Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dreaming in White...

We woke to a winter wonderland this morning, reports of anywhere from 4-6 inches.  And was it ever beautiful, and it stuck to everything that was wet.  It blew straight out of the north and the north side of everything was frosted in voluminous white glitter and everything hung heavy with the weight of winter's first blast.   

Winter blew her frosty winds and carved out some lovely drifting for us, too, and today I went on a little trip and did some drive-by shooting on the back roads and I hope to show you some of those shots soon.

Those drives relax me so much, they are therapy.  Give me open fields with a couple farms per mile with barns in each yard, and I'm a happy girl.  Who needs massages? Time at a spa?   
Nah...just give me a truck and some open roads with a camera strapped on my neck.  I'm good.  Add snow?  Ahhh....!   
I just roll down the window, travel the gravel, and crank up the heat.  And the Christmas tunes, today those were perfect!  :0)   
Humming all the way . . .

It's not until our big blue spruce out from are laden with snow that I truly notice how huge they've become.  We bought these from a tree farmer maybe fifteen years ago or less, and they were 5-6' tall and now stand as tall or slightly taller than our tall house.  

It's amazing, and already I'm thinking of the day they might have to go, and I do NOT want to think about it.

They never look better than they do with a beautiful snow cover, making them look just like gigantic Christmas trees.

Our barn was frosted in the icy snow, too, almost completely concealing the big red barn star that hangs on her.

And if you ever wondered what the old farmhouse porch looks like buck nekkid...well here she is in all her unadorned glory.  


((She tells me she's embarrassed.  I bought her Christmas greens today, she should be all decked out for Christmas in a few days here.  All will soon be well.))

Shadow Shots: Color Glowing

Hope your day 

is bright and beautiful 

and that you have the time to notice 

something as it glows 

in the afternoon sun. 

{{I am terrible about hanging things from knobs.}}

We got SnOw last night!  About four inches!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waddle, Waddle, Bump.

It's back to walking for this turkey today.

A long weekend of eating, and eating and eating.

Well, that takes its toll on a girl.

SO, hi ho, hi ho, it's off to waddle I go...waddle, waddle, bump.

And no, we don't have snow yet.  These lovelies are from 2009.  Alabama had snow yesterday, and where I live in Michigan hasn't.  Does this make sense?  No it does not.  

I'm wondering if you've seen any of the WHITE STUFF yet?  

I need to see it, because that helps get me in the mood to decorate for Christmas.  

A white Christmas is a right Christmas!  :0)

Got *SnOw*?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is it Monday Again? The Magic of the Ordinary Day

Good Monday morning to you!  

Yawn.  Stretch.  Start the coffee.  

Gulp the coffee.

Start the clean up after a long holiday weekend.

I can't help but be happy when I open my dishwasher and the color there greets me.

It sure makes a routine job much more cheerful.

And it makes me glad that when we remodeled the kitchen and I went to pick out the long-awaited cabinet knobs and the dishes and glassware that I chose some color.

So much of the year in Michigan is brown, colorless, gray and dull outside.  The snow helps but we don't always have snow. I seem to have the need to see color in my home.

And believe me, in late March when winter doldrums seem to be unending, I'm glad I chose colors that are brilliant and bold.

I enjoy the routine of work on a day that follows a weekend or a holiday.  I relive the memories from the time spent together and I enjoy the work that it takes to put things back like they are supposed to be and get the floors done and the beds made.  It's a day to gather my thoughts, make my lists, and approach the week with purpose and direction.  It's Monday again, and only five of them left before Christmas! Wheeee!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Corny. All The Way.

There are a few things about me that you should know before Christmas hits. 

I am a cheese ball when it comes to Christmas.  Or is it cornball? 

 I am cheesy, corny, totally traditional.

I must confess. 

 I am so cheesy/corny that I watch Hallmark movies.

There. I said it.

Don't judge.  I bet you eat fruitcake.  So there.

And I feel so much better having said it, but now have turned totally red, ending this color with volcanic temps on my my ears which are flaming and painful at the tippy top.

So are you a total cheesy cornball at Christmastime? 

 Do you go all swoony when you hear the first lines of that famous Christmas tune....."I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." too?

Go ahead, it's okay. I won't tell anyone if you watch Rudolph, and get all giddy when you see old-fashioned Christmas lights...

I understand, I think we all have our weaknesses.

And glitter.  Glitter goes with Christmas.  I literally go weak in the knees over it, collecting tubes of it like candy in a stocking.  

What do you go all cornball for?

Oh...and one more thing, I can totally get lost in little scenes like these on Christmas cards.  Especially snowy ones.  

After all, it's a "Marshmallow World"...who could resist?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Easy $5 Thanksgiving Centerpiece

I washed then hollowed a pumpkin we grew in our garden, not too big, not too small, just right.

Set onto a fall plate, I filled the bottom of the pumpkin with water and trimmed off a $5 flower pack from the grocery store to make a centerpiece.  Simple, colorful, and easy to do while getting ready for dinner!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Don't Skip Thanksgiving!

I know it's the trend these days to skip right over Thanksgiving.

As soon as Halloween is over, the stores are stuffed with Christmas. Sometimes, decorations are up and lit as soon as Halloween is over.  

It sickens me, to be honest.

I think that it's sad to rush it.

Because one of the very best, warm, beautiful holidays of the year is Thanksgiving.

I have a rule here, that we don't do anything about Christmas until THANKSGIVING is over.

And if getting "ready" for Christmas means leaving Thanksgiving in an insignificant heap, then I'm just doing too much to get ready for Christmas, that's all there is to it.  I won't do it.

ThanksGIVING is such a meaningful holiday, a time of reflection and a time of recognizing the harvest, the sustenance of LIVING. 

 ThanksLIVING is THANKSgiving.

Our pastor preached a sermon once about the lack of thankfulness being the root of much of the sin in our lives, and I would apply that to our country, too.

SO, in this house, I WILL NOT skip Thanksgiving, as a mere bump in the road on the way to CHRISTmas.

I want to savor the flavors, the golden light and the colors of this meaningful holiday.

And I refuse to let this culture tell me to just skip it.

Oh.  No, I won't.

Are you with me?

And I truly hope you have a beautiful day next Thursday, it's a special, beautiful time, a simple time with the best food there is.  Even getting ready for it is fun, relaxed, a treasured time.

Make extra, enjoy the leftovers and the warmth the memories will bring.

Let those warm and cozy times linger in your thoughts, remember Thanksgivings past, and remind yourself why our forefathers thought it was so important.


We must stop.  Pause.  REMEMBER.

In the country, harvest time is drawing to a close, the tractors are lined up in rows, with the plows, out beside the barn, beside all the the grain heads for the combines; the grain bins, silos, and corn cribs are full.  

Fields of winter wheat are green and ready for that blanket of snow to cover them over.

Long hours are put in on the combine, getting the last of the corn in and trucked to the elevators.  Someone is staying up late to get that dirt in the field plowed in preparation for next spring when the cycle starts all over again.

The stuff it takes to bring food to your tables is being cleaned up and stored to bring out again when it's time to take on the hard work of raising another crop.

Reflect on that, on the trust a farmer must have to put those millions of seeds into the ground, the worry and the work he and his family must put into each and every field.

Savor the transition from a season of life, of growing, of maturing into a season of quietness, and rest--that is winter.

We can all get to CHRISTmas in due time, but let's not skip THANKSgiving.

Instead, make it thanksLIVING.

Have a wonderful time with your family, and I'll see you here again next week after Thanksgiving is done.  I'll be counting my blessings and I'm sure you will, too.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Farmhouse Kitchen: Apple Pie Filling For Gift-Giving

2010 Apple pie filling day.

This Saturday is my day reserved for a whole long day of making canned apple pie filling for gift-giving this Christmas.

I have a bushel of Cortland apples.  I have the jars, and I have the red gingham lids. 

I will make one huge mess for one whole day, and then later on closer to Christmas, will assemble the toppings for each jar of pie filling and bag them up in brown craft bags, and add a twine bow to each.

Here is a photo essay of last year's apple pie filling day and the later photos from when I assembled the gift bags.

A delicious caramel sauce, without using one bit of butter!  Amazing!

**Please note:  after using the apples done with the apple peeler/corer/slicer, I decided I like the hand peeled, hand cut, chunkier--I guess what you would call more primitive looking apples in my pie filling.  

I do NOT like the uniformity of the apples sliced this way, so I no longer use the peeler/corer/slicer for this job.  I would only use the peeler/corer, and leave off the slicer, and then chunk my apples up in a more homey way than the slicer does it for me.  The end product is also MUCH better.

Little E patiently watches the whole process!

Me & my sis!  

Here's the recipe:

(To can)

20 Apples washed, peeled, cored, and sliced
(let slices rest in a bowl with water and 1 T. lemon juice to prevent fruit from browning)

In a large saucepan bring the following to a boil and stir until thick and pours like a thick sauce from your spoon, approximately ten-twelve minutes.
10 c. water
5 c. sugar
1 c. cornstarch
2-1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt

Once the sauce is done, remove the pan from heat and add to it
3 T. lemon juice

Pack apple slices into jars until almost to the top of the jar.
Ladle hot sauce over apples within 1/2" of jar top.
Seal with lids and rings and process jars for about 20 minutes.
Remove from canner and cool completely and make sure jars are sealed before storing.
(This was done using a regular canner, not a pressure cooker.)

Yeild: 6 BEAUTIFUL Quarts!

If a jar does not seal, keep it in fridge and use it sooner rather than later!

(This recipe for a delicious topping on one pan of apple crisp (using a glass 8 x 8 or a pie plate) using one jar of my canned apple pie filling, recipe above.)

3/4 c + 1/2 T all purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, in chunks
1/2 c. chopped pecans, chopped
2-1/2 lb. apples, peeled and 
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/4 maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. For the topping, put 3/4 c. flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and pulse to form moist clusters. Mix in pecans.

2. Cut the apples into 1/2" chunks and put them into a buttered 9-1/2", 2 qt. pie pan (or use an 8 x 8" pan, I used glass). Add cranberries, maple syrup, and 1/2 T. flour; mix. Scatter on the topping.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and top is crisp along the edges. Serve warm, at room temp, or chilled. Can be reheated in the microwave and served with a petite scoop of vanilla ice cream, as shown. 

Serves 10

This apple crisp is delicious and I think it's important to use the old-fashioned oats, and the chopped pecans are PERFECT in a crisp topping, making it more crisp than usual! I ripped the recipe from a recent copy of the PARADE magazine that comes in Sunday's newspaper.

Since I have canned my own apple pie filling, I am able to skip the peeling and chopping of apples in this recipe, and just mix the topping, and I did not use the maple syrup.

I had a card made that I used photos of the filling and the finished product, with the recipe for using the topping on my canned apple pie filling.  As shown in the photos above, I individually assembled the recipe for the topping in a bag with instructions to add the butter and baking instructions.  I kept the dried cherries or cranberries separate in case the recipient didn't care for them.

If you have any questions, please say so in the comments and if your email is not enabled on your account, watch back in the comments section for your answer to your question, I will do my best to answer!

(I frequently hear from those I give this delicious filling and crisp topping to as a gift that they absolutely loved it and look forward to getting this as a gift.  The older I get, the better I like giving consumables as gifts, if it's not salsa or homemade jam, it's this pie filling and the topping.  And it's always a hit!) 

It won't be long now!