Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Bones of Winter

For most of last year I did a monthly post called "The Colors of (name the month here)" I really enjoyed putting together the pictures for that post and will miss getting to see what pictures everyone else from around the world put on their blogs - in fact one person from Australia had this great picture of all these kangaroos just out standing in a field - I loved it so much that I made it my "wallpaper" for my computer at work - it really gets the attention of the computer repair people, that's for sure...

So, many of the people who were doing "The Colors of..." posts are now doing a photo journal, taking pictures of the same spot all year long.

I've decided to use the White-barked Himalayan Birch (Betula jacquemontii) in our driveway. It really is one of the prettiest trees that we have in our yard, and in the bleak midwinter (to borrow from Christina Rossetti) it just shines. I'll take a picture of it and the surrounding area every month so you can see how it changes.

I have always been fascinated by the bark, how it separates out into pieces, ready made for that secret missive.

I have pictures taken for several years from this spot - I'll try to find some of them so you can see how these trees have grown over the past years.

I was surprised that we get Friday 31st off this year from work. I have a lot of errands to do - get my church newsletter printed up and get the oil changed in my car, so I am grateful to have the extra time off. The Shepherd and I will meet for lunch, and do our shopping/date night early so we can be home and off the roads before the New Year's revelers hit the streets -

It snowed this a.m., but thankfully, it didn't stick around for very long. It is supposed to be sunny for the next three days, but cold - dipping down into the teens at night. Brrr...

I haven't looked at the TV Guide for Friday night - maybe there will be a movie worth watching or something - and Saturday Jan. 1st, we will head out to our friend Nancy's for her traditional New Year's Brunch - lots of old friends, good food and good music.

Have a safe and Happy New Years! It seems way too soon to be saying "Happy New Year!" - it seems like we were just saying that. The only consolation that I have in that is it seems like time is going faster to "younger folks" now too - not just to us old geezers.... Ha ha ha.

(oh, and wait until you see the pretty yarn I spun up from the 4 oz of "Cashmerino" that The Shepherd got me for Christmas. That and the pretty "giraffe orchid" were my favorite presents this year)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Mother Nature has provided us with beautiful reds and greens for this time of the year.

The Shepherd and I went to town at noon today to hear Tracy Spring play at the local Allied Arts Christmas festival. I got two of her older CD's and talked with her briefly about her service that she will be doing at our church in February.

I'm listening to her music as I write this and while I don't like some of the songs as well as the album I already have, I'm sure that they will grow on me -

I took Sinda to the V.E.T. this morning to get her sub-Q infusion for this week. We had a couple of errands that "we" needed to do before we got there - I don't think she appreciated riding around so much, but oh, well...

Right after I got there, a fellow came in with a Rottweiler "puppy" - he was in that cute, doofsy stage, but pretty well behaved. BIG paws - he's going to be a good sized dog. Not as big as the 10 month old short haired St. Bernard who came in next - they weighed him - at 108 lbs. he thought that the 38# Rott puppy was going to be a tasty snack - luckily the SB's owner took him back outside - big dogs - whew - I'll be honest - I'm not much of a fan, especially if they aren't well behaved. The Rott puppy was very good and trying to stay put but that big old boy, he was looking for a tussle I think.

I was glad that Sinda was in her carrier.

So that's how our Christmas Eve day went - It's a "pancake night" and then we'll drive to Blaine for the Vespers Service at 7:00.

We're going to wait until tomorrow a.m. to open our presents - The wreath on our back door was a gift from my sister - I really love her wreaths, she puts so many textures and colors in them. And if you click on it to biggify it you can see the three sheepies looking towards the "star" .

I got The Shepherd a digital picture frame so he can see his photos when ever he wants without having to turn on my computer - - I only hope I can figure out how to get the thing loaded before tomorrow -

So, Merry Christmas to all, and as the angels said "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all"

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spinning in my spare time

As a relatively new spinner, the walls of colorful roving (this happens to be yarn) at the Black Sheep Gathering had my head "spinning". So much fiber, so little money -

I found this beautiful roving and could not pass it up.

None-the-less to say I had no idea what I would do with it - and what the heck was Tencel, anyhow?

But I loved the colorway and I really liked the name - there were two bumps left, so I got them both - better to have too much than not enough, I always say...

Well, I have been intrigued by all the crocheted sock patterns that I have seen lately, in fact I even bought a book of just sock patterns ( I am such a sucker for books...)

So I started spinning it up last week - Oh, did I mention that I had read an article in Spin-Off Magazine about spinning for crochet (for the "non-spinners" you normally spin your singles to the right (clockwise) and ply to the left (counter-clockwise) - I have never had any problems crocheting with my regularly spun yarn, but , apparently there are a few out there who suggest that spinning the singles counter clockwise and plying clockwise make an easier yarn to crochet with - well, I guess we'll find out now, won't we?

When I am spinning colored wool, I just spin my singles and ply how ever it goes together - I think you get some really nice colors that way - and you don't have to get all worried if your colors blend on to each other - so here is what I ended up with .

I have two fairly good size skeins - now I just have to wash it up and decide which sock pattern I want to try out.

The other spinning I've been doing is on some Icelandic/Alpaca blend that I had Gretchen do for me last summer - It is too scratchy (a product of not "de-hairing" the Icelandic wool) so it wouldn't be very good for clothing - but I have been really intrigued by the recent patterns I've seen for crocheted bowls and baskets.

I think this will be really pretty for a crocheted bowl...

This is the triple ply yarn that I made at Judith McKenzie's workshop last month. I think it is Corriedale & silk - it is incredibly soft - and if you click on the picture to biggify it, it doesn't look too bad - I have a plan for it, but I will tell you what I have done with it at a later time.

Triple ply is really something to get used to - I had stuff REALLY tangled up there for a while - I guess, like everything, it just takes practice.

Our church Christmas program is tomorrow night. Unfortunately, Rev. Nan had emergency surgery for appendicitis last week and we're not sure it she's going to be able to participate or not - we rather think not, but where there's a will, there's a way, I always say.

If she doesn't make it, The Shepherd will lead the service - He is our "Minister of Music" and he does services on a regular basis. Although it's not his favorite thing to do, he has filled in at short notice several times over the past 20 or so years that he's been there. Our choir has been working hard on the pieces of music that he picked out for us this year - I hope we have a good showing in the congregation - it always makes it more fun.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sharing -

As many of you know, I am the editor of my church's monthly newsletter "Just for UU" - a little play on words there - as we are Unitarian Universalists -

I thought I'd share part of my "From the Editor" article for this month with you -

"As I sat in our chilly house this morning waiting for the furnace repair man to come, I surveyed the postcard we received a couple of weeks ago from that local heating company suggesting that we call them for a “Fall Furnace Tune-up”. I wished that I had called them last week - BEFORE our furnace quit in the middle of the night.

I got to thinking about how nice it would be if we each got a “postcard” reminding us that we needed a Spiritual Tune-up - but maybe that is what Christmas is all about - reminding ourselves (and one another) to be kind and generous of spirit and deed, to think of others before ourselves -

I hope you’ll take the time this season to visit with an old friend, or drop in on someone who has not been able to get out of the house due to illness or the weather."

I just couldn't believe that it was time to work on the DECEMBER! newsletter - it seems like it was just summer a few weeks ago - but the recent Thanksgiving snow was a cruel reminder that winter is upon us - the days are shorter and darker, and we are on a slippery slope to that "holiday" called Christmas.

So, whether you celebrate it as a "holyday" or if you look upon it as a pagan festival made into something bigger by the Romans and the retailers, I hope that you look into getting yourself a "Spiritual Tune-up" and that it helps get you through this darkest part of the year and into the hopeful light of the winter Solstice.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


funny pictures-Steer clear of teh greenbean and artichoke souffle.  I'm just saying.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here on the farm, snowy and cold that it may be...I have faith that the snow will soon be gone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wow, two posts in a row! (and "Looking Back Sunday")

Well, I made it to my class today. Most of the spinning part was yesterday and today was primarily knitting (and I don't knit), however Judith did spend some time with me on some questions that I had, and I got to spin some beautiful Bluefaced Leicester/silk blend and triple plied it (eeek) - (s-twist on the singles and Z twist on the plied) and the knitted mittens that everyone was making were quite nice.

So, on to Looking Back Sunday - These pictures were actually taken two years ago this week - but the game is still the same - Our church provides some of the pumpkin pies for the community food baskets - and for the past few years, we've been providing the pumpkin for those pies.

After the pumpkin is baked, I scrape it into my big yellow Tupperware bowl. Previous years I have used my potato masher to smush up the baked pumpkin - but this year - TA DA - I got to use my new KitchenAid immersion blender that Susan at Farmgirl Fare is always recommending.

Wow, it really lived up to her promotion! The first bowl had a few "stringy" bits - that thing really took care of them and pureed up the whole bowl in just a few minutes - It got a harder workout on the second bowl as although that pumpkin had been in the oven for FOUR (4!) hours, it was still a little bit "chunky" Way preferable to using a potato masher, let me tell you. So I'm pleased (I also got a chance to blend up the black bean soup that I was making at the same time - Yum)

As in years past, The Shepherd saved the best and biggest seeds. These are an heirloom Amish pie pumpkin and often weigh up to 20# - so you can get enough pumpkin puree for 8 or 9 pies from one pumpkin.

I portion it at 2 cups in a freezer bag and flatten it out for easier storage.

The Shepherd took all 30 packages that I did this past week up to church today - there are four more pumpkins for our use - pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie or pumpkin bars with brown butter frosting - (check my recipes for all these delectable treats)

And the weather report - it's about 26 degrees out now and they are forecasting more snow for tomorrow - I have a feeling it's gonna be a L-O-N-G winter!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Tis a BIG disappointment...

Early last fall I signed up at my local yarn store for a class to be given this weekend by Judith McKenzie.

The class that I took from her last fall was so wonderful, I have so looked forward to this class.

But Mother Nature had OTHER ideas for me this weekend.


The class was "Spinning for Twinned Mittens" - Since I don't knit, I was just hoping to gain more spinning techniques from Judith.

This was our back door this morning -

It was 28 degrees out...

I know it doesn't look like a LOT of snow - but have I ever mentioned that I really HATE the cold (it makes my fingers, and knees ache) and don't do well at all with "slippery" - and as you can see from the previous picture of the ice on our back door - it was slippery - AND windy - probably sustained 20 mph with gusts to 35 mph.

No spinning class was worth that much to me.

But I am still very disappointed - I wasn't able to go to my guild meeting last weekend because of our church fundraiser auction. I was helping with the dinner and providing taco salads for 60 people - wasn't going to work with being gone all day to a guild meeting. So, there you go...

The only bright spot in the day (except for the brilliant sunshine that is) is that the wind has died down (some) and The Shepherd has dug the drifts out from around my car and in a few hours we'll be headed into town to go see Pearl Django, one of our favorite bands. Click on the link and listen to some of their music - you'll wish you could join us!

P.S. - I've been feeling guilty that I haven't been posting lately - so much to say, but not enough time - Sinda is hanging in there - our recent "game" is "Mommy, guess what I want to eat?" - often two or three different cans of cat food opened for her to sniff at and hopefully eat a little - we take each day as it comes.

P.P.S. - A little bit after I finished this post, The Shepherd asked me why I didn't see if I could go to Judith's class tomorrow - well I called and asked, and they said that I could come! Yay!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The colors of October

"Wait", you say, " October ended a week ago!" Well, yes, that is true. Although I had spend all month taking pictures of "the colors of October" that I wanted to share with you, I was busy putting together my church newsletter and just didn't get a "Round Tuit" -

This is the the final month that Sue from Life Looms Large will be hosting this "challenge" that has lasted all year and she has given us until the middle of November to finish up - I think that everyone is just really busy right now.

I have met many nice people and have seen such beautiful pictures from all over the world, I really hate for it to end - I'll have to keep an eye out for another one like it -

Looking for "the colors" of a month has certainly given me a new look at my surroundings.

This tree is right outside our kitchen window. It has been so beautiful and colorful for the past month, and today, with the storms that we've had in the past few days, it is almost bare.

October is the month when the Western Washington University college students return to town - well actually they come back the end of Sept., but the impact of an extra 10 or 12,000 more people in town really comes to the forefront in October.

This year is was particularly distressing as a young man (18 - away from home for the first time) who had only been here a week went to a couple of parties the 2nd of October and then simply disappeared into the night.

The community and his friends from the Seattle area searched for him tirelessly for ten days - there simply didn't seem to be any trace of him anywhere - unfortunately after two weeks, a dock worker found his body floating in the bay - a heartbreaking end to the searches. The medical examiner found no trace of foul play - just a tragic accident.

It brought back many memories of my first quarter at school - I had been to 4-H camp, and had spent the summers with my sister, but had never been away from my parents or home other than that - I can remember being horribly homesick - was it so bad that I wished my life would end? I think a couple of times I might have felt that way, but I don't know if it was cowardice or courage - I made it through that first hard month - then began to meet friends, many of whom were as homesick as I - we made it through the second month, the quarter - onward into our lives -

Anyhow - back to real time October - We had rain and we had a couple of weeks of absolutely lovely days - in fact a friend of ours went to Palm Desert, CA and Tucson, AZ during that week - it was rainy and cold there - sunny and warm here - ha ha...

In fact this first week of November has been somewhat crazy weather wise in the Pacific NW - it was almost 70 degrees one day last week - set new records for the warmest day on record for November.

The Shepherd (aka The Gardener) thought that his work would slow down - ie., no lawn mowing, after September - well it is November and he figures he still has about two more weeks of mowing - crazy - but glad for the work...

Our church fundraiser auction is next weekend - I have been busy spinning yarn for the silent auction - I thought this was particularly pretty - it is a merino/alpaca blend that I bought from a friends stash - It is sport weight - some of the lightest weight yarn I've ever spun - tempting to keep....

Soon The Shepherd will be getting his bonsai ready to go to bed for the winter - but not before many of them put on a little show of their own.

A lone gallardia that escaped the frost that took down the pumpkins and the rest of the flowers.

It seemed to me like the fall colors have been especially vibrant this year - even The Shepherd mentioned it the other night. The reds were redder and the golds - well, more gold...

forming a carpet of gold from our river birch tree -
So, today is the end of Daylight Saving's Time - winter is upon us - The Shepherd has put Violet, Pearl and Luna in with Vern and the spring lambs are enjoying being the queens of the barn - in fact he just went out to feed, so I guess I'd better get busy with dinner, as it's getting to be that time of the day.

Several people have suggested taking a particular tree or scene and photographing it from the same perspective every month (or even every week!) - I have a couple of favorite trees that I might try that on - hmm - that gives me an idea -

Now, off to make a little apple tart to go with that ice cream we bought last night at DQ...

Have a great week.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

The frost knocked the pumpkin vines down about 2 weeks ago - the big orange orbs have been moved into the greenhouse to "rest a while" before processing.

Several people have asked me about the buttermilk pumpkin pound cake that I made a couple of weeks ago. I'm sorry to say it was very disappointing. Despite having two cups of pumpkin in it , there was very little "pumpkin flavor" - and you couldn't taste the spices (until it had set around for a couple of days, and by that time, it was kind of dry...)

Better to make Farmgirl Susan's Spicy Pumpkin Muffins (BTW, I have started making it them with ONLY ONE STICK OF BUTTER - or 1/2 cup of margarine - which ever you prefer) - On her original recipe, she notes that you can do that for a "low fat" version of the recipe - I think it makes them taste fresher and they are not quite so greasy.

My other favorite Pumpkin Cake recipe is from the Cake Mix Doctor cook book.

Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 pkg (18.25 oz) of your favorite spice cake mix
1 pkg (3.4 oz) vanilla (or cheesecake if you can find it) instant pudding mix
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
3 large eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 cake pan or bundt style pan

Place the cake mix, pudding mix & pumpkin pie spice in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to blend all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center where you put your pumpkin, oil, water and eggs. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for one minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thing and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with a spatula. Place pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed and when a toothpick inserted int eh center comes out clean, 32 - 35 minutes for the 9x13 pan or 55 - 60 minutes for the bundt pan. Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to tool for 1/2 hour. Frost with yoru favorite frosting or just dust with powdered sugar.

Store cake, covered in the refrigerator for up to a week (if it lasts that long)

I only use good quality ingredients - Jello brand Pudding mix - Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus - and a good quality cake mix - your cake will thank you for it.

P.S. Sinda continues to rally - she is actually eating better (and more) than she has in a while - and she is getting spoiled with the "tuna fish water" that she drinks right up. Dr. Perry has been out of town for a week - I'll talk to him tomorrow about a course of action.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hug a Sheep Day

I saw on Tammy's blog that it is National Hug a Sheep Day. So here is a picture of The Shepherd with one of his snuggly girls. It always pays to hug your sheep

- that way they don't give you the dreaded "laser eye" when you come in the barn!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A quick update

Sinda has started to drink water again and ate most of her dinner last night (well she ate about 2-3 tablespoons out of the bowl - which is a bunch for her lately) -

I realize that she is not going to "get better" but this buys us a little more time, huh? Thenks to everyone for their kind thoughts, purrs and purrayers. T.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oh, dear......

Sinda here - I haven't been feeling particularly well lately - so Mom stuffed me in the PTU (Prisoner Transport Unit) on Thursday and took me to see Dr. Perry.

"Mom" here - Sinda wouldn't eat ANYTHING I put out - stuff she has been eating for years - chicken baby food, which she loves - she just turned kind of queezy looking and walked away - then I realized that she wasn't drinking very much water either - and had gotten very dehydrated (which kind of caught me by surprise because I watched her so closely all summer to make sure that didn't happen) - yes, you who've been here before know that her kidney's are failing.

Todd said that when animals get dehydrated, they sense of smell and taste goes off and everything makes them queasy, in turn they don't eat and get worse. He suggested that they do a Sub-Q re - hydration - actually, that they do two - so I left my baby girl at the V.E.T.'s office and "with a heavy heart", went to work - They did blood tests before and after the re-hydration and the numbers changed so much that he was really encouraged - and when I got her home, after first using the kitty box, she acted very hungry - so I made up some ocean whitefish with tuna and she chowed down. same Friday and Saturday she ate some chicken & gravy - so I was encouraged - but today again, she won't eat and doesn't seem to be drinking much water either -

She's 21 1/2 years old - I can learn to do the sub-Q hydration - but will she stand for that every three days? I practically have to call out the National Guard to give her a pill -

My heart and mind are not on the same page with this - I thought I was prepared, but apparently not.....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Well, here I am -

...sitting at the computer, at a quarter after 11 (p.m.) waiting for a Pumpkin buttermilk pound cake to cool so I can turn it out of the pan - If it turns out to be good, I'll give you the recipe - if not, I'll take it to work - those people will eat anything -

I can't believe that it is the middle of October already - I just did my "Colors of September" - (barely made it in September!) and now it's almost time to do the "Colors of October" already.

"Well, what have I been doing??" you ask...

Mostly I've been doing LOTS of spinning - I've finished a bump of Kathy Green's "potluck roving" for my church auction - & I'm working on an 8 oz package of superwashed Merino and alpaca blend to put in the auction as well. Last year I spent a lot of time spinning the wool, and crocheting a hat and set of fingerless gloves for this event (it is an annual event) and it only went for $25 in the live auction (the wool alone had cost $28!) but my silent auction item of 8 oz of handspun yarn went for $40 - well, that's a no-brainer - two sets of handspun wool coming right up - (I'll take pictures after I get it all washed up and pretty) - and spinning takes up my late night time that I usually use for blogging - something had to give - but I have lots of things to tell you, so keep an eye out for new posts -

Right now, I'm going to go try that Pumpkin Pound Cake!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Colors of September!

Every month since last October, Sue from Life Looms Large has hosted a fun challenge - to find the"colors" of the month. I have not only enjoyed doing this project myself, but have loved reading and seeing all the pictures from around the world as other bloggers have joined in the fun.

Quite frankly, it has been so-o-o-o warm this month, that I was not sure if we were going to get any color but blue (sky) and green (grass) - but

last week, the sun went away and the rain appeared - and we had some real cloud bursts - mind you, not like they are having on the east coast right now, but for us it was a lot.

Even though this oak leaf doesn't have any real "fall" colors - I did like the pattern of the rain drops and the veins of the leaf

The Shepherd has been so busy with other people's gardens that we are a little lacking in the fall flowers this year - but, hey, what the heck - the bills are getting paid - and this pretty chrysanthemum decorates our back porch.

Of course my trusty sidekick had to come along and snoopervise all the pictures that I was taking.

Out in the vegie garden, the corn is gone, the pumpkins are going wild and the asparagus weed looked so pretty covered with raindrops.

Finally the colors are starting to creep into the yard - the katsura tree is starting to turn it's leaves make the yard smell slightly sweet.

The Japanese maples on the porch are a blaze with reds and oranges

The rose hips are like sparkling jewels hidden in the blue foliage

The Bishop's Children dahlias that were planted from seed have finally decided to put on a show.

It's also time to start evaluating fleeces - this is Wicket's fleece - it is going to be wicked fun to spin - hope I get a chance at it...

I think this is either Ruby or Robin --- (unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the head that went with the fleece...) but this is going to be a lovely fleece and it is staying closely to original color - gonna be pretty!

And one little lone flower left over from summer - I hope you enjoyed my Colors of September - I almost didn't make it this month again - working on my church newsletter til all hours of the night...but it's done and I only have my spinner guild one left to do.

And guess what? I'm signed up to take another class from Judith McKenzie - but it's not until November - so you'll just have to wait to find out about it...