Morning Walk

We had rain overnight, but awoke to clearing skies.  The sunshine was so delicious.  Blue skies.  Puffy white clouds.  I couldn't resist the urge for a morning walk.  Here are some sights along the way.

The sun was warm.  The air was cool.  There was the slight hint of woodsmoke wafting through the air.  I should really start more days like this.

A Wrapping Corner

I like Christmas time to have a fun amount of hustle and bustle, but not an unnecessary amount of it.  Christmas shopping in December is not the fun type to me, especially when there are eleven other months of the year in which to do it.  In a good year, I shop throughout the year.  In an average year, I start in August and finish before Thanksgiving.  This year?  Well...I've thought about it...thought about it in the sense of "...oh...I'm behind...I'll think about it some other time."  And now here we are, aren't we?  I did start shopping this month, but very casually.  No list.  Just ideas sort of floating in my head...browsing through shops...picking up this...and that.  Then I found myself wondering what I really had for everyone on my list.  Some sorting and taking stock was in order.

So I decided to do that while just wrapping up what I'd already purchased.  At least I'll be ahead somewhere.  I like to set up a little wrapping corner in the master bedroom.  "Wrapping Paper Central".  This year, instead of half-way blocking the door to my closet with the card table, I dragged the small desk from the guest room into my bedroom and set it in the corner, by the windows and next to the fireplace.

I like this spot.  In the daylight hours I can see the view, and on days like today I can watch the weather roll in from the southwest.  I was delighted to watch a fat, bushy-tailed, gray squirrel scamper up the big oak tree as I sat there today.

And in the evenings, I can have a fire (alas, it's gas, but better than nothing), and wrap by the light from the sconces.  Very cozy.

It's so much easier to get into wrapping mode when everything's at your fingertips:

-wrapping paper (I love wrapping paper; it's almost an obsession)
-tissue paper
-gift bags
-gift tags (I love gift tags too, not as much as wrapping paper...but almost)
-trash can (typically for me, it's a used shopping bag...this year from L.L. Bean)

Things are taking shape now.  It's good.  I just have to remind myself not to be crazy about the be peaceful in this season of peace.

Spiced Peaches

I had a request for my family's Spiced Peaches recipe, and I am happy to share it!  It just couldn't be easier to make.  Although, I would caution you to not leave the solution unattended on the stove, as I left the room to put something away in the pantry, and returned just before it boiled over onto my stove.  Whew!  Can you imagine?...1 1/2 cups of honey boiled over?  Would've been dreadful.

Our family traditionally serves this as part of Thanksgiving dinner.  However, I think it would delicious with ham for Christmas too!

Spiced Peaches

1 - 29 oz. can peach halves in heavy syrup, drained
3 - 3" cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. white vinegar
3 whole cloves

Put peach halves in a 1-qt. jar.  Heat remaining ingredients until syrup boils.  Pour over peaches.  Cool.  Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.  Store no longer than 8 days.

Sabbath Rest

A sunset from our deck this week.
"And again, Isaiah says,
'The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.'
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

--Romans 15:12-13

A 19th Century Poem

Old-Time Thanksgiving Dinner At Nantucket

Give ear and I'll tell you a story
Of a dinner held long years ago
I'll tell it as Father's grandfather
Told him, and he surely should know.

Widow B lived alone in the outskirts
And seemed quite content with her lot.
Her garden was envied by many,
Better green goods could seldom be bought.

Each year she stored in her cellar
Apples, spuds, turnips, squashes, galore
While her shelves were weighed down with pickles
And jellies, enough for a store.

Before one Thanksgiving a neighbor
Whom some people called Deacon Slim
Knocked at the widow's back door;
Surprised, she invited him in.

"I've called, marm, with a proposition
That seems to me just can't be beat,
Folks tell me that you cook old roosters
So they're good as young chicken to eat.

"I just chopped some wood for a fellow
Who gave me a rooster for pay
A might fine idea came to me;
That's why I am here today.

"You've all kinds of vegetables, widder,
I hear you make grand mince pies, too;
And cranberry jell and plum pudding--
Folks say you're a fine cook, they do.

Now s'posin' I chip in the rooster--
I won't charge you one single cent--
Then you ask me over for dinner
And we'll have one festive event."

"Wal, now, that sounds fair, I reckon,"
The widow replied with a smile;
"You bring the bird over real early
And I'll soon have him ready to bile."

By two o'clock dinner was ready.
He drew up his chair with a jerk,
Then ventured--"There now, don't you bother,
I'll serve it, you've done enough work."

That bird was one camouflaged creature,
Skin and bones in abudance were there;
The guest took the breast meat and runners
And the meatless wings fell to her share.

Then he piled on his plate all the fixings
'Til he just couldn't find room for more;
And he ate 'til you'd think he'd not eaten
A meal for a fortnight or more.

Now Widow B planned her cooking
To have some for Sunday to come;
But when his next plateful was eaten
And he reached for a third, she said some:

"You ate about all of the rooster,
And four-fifths of the rest of the food,
 But I'll keep this little for Sunday
So your wanting it won't do you no good."

"Wal, that was a wonderful dinner,
But I've one more offer to make;
I'll take home the pies and pudding
And the bones for some soup you may take."

"Not much!  Here's the frame of the creature."
Her aim was surprisingly good.
And from that day he's made no proposal
His carcass to stuff with her food.

-Lilian Clisby Bridgham

A Guest, Snow, and Fun in the City

Last Sunday we had a friend arrive for a four-day visit.  She's been here several times before and done lots of touring in New England already, so she just wanted to spend time with us.  We saved some leaves for her and there was a leaf-raking afternoon.

Leaves were raked just in time too, as snow fell the next night.  Our guest was thrilled!

We met up with the rest of her family (just flown in from the west coast) for dinner in Boston the night before Thanksgiving.  The city lights are so pretty, even if it's nearly impossible to shoot them in a moving car.

We parked in the parking structure nearest to the restaurant, took the elevator to the street level, and walked out into this amazing building.  Got to love Boston!

Revolving doors are always entertaining!

We ate at Bertucci's, noted for their brick-oven pizza.  It was delicious!

We were within sight of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace, and the twinkling Christmas lights just beckoned us to come out and walk around after dinner.

The giant Christmas tree drew the attention of our group.

Despite the bone-chilling wind whipping through the streets and the late hour (that clock above is incorrect, as it was close to 10 p.m.), we enjoyed each other's company and the hint of Christmas coming in the decorations on Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.

Christmas is definitely in the air!

Happy Thanksgiving

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name." - Ps. 100:4

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! We give thanks to the Lord for our blessings daily, but this Thanksgiving we had so much to be thankful: family, friends, health, a job, our home, our newly adopted dogs, a bountiful harvest from our garden, and most especially...a new family member, our grandson!

We were delighted to have our first white Thanksgiving, as the small amount of snow that fell Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, had not yet melted away.

We went to worship this morning, to gather with God's people and give praise for His blessings.  After the sermon, there was a time given for people to stand and praise God individually...their words very touching.  And we closed our service by singing Psalm 100.  That psalm, especially when sung, always touches my heart so.  I have heard it sung by the Pilgrim reenactors at Plimoth Plantation, and it reminds me of that small band of original Pilgrims who sacrificed so much and whose faith is a testimony, to generations, of our God.

Then we returned home and began making dinner.  Colette was in charge of turkey basting and mashed potatoes, plus she had made the chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.  I had made pumpkin pie from the Boston Marrow squash that I grew, harvested, processed, and froze.  It made a delicious, mild-tasting pumpkin pie.

There were also spiced peaches, a recipe with several generations of devotees in our family.

I especially enjoy the parts of our Thanksgiving celebration that were grown or made with our own hands.  What a blessing is hard work and the fruit of our hands!  The stuffing was made from Colette's herb bread (cubed and dried), made more flavorful with onions from our garden, and seasoned with homegrown, ground sage.  The sourdough bread was made by Colette.  The candles on the table were hand-dipped by Colette and I last autumn.  And of course, the pumpkin pie came from this year's garden.

Felicity, Walter, and Theo, our new grandson, were spending Thanksgiving with Walter's family.  And since our families live in other states, it was the four of us for Thanksgiving this year.  In addition to making turkey and all the fixings, I bought a new tablecloth and found a turkey platter (for a bargain price) at an antique store.  I don't believe in not going to any fuss just because there's not 20+ people coming to dinner, because my family is precious to me.

Technohubby and the kids cleaned up dinner, and let me put my feet up and call my family in California for a chat.  And now we're all about to watch the movie, "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving", based on the Louisa May Alcott book.  It's been on our Netflix queue ever since last Thanksgiving when Suzanne at Blueberry Cottage recommended it.  We're cozy and warm and well-fed and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

New in the Shop

I've been busy stocking the shop for Christmas.  New in the last few weeks are:

-girls' cloaks

-a sewing roll (more to come)

-Dickens Christmas banners (two slightly different ones)

- colonial boys' costumes (talk about a fun photo shoot!)...this is just one of them

Everything is in the shop.

The Girl Can Bake!

Colette and I spent four days this week traveling back and froth (1 1/2 hrs. each way) to the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont, so that she could take an artisan baking course. She learned how to make: crackers, lunetta, baguettes (but she already knew how to make those), foccacia, ciabatta, croissants, sourdough, pain au chocolat, and pizza crust. Oh my!

She is dancing with joy at her new-found skills…especially the making of croissants and pain au chocolat! The rest of us are too!

Warm AND Feminine

Two springs ago, I was SO happy to shed my thermals, jeans, snow boots, and jacket for swishy skirts, linen blouses, and capris. I started analyzing why it was I was so happy to leave those other clothes behind, considering that winter is my favorite season. The answer was that, having moved from California, 80% of our wardrobe could be worn year-round there. Now we were wearing 20% of our wardrobe for more than half the year. No wonder we were all sick of those clothes! So we bulked up our wardrobes a bit. It helped, but not completely.

Then this last summer, I had a nasty bout of the flu (aches, fever, bleh) for four days. While I took it easy, I had a sort of period movie-fest, watching: Pride & Prejudice, Little Women, The Four Feathers, Sense & Sensibility, and more. Many of the movies I watched had winter scenes in them. And what I noted as I watched was that the women of past times were warmly bundled for winter AND they looked feminine! That’s why I am so glad to shed those winter clothes…they don’t feel feminine!

So for the last few months, I’ve been adding items to the wardrobe. Now I don’t like to spend much money on clothes…very little, in fact. So I hunted the thrift shops and consignment stores for good deals in feminine, winter clothing. These are some of the new additions:

- A three-quarter length black wool coat (looks brand new) bought for $4.99! Now I will save the bulky parka only for snow play, snow removal, or walks in the falling snow. The black wool coat is much less bulky and pairs well with pretty, feminine scarves.

- A new pair of boots. These I found new at Marshalls and paid for them almost entirely with a gift card. I was so tickled to find boots that fit all the specifications I had in mind: had to look like old-fashioned lace-up boots, had to have almost no heel (for my arthritic knee…oh dear), and had to have great treads (no more nasty spills on ice, please).

- A couple of new boiled wool jackets, as boiled wool is delightfully warm and lightweight. I love the crewel work on this one (a thrift store find).

And I love the sleeves and ruffled front on this brown one (consignment store purchase).

- Velvet made women of the past look feminine in the winter. Not many people wearing velvet these days. But stretch velvet (don’t you love how it’s called that?…like we don’t know it’s really velour, but whatever…)…anyway…stretch velvets are everywhere. I found these three tops, cranberry, plum, and brown, at thrift shops.

- I’m challenging myself to wear more skirts this winter. I’ve realized that I tend to think of my winter skirts as only for church during the winter. But this winter, I’m going to try to wear them more at home and out…long skirts with tights, thermals, knee high socks and boots for warmth. This one won’t be warm enough once its really cold, but I am loving this 1860s-inspired modern skirt!

- Scarves! I bought five beautiful scarves…four of them are the big pashmina shawls. I like the flexibility of being able to wear them as scarves or shawls. The prettiest scarf is this pale blue, damask patterned one. And although its not as large, nor as warm, I just fell in love with this silk backed and velvet flocked silk scarf…so pretty.

I’m looking forward to feeling and looking feminine in my favorite season soon!

Delicious Lunch

Lunching recently with friends at the Canterbury Shaker Village, I enjoyed a delicious lunch from their barn lunch spot: Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Soup and Pumpkin Pie soda.

It was an odd combination, but both sounded two tempting to not try.  The soup was delicious!  And the Pumpkin Pie soda was...was...light, sweetly spiced, and an unusual sort of way.

Sabbath Rest

"We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own."
-Adrianus Valerius

Hungry?...or Bored?

I used to have a nice, nobby gourd sitting on the last step of the deck stairs, next to some potted mums. I did. Until last night when some critter was either hungry or bored.

Technohubby suspects a porcupine. I don’t mind. It’s one of the delights of living in the country…the unexpected.
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