Merry Christmas from Finn

I know I said “…….until 2014,” but Finn wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

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There he is!  Wishing y’all a Merry Christmas!  Dig his spiffy new pajamas?  We got them from Pajama Gram.  In fact, the whole family got them.  I will, hopefully, be able to get a picture of all of us in our matching jammies one of these days.

In the meantime, please be safe.  Have a happy and healthy Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.  And THANK YOU for stopping by and reading!

Wendy

Poinsettias!

I can get a little plant-life in even though it is Winter…..and I might add that it does not FEEL like Winter at this very moment.  Mind you, I am not complaining.  We had a small taste of snow, and how quickly it becomes tiresome.  Planning ahead makes all the difference when one MUST go somewhere in the horrible weather.  But I am off on a tangent…..

I love poinsettias.  But alas, they are not pet-friendly plants.  I think it is particularly worrisome if you have a cat.  Cats can jump and climb and sample all kinds of vegetation.  Dogs (well, depending on the dog, I suppose) generally can’t get up to the high spots in a house.  Still, if the plants drop petals or leaves, that’s not so good if a curious canine comes around.

Members of my church order poinsettias every year at Christmas time.  They are placed at the altar, as well as in windowsills, and all around the sanctuary.  Here are the ones at the altar this year:

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At home, I have 4 tiny ones in my kitchen window.  It is far away and up high enough from Finn, just in case he gets any bright ideas.  (Finn has a voracious appetite for just about anything)  Also, if they drop petals, the sink ought to catch them.  They are sparkly and glittery!  I got them at Trader Joe’s:

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How about that bubble-glass-pendant light?  That came from the “Young House Love” collection from “Shades of Light.”

I probably won’t post again until after the holidays.  We have a lot going on, as I’m sure all of you do, too.  I treasure the time spent with family, and having all my kids home for Christmas is wonderful.  May you have wonderful holidays and family time.  Treasure making the memories.

….until 2014!

Wendy

Vegan Christmas Cookies

Today I am embarking on a journey.  I am baking Christmas cookies, Vegan Style.  I currently have 3 vegetarian children, one of whom is Vegan, one who doesn’t eat dairy (but does occasionally eat a tiny bit of seafood), and one who is trying it for one month to see how it all works out(but does eat dairy).  Joel still likes meat, poultry, and seafood.  I can’t digest red meat, so it’s off-limits to me.  I can tolerate poultry and most fish.  I do make beef for Joel once in awhile.  Christmas dinner is usually filet mignon.  This year, Joel will be the only one eating that.

The rest of us will be eating:

My vegetarians eat this at Thanksgiving, and I tasted it and it is really quite good.   The key is NOT to expect it to taste EXACTLY like turkey!  It just doesn’t.  Really.  But it isn’t bad.  Really!

Back to my mission today – to bake some cookies.  Here is the recipe:

http://www.ohladycakes.com/2011/12/sugar-cookies.html

And here is how they turned out:

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I have found that vegan baked goods have a slightly different texture, due to the fact that there are no eggs or milk.  They are still light and fluffy, and very, very SWEET.  (Not diabetic-friendly!!)  I am going to freeze this batch and the rest of the dough, since Vegan Child won’t be home for the college break until tomorrow.

All my shopping is done – I just have a tiny bit more wrapping to do.  My cards will be sent by this weekend, so I apologize to any of my card recipients if you get yours “late.”  I figure if it’s by the New Year, then it’s all good.  I have done my holiday decorations in “Minimalist” style this year, and so far nobody has complained.

Of course, I always crank up my stress level by adding a random project to the mix.  My gift to myself is re-painting the ceiling and walls of my front entry/vestibule in Town Mouse House.   Add that to one child having been sick, a school concert in the works, numerous holiday parties and events that must be attended by various family members, well……I’m sure we don’t have it much different from anyone else out there.  And really, none of this is complaining on my part!  Just describing the busy-ness of the season.

My hope and prayer is for good health, safety, and joy this Christmas and in the New Year.  From our family to yours – Blessed Peace on Earth!

Wendy

Times of our Lives

“Memories…..like the corners of my mind….”

In 2011, Irene hit mercilessly. We, thankfully, were spared a great deal. Since we are quite far uphill, the farm was relatively unscathed but for a wee bit of flooding and the loss of one tree. No complaints here. Many still are not “out-of-the-woods,” so to speak.

Then, in 2012, Sandy was upon us. This time, again, we were spared a great deal. Knowing what so many people close to us had to endure, and are still enduring, I shall not ever complain about our VERY MINOR and TEMPORARY inconveniences!

I would like to share some pictures, though. Sandy, strangely enough, got a barn roof and wrangled it until it surrendered and blew off.  Here are a few of the pieces:

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Now, here is Farmer Joel and our helper/child working on the repairs:

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More photos:

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Thankfully, he got it nailed back up and it withstood last winter.  Hopefully it will get through a few more before it needs to be replaced altogether.

These photos bring back my nervous-wreck feeling.  See how gray it is outside?  It was raining.  In the last photo, look at how his foot is braced to keep him from sliding clean off the roof!  Thankfully, again, even if he did fall, it was “only” one story and it would have been a soft(muddy) landing.  But no falling and no worries.  Phew!

Be careful out there.  Today it’s so cold it’s downright icy.  Take your time!  I’m not going anywhere unless I absolutely must.  Holiday shopping can either wait or be done online.

Wendy

Dining Room Chandelier

I’ve been looking at chandeliers to replace the one in my dining room.  Here is what I have now:

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This was installed in 1997 or 1998, I believe.  These days the brass-plate is looking a bit “dated,” ahem!  Maybe we should be doing this with it:

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(Do not try that at home!)

Well, since I have nothing better to do(that was sarcasm), I have begun the Chandelier Journey.  Here are some I’ve been looking at:

Restoration Hardware Chandelier #1

Lamps Plus Chandelier

Both of these chandeliers have characteristics similar to the one I already have.  The styles are very close.  It’s just the FINISH!  Ew!  So…I looked around to see if it would be possible to paint the chandelier I already have.  It turns out that, yes, it is possible!

Chalk Painting a brass chandelier

I followed the instructions and used the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax.  I used “Paris Gray” paint, and the clear wax.  The clear wax didn’t add enough depth for my liking, so I ended up using a Minwax stain in “Ebony.”  I just rubbed it on and rubbed it off to leave a more textured appearance.  I did not take the chandelier down from the ceiling.  Instead, I got up on a ladder and taped it off.  I removed the “candles” and cleaned them before placing them back on.

It worked out so well, I decided to do my vestibule fixture, too.  It has the brass finish and some crystals dangling.  Stay tuned for that finished product!

Meanwhile, the only thing I have left to do on the dining room fixture is sew a cover for the hanging chain.

Here is the beginning of the paint.(I only had to wash the chandelier and take the bulbs out – no sanding involved.)

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As you can see, I realized I needed to use painter’s tape:

CIMG2491  Then I realized I had to take out the bulbs and the little “candles.”  I don’t have a picture of this.  Oh well.  Here are a couple of “Befores” and “Afters”:

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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And lit up – BEFORE:

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And AFTER:

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You can see how I didn’t really focus on the chain so much because it will be covered by fabric.

This really saved a bundle, plus it is in keeping with the French Country style furniture I have in the dining room.  (There is also an American Hoosier cabinet in there which I love, but it still works because it is country)

Stay warm and dry today!  Here is what it is doing outside at Town Mouse House:Enjoy this wonderful winter day!

Wendy

 

Healthy Comfort Food

When all else fails, have some SOUP!  I still have grated squash in abundance in the freezer, so….

Into my slow cooker went:

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 large can Cannelini beans

1/2 cup green beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Then I sautéed in butter:

4 chopped carrots

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 minced garlic cloves

1/2 onion, chopped

THEN, I added the sautéed goodness to the slow cooker, along with 2 cups frozen, shredded squash and a large boxed container of vegetable stock.  For the meat-eaters in the family, I will offer chopped, grilled chicken pieces.

Here is the soup simmering away joyfully in the slow cooker:

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It looks a little bit blurry, but I tasted it and it is yummy.  I am making cornbread and a salad to go with it.

Healthy comfort food! 

Wendy

Breakfast

My mother always said that breakfast was her favorite meal.  I have to admit, I love it, too.  Breakfast offers all the “fun” foods – muffins, pancakes, waffles, eggs, bagels, French toast, cereals….

Now that the holidays are upon us, we find ourselves probably a little bit over-worked, under-rested, and perhaps not-s0-well-nourished.  Well, breakfast can help us stay on an even keel, so to speak.  Sometimes, we might even eat a breakfast meal at dinner time.  When the kids were little, they thought this was grand!

Fruit is something that should probably be eaten with any breakfast entrée.  It complements so many other foods, is nutritious, and tastes good.  Juice is very high in sugar content, even if it is “unsweetened.”  We are all better off eating the whole fruit whenever possible.  This time of year for fruit, pickings are slim, but we are still going through our frozen blueberry stash, making blueberry pancakes or muffins whenever possible.  Smoothies are great for getting fruit in, as well.  Bananas, when frozen, preclude the need for any additional ice.  Just add some yogurt, vanilla, maybe a scoop of organic nutrition powder(read labels first!), berries, you name it!  One of my kids likes to add peanut butter and/or cocoa powder.  Yum!

For great, economical breakfast recipes from scratch, I recommend “The $30 A Week Grocery Budget” by Donna McKenna.

http://dmckenna.webs.com/

They are as quick and easy to prepare as any mix.  I promise.

One of my favorites, especially this time of year, is cooked, hot cereal.  Add fruit to that plus a cup of coffee, and it is most likely going to be a decent day.  Oatmeal is a good, reliable staple, and even the old-fashioned kind only takes about 3 minutes to microwave.  I tried rice cereal this morning, though, and it was great.  Homemade applesauce(yes, with the apples from our trees) on the side, sprinkled with cinnamon, a little maple syrup, absolutely delicious!

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Have a well-nourished day!

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  Ours was wonderful!  Much to be thankful for!

Wendy

p.s. – Happy Birthday and Anniversary! (Y’all know who you are!)