Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dolly drinks from a cup

Dolly so enjoys a drink from a cup or glass every now and then - I think, to her, it tastes better out of something different.

and I'm happy to oblige.

Monday, November 28, 2011

bread on top

Using up some holiday leftovers this evening; I had the meat, plenty of veg, and then I made a sauce for it. But what about the topping?  Pie crust? No. Mashed potatoes? Biscuits?  Nope.  I'd seen a Martha Stewart Living magazine which featured layered bread slices, buttered, for the topping  Mine worked out pretty well - I used rye bread which is a favorite around here, but something softer might have been a better choice.

 It needs working on, but this other option is nice.

Advent watchfulness

"Keep us alert, we pray, O Lord our God, as we await the advent of Christ your Son, so that, when he comes and knocks, he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

late bloomers

Well, the fellows with the big claw finally came and took away all our brush from the October storm.

Later, I was sweeping the stray branches out of the street and carrying some to the back yard.

There was a dear little dandelion!

Last week a rhododendron blossom, this week a dandelion.

Maybe we can just skip winter this year.  After Christmas, that is.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"sharing the cross of others"

"Lord, You opened the eyes and heart of Simon of Cyrene, and You gave him, by his share in Your Cross, the grace of faith. Help us to aid our neighbors in need, even when this interferes with our own plans and desires. Help us to realize that it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with You along the way. Help us to appreciate with joy that, when we share in Your suffering and the sufferings of this world, we become servants of salvation and are able to help build up Your Body, the Church."

              - Pope Benedict XVI,  The Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

hard times, come again no more

We've had Henry almost a year now. He and Dolly are getting along fairly well, in their cat way - which is a mystery to me.  I don't think they'll ever love each other.  He's a little better with us, but he still nips when we try to pet him most of the time. And food remains his main motivation.

We had noticed him hanging around our area for about a month before we took him in - we've no idea of his life before that.  He was not emaciated, just wary of us, but looking for food and a place to sleep. His long fur was knotted in places - of course. I'm sure he's at least partly some fancy breed, he's such a pretty boy. But he's an annoying pet much of the time; wanting to eat constantly, underfoot in a dangerous way, trying to usurp Dolly's favorite sleeping spots, trying to bite us when we want to get friendly.  My brother has a theory that he was somebody's pet (he obviously was) and they threw him out in exasperation. Who knows? Or maybe he ran away from home. He doesn't seem to know how to socialize very well - with anyone, cat or human.  But we can tell that he's trying. When he tries to nip, it's like an automatic reaction; It wouldn't surprise me to learn  he'd been maltreated.

I brought home the CD Appalachian Journey from the library - Mark O'Connor, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, James Taylor - and was playing it. Went by the living room, and both cats were obviously enjoying the music.  Dolly was too much in a dark corner to get a good photo - and you've seen her enjoying music before, haven't you?  - but Henry!

He was really liking it. And, what was the cut they were so into? Hard Times Come Again No More, by Stephen Foster, sung by James Taylor.

Let us pause in life's pleasures to count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more. 

'Tis the song, the cry of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more;
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

'Tis the song, the cry of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more;
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
'Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore,
'Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave.
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

'Tis the song, the cry of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more;
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

-Stephen Foster            

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

rose gold earrings

When I turned 50 a few years ago, my friend Cyndi gave me these

saying that everyone should get rose gold for their fiftieth birthday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

heavenly aroma

it doesn't look like much, but the smell of ginger and cloves in the cranberry sauce filled the house. (recipe in the newest Everyday Food magazine - thanks, Beth!)  Then I made a meatloaf. More aroma. Then I ironed in the bright, bright sunshine in the living room - so pleasant. 

achieving our "highest and fullest freedom"

"It is in choosing to serve God, to do His will, that man achieves his highest and fullest freedom. It may seem paradoxical to say that our highest and fullest freedom comes when we follow to the least detail the will of another, but it is true nonetheless when that other is God."

                            - Fr. Walter Ciszek

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King

Today, in the Catholic calendar, is the feast of Christ the King - celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent begins. 

"Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order; Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all."

                        I Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a little bit late with the curtains

I'm {happy} today because I finally got around to putting up the winter curtains - the weather's been mild (except for the wild storm!) and it hasn't been a compelling issue. But I wanted them up for the holidays.

I made these curtains two years ago - my mother always liked to have summer and winter things - nothing she spent lots of money on, but she enjoyed seeing the change.  So I tend to think the same way.  I didn't have any which were satisfactory, so began looking at fabric online, then saw this red and white in the Hancocks of Paducah catalog, and loved it, but needing eight yards, wasn't going to pay full price.  I kept looking here and there, then one day there it was on sale at their website for five dollars a yard!

I bought it!  I think it's {pretty}.

This was for a wide picture window and I had to sew two widths together.  I matched it up better in some places than others, but it isn't really obvious while they're hanging in folds.  It was my friend Cyndi's idea to use the red thread and two rows of stitching.  I just love this fabric!  As I was ironing them today, I noticed some fading - the window is west facing. They aren't lined - I didn't want to go there at the time, and I really think they'd be too heavy anyway if they were lined.  I'll enjoy them as long as they look good, then I suppose I can cut them up for something else in the living room.

They just hang straight from the clip rings, but they definitely add a big something to the room, and the red is very cheery in winter, especially. A bit Scandinavian - maybe? - which appeals to me greatly.

Here you can see that our brush pile is still out there, but I heard they're making their way through the town, so it shouldn't be long.  That's my {real}.  We also {real}ly need to do something with our woodwork around that window.  Some day.

Thank you Leila!

round button chicken

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a neat solution

I suddenly became aware of the kitchen sponges just laying around near the sink when not in use. I looked around for a small bowl.  But then I thought of this oversized mug I bought a few months ago -

Just right!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

cake foolishness, or how distracted can one get?

It's not like I've never baked a cake before. I am fifty five years of age.

It was my brother's birthday the other day, and I thought I'd make applesauce cake. Betty Crocker has a great recipe which a  co-worker made for me once. I've made it myself, too; I'm familiar with it. It calls for shortening, but I'm trying to get away from Crisco. I've used butter with this recipe, but I'd been reading about coconut oil and had purchased some; I decided to use it for this cake.  All my research had told me that I could use it in place of butter in baking. So.

The coconut oil was a bit hard in places, but having no experience with it, I just mixed up the cake and poured it into my 13 x 9 pan.  I noticed some small lumps. It was some of the coconut oil which hadn't smoothed out in the beating.  This didn't seem good, but it was already in the pan, so I put it in the oven, hoping it would all melt away in the heat.

When I took it out, I could tell it wasn't as it should have been. There were air holes all along the top, and it seemed more dense, heavier.  I cut a piece as soon as I could; it wasn't bad, but wasn't anything I'd put frosting on top of - more like a snacking cake.  I left it to cool, planning to freeze it.  Meanwhile, I had to make another cake.

I determined to pick the first one I had all the ingredients to.  The first thing I saw was a "One Bowl Chocolate Cake" recipe which my mother'd copied from somewhere.  It called for butter, and that's what I used! (do ya wonder?), and because it's fall  thought I'd put in a bit of cinnamon and allspice. Then I grabbed the vanilla. I didn't get much out of it - it was the end of the bottle. I turned it around before throwing it out and saw on the label that I'd used the anise extract by mistake. Oh, boy.  Anise, with chocolate, cinnamon and allspice!  Lovely! Ah, yes. I would also like to say here that, while I like Stella D'Oro's anisette cookies as well as anyone, anything stronger  - like licorice - definitely turns my stomach.  And the half teaspoon I'd used was filling the kitchen with the aroma.  Yup.

Anyway, I got out my tube pan, greased and floured it, poured the batter in and put it in the oven, smelling that anise all the while.  The cake was in the oven - maybe a minute and a half at most? - and I turned to clean the counter, when what should confront me but three eggs!   Ah, me - I'd forgotten to add the eggs!  I got that cake out of the oven - the pan was already hot, but the batter was okay - and scooped it back into the mixer bowl.  It certainly looked better after the eggs were in. But I had to wash the pan, and grease and flour it again!   Ahhh, yes.

Put it back in the oven, and set the timer for 35 minutes.  What I busied myself with in that time, I am unable to say - it's all a blur, and who would trust what I would tell them anyway at this point?  

Yes. So, the buzzer went off and I peeked through the glass - it didn't look nearly done!  Well, dear folks, I had forgotten to turn on the oven. Or, rather, I guess I'd turned it off - for some reason.   Ahhhhh   So, I just turned it on and baked that cake.

Later, my brother said, "What's this flavor I detect?"  I said I put in anise by mistake. He said he liked it.

I didn't tell him the whole story.  What for? He would probably just get that glazed-over look anyway.

The applesauce "snack cake" is in the freezer.  And I made him a cheesecake today. With cranberry topping.
Please believe me, it came out fine.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} post-October snowstorm edition, part 2

I'm joining Rosie and Leila again this week for {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

Yesterday I stuck my head out to bring in the mail, and noticed, against the house, a rhododendron bud about to bloom! Today I decided to cut it and bring it in.   So, this is my {funny}

Can you believe it? How is it that it didn't bloom in May?  Anyway, it's an unexpected pleasure in the house on a gray day.

Not long ago I read in Leila's archives about a good workflow in the kitchen, and then I saw this post about some thick cloths she was making to drain the dishes on - she got the idea from SouleMama.   I made one yesterday from some less-than-useful towels, and I have four more in the works.  This is a {happy}!

I love this idea!  Now, I only need a good place to dry the wet ones, and somewhere to keep them.  One thing at a time.   Thanks, Leila!

My {real} is the big pile of brush out front -

and there's more in the back, when we have time to drag it out there. 

But the real blessing is the summery weather we've had this week, which has made post-storm clean up a lot easier.  And I did notice some {pretty} yellow leaves on a backyard tree while I was lugging limbs.

round button chicken

Thank you, Rosie, and Happy Birthday to the Marines today, too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

three books and a bag

I'm joining Ginny's yarnalong today, with my (finally) completed Attic24 crochet bag.

It was done a month ago, but I've been hung up with the flowers. First, figuring out how to make crocheted flowers, then making a few, then looking at other crocheted flower designs. Not to mention trying to decide if I even wanted flowers on it, and then determining how to place the handles. 

I just began reading Therese: Saint of a Little Way, by Frances Parkinson Keyes. I've seen her books on the library shelf, but never tried one. It's very good so far - at least, the preface was; this is a post-war edition to the original, where she's gone back to France where she wrote the book in the beautiful atmosphere of a Benedictine Abbey in Lisieux years before, to see a bombed-out ruin of a town. 

Here are the flowers I made for the bag, but when it came down to it, I thought I'd prefer it without. This time. Because I like the pattern, and will probably make it again. 

It's quite a large bag, the diameter at the top being twenty six inches!  The size of it is an invitation to load it up with things, but I doubt the handles could take the stress.  I'll try a smaller version next time, and maybe find a way to reinforce the handles. 

I am actually reading three books - Let God's Light Shine Forth: the Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI, and I'm still also with Columbus' log. All three enjoyable in their own ways.

Thank you, Ginny!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

a {real} long cold messy week

Finally, I'm joining with Rosie (and Leila, who's still out of power, I guess) for {pretty, happy, funny, real}; I'm grateful they keep this open through Sunday every week.

I went outside to try and photograph the piles of brush in front of everyone's homes, waiting for pickup. I found a {pretty}

these lovely fir tree cones.  I don't know my firs - I don't think they're pine cones, though.

During the heavy snows of last weekend, my brother's creation got a big limb dropped on top of it

but we're {happy} because he got it off of there, and the shed isn't damaged.

I don't have a {funny} - if I knew a good joke, this would be the place to tell it, but I don't know too many jokes.  And there is nothing funny about this storm and its aftermath.

The {real} -

and this was the best I could do. It's not so easy to capture how it really appears to see these long stretches of brush all along the roadside.  I'm not so good at taking pictures in bright sun - can't really see what I've done till I'm inside!

If I take any more, I'll add them.  Thanks, Rosie!  Hoping to hear from your mother soon, too.

round button chicken

* our front yard - and I expect it to increase!

Friday, November 4, 2011

on my mind...

Tracy over at Sunny Corner Farm has more than once mentioned Rhonda's blog, Down to Earth. Apparently on Fridays Rhonda has something going on called "On My Mind...".   and I thought I'd join in this week.

What's on my mind today is the situation in New England, of power outages and people I know shivering in their houses all night.  I was the only one among my co-workers who hadn't lost electricity, until yesterday - now some are beginning to get it back.  It started snowing on Saturday - wet snow, because it isn't cold enough for anything drier - and it stuck in bushes and trees most of which still had all their leaves attached. It got windy overnight, and limbs and branches bent and swayed in the wind and under the weight of the heavy accumulations. You'd hear cracks. You'd suddenly notice how tall and how close to your house the trees really are. A big branch fell over the roof of my brother's nice shed. In the middle of the night a big limb went over into our neighbors yard, and it was hard to tell how far it went, or if it touched their home. Our dear little ornamental cherry bowed down under the weight.

The lights flickered many times, and I knew they'd go out at some point. But they didn't! It seems (or so everyone says) we're on the same grid as the local hospital - we almost never lose power. We went to church next day in the cold - I wore my hand warmers and kept my coat on. The library was without electricity till Wednesday, and without internet and other computer services till today. I listen to my fellow librarians talk about their 47 degree homes, M. is sleeping with a nightcap on; D. heated up water with candles so she could wash up without freezing; L. said she's been taking cold showers -  I told her she should try jumping in the ocean in winter! G. was saying she was getting teary-eyed while driving to work - it's cold, and it's wearing on her. C. has been enjoying listening to the radio! - nice jazz at night with the family.

I had several come here to shower; cooked up some hot food yesterday if anyone wanted to come to a warm house and have some  -  a couple were able to.  Some roads in a neighboring town are still impassable unless you know the area and can take another route.  For the first few days, the lines at gas stations had dozens of cars in them; I knew at least four people who got theirs in the middle of the night to avoid waiting.

And then, our power went off today, and was still off when I came home from work. I was determined to make the best of it - why should I be exempt from what all the others have been suffering? I put batteries in the lanterns, found a couple of candles and planned to dig out my thermals. But then it came back on, and I knew they'd just taken us down ifor a while in order to work on the system.

In Iraq, people set off fire bombs and car bombs. In Turkey, the earthquake.  It's not that bad here. But I found myself wishing we had some sort of way to cook food if need be.  I realized I should keep a very few candles around, just in case, and forget about the fact that I don't like fire in the house.

I was reading Rhonda's blog a little. She got to a place in her life where she realized there had to be a better way to live. There are people in this world who are trying to live more simply, and learn how to do more things for themselves. We've so gotten away from all this knowledge!  I want to learn some of it, and find the balance between what I'm able to do and what's unrealistic.

Thanks, Rhonda.  Oh, the shed is fine, and so is the cherry tree.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

handwarmer yarnalong

Because of the storm aftermath, I have a little more time for a Wednesday, and thought I'd join in with Ginny's yarnalong.  I'm knitting another pair of handwarmers, changing them a bit from the previous ones, which I finished just in time for Mass yesterday morning in a church without electricity!  I'm making these with the same yarn, but a trifle shorter; and I'm wanting to change the edging - but I'm not sure to what!  Yet.  They're very simple, knit from side to side, then sewn up with a space for thumbs.

My book is The Log of Christopher Columbus, which I've been curious about for several years. I will probably not read every word - I'm no sailor, so  may not understand it all - but I expect it to be interesting. And the cover kind of matches my yarn, doesn't it?  That wasn't planned!!

I'm also using a bookmark which happens to be from Spain - I got it from this person after she went on a cruise in the Mediterranean.  We work together.

From the book:  "In a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella written in 1501 he [Columbus] said, 'I went to sea at an early age, and there I have continued to this day; the same art inclines those who follow it to wish to know the secrets of this world....I have sailed everywhere that is navigable....Our Lord found this my desire very proper....[He]...opened my understanding with his hand, so that I became capable of sailing from here to the Indies, and He set fire to my will to carry this out, and with this fire came to your Highnesses.'"

The pattern can be found on Ravelry - the Easy Fingerless Mitts, by Roxanne Richardson.

Thank you, Ginny!