Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankful List


Tomorrow, for part of our Sunday morning worship, we are having a testimony/singing to share what we are thankful for.  Thanksgiving day is next Thursday. I'm thinking about the things that are on my personal list this year.

~ I am especially thankful for our church. The challenges have been tremendous.
~ And for a group of families determined to stick it out and work together, after-all.
~ I am intensely grateful to those of you, our friends/brothers and sisters in Christ from other church groups, who offered kindness and prayers while we faced the challenges. You have no idea how important this has been to us.
~ Thankful for newly married couples and the new babies born this past year. Such encouraging proof that God is blessing...that life goes on...in a good way.
~ Thankful for peace in our hearts. The kind that comes after pain or suffering. It is a richer, brighter joy.
~ Thankful for old friends who know all about us and love us anyway. So thankful!
~ And for new friends. Isn't it refreshing and amazing when we find each other because we are Christians?
~ And for my dear husband and children and grandchildren and for two living parents.
~ And for people who comment on this blog. :)

                          Life Is Good!



Friday, November 21, 2014

A Home Day

The big plans to sew curtains and hang them on new rods in custom made bracket/shelves by Brad have been postponed.
  Since Amy and I started working on new jobs, our days at home have become even more valued and enjoyed. We both like our jobs, but home is best.  I have umpteen projects to work on at home.
  First of all Brad has been sighing for some fresh home baked cookies.

I am loving our new kitchen shelves. Every day they are beautiful and functional. Thanking my man for them and God for a good man and a lovely, old cottage to make home in. So, as you can see, we have music and coffee and cooking baking happening here.
   I have a candle lit, a sink of hot soapy water for washing up as I go, and a huge batch of cookie dough.

It was ten below zero this morning and we were having trouble getting warm. Which is why I decided to bake. It worked. The house warmed up nicely.
The cookies went into the freezer and the cookie jar. We have a large pickle jar that holds a couple dozen cookies and looks good on the shelf full to the brim.

Apples were 50 cents a pound this week. I used a clean dish towel and buffed them to a shine and filled a basket. At the same time I took windex and another part of my clean cotton dish towel and cleaned the lens on the camera. 

   My mom calls what I did all morning "puttering around".  Dish washing, baking, staging for project pictures, and just in general enjoying the sunshine and music and creating.

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 These three boards, and three ironwood sticks are destined to become curtain rods and brackets and shelving above the dining room windows.

 But we couldn't start today after all. Brad can't seem to find the nails we need. I know I bought a pack of nails when we did the porch trim this summer. Now they are nowhere to be found.
And as you can see, I ran out of thread. I managed to thread the serger myself, blindness and clumsy fingers notwithstanding! And promptly ran out of thread. Thus the curtain sewing project to go with the new rods also is now on hold.
Water based varnish/sealer on these boards and the freshly sanded ironwood sticks should look good if we ever can get our act together enough to get it done.

   
 Planter box turned coffee/tea box with chalkboard paint, some string and a liner.


 

             Cookies For Brad

~ 2 sticks of butter
~ 3/4 cup of peanut butter
~ 1 cup of nut butters sent home with Amy from work
~ 5 eggs
~ 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
~ 1 1/2 cups white sugar
~ 1 tsp salt
~  1 1/2 tsp soda
~ 1 tsp vanilla
~ blended oatmeal
~ 2 packs of milk chocolate chips

Mix first 9 ingredients only until barely mixed. (The key to perfect cookies is not mixing too much.)
Add in the oatmeal and the chips. Bake at 350* only until slightly browning. Let them pan bake for a few minutes before taking them off the pan.    Until next time, comment here please? I really need to know who cares about this blog. I know, that's lame, but it's honest, at any rate. One word either negative or positive would be great. 
           Happy Thanksgiving!                 



Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Ordinary Life



  

    Snow drifts down outside my window in a fine mist with an occasional clump joining in the slow dance that falls from the snow buildup on the branches and ledges. Suddenly, we have been thrust into the grip of cold, snowy winter with almost eighteen inches of snow for our first real snow.
    Inside, we keep all three stoves stoked for the constant warmth we need in our living spaces. There are icicles hanging from the eves...again! So much for a layer of "water and ice" and a whirligig near the peak and gable vents. This old stone house is determined to maintain the old, rustic, cottage look.
    We are busy with winter decorating and sewing besides the usual round of house work. The cleaning that is happening with Amy and I both at home for a couple of days is very much appreciated and needed.
   Brad and I spent a couple of days in Duluth during our snow storm keeping the gift shop store open at the Mall.  If you shop in Duluth be sure to come to Northwood next to Sears for your "woodsy" gift needs for Christmas.
   Thanksgiving is a few days away and we are looking forward to spending some cabin time putting in a new chimney. We're also leaping over Thanksgiving and playing Christmas music on Pandora.
   

A couple of precious days off work to "putter around" the house, decorating has been fun. We found things at the used shop and at Northwood where I work.
     And I had the privilege of getting updates from Lisl through the night on her progress with birthing. In the wee hours this morning Rennie Rafik was born to the Dru and Lisl Lattin family. Older brother Jube and older sister Havilah welcome him fondly.

 It is positively soporific this afternoon by the wood fire.  Lack of sleep, Christmas music, and warm stove.
   So Amy suggested a walk in the snow.  More snow was falling and the road is completely covered in a snow pack.
   Ham and beans simmer in the crock pot for our supper.
    Francis calls for a recipe and to order a few birds from our gift shop.

 Come for coffee soon.
 

Monday, November 3, 2014

God's Grace/Largess

      ~ Leaves cover our lawn. Piles and layers of thick, brown papery oak leaves. Walking out to the clothes line, my feet swish-swish the leaves furrowing a wake behind me. It's time to rake the piles onto tarps and pull them over to the compost heap of all the years we've been here. Looking at that heap I want a tractor loader to turn it and take up the treasure of mulch for the gardens. Heaps into mulch. It is another analogy of God's grace. Just a little work on the piles in our lives will work God's grace back into the soil of our hearts. God is good.
    ~ Love covers a multitude of sins. The sins of taking too seriously our own feelings and beliefs while not taking seriously enough the injunction to love our brothers. God's grace again allows us to wake up to our own need.
    ~ New babies. Babies are God's idea. What better way does He show us that life goes on? He gives us another chance to weigh our responsibilities and joys, by babies. Another chance to be soul caretakers when we have just come through the harrowing ordeal of distrusting each other too much. If there is anything we do not deserve, it is babies. That's Grace.
    ~ Routines of work and worship are only by God's grace. How much louder does He need to speak? Than a fire? or by Ebola? or by the peace and prosperity of our lives, for that matter!




 Susan and her daughters created and gave the most lovely baby shower party for Carolyn and Kathryn last week. Perfection of pink and cream and brown in every possible way: drinking mugs, napkins, cake, confections, and a banner. Lovely.
   
 Another piece of Goodness to us that evening that I noticed was that three of us ladies there each had two grandchildren present. That was really fun and warming for me to think about. Because I can see Him smiling about that, trying to show us: deaf and dumb and blind that we are, how MUCH He loves us.
 Here's a work picture for you. Rosie's handwork on the "window" at our Mounds View location.
    We're open at the mall on Miller Hill now, too. My work keeps this family content...I suppose because I am.






Friday, October 17, 2014

Last Bouquet, Cheesecake, Chalkboard, and Camera Cuts




                     Pumpkin Cheesecake

I followed the recipe for the cheesecake part itself and it was not right. It ended up being glorified pumpkin pie...kinda.  Next time I will use half the sugar and eggs. And not beat it too much. The recipe I used didn't call for any spices, so I added them anyway.  That, I will do again.
And the crust was my GF creation of blended oats, brown sugar, butter, sorghum flour, and pecans. This part was right, too.
     That was my 101 on cheesecake. Next time will be even better.
     
 







We repurposed an old wall hanging for our chalkboard. It was a rather nice framed painting back in the day, but there appeared a large water stain exactly in the middle where the trees hung over the peaceful water. A coat of black paint and a couple quick coats of flat white paint for the frame and we were right in style. Love this. Amy has an easel that holds it perfectly.
   The flowers came from the garden which still has not been completely frosted yet. The poppies are budding. If we do not have frost soon there will be a whole new crop of beauties out there.

  

 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
                                                                       Psalm 73:25,26


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Harvesttime

 
      Abbey and I took Brad and Amy out to Nebraska and it was a good trip. (They plan to stay for a couple of weeks to visit and help out with harvest and other projects.) We headed down there on Friday.  For my little brain of fluff the roads were crazy. My car did well working the traffic, so I should not complain. But I had to concentrate a lot. No lolly-gagging along looking at the prairies, windmills, and corn crops.  Eyes on the road, speeding along at a ridiculous rate. Still makes my toes curl to think about it. What if we had actually changed lanes smack into that big white SUV? We would have all gone straight to heaven pronto. Somehow we like to die nicer than that, I guess.
     It is autumn everywhere. In Iowa and Nebraska this means that huge, wide machines swipe up and down the endless acres eating and spewing into trucks or gravity wagons the golden crops of beans and corn.  Everything is big out there: the roads, the sky, the fields, the machinery, and the horizon. Even the sunset sprawls out in brilliant blazes from a much larger ball of fire than we ever see in cozy, tree covered Wisconsin.
     We had good visits and coffee times with our family there.  They were gathering up the last of garden crops: a few ripe tomatoes, the last bouquet of zinnia, over looked squashes and peppers. Afterward, Gabe took a bush hog and mowed the whole tangle of vines and weeds down to little more than a soft covering of "green manure" to be tilled under to maintain the black loam. Jenny rejoiced in the completion of freshly turned soil.
        

        

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Discovered Settings

 We found lake Camp 4 on a Sunday afternoon drive. (I posted a picture of that a couple of posts back.) So for my birthday we had a picnic there.  It was getting dark much sooner than we expected for some reason and so it was all very short and sweet. Soup packed from home, gifts from the family, and a canoe row around the lake ending at dusk. Perfection.
That was discovery, the first, on my list.

 I love corn candy. Because it is pretty and "musty" (must have another one). I know, it is pretty much all the bad sugars packed into one lethal piece of nonsense. Oh well, we only indulge once a year, that is, for a few days in the fall.
We had a fire going, chairs set up, a table of food at our elbows in about five minutes that evening. It is a lot less work for me than it used to be to do an evening outing. Now everyone makes a couple of hauls apiece and presto we're all set up or all put away depending on which side of the picnic we're on.


 And here is Discovery, the second. I needed a desk area: a place to scribble, and to keep the laptop from getting sat upon when not in use.
   This has been a work in process. The book shelves used to be one piece built for Mom Graber's use. She bequeathed them to me once upon a time. I had no wall large enough to accommodate

 them. So I cut them apart and added the board needed.  Looks like I did it, too. I filled them with books and you are none the wiser, albeit my terrible carpentry.  We used them that way for many years. We had seven other book cases, too, at some point in our school years. By and by, we shifted down to only five or six, and these two started to just be in the way. Until I thought of hanging them after dreaming over New Decorating Book by Better Homes and Gardens.
 Then we painted them right into the wall, so to speak. We have enjoyed this so much. It changes the room entirely to exactly the right cottage feeling we love.
   So. The desk and book cases and window out of which I can see our lovely maples and lawn makes me happy. It doesn't take much, yes?
   Discovery, the third, is realizing that I can actually understand and adjust the settings on this camera I have been fussing about for the last year. It's Lance's camera, a cast off of Clark's, and Lance reminds me betimes of those facts.

 Anyway, I FINALLY changed the settings to get rid of that nasty over-exposure and the blue-ish tinge on every vista out our windows when I take indoor pictures Wow!
   Conclusion for this bit of scribbling is this: We are never too old or stupid to learn and make changes with the things we already have. We should study our current stuff/assets/tools. Perhaps we can do better with what we have, instead of coveting.