Thursday, September 24, 2020

September Musings with Applesauce Spice Cake



Hello, Dear Friends, I hope that you are looking forward to 
the beauty of autumn as we say goodbye to our summer of discontent. 

Here we are at the top of my mountain road, looking towards the neighboring 
ridge during a very smoke-filled day last week. 

Smoke filled skies

We had a fire break out along the steep grade leading up to our 
plateau, just a few miles away, which burned 4 houses and nearly 1000 acres,
 which kept us on edge for quite a few days until the weather changed
 and helped to bring it under control. 

Hundreds of homes had to be evacuated. 



We now have rain, thank goodness, but my thoughts and prayers remain 
with our neighbors to the south; Oregon and California, as 
they continue to battle the devastating fires 
that have ravaged their states. 
 


The surrounding forest is beginning to reveal its fall beauty. 
It is a bittersweet privilege to witness, when I think of all that has 
been lost to the fires. My heart truly breaks when I think 
of the monumental loss. 



One of my favorite trees along the driveway. 
A magnificent Douglas fir. 

It is probably 60 ft. tall.
What sort of secrets does it whisper to the wind? 
I so love trees. 

When I was a girl, there was a very old Beech tree in 
the little wood behind my house. 
It had one very large branch that grew sideways from its trunk; 
large enough for me to sit comfortably with my back to the trunk  
 and my feet outstretched and low enough, with the old stone wall
beneath it, to reach with a bit of dexterity. 

Whenever I could escape from the responsibility of chores
and caring for my four younger sisters, I would gather 
my sketch pad and pencils, pack a little picnic, (with 
an extra peanut butter sandwich for my loyal dog, Mittens), 
and the two of us would head to the tree. 

I loved those quiet hours in the dappled sunshine, 
listening to the birds and the rustling of the leaves 
in the breeze. I don't know whatever happened 
to my beloved sketchbook, but I do remember 
the feeling of being one with nature, 
and the peace that brought to my soul. 

I knew even then, that I would never be happy 
if I could not be close to nature. 

Even when my Ramblin' Man and I were high-school 
sweethearts, our favorite dates were picnics at local and state parks
( he loved my home-baked 
sugar cookies from my Grandmother's recipe book)
where he would pick me wildflowers to bring home as remembrance. 
xx
"Those who want happiness must stoop to find it;
it is a flower that grows in every vale."
- William Blake -


Walking in the fallen leaves with my faithful companions. 



We had the Grandboys and their parents over to pick blackberries
and stay for dinner in the last few weeks. 
We had a bumper crop this year. 


I have the happiest of news! 

We have a new baby Grandson - a boy, 
with fine black hair and big blue eyes 
 just like his Mother, my daughter, Jennie. 
She never thought she would have a child, 
so he is a lovely and blessed gift
for her and husband, Steve. 


Check out the side by side of little Jack next to his Mother 
at the same age. Jack is on the right. 
xx



That makes five little Grandson's under the age of five! 

Five little blessings. 
xoxo

These are the last of the roses, I think. 
There is nothing as sweetly melancholy than the last September rose. 






The sun has a softness on late September afternoons. 
 

It's lovely to sit under the canopy and enjoy these gentle, sun-dappled, 
golden days. Soon we will have to pack it all up and store it away
until next year.
My little dog, Kai, loves to photo-bomb :) 





My 'flower bed' with some fall blooms. 



Lantana.



Black-eyed Susan vine. 



A pileated woodpecker paid a visit to the maple tree right 
beside the deck one morning. These are very large
woodpeckers, a little larger than a crow. They have 
a very loud call, which sounds rather like maniacal 
laughter!


He was very busy, moving quickly up the trunk of the tree. 
Here you can see his outstretched wing. 
They hammer loudly with their impressive bills. 
I would not want to be on the business end of one of these! 


The tree has a heavy crop of winged nuts this year. 
The squirrels love these. 




Slanted beams of sunlight on a late September afternoon. 

This is my favorite time of year. 
The busy chores of gardening are winding down, 
the air is so much cooler, 
and it is finally sweater weather! 

I wilt in the heat :)



I've been gathering on my walks during these mellow fall days. 



The tall ones in the bottle are allium from the garden. 
Dried pods and seed-heads are so sculptural and interesting up close. 


Some things can be gathered only with the heart. 
xoxo


My Mother stitched the sweet needlework when I was a child. 


My crochet basket is filling up once again, 
now that the days have grown shorter. 


Christmas is right around the corner. 


I sewed some new pillows for my settee'. 


The check pillows were made from homespun. 
The long pillow is feed-sack. 
The crochet pillow was made from a vintage placemat. 
I crocheted the little sachet and filled it with lavender. 
xx
"Creativity is harnessing universality and making it flow
through your eyes...The greatest happiness in life
is to be truly and consistently creative."
- Peter Koestenbaum -



I sewed the berry-basket  
wall-hanging years ago for my Mom. 

Now it remains with me. 
When I pulled it out of the drawer, 
it still had the faint scent of her kitchen. 
It's hard to believe my Mom has been gone almost 10 years now. 
My Dad has been gone 9. 

They lived down at the end of the lane in their hand-built 
cottage for 30 years. 
It was so comforting to know they were there, so close by,
as we built our home and raised our four children.
I had many, many cups of tea and sympathy, and the occasional glass of wine
on my dear little visits in her country French kitchen.  
I can't bring myself to walk down there
anymore. Their home was vandalized and destroyed 
after their death. 
It absolutely broke my heart. 
Someone has bought the property and lives in 
the apt. in the barn, but the house has never been restored.

You can't predict or control what happens in life, 
and sometimes only the memories remain.
Memories are like photographs.  
The secret to happiness lies in how you edit them.


 
I have found a new favorite recipe:

APPLESAUCE-SPICE CAKE

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup golden raisins

Powdered sugar. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan.

Mix all ingredients except raisins together in large bowl.
Add raisins. 

Bake 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick
 inserted in middle comes out clean. 
Cool on rack. 
 
Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

xoxo

Enjoy!!



" A mind always employed is always happy.
This is the true secret, the grand recipe for felicity."
- Thomas Jefferson - 


"Simply seek happiness and you are not likely to find it. 
Seek to create and love without regard to your happiness
and you are likely to be happy much of the time."
- M. Scott Peck -


"As I grow older I realize that the only pleasure I have
in anything is to share it with someone else."
- Eleanor Roosevelt -

Take care, Dear Friends. 
We are all in this together. 

xoxo

Monday, August 17, 2020

August



Hello, Dear Friends, it's been awhile.....


 
I've been so busy and also trying to deal with our new reality, 
just like all of you. 
Things are a little bit unsettling right now. 


I've been finding solace in my gardens 
and trying to stay busy to take my mind off things. 

 
Roses always fill me with calm and give me hope. 

 
The universal symbol of love and fidelity. 


Life can be so uncertain these days.....
but we must have hope that the angels are watching over us. 


 
We must try very hard to live in grace, 
just like the little bird who sings his solitary melody,
 despite all of the many unbearable hardships of life.

"God appoints our graces to be nurses 
to other men's weaknesses."

-Henry Ward Beecher-

"We're all stumbling towards the light with 
varying degrees of grace at any given moment."

-Bo Lozoff, cofounder of the 
Human Kindness Foundation-


While I ponder the meaning of life :), 
we have been very busy with a few projects 
now that The Mr. has lots of time on his hands.
He does the hard work and I am the helper.
xx 

He has scraped, power-washed and repainted the deck. 
Kai approves. 



He also painted the front steps 
and had 4 cord of firewood delivered.
Stacking it should keep him busy for a while!  


My son brought this firewood that he split, delivered
 and stacked, from a tree he had to remove
on his property. 
xoxo

We usually go through about 5-6 cord a winter, depending 
on how cold it is. 
We also have supplemental electric heat, 
but there is nothing quite like the warmth of a fire
when that old north wind blows. 


I am also excited to show you my new loft bedroom! 


It has taken quite a few years.....
Life has been so full and time to work 
on it was not always available in between. 

Little by little things got done. 


My two sons helped out quite a bit whenever they could. 
I am so grateful for my sweet guys
and all of their hard work. 
Everything was a labor of love. 


I have plans for this corner. 
An armoire and a dressing area. 
The chair is temporary for now. 


The armoire could not fit up the narrow stairs, so 
we need the guys to hoist it over the railing from below. 
I want to paint it a soft gray-green. 


The big window looks out over the front lawn and my hydrangeas. 







This nightstand was the first piece of furniture I bought 
when we built this house. 


The pink suitcase was a wedding gift from my 
dear parents and has followed us everywhere. 
It now holds beloved photographs. 

The chunky knit throw was a gift from my daughter. 
The chandelier from Pottery Barn was once in my kitchen.

 
I bought a matching one for the other side of the room.

Pottery Barn no longer carries this style, so I am glad 
that I bought them a few years ago.
I've been dreaming of this room for so long.  

Kai lies by the stairway opening.  

It's so wonderful to wake up in the morning to 
the beautiful light streaming in through the windows. 

It was all worth the wait. 
xoxo
Now we are working on turning the downstairs
 (our former bedroom) into a library/media room. 
All of my books have been in storage for a very long time. 
I will be so happy to welcome them back home! 


This amazing rose is as big as a dinner-plate. 
Check out the thorns! 
I've been working to keep everything watered, fertilized and 
cared for during these hot, August days. 




Pink Phlox and hydrangea. 
Birds-foot trefoil (the yellow bloom) is 
a wildling. 



Tansy by the tool shed. 
Deer won't bother these. 
They have a sharp, pungent scent and I dry 
the leaves in the fall to make moth repellent sachets. 



Hydrangea below the loft bedroom. 
They hate the hot weather, so I try to keep them hydrated. 
I wonder if their name was derived from that? 


The butterfly bush is very large and rangy but when it blooms there is true magic. 
Every summer the spicy scent drifts throughout the property, 
attracting bees and butterflies and The Mr. and I to bury our faces 
in the 6 to 12 inch blooms. 

These are considered invasive here in Washington State and are no 
longer available in nurseries, so I am grateful that I planted it 
many years ago. 


I am loving these warm days and nights, and for the last two months
have watched the planet Jupiter rise over the mountains every evening. 
Here you can see it directly above Mt. Rainier at dusk. 


Thank you for all of your kindness, 
dear friends and know that you are appreciated 
as you share your sweet thoughts
and valuable insight every time you visit. 

xoxo

"The most important human endeavor is the 
striving for morality in our actions. 
Our inner balance and even our very 
existence depend on it. Only morality
in our actions can give beauty and
dignity to life."

-Albert Einstein-

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