Saturday, December 23, 2017

I found the Joy in Christmas again.

This Christmas, I've discovered something about myself - and Christmas itself - that I never realized before.
Or if I did, I had forgotten it.

You see, as a child growing up, my parents always made our Christmas's magical.  Gifts, and warmth, beautiful meals and the traditions that we were brought up with, always left me feeling grounded and secure.

I was Blessed.

Then I had my own children... and I continued the same traditions that I had grown up with, with  my children... as well as  adding a few of my own.

Like a Happy Birthday Jesus cake, so that my children would always remember the true reason for the season. 
 As well as gifting others, who perhaps weren't as fortunate as we were.

 Some of the presents that I would buy from  their Dad and I, were wrapped and put under the tree a week or so before Christmas day, and my children would then pick one of their own wrapped gifts to give away.
They didn't know what was in the wrapped gift that they chose, so it was always a surprise as to what they had received... until they unwrapped it.  
And the gift that they chose, would then be matched with a child who had a star on the Christmas tree at the department store.

I will always remember my youngest son Jake choosing a present,  unwrapping it, and being so excited that it was the super-hero watch that he had been asking for, for months on end.  

And when I reminded him that this was the gift that he had chosen to give to someone else, he looked at me, with his little eyes shining, and he said
"Yes, but oh Mama, some little boy is going to be so so so happy with his new watch!"

No tears, no unhappiness... 
just absolute joy on his face, knowing that he and that watch would be making some other child happy.
And that right there, was when I knew, I was doing the whole "mom thing" right.

Gifts and warmth, beautiful meals, togetherness  and traditions have always been the mainstay of my life.

But things change.  
 Life changes.
 Situations change, 

And so did my needs - and my reasons - to maintain what I had known for so many years.

I now have 2 children in Heaven, celebrating the birth of our Savior with our Savior. 
And I have another child who has been estranged from me for years now.
I miss them.

So when I married Dan, I was so very blessed that he came complete with 3 children, as well as numerous grandchildren...
 and they filled  some of that emptiness in my heart. 
But they're all mostly grown now, and one granddaughter even has a sweet little baby of her own, who will be celebrating her first Christmas this year.  

Sadly, for the family, our great-granddaughters daddy
 died almost a year ago, and well and truly before she was even born.  So naturally, her other set of grandparents are happy and grateful that a part of their son and brother exists in our Little Bean...
  I'm so happy that she will get to spend these hard to get through holidays with them, and that she will hopefully rekindle some small spark of  joy in their hearts, in spite of their loss.

And I understand their needs completely. 
 I have to admit that I was a little sad that we would miss out on her first Christmas, but then I stopped and remembered the real reason that we celebrate Christmas.  
The only reason is Christs birth.  
And inexplicably, I felt complete and utter peace.

So, with no one but us to fuss over,
 no one but us to cook for,  
 and with no little ones, to delight in the decorations... 

We've returned to the true, real and most simple meaning of Christmas.

 ~ Christs birth ~

This year, we're focusing on the actual reason for the season.
And I hope it always remains this way.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:11

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Don't talk to me before my morning coffee

I may wake up, get out of bed and move around the house in the very early morning, but my brain doesn't fully "engage" until I have a few cups of coffee in me.  So please don't talk to me until I'm capable of processing human speech.

I have told my other half this, time after time after time.

So what does he do this morning?

It's 5:07am, and I'm just exiting the ermm... ladies room, and I'm on my way to get my first cup of coffee... when my other half walks in.
And he then proceeds to tell me that he thinks that one of the cats peed on his toothbrush in the shower, some time yesterday.

I don't know if I actually responded to him or not (because my brain was not engaged yet, due to having no coffee in me and all...) but all I could think of was "well, ask the cats which one took a shower last, because I certainly can't remember."

And until I had 2 full cups of coffee in me,  I  actually stressed over which cat was the last to take a shower - which one was tall enough to reach the shower shelf to pee on it - and I wondered if they had hung their towel up or not.

No joke.
Don't talk to me before I'm fully awake.
It messes up my day.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I am a ceraunophile.

I love thunderstorms. 

 The whisper and wailing of the wind, the boom and crack of the thunder, the lightning that suddenly, shockingly, lights up the night sky.  
Leaving me blinded for a moment, before it fades away...
 only to come again.

Because sometimes in this mundane, boringly safe life... it's good to be reminded that not everything is perfect.

Not all good and excellent things are quiet and gentle.
That sometimes chaos and cacophony are not only a part of life,
but they are needed, as well.

A good thunderstorm is soothing to my soul, and it acts as a balm to my spirit.

Especially at night. 

 When it feels as if I'm all alone in the world, while my husband and the rest of the world are sleeping.
 While most sane people are tucked safely up in their beds, snuggled down warmly in their bed-covers;
 for me to be out on the porch, watching the wind and rain through sudden bright flashes of lightning... 

It's heavenly.

To hear and see and feel all that power and glory and to feel that it's mine alone to experience, is such a wondrous thing.

 I will never get tired of the night sky.

Of  rolling, booming thunder shaking the very ground beneath me, while the lightning illuminates the dark world in short, quick bursts of light. 
 Of watching the rain come down so hard, that mud erupts from the ground like dancing effervescent sprites.

I feel sympathy for the small wild creatures of the night, who need to hide themselves away from this dangerous storm, but I also feel envy... that they are right there in the thick of it.

I am a ceraunophile.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Snaps / or Snaps that Make Me Happy

It's the little things ...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this sign, even though it's seen better (much better) days.  It came into the thrift store when I was working in Murphys CA, and it was just tossed in the garbage - as "unsellable"!  Can you believe that??  I'm not exactly sure of the dating on it, but I'm guessing at the very early 1950's.

An article in the Chicago Tribune says: 

"A total of 280 signs for Wall Drug still grace the highways and byways of South Dakota, with many more along America's roadsides for hundreds of miles. Other signs now are on every continent.
 In Feldkirch, Germany, one reads, "See the six-foot rabbit at Wall Drug."

This gorgeous cross was my Valentines present this year, from my honey... He knows me so well, and I love him for it. The bottom picture is a close-up of the detail, showing  the beautiful individually carved dogwood blossoms.

 ~ ~ ~ ~

 I just LOVE these old Tupperware bowls, that came with the house... don't you?  They're identical to the ones we had when we were kids, and every time  I use, them, I think of my Mama and our camping trips.  But back when I was young, I really had no appreciation for them, and always wanted to eat my breakfast cereal straight out of those little perforated Kellogg cereal boxes that you could split down the middle, and pour your milk in.  Unfortunately, my Mama didn't understand our need to be cool...

 ~ ~ ~ ~

 We went to a yard sale just up the road from us last fall, and even though I had drooled over the lady's button collection,  the buttons just plum slipped my mind when we went to pay up. (I think that fact that the lady GAVE me her 3 huge Boston Ferns, kind of got me side-tracked.)  Anyway, I forgot all about the buttons, until the woman showed up at my house a week or so later, saying "I know you loved these, so I brought them to you rather than send them to the thrift shop.

 Running my fingers through those buttons brings back so many memories of my Mama and my Nana... who always kept their buttons in old candy tins.  Being allowed to "play" in the buttons, is one of my most cherished memories of my Nana.

~ ~ ~ ~

 Another treasured find from the thrift store in Murphys CA.  I kept telling Shirley that some of the stuff she was tossing out was going to be valuable to someone, but she didn't agree.  Lucky me.  
There used to be bottle opener almost like it at the old bait shop in Clearlake Oaks when I was a kid, and if I concentrate, I can still smell that gas and oil mixture smell, as well as the odor of the "warm in the summer sun" bait.  Oh... I'm gonna cry.

~ ~ ~ ~

It's good to have friends! My friend Melissa gave me some of these canned goods on Saturday, and a few were left in the house when we bought it... and I was plum tickled to get them!  Kosher Dills, Bread and Butter Pickles, Pickled Beets, Peach Jelly, Peach Butter... and a whole lot more!

~ ~ ~ ~

See? I told you this house was old, and cobbled together.  And it's little things like this door in the dining room that make me love it so.
 ~ ~ ~ ~

 Aren't these canisters gorgeous??  I wish I had the whole set, but this was all that was left... Another junk store find.  I fell in love with these roosters as soon as I spied them hidden in a local  "treasure store".  (okay, technically it was a "junk store", but I calls 'em as I sees 'em)

And of course, my old egg basket... I've got pullets on order, so it won't be too much longer before I will have my chickens, and can put the basket to use again!

~ ~ ~ ~

 My Monty the Moose hanging over my kitchen sink.  
Which seems like kind of an odd place to hang him, but you tell me where Monty Mooses are best hung!  (there was a hook already there, so that in itself helped me make up my mind)



  Okay... I'll admit to it.  I have a "thing" for measuring cups... especially the glass ones.  But they all have a use, so when I run across one that I like, it gets added to the collection.  


 Yet another thrift store find!   It's only decorative at this point, (it's been gutted) and it's got a false front on it now...  I originally planned on using it for spice storage... but since the perfect place for it was between the living room and dining room, it's now just used as a place to keep pens and message paper nearer our proper phone.  Dan says he can "fix it" so it can be used as a phone again, but we'll have to wait and see.  I heard that pigs can fly too.

~ ~ ~ ~

My favorite-ever apple peeler...  This thing works so well, that  I will never peel apples by hand ever again!  And speaking of apples, we've got a couple of 2 and 3 year old apple trees on order for the yard!  Along with peaches, apricots, plums and fig trees - and whatever else I may come across!

~ ~ ~ ~

We're starting to think of spring around here!  A friend and I plan on doing a garden together at my house this year, so we've combined our 'stashes' and I think we're off to a good start!

I've got a whole bunch of heritage seeds as well, (I can't find them yet, but I'm pretty sure that they're in one of the freezers), so I think this is going to be one big arse garden this year!  Luckily, we have the space for it, and a couple of ideal locations as well.

~ ~ ~ ~

 I can't remember where I found this terrific little foot stool, but I fell in love with it. Our daughter saw it when I posted it on face book... and she claimed it.  But she'll have to wait until she comes to Georgia to visit us, and even then I'll have to think on it for a spell!
I haven't had much luck yet in dating it, but it doesn't really matter to me.  It does need a good clean, but I'm a little hesitant to do much to it.

 I don't know if this is clear enough to read, but there seems to be even more writing under all the dirt and grime.  But until I can actually date this piece, I won't be cleaning it... because I don't want to damage it.

~ ~ ~ ~

Okay, I told you this house was pretty old.  Well, here's a photo on my kitchen ceiling with it's (painted) yellow pine ceiling... The way the wood has altered over the years, and the way the knots in the wood have come out, this looks like someone just painted over a very large spider.  The ceiling is low enough that I can actually touch it... which makes this probably the only "spider" that I will willingly touch!

And what's a blog post, without the obligatory photos of food, and a couple of kitties? 

Cherry /Pineapple Dump cake that I found on The Pioneer Woman and that I made this morning.  Breakfast anyone? It's a keeper for sure, and so easy to make!  Add a little freshly whipped cream (or a good squirt of "squirty cream - which is my personal favorite) and you've got a fantastic quick and easy dessert! (or breakfast)

 My first attempt at fried Hominy... with bacon.  I loved it, and so did the Man of the house!  Paired with turkey and gravy (and bacon) and Hoppin John (with more bacon)
We love bacon in this house... what else can I say?   And I love saying "paired with".  It makes me feel decidedly cooker-ish!

Sausage Cheese Muffins, artfully presented, in my lovely "Temp-tations" mixing bowl. It's one of a set of 3, that I got off an online yard sale site for next to nuthin'!  I have 2 matching butter dishes and a gravy boat, so it's s good start on a future collection.  Did you notice I said "artfully"?  That's not a word you get to use very often!  Between "paired with" and "artfully", I think I'm on a fancy word roll!
~ ~ ~ ~

 And ... another measuring cup that was still in the sink when I took photos.   This is my favorite "small" one, not to mention my only green one.

Lucy Kitty... keeping Mom and Dad company, while we hunted for the first Morel mushrooms of the season.  We didn't find any mushrooms, but in my opinion,  finding mushrooms are just a bonus.  Especially when you get  to wander on your own property, to your hearts content.  I just love this place, and I thank God on a daily basis, that we are so very Blessed to actually live here!

Our Cookie... She followed us every step of the way, and every time Dad turned leaves over to look for mushrooms, Cookie had to check it all out before he did.

 There were several other cats who followed us on the walk,   (I mean... we have 8 inside/outside cats, so chances are  pretty good that we're never lonely when we're outside)  but the others all wandered off to do their own thing... while Lucy and Cookie stuck right with us. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

This dear old house of ours...

(click all pics to enlarge)

Oh, what do I say about this house?  I've been trying to begin a series of blog posts about this lovely old house, but between one thing and another, nothing is coalescing.

 Not on paper... not in print... and certainly not in my mind.

How do I go about putting a "feeling" down, when I simply can't put my finger on exactly what it is that I feel?

I love the house... that's a given.  
It's not perfect, and it's certainly not modern... but to me, there is something almost "timeless" and rooted about it, that makes me feel absolutely content.

It feels solid. 
And it feels enduring.

As well as jumbled.

You see, although the title company says that this old house was "built" in 1943, when you take a look at the interior with the various building styles and additions and extensions that have been added throughout the years,  something tells me that this beautiful old girl has been around since probably the 1920's, if not earlier.
The architectural details, and the wide yellow pine boards used for the walls, just don't add up to the early 1940's to me.

I've been told about a woman who still resides somewhere in this area, who was actually raised in this house (along with her sister and 3 brothers) and as she's considerably older than I am, so
  I'm absolutely positive that the county records are wrong.
What was once the "girls room" for the 2 sisters (which is/was the largest bedroom, before the "master-suite wing" was added about 5 years ago)  is barely big enough for a double bed, and the brothers only access to "their" sleeping area in the attic, was by using a narrow and very steep staircase in the girls room.

 This picture was taken from the very bottom of the attic stairs... and  the old iron bedstead I now have in here, barely fits.
If you want to walk around to the other side of the bed, you have to stand on yourtippy toes, go sideways, and sort of lean over the end, just so you can get around the end of the bed.
It's a squeeze... let me tell ya! 

Looking from the "living room", you can see on the ceiling directly in front of the bedroom door, that there's a badly patched spot - and it looks as if it was where the original wood-stove pipe went up through the ceiling.  It almost looks as if they simply popcorn plastered right over the decorative flange doo-hickey around the pipe.
Which to me... makes absolutely no sense to have a stove right in front of a doorway... unless the original door was elsewhere.  But who knows?
Surely someone does, but it's just a matter of finding who does, or maybe checking with the county for further records or clues.

  And if that was the girls room, with the boys using the room for access to the attic...  I guess it's anyone's guess as to what room the parents used, for sleeping in.

Was it this little room directly off the kitchen, that we are currently using as an office / computer room?
Certainly not the "bedroom" in the back of the house, because it's actually more box-room sized... with little or no space for any bed I've ever seen.  There's no way you could swing a cat in that room, without getting fur in your mouth. But it's the room closest to the "original" bathroom... so who knows?

Originally, this was obviously a pretty small house, and it had a wrap around porch on at least 3 sides.  Two of those porches have now been enclosed, which is nice in some ways.... but to tell you the truth, I think I would have preferred that at least one of the porches (probably this side one) had been left as it was. 

I mean.... it's a nice space and all now, and I do like it.  I eventually plan on putting a nice sized area rug in there, along with my wicker furniture and other what-nots that I don't want out in the weather... and it is where I'll eventually be doing my sweet tea sippin'.
The windows do open real real wide for letting the breezes through during the hot summer nights, and I like that. 
And I've even toyed with the idea of  putting a day-bed out there... for when it's too hot to sleep indoors, or for guests.
But still, I love doing my porch sittin' from a less enclosed space. 

In the picture below you can see the third side of the original 3-sided wrap-around porch...  We're currently using it as the cat room, just until we can get their enclosure finished, (just outside of the windows, on the upper grass area) so they'll still have access to the inside, but won't be living indoors all the time.

You can also see the "sort-of" newly built garage  just below the rest of the house in this picture...
   The window centered just above the garage is our bedroom, in our very own master bedroom "wing" which includes a pretty darn big bathroom as well.
Sounds pretty high-falutin', doesn't it? 

 Yes, there are "things" I would have done differently if we had been here years and years ago...
 but all in all, this house just touches something deep in my heart. 
I love it.
In spite of all the paint and windows and "additions" that they've tarted this old girl up with... you can see her timeless beauty beneath it all.

I'm home.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Green Onion Cakes - or - The way to my man's heart is through his stomach.

Green onion cakes. 

Just saying those 3 little words out loud,
will get my husband drooling.
And nagging for me to make them.
And good wife that I am, I get busy in the kitchen.


If I want some too, anyway.

This is actually a Chinese bread, (also known as Scallion Pancakes, or  Green Onion Pancakes) but my family loved them so much, that I used to make them all the time, even if I wasn't making a Chinese meal.  
They're great with soups or stews, as a side with salads, or simply on their own, with a dipping sauce.
In my opinion, they're the perfect accompaniment to just about any meal.

And, they were also my kids favorite go-to snack for after school.

~~~~ Green Onion Cakes ~~~~


2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup boiling water

1 cup green onion, chopped finely

optional: a handful or two of diced cooked bacon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon softened butter to brush on dough, or you can  brush on bacon grease instead, if you're using bacon.

 vegetable oil for frying


 Combine salt and flour in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the hot water into the flour while stirring. It's kind of like making biscuits from scratch... the dough should start to pull away from the bowl, as you mix it.  (you can add additional flour or water as needed, until you have a semi-smooth "dough ball".

Then, on a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and silky... adding  a little flour as needed, to achieve a smooth consistency.   

I usually use a large piece wax paper or parchment paper for kneading the dough and rolling it out, because I hate the sticky mess that you have to scrape off the counter... and then it gets all under your finger nails and it messes up your good scratch-er sponge as well)  

I'm all for short-cuts.

Then, just let it rest in the bowl for a few minutes, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, while you chop the green onions. And crumble the bacon, if you're using it. Crumbled bacon with the green onions is my favorite way of making these, but for a quick addition to dinner, I usually don't bother. 

Once you have your chopped green onions ready,  take about half of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.  Brush on half of the butter or bacon grease, and then sprinkle half of the onions over the entire greased surface.   You can kind of "flatten the green onions in", using your rolling pin, if you want to.  (it keeps them from escaping, when you start to roll the dough up)

From the wide edge, roll the dough by hand, kind of "jelly-roll style", keeping it as tight as you can.  If you can't... well, no biggie.  This stuff is versatile. (I've even just pinched off large walnut sized pieces by hand, and then flattened them, but they're not as "purty and swirly looking" as the jelly-rolled ones

Once you have your roll... ermm... "rolled", pinch the open seam closed, and try and shape it so that it's fairly even.  Even if you have to squish it a bit.

We're going for taste here.... not perfection.

Cut the roll into about 8 equal pieces,  flatten them slightly, then one at a time, dip each piece lightly in a bit of the left-over flour, and then roll them into a circle...

Once you're done with the first 8 pieces, repeat with the other half of the dough and green onions.

That's it.

Now fry them.

 Heat the oil in a skillet to about medium, and then fry each cake one side at a time, until it's golden brown.

 I  usually fit 3 or 4 at a time in my big 12 inch cast iron skillet, because I like to push and turn them around a bit, before turning them over... for more even color. 

Once they're golden brown, drain them on paper towels.

That's it.

We had them with salad tonight, but the left-overs are good cold, for snacking, too! ( I know this for a fact, because I'm trying to type with greasy fingers right now. But shhh...)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Cream

Well, we got our first really cold temps here in the North Georgia Mountains, and we were blessed with SNOW!

 Lots and lots of it!
(okay, 4-6 inches is a lot when you were only used to getting a minuscule dusting in Northern California)

So what does a presumably sane person do when they're freezing their cute little patootie off because of the approximately 8 degrees Fahrenheit temps?

Why, we make SNOW CREAM of course!

I've made it many, many times, but the dear Husband had never had it before, so I took myself outside, risking frostbite and the potential of having several of my digits freeze plumb off, 
 and I scooped soft powdery snow into a big old metal bowl until I couldn't stand the cold anymore.

(for some reason, I simply can not "do" gloves, and I only resort to shoes when absolutely necessary... which somewhat limits the amount of snow I am actually capable of scooping)

So, once I had the bowl filled, I stuck it in the freezer while I assembled the rest of the ingredients. Or, when it's a mere 8 degrees outside,  you can just leave it sitting outside until you're ready.

So here we go with the recipe:

About 6-8 cups of fresh snow
1+ teaspoon of Vanilla extract
sugar to taste (approximately 1/4 cup more or less)
1 can of evaporated milk

Now, with this recipe, nothing is exactly "exact" and you can play with it as much as you like. 
 Substitute maple syrup / chocolate syrup / or any other favorite flavorings for the vanilla extract if that's what you want to do.  
I like maple syrup, so that's what I went with.
And I like sweetened condensed milk,  so I went with that too.

Which means that the recipe I just shared with y'all above, 
is totally "tweak-able".

Snow Cream is meant to be FUN, so just go with what you have,

 Once everything is ready, just drizzle your "flavoring" over your snow, and stir it in slightly. (I use a big metal spoon as shown above)
Then start adding your condensed milk (or plain or evaporated milk), and keep stirring until everything is completely incorporated.

That's all there is to it. 

After about 5 minutes of stirring everything in, this is what you end up with:

The heaping bowl of snow only made about 2 good sized bowls, but when it's freezing outside, I really don't want to put very much "cold stuff" in me at a time!

Plus, Snow Cream is so ridiculously simple to make,
 that as long as you have access to clean fresh snow,  you can stir up more... any time you want!


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