Thursday, January 29, 2015

in the dog house, so to speak

Dolly was sleeping at suppertime, so I fed Henry. Finally I woke her and had her eating on the front windowsill. Turned around, and there was Henry behind her! What else is new. He has never forgotten how he had to scrounge for food (how long? we don't know at all), hence being ready for mealtimes is his main concern. 

I shooed him off the sill and he plopped onto the couch. Sorry, buddy - you're too close to her for comfort, hanging around there like a vulture.  I drove him off of the couch. Wouldn't you know, he went inside that gingerbread house and laid down very comfortably. I had not yelled at him, nor threatened; I just ushered him along away from the dining Dolly. But he still chose a spot where I couldn't reach him. (well, I could just take the thing apart, but he doesn't know that)

I did not think he could fit in there

Naughty boy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


For so long I've been wanting to try it, but there was always some aspect that made me hesitate. Until I came across this on Pinterest - and that little video clip pushed me over that edge. I bought some plastic lids (from Amazon) and got me some vegetables. 

I put these together yesterday, during the blizzard. And after taking this picture, I made up a third jar. It's been one day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


"Like an old silver spoon stored in soft gray flannel, hospitality neither dulls with time nor discolors with wear. It shines the brighter when brought to the table and used with regularity."

                                                -     Every Day Hospitality,   Thea Jarvis

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eternal Light

Eternal light, shine in my heart;
Eternal hope, lift up my eyes;
Eternal power, be my support
Eternal wisdom, make me wise.

Eternal life, raise me from death;
Eternal brightness, make me see
Eternal Spirit, give me breath;
Eternal Savior, come to me.

Until by your most costly grace,
Invited by your holy word,
At last I come before your face
To know you, my eternal God

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

addressing the confusion

I think we have three address books in this house, many of them from years ago and with outdated information. I'd bought a blank one to start again but hadn't gotten around to it. 

And now I'm glad, because Susan Branch has come out with a much nicer one, in a binder which can be added to. It comes with lots of pages, but if I use them up, I can add any lined paper cut to the right size. I bought myself an array of colored pens - oh, this is going to be fun!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

                                       -  Melody Beattie,    from Simple Abundance

Monday, January 12, 2015

no hurry

I'm putting some of it away,

but not all. And no hurry.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

a gingerbread house for Dolly

Cyndi brought over a cardboard "gingerbread house" for the cats. It's cute - the floor in it is that thick cardboard stuff they like to scratch. See the snowflake hanging over her in the doorway?

It's got window cutouts, a door, a chimney!  And it does have that fancy edging they call gingerbread.
If I dangle a toy mouse through the chimney I can get Dolly to go partway in. Henry no (of course), but I don't think he could fit inside, anyway. Too large.

Another toy to get used to.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

a good use of leftovers

A couple of days ago I had a bit of leftover meatloaf and some chicken from the freezer I wanted to finish off. It wasn't much, so soup seemed the best course. (no pun intended!)  I made a thin carrot soup with some onion and pureed it, then added the meat. Then I found some peas and brown rice hanging around, so threw that in with it. Also some mashed potato and yam. It was much better than it probably sounds. There was a lot of it, so we also had some for lunches over the past two days. But there was still about a pint left.

A day or two before that we'd had stewed chicken and there was plenty of it - with today being so cold out, pot pie seemed like a good idea. I cooked up a few carrots and added a bit of broccoli left in the fridge. Mixed it up with the chicken (and there's more that I can use for soup on Saturday), sprinkled it with garlic powder, oregano and some savory. But when it came to the gravy, that carrot soup kept coming to mind. It was thinner than gravy, but I just added a sprinkle of flour to the mix and poured it in, put a crust on top and baked it. 

So many leftovers used up!  It was delicious.  I made a little salad with mandarins and lettuce, and that was our dinner.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

bird visitor last January

I was looking at photos from a year ago, and found this -

Last January while getting ready for work on a snowy morning I saw this bird. It's funny, because I was in a hurry, but it struck me that he wasn't familiar. He was a blackbird, stocky like a cowbird but not brown headed like them. He wasn't iridescent like the grackles, but a sooty black which I thought was pretty, and there may have been two or three of these birds, but just one by the time I got my camera. I took some pictures and went to work.

Here's the other photo:

I tried looking him up in books there and online. A bronze cowbird?  But they're a southwestern bird. I couldn't figure it out, so called the Audubon Society, who gave me the email address of a bird expert.

Meanwhile, it turns out Cyndi saw the same bird (she lives a mile away) and also took photos (better than mine).

photo by Cindy Lou Who

The bird man got back to me and said it was most likely a Rusty Blackbird, which lives in Canada and can be seen in winters along the east coast of the U.S., but they aren't that common. Here is a clip of one in Central Park. I'd sure like to see one again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

yarn drama

really just the chiaroscuro of a poorly exposed photo. :D

Monday, January 5, 2015

Twelfth Night buns

They're not, really. They are Margo's Midwinter Breakfast Buns. But it's Twelfth Night, so that's what I'm calling them for today.

I did some things differently: used golden raisins, not currants; half the amount of whole wheat flour (we're not keen on too much of that); didn't bother chopping anything too fine; used honey not corn syrup; forgot about the salt.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

icy morning

At last we had some holiday snow yesterday, which turned sleety and was supposed to turn to rain and all melt away

but what happened was a late melting of the ice when we were going to church and so much prettiness around the yard when we got home.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

our town

My boss gave us these ornaments for Christmas - the scene is on the green, in the center of town!  The women's club was selling them.

One thing more about the blossoming cactus. I nearly forgot to mention that this plant just appeared outside the staff entrance, under the book drop on a very freezing cold morning, maybe three years ago. It wasn't there when I came in, but later Gail went out for something and said, "Somebody left a Christmas cactus outside near the drop!"  It didn't look too good, but it (obviously) came around.

Yes, people leave us all kinds of things here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

what a little deprivation can do

The Christmas cactus at the library is entirely covered in blooms.  And beginning in early fall, all I did was give it less water than usual. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

hay and straw

O Lord, you have created all!
How did you come to be so small,
To sweetly sleep in manger-bed
Where lowing cattle lately fed?

Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
She yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for thee.

For velvets soft and silken stuff
You have but hay and straw so rough
On which as king so rich and great
To be enthroned in humble state.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for thee.

-  from Magnificat, December 2014


Saturday, December 27, 2014

mac and cheese, a different way

There's a very popular Jewish deli in the next town and we went there on my birthday. I had their macaroni and cheese, which is really good. The waitress didn't know the recipe, but she did know that it contained chicken broth. Hmm.

That was interesting, because I had been wondering if mac and cheese could be made with some liquid other than milk - I mean, of course it could, but how strange would it look? - and here was a direction to go in. I do have a recipe using tomatoes and tomato sauce, but here I was looking for just a slight twist on the traditional.  I decided to try it.

Prior to that, I'd bought some Christmas-tree shaped pasta at Home Goods, (four dollars, mind you, but who can resist such a thing?), and that put me on the path of mac and cheese for Christmas Eve dinner.  So, I made it!

I had 14 ounces of pasta, which is close enough to a pound. I had four cups worth of shredded cheddar. I knew I needed four cups of "white sauce".

I always keep Knorr bouillon cubes on hand in case there is no real thing around, but it's salty so I use it half strength. I dissolved one cube into a quart of hot water ahead of time. Then I melted a stick of butter, whisked in a half cup of flour and let it bubble a bit, then whisked the broth into it, brought it to a boil and boiled it for one minute. At that point the cheese got stirred in and all melted happily. No salt necessary!  It looked fine and there was plenty of it. I baked it in the usual way and that was that. It looked fine and tasted very delicious although a little rich.  I am happy knowing I'm eating only half as much dairy as is usually in that dish, but I may try it next time with vegetable broth.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

'tis He is born

Why does the chilling winter's morn
Smile like a field beset with corn;
Or smell to a mead new shorn,
Thus on the sudden? Come and see
The cause why things thus fragrant be.

'Tis he is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and lustre, public mirth,
To heaven and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

-  Robert Herrick

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas joy

"When I think of Christmas Eves, Christmas feasts, Christmas songs, and Christmas stories, I know that they do not represent a short and transient gladness. Instead, they speak of a joy unspeakable and full of glory. God loves the world and sent His Son. Whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. That is Christmas joy. That is the Christmas spirit."

                                                  -  Corrie Ten Boom

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

a Cindy update

Cindy's new people have been emailing my brother with updates, and the latest is this:

my photo

"You'd think she had lived here for months, not days...She's been taking 2 hr naps on my lap every afternoon since Thursday and has been sleeping on the bed with us at night since then as well."

Ah!  This is what I was longing to hear!   Thank you, St. Francis.  Little Cindy -  they call her Mindy now -  has come to her perfect home.  Finally.

Monday, December 22, 2014

more cookies

I baked cookies today, but it's not enough.  I've got to make more.

There are worse things than the aroma of chicken soup, chocolate ginger cookies and the Cambridge Singers. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas kitty

which lasted about two minutes.  But it really was the perfect shade of red.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

the glad sound

Hark the glad sound! The Savior comes,
the Savior promised long:
let every heart prepare a throne,
and every voice a song.

He comes, the prisoners to release
in Satan's bondage held;
the gates of brass before Him burst,
the iron fetters yield.

He comes, the broken heart to bind,
the bleeding soul to cure,
and with the treasures of His grace
to bless the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of peace,
Thy welcome shall proclaim,
and heaven's eternal arches ring
with Thy beloved name.

-  Philip Doddridge

Friday, December 19, 2014

gold stars

Yesterday I baked cookies for the library cookie sale. I haven't used cookie cutters for I don't know how long - it was fun, after I sternly told myself that "you can't expect to make Christmas cookies and do all the usual housework in one day".  I really have a hard time letting go of my routine for these occasions, but I know that if I insist on "squeezing in" the extra activity, I won't enjoy it. There has to be a day for baking cookies; a day for decorating; and hopefully, a day for cleaning.  I think I need to make a routine for departing from the routine.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

more lights

There was a string of lights hanging around with nowhere to go, so I taped it to the center of the window over the kitchen sink.  There's an outlet above the stove.

Of course this means we can't pull down the shade after dark as we always do, but there's something about Christmas that makes you less inclined to follow your usual path. 

Then I went outside to see how it looked. Because it's really for the pleasure of the neighbors.

It's nice!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

people who write on the outside of envelopes...

ususally manage to warm the heart -

from Susan, who hasn't been blogging for a while

This charming communication may as well have come from Tasha Tudor herself, so delightful was it. Susan, I wish you and yours the same - but I'll write and tell you so. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

farewell, Cindy

Cindy went to her new home today. After nine and a half months, it's a relief to have some normalcy, but... I do miss her. She was cute. My eyes are teary at times, thinking about her leaving.

I don't know why she wouldn't stop going after Dolly - I mean, I don't know her history, so I can't judge. She was very cute in every other way - purring all the time, looking at you with googly eyes; lots of fun and chuckles.

After weeks of spraying her with the water bottle ten or twenty times a day it had all come to a head when she attacked Dolly in one of the litter boxes. Ours have covers, because Henry can't pee without spraying off the side, and Dolly was in there, and Cindy went in after her. I soon put a stop to it, but afterward Dolly was afraid to go downstairs to use the box, so we had to bring one upstairs every night into the kitchen and even then she took some cajoling to go inside it. So we got the idea to just keep Cindy downstairs when we weren't home, and let her up when Dolly was sleeping in somebody's bedroom. That's been much more peaceful and that's what we've been doing for two months or so. Dolly really perked up after that, and it was obvious she was relieved to be "free" of Cindy - I think she could tell we were protecting her from Cindy. She started playing in a way we hadn't seen since Cindy came. Which was sad, but that didn't mean we would just give her to anyone who showed an interest.

There was a lead once, but it didn't come to anything, and then a few weeks ago one of my brother's clients was telling him how she missed having a cat, but because of two long cruises they had planned, was afraid they couldn't get a cat before 2017. But my brother had a great idea - if they liked Cindy, we could just take her back when they were away for these extended periods. Hurrah!  They were all excited and emailed him - when could they come and meet her?  About four days later they showed up and everybody got along fine.

Be happy, little Cindy!  It's so good to be back to normal, but I do miss you even so.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

in the St. Lucia blog procession

I'm joining up with Heather's St. Lucia Day blog procession just a day late.

Thursday I made Lucia buns and today I iced a few, using apple cider mixed into the xxx sugar. After looking at too many recipes on pinterest, I just went with my good old Betty Crocker cookbook, but rather than citron, I put in pignoli and golden raisins - not too many.

Since discovering how un-messy bread-baking is when you use a KitchenAid mixer, I've been trying different types of recipes - what a pleasure!  No more "cement" stuck to the sponge, etc. Ugh. Anyway, I enjoyed trying these, but should have frozen them; even though they were in an airtight container, they are a little dry today. My brother was not deterred, however. A short moment in the microwave and he pronounced them quite edible.

I've also been playing a favorite Christmas cd of mine, Bereden Vag, which means "Prepare the Way", I think.  Sung by children from Uppsala Musikklasser, a school in Sweden, with solos by the wonderful Peter Mattei.  I'm not Scandinavian, but I love hearing this. There are several Swedish carols and then some English ones - very well done. Otherwise, we're quiet around here!