Sunday, November 30, 2014

"joyful preparation"

"Advent is a season of joyful preparation for the coming of Christ, but the joy lies in knowing that God will clear away all the obstacles we ourselves have made to his coming into our lives in full. We begin therefore in a spirit of repentance.'

                                        from Magnificat, November 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

just what I needed

no, it isn't dirty - it's some kind of spatterware

This thing has been hanging out in the kitchen for many years. It's made of tin, and has a screw top with little holes. My mother used to put some powder in it - was it talc?  Anyway, I've been ignoring it, only giving it momentary attention when I dust.

Today, I'm making Leila's bread recipe and in her photos she's got a small jar nearby with flour in it. I thought I needed something similar to be able to shake flour on the counter and the dough, rather than getting my sticky hands into the canister. And then I suddenly remembered this little thing! I looked inside. Yes, it was flour in there - probably twenty years old.  But I cleaned it out and put in some fresh, and what a helpful little article it is!

In my ongoing purgings I had looked at it more than once with evil intent, but now am very glad that its pretty design prevented me from discarding it.

I just love it!

Friday, November 28, 2014

a Thanksgiving sandwich

After snowing all day Wednesday,

with much cooking going on in between,

it decided to snow again at the end of the day.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Litany of Thanksgiving

For the love of God, for faith, family, and friends, We thank you, O Lord.

For joys, successes, achievements, and accomplishments, We thank you, O Lord.

For health, safety, work, and rest, We thank you, O Lord.

For struggles, sorrows, trials, and sufferings, We thank you, O Lord.

For our jobs, for those who support us, for our education, and for the chance to serve,
          We thank you, O Lord.

For our gifts, talents, and abilities, for honors, for strength and energy, We thank you, O Lord.

For our homes, for food, warmth, and shelter, for all the things that have made us happy,
         We thank you, O Lord.

For our hobbies and pets, for happy memories, for our favorite things, for leisure and relaxation,      
          We thank you, O Lord.

For our nation, for freedom and peace, for teachers, leaders, and those who give us a good example,
         We thank you, O Lord.

For the ability to say "I'm sorry", for the grace of repentance, for the forgiveness of others, for the generosity of others, We thank you, O Lord.

For good advice, for financial security, for the trust others put in us, for tenderness, understanding, and compassion, We thank you, O Lord.

For kindness, goodness, joy, and laughter, for the times we have helped others or made them happy,
          We thank you, O Lord.

For all the wonders of creation, for beauty, music, sports, and art, for new opportunities and second chances, We thank you, O Lord.

For failures and rejection, for all the ways we have grown up and become better people,
          We thank you, O Lord.

For renewed hope and fulfilled dreams, for the providence and protection of heaven,
         We thank you, O Lord.

For the gift of life, We thank you, O Lord.

                     composed by Father Peter John Cameron, taken from Magnificat, November 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Nothing like snow in New England to push you into a festive mood; tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the snow arrived while I was at work. We really didn't want it quite yet, but I admit it does bring the festive feelings up a notch. Now, back to the menu.

Monday, November 24, 2014

a new garden

This picture was taken through a window, hence the glare.  But it's a photo of a new garden, or what I hope will end up being a new garden next spring.

I have happily discovered Charles Dowding and his no-dig gardening methods. His idea is that if you lay a few inches of good compost on top of the existing soil, that's all that is needed; the worms will come up to find it, and carry it down through. According to him, you just cause more weeds to grow when the soil is disturbed by so much digging. So, what I did here is lay a very large piece (the same size as my little garden!) of cardboard about a foot away from my existing garden and some newspaper on top. (The wind began to blow, so I didn't put down as much as I'd intended.) Then, compost on top. I'll put more down as early in spring as I can and see what happens. He says the soil won't be terrific right away, but things will get better each year, and I'm certainly willing to try it.

On another note, I was outside today - November 24th - in my flip flops, scattering some triple phosphate on my roses and other shrubby things around the yard. It was in the sixties!  And on Wednesday we are to expect at least six inches of snow.  New England.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

planning the holiday

There is something about saying  "we always do this"  which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep on meaning to do something interesting, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar favorite food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts.

                                                     -  Edith Schaeffer

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pinterest recipes: chocolate avocado mousse

I have been determined to make this one for a while now. A pudding of sorts, but more mousse-like; with no dairy, although you could use milk if you wanted, and the hidden but major ingredient being four avocadoes.

There is no photo here - you know what a chocolate mousse/pudding should look like. And here is the recipe, or the picture I should say, which got my attention.  So, with my ingredients at hand, I re-read the directions. And the very first thing threw me right off and I wasn't sure what to do.  "1/2 cup crushed dark chocolate". What does she mean? Finely crushed, which would be a significantly more than slightly crushed. Or something in between? I was wishing she'd given weights rather than measures, when I realized that it was adapted from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis. Ah, Giada just used chocolate chips!  Okay. So what I ended up doing was somewhere betwixt the both of these two methods.

I didn't think my blender could handle this, so into the food processor I put: four very ripe avocadoes, a half cup plus two tablespoons of coconut milk, a half cup of honey, one tablespoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt, half cup of Hershey's cocoa and a melted-and-slightly-cooled half cup of semisweet chocolate morsels. I may or may not have included a dash of black pepper; I don't recall, but Linda says she thinks I did, so if she tasted pepper maybe I did put it in. I didn't want the red pepper, and I didn't have raw sugar, so those were left out.

The coconut milk had separated in the can, which I expected, so I first tried whisking it together in a bowl, and then measuring. The whole amount was almost too much for my seven cup processor, so the mixer would have been best, really. Anyway, I tried some and my brother tried some and then I brought it to work today.

Well, I really wished I'd had my camera, because there were raves about it and Katie wants to include it somehow in her Thanksgiving menu. I told them they could finish it off and that's what they did. To me, it's a novelty and I may never make it again, but I can say that it really is very good.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

the ruffle at the hem

Well, since there was some interest, here is the dress with a ruffle basted on. I won't know how well I like it till it's done and I put it on.

What I'm trying to achieve is the look of a fuller petticoat underneath, but without bothering to make one. Here are some images I saved on Pinterest:

This dress is actually hanging outside a Welsh pub, and it is two layers - this kind of thing appeals to me greatly.

This is from Etsy, I believe. The ruffle isn't attached to the dress, but it could have been done that way.

This is called the Blanchefleur - it's really what I was thinking of. But my dress is fuller than this rather slim one, and the flounce is quite extended. So, mine isn't going to end up anything like that.

I just want to finish it and move on to something else, because it's way too cold now to be wearing it.
But never fear, I'll keep trying!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

for the birds

Trisha came by yesterday while I was out; she had made these seed-covered bagels with the story hour children, and she brought me some!  I hung them in the front trees, and now we're eager to see who will find them first.

Friday, November 14, 2014

plum dress with linen sleeves

I had started on another dress like this - scoop-neck, a-line - then I a-lined it more, and after two interruptions where I had to drop it to work on something else, I'm  back to it now and getting near the end.

From fabric I had on hand, but not enough for the sleeves, so I used some lightweight linen in a matching color. Then I thought to embroider a running stitch with the same plum shade. The stitching echoes the "dashes" on the fabric, I think.

Then I decided to do another row.

My embroidery skills are rudimentary, but I won't let that stop me.  Now I just have to figure out the hem. A linen ruffle peeking out?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

not entirely one hundred percent

After four years, I just realized something today about Henry - I've never heard him make that "eh eh eh eh eh" staccato sound they make when they see a bird outside the window. Never! I've often suspected he wasn't one hundred percent cat.  :D

But when he's near an open window he often cries. I run over, thinking it's some animal going through, but usually nothing can be seen. Today however, some birds flew off and it occurred to me that maybe he's crying when he sees birds. Because he doesn't make the other sound. Ever.

Seriously though, I would like to know what kind of cat he is.

answered prayers

" Very often the reason we're uncomfortable is because we've not been praying for the right thing, and on some deep level we know it. We pray to meet our soul mate, instead of praying for the grace to become the woman our soul mate would be attracted to; we pray for worldly success when what we really long for is a sense of authentic accomplishment; we pray for more money, when what we need is a change in our relationship to money. We pray for a certain outcome in any given situation, when what we should be praying for is peace of mind, no matter which outcome occurs.

Actually, our prayers are always being answered. We just don't like to think that 'no' is a reasonable response to our very reasonable requests...

We want the 'yes', but sometimes we need the 'no'. Consider the disaster that would ensue if we answered a child's every request with a 'yes'. That's too frightening even to contemplate. But we're children of Divinity. We can't begin to envision the big picture; nor do we weigh our requests against the prayers of others. Spirit hears both the hopeful entreaties for a sunny family reunion picnic and the farmer's plea for rain."

                                                   -  Sarah Ban Breathnach,   Simple Abundance

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a cheesecake for a birthday

My brother had a birthday the other day. No near-disasters, just a cheesecake, because that's always been his favorite.

He's a purist, and has insisted on the dense New York style and no other. But middle age comes along to soften you up and the low-fat version I found in Cooking Light years ago is appreciated now. So that's what I made.

 the crust    

  • half a stick of butter, melted
  • one and a quarter to one and a half cups gingersnap crumbs
  • one quarter cup sugar
Mix the dry, then combine with the butter and press into your pan and bake at 350 for ten minutes.

the cheesecake (from Cooking Light magazine)

Mix together:
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese (the 1/3-less-fat kind)
  • an 8 oz. tub fat-free cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
Beat on high till smooth. Add 1/2 cup of milk and 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream. 

Separately, beat 3 egg whites till you get the soft peaks, than add 1/4 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, till the peaks get stiff. Fold this into your cream cheese batter; then into the pan and bake at 300 degrees 55 minutes till it's almost set. (I kept mine in longer - it wasn't nearly set, plus I wanted it very slightly browned on top.)

Let cool an hour and then refrigerate at least eight hours.  It will probably get a big gash on top, but the topping will cover that up.

the cranberry topping (not sure where I got this recipe)
  • one cup of sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • one and a third cups water
  • 4 cups cranberries
Boil this mixture for five minutes. Stir it often. Chill before using. This makes plenty to cover this cheesecake.

Enjoy!  It's a delicious recipe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

a reprieve for the cherry tree

A tree post of another kind -

After several months of wondering what to do with our wounded cherry tree, my brother decided to just saw the heaviest branch off and hope for the best.

We're surprised it looks so well, but it does -  the fullness. That branch was most directly related to the split in the trunk and it hung over the driveway, so this was a sensible thing to do. I don't know what another cold season will do to it. We'll see.

the downed branch

We don't think bolting the trunk together would be enough, since there appear to be other areas which may end up splitting as well. I love this tree, and if we lost it, would probably get another. I hope it can hang on!

Monday, November 10, 2014

one more

Because like Val, I cannot resist the color whether it's sunny or cloudy, whether the leaves are bright or an old gold, like this tree behind the shed across the brook and I almost missed it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

dresses of gold

Come,  said the wind to the leaves one day,
come o'er the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses of scarlet and gold
for summer is gone and the days grow cold.

                                                                         - George Eliot

Monday, November 3, 2014

quilt for a baby

You can't beat one of these machine tied quilts for a relatively quick shower gift. One of my three cousins who got married last year is having a baby in January! The shower is coming up soon.  This cute fabric with the trees, swings and dogs will be nice for a little boy. The back is aqua, with mossy green stitching.

The high loft batting makes it more like a little comforter - good for this winter baby.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

scripture for All Souls Day

The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them. 
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks among the reeds;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love;
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

-  Wisdom 3: 1-9