had a family reunion to attend and one of her long time friend's daughter's wedding.  She doesn't like to drive the whole way alone and I do like to drive and she stays at my moms house with me, uses it as a base of operations and a good time is had by all!

I got a whole extra week with the adorable Lily!  It really was nice to have enough time that she got used to me and was very comfortable playing with the 'other' Grandma that she doesn't see very often.

You can see my mother in the back ground with her sling, she had rotator cuff surgery 2 weeks prior and was/is still in a sling.  It was also nice for me to be able to do a few things for her while we were there, so I felt a little better about not being able to just pop over when she needs a hand, (which doesn't happen very often!)

Don't know what they are but we got the picture on one of our walks downtown Exeter to see the new mural, just so unusual looking.

This was the new mural - fruit packing labels!

This bird of paradise was at the coast, we appreciated the flowers in California, knowing we were going to come home to fall/winter and pretty leaves but no flowers!

We went to the coast at Pismo/Avila for two days and one night.  Our first day there we had beautiful weather, warm but not hot and the ocean breeze.  These birds were waiting for the fishermen cleaning their catch to throw them the 'yucky bits'.  They seemed to eat pretty well

There were several seals playing and swimming along the pier.

Just a perfect day!!!

We also went to see the 'Great American Melodrama' and laughed a lot!  What a fun evening!

On the way home we stopped at the 'Jack Ranch Cafe' and saw the memorial to James Dean who's car accident happened just up the road. (and of course we used the bathrooms - it was, after all, 3 women traveling together!)

This is the quintessential California to me - live oaks and dead grass!  Californians will tell you it is the 'golden hills'!

You are looking west at the Coastal range

This was the top of the pass!! 

We took a side road through Parkfield which bills itself as the earthquake capitol of the world.  It is on the San Andreas fault line and the sign on the bridge says "you are now entering the North American Plate" from the Pacific Plate.  They have a 6 or greater earthquake every 22 years and it is the most observed seismic area in the world.  The piers on the bridge have moved 5 feet apart since it was built in 1936 due to the creep of the plates!  We decided to take the road north to Coalinga and ended up on a winding, turning, single lane, dirt/rock road that had phenomenal views and made us doubt now and then that we were on a regular road!  We kind of thought maybe we missed a turn!

On the way to California and the way home we spent the night in Reno Nevada and made small contributions to the state in the form of penny and nickel slot machines!  We had a very good time, we are already planning the trip next year!

Need to get busy now - Christmas is 50 days away!!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Yikes! Time does fly!

It doesn't seem that long since I posted but it is almost 2 months! While we have been busy there really is no excuse, I just lost track of time....oh well.

At last post Mom and Aunt Evelyn were headed off
into the wild and Hubby and I had two weeks to get ready for the trip to California for the wedding ceremony of our middle son. We were a week away from leaving and I was walking very purposefully across the living room and got my slipper tangled in the rug and fell full force on my right knee.  After some rolling on the floor and moaning, I got up and it seemed that nothing was broken - just sore.  A couple of days later it looked like this!  The doctor took x-rays and nothing is broken but I apparently broke a blood vessel or two!  Good thing I was making a mid-calf length dress for the wedding - yes?  Even now after all this time I still have sore spots, I think I used to heal faster!

The wedding was beautiful and Niel and Esperanza are a lovely couple.  We got to meet her family at the rehearsal dinner at my mothers house and the girls did their makeup and got dressed in Moms extra bedroom the morning of the ceremony.  They took pictures in one of the many mural parks in Exeter, and had the ceremony in the church her family attends.

Esperanza did a lovely job decorating the tables with old canning jars, burlap, lace, mismatched teacups with faux pearls and fresh flowers!  It was just beautiful!

They had paid for the wedding and didn't have a lot of money left over for a honeymoon trip - so we brought them home with us for nine days.  We went to the local Octoberfest celebration, complete with cheesy hats!.....

We took them to the mountains for hiking fun......
(They hiked - hubby and I went to the local mountain cafe, ate lunch and watched the scenery!  Remember the knee injury!)

We let them pitch a tent in the back yard so they could 'camp' and still have indoor plumbing.  (it was so cold - think they had several layers of blankets!) be young and in love!!! 
(this did not even look inviting to us but they thought it was grand fun!)

Niel helped his dad trim the huge old apple tree that was hanging over the fence into the neighbors yard .....

Esperanza helped with trying to finish up the gardening season.  (we ate some beans and froze some, and made homemade noodles and chicken noodle soup from scratch)

And we did several short sightseeing trips to see things like the state capitol building, and of course some of our favorite restaurants!

We think they had a good time and we enjoyed getting to know our newest daughter in law.  We paid for bus fare home - and they were gone.  The house was empty and quiet and we were only a little lonely.  My mother used to say "glad to see you get here, glad to see you leave!" and now I know what she meant! 

Of course I haven't written anything about seeing Miss Lily or the second trip to California with my friend.  That will have to wait till the next post (hopefully not as long as the wait for this one!)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Company Comes and the Seasons Change!

I know fall is officially a couple of weeks away but we are getting a preview this weekend!  A cold front complete with branch breaking wind has moved through and reminded us winter is not far away! 

She just made herself useful!
We had almost two weeks with Mom, and her sister Evelyn flew out for the last 4 days.  We had a wonderful time!  Mom helped with the garden - she is comfortable pitching in around and doing whatever needs doing!  We picked beans and corn, went on a couple of sightseeing tours around the area, and visited a lot.  She has not been to our home since we moved as she was taking care of grandma so this was fun to show her around!

One meatball nearly fills the ladle!
We used Aunt Ramah's spaghetti recipe (she had an Italian mother in law!) and substituted fresh tomatoes, simmered it for hours and put in the marvelous meatballs!  Yum!!

It was warm but overcast - dining al fresco!
We drove around Boise and looked at the wonderful huge old homes, a couple of antique stores, the fair trade market and then we had fish and chips at the 13th St Pub in Hyde Park!  (Hyde Park Village in Boise!)  But it was good food and good fun!

Standing on the Banks of the Snake River,

When the 3 girls were little they came west on a trip and thought they remembered the Snake river, so we went to see it and do a little family history sleuthing as well.  They had to see all the places that our family settled or lived in many years ago that I had found in the area! (In this post)

Standing in the actual ruts made by wagons on the trail!

And since we have found relatives all over the family tree that came west on the Oregon trail it seemed only right that we would visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive site in Baker City OR.  If you are ever in the area this is definitely worth the trip!

All good things must come to an end and eventually they left to continue their adventure.  The two of them will drive up to Glacier National Park (it has snowed while they are there) and then over to the Pacific Coast and down to California to visit with sister number 3 for a few days and then to Mom's house for awhile!  I think they are kind of amazing - Mom will be 81 this month and Aunt Evelyn turned 78 last spring!  They take after their mother!

The house is back to normal and I have been busy freezing the corn and beans, but it is a little quiet with them gone! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blessings and Answered Prayers

When we moved into this house we knew there were problems, that was, after all, why no one could get a loan on it, and why it was so reasonably priced.  We fixed the electrical and we fixed the plumbing, we patched holes in the cupboards and painted the walls.  During the 'painting the walls' part we discovered another problem - we had a leak in the roof that the company had just painted over the evidence of and now the paint they used was starting to slide down the wall!  Hubby went up on the roof and tried to patch it, but was only partly successful, the next year more get the picture.  The corner of the kitchen where the leak ended up practically poured water through the drywall when it rained, forget stains - we had drywall that was falling and cracking!  This was going to be a fairly large job and more money than we had in savings, we got ready to take out a loan even though it made us feel sick as we have stayed debt free since we retired 5 years ago.

My grandmother passed away last November and my mom and her two sisters just sold the family farm, they all got a nice amount, my mom told me one night on the phone that when the money came through she was going to give my brother and I a gift that she hoped we would use to improve our houses as we both had issues that needed to be taken care of. 

She sent us the exact amount of the estimate on the roof - plus a little extra.....

The simple 'remove the old and put on the new' shingle job it should have been turned into this...
They had to replace the rafters, the wood sheets, the insulation and the drywall!  This was going to be a lot more!

We spent 10 days with no light in the kitchen, and all the appliances and stuff from the counters in the TV room, then we (I) had to paint the walls and ceiling after the texturing was done and hubby had to hang the new lights and do the wiring. 

This is the finished product!  It is such a blessing to have the problem fixed and done right!  Did I mention that my mom was coming to visit and I finished the painting the night before she got here?!!
Oh and the money she sent?....It was almost exactly what we needed with just  little cushion !!

We are blessed - and I am enjoying the company of my mom for at least 10 days!!  Life is good, and once again we were reminded of the lesson we shouldn't have to be reminded of  "Let go and Let God"  he knows our needs and we shouldn't worry.  I am fairly sure I will need to be reminded of this again, but hopefully not for awhile yet!!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Monthly Nine - July

It is actually past time to sit and think and review July and share with the other bloggers in this group.  Be sure to check out the others at Greenhaven where Linda is hosting our little group.  I love reading what others in another part of the word are doing and seeing a little of their lives.  There are trips I may never take but the blogging world makes true the old saying about reading taking you on adventures, and I have seen how others live differently and how they live the same.  It is a lot of fun!

Onward and upward - it is summer here in Idaho and we are all about the garden so forgive my one dimensional life this month!

Nourish - There is a flavor that screams SUMMER to me and it is the BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato on toast)
sandwich.  It is only made better when the lettuce and tomato are fresh from the garden, and the toast is homemade.  Hubby has tomatoes everywhere - they have of course ripened a ton of them at the same time!  He is feverishly making his salsa and then I will get to can whatever tomatoes are left!  (looks like I will have plenty!)  If anyone is curious about different types - he tried an "Amish Roma" (heirloom) this year and they are really large and tasty!

Prepare - This category is all about the canning this month as that is our major activity in the late summer as
Peaches, Salsa and Sweet Pickles
we harvest garden, so far we have done dill pickles, sweet pickles, yellow squash pickles, sauerkraut, salsa and peaches!

Reduce - I have reduced the population of squash bugs in the world!  Alright it's kind of a stretch but I did
mention in a recent post that I had not yet had any this year and - pow ! - there they were!  I saw two of them one day and the next day the whole batch were history.  I just didn't want to risk the cucumbers and cantaloupes.  See that beautiful plant - it doesn't look like it's harboring evil but there it is!

Green - We have managed to avoid any store bought chemicals and/or pesticides on the garden  and
the weeding has kept things under control so far.  We did use the chicken wire to keep the birds off the strawberries, that is green isn't it!!  :)  It is a good feeling to know that the food we eat is grown in plain old dirt and compost!

Grow - The beans are starting to look like they maybe ready to move beyond flowers.  The winds recently
have really played havoc with my pole beans!  I have been keeping better track of yields and dates of planting and harvesting this season so I can be better prepared next year.

Create - In keeping with the all garden all the time theme this month I will share that I have created some monumental messes in the kitchen!!

Discover - We have rediscovered the Farmers Market here locally.  it is just the best place to get local honey and some of the things we don't grow. 

Enhance - I have very much enjoyed the flowers that we worked on adding to the yard this summer.  They really have enhanced our enjoyment of the outdoors!

Enjoy - I am enjoying the anticipation of my mother coming to visit in August!  She has been taking care of her mother for the last 3 years and has not been able to come and see where we live and visit us here.  I am so excited to have her come here as it has now been almost a year since I have seen her again and that is just too long!!  I am just like a little kid with the excitement!  She looks too young to have a kid my age doesn't she!!!

Don't forget to check out the other blogs this month and have a wonderful August, whether you are winding down the harvest season or gearing up for spring!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Funner with a Friend!

I think the original saying was "many hands make light work".  The bottom line is - it is almost always more fun to do a tedious job with a friend! 

Just 2 plants!  (and a marigold for bugs!)
I had way too much yellow summer squash, I let it get ahead of me - in my own defense, the last two years I have had squash bugs by this time and the plants were winding down!  This summer after a major move of the vines to the other side of the garden near the herb garden, (so far, knock on wood) I have yet to see a squash bug (don't get me wrong, I still have bugs just not that one...yet) and the two silly plants that I put in are just producing like crazy.  I am really not complaining, it is a good problem to have...I just wasn't prepared for it!

Patsi at "A Working Pantry" (in the blog roll) had posted a recipe for 'Yellow Squash Pickles' on the 26th, this seemed like too much coincidence so I figured this was going to be the perfect thing to try.  My friend Anita had been telling me about her new food processor and kept volunteering herself and the appliance to help with harvesting and preserving, boy is she regretting that now!! (not really, we did have a good time!) We discussed it and decided that we would use the food processor and do our sauerkraut on the same day.  We began our morning with a cup of coffee and some planning and then we went to work!

First we did the slicing and dicing of yellow squash, onions and red bell pepper.  The squash and onions sit under ice for a couple of hours with salt on them.  They will be drained but not rinsed to put in jars.  While the squash were soaking, we started shredding the cabbage for our kraut.  (the full kraut recipe is here)

  May I take a moment here to mention how much easier this is with the food processor than with a knife!!!  It was kind of fun just running it through. The salt was added and it went into jars, was covered with water and a leaf folded into a plug and we were ready for lunch!  (of course you have to eat to keep your strength up!)  Sandwich, fresh sliced tomatoes, cookies and tea, resting our aching backs and feet and then we were right back at it!

Boiling the liquid and packing the jars, and then filling the jars sealing and water bathing, with two of us each doing something in the process it really didn't take much time and Anita had almost all the dishes done by the time the water bath was done!  That is a true friend in my mind!  :)

So here is the final tally - 23 pints of sauerkraut quietly, and nearly odorlessly, fermenting.

And 20 pints of yellow squash pickles, all the lids have sealed now.

Not bad for about 6 hours work and a couple of breaks!!

I am not sure that there are many things more satisfying on the homemaking front than jars of produce lined up ready to be stored for the winter season.  It doesn't really matter if you do it to be frugal (the price ranges from $0.68 for the regular stuff at Walmart to $20.00 for organic raw, our cost was roughly $.25 a jar) to be prepared (so as not to be the one standing in front of the empty store shelves when the storm is predicted), because you like knowing what is in your food (yup, water, salt and cabbage), or a combination of all three like I do - it is a good feeling.  And it truly was funner with a friend!  We are now thinking of adding a couple more friends for peach season!